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Winter Park / Live Music: A global shift, one stage at a time

by Cyndi McCoycmccoy@grandcountynews.comWinter Park, Colorado

Winter Park, Colorado It is one thing to pull together fine tunes and thoughtful lyrics that appeal to generations of music fans, but it has been Salems steadfast goal to make a difference with all that talent.The bands name, Salem, is shalom in Hebrew and salaam in Arabic-Persian (meaning peace). Frontman Todd Anders Johnson said it is very relevant in the great need for peace in the world.Long known for its socially conscious urban, Afro-Cuban jazz, (and) hip-hop, the band has become a welcome friend to the Fraser Valley and joins fans in celebrating its newest album, as it is above, so it is below.Johnson composer, drummer and lead vocalist for the group said the event is an exciting one. He and other members of the four-piece ensemble spent about a year, off and on, working on the project, the groups studio debut. Coming with him for the show are really solid main man Rob Garland with great tonality on bass, the distinct style of Dexter Payne on saxophone, and multi-dimensional guitar player Jubal, newest player in the mix.The down-tempo and song-oriented collection was mastered by Grammy-winning mastering engineer David Glaser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder. Its first track, Northward, was mixed at hip-hop band Outkasts Stankonia Studios by Grammy-winning mix engineer John Frye. Im really diggin his perspective on that one, Johnson said.Another song, Saragua, Johnson wrote around a poem by late Nigerian poet and activist Ken Saro Wiwa. It highlights Bola Abimbola of Nigeria (who has also played in the Fraser Valley in the past year) singing with Johnson. Lyrics tell of the tragedies of war in the Niger River Delta, an oil-rich region in the world in which American oil companies have a large presence.The Nigerian military government executed Wiwa and several others in 1994 and conditions for the Nigerian people have not improved since and the strife is an a high, Johnson said. Along with sharing the story with audiences in the United States, he has been in touch with Friends of the Earth and Nigerian representative Nnimmo Bassey about promoting the song there.There are 13 songs and two preludes on the CD, a work that Johnson said signifies a true start with the bands first studio production. It is inspiring to hear the songs with all the parts present and mixed well, he said.Johnson and the group played for some of the largest ski and snowboard events in the world last winter, including ESPNs Winter X Games and for the Warren Miller film (which just came through town this past week) Children of Winter. Their show at the Pub will highlight many of the songs off the CD, and Johnson said theyll play a lot more of their fresh repertoire.The new album, recorded at Far & Away Studios in Boulder by Geoff Gray, has been the highlight of tours through about 25 American cities this year and is available online at DigStation, CDBaby and soon on iTunes for about $15 (also available at all shows). Future area performances, also at the Pub, are scheduled Nov. 28 and Dec. 27 with Prakoshis and Jan. 24, 2009.


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