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Big Sugar, Kinnie Starr sweeten the mix at WSSF mainstage

As usual, what’s great about the music lineup at this year’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival is that it is incredibly diverse.

You can mix it up with the likes of Bullfrog (April 20 at 7 p.m), Theory of the Dead (April 19, 3 p.m.) or Allison Crowe (April 17, 3 p.m.), whose music has just been picked up my musician Jewel on her Web site.

Who: Big Sugar

When: April 15, 3-6 p.m.

Where: WSSF mainstage, part of the Jim Beam Outdoor Concert Series

Gordie Johnson is a true rock star, never tiring of the live performance. At least not yet.

"For us to get out there and wing it every night is exciting, a real live wire act," says Johnson, who feels formula would be difficult.

"It’s hard to play the same song every night, and we like to extend songs from say, four minutes to seven," he adds.

"Audiences can read that with a band, and watch to see if they can make it to the other side without dropping the ball!" Johnson laughs.

Last year’s CD, Brothers & Sisters, Are You Ready, which was released in both English and French, has been nominated for a Juno in the category of Best Rock Album. The Junos are April 14 so the band’s Whistler performance will be their first following the awards.

Big Sugar have left their mark with past performances in Whistler. Even people who rarely attend concerts still rave about the band’s last show, two years ago.

"Canadians are so enthusiastic at the shows, and you always feel safe everywhere you go, so playing shows in Canada is the best," Johnson says.

The band’s self-titled debut album in 1992 was the first Canadian rock album to be produced in both English and French.

"It was great to get up on stage in Belgium after all these American acts, and be able to sing some songs in French. They didn’t know us, but the crowd went wild!" Johnson says.

Big Sugar has continued to record in both official languages and keeps its foot in the multilingual music market by regularly releasing five-track EPs in both the Netherlands and Germany.

The list of albums the band has released over the past 10 years includes If I Had My Way , Alkaline Extra Long Life, Heated, 500 Pounds, Turn the Light On, Chauffe a Bloc and Hemi Vision , which featured guest artists Matt DeMatteo and former Maritime wonderboy Ashley MacIsaac.

Working with other artists is one of the things that keeps Johnson and Big Sugar fresh. Johnson has played with the Black Crowes a couple of times and he continues to play acoustic gigs with bandmate Kelly Hoppe.

Big Sugar has also worked with Double Trouble and Saskatoon’s Wide Mouth Mason, to whom Johnson once quipped, "…you guys have the ability to shake people’s heads, now you want to shake their asses, too!"

The Big Sugar sound is complemented by Mr.Chill on keys (a.k.a. Kelly Hoppe), Al Cross, and bassist Gary Lowe. The reggae sounds of the band are further complemented by Trinidadian rhythm guitarist Mojah.

Who: Kinnie Starr and Cole Cash

When: April 14, 4:30 p.m.

Where: WSSF Mainstage, part of the Jim Beam Outdoor Concert Series

Hip hop, do it till you drop.

Indie singer, songwriter and actress Kinnie Starr takes to the stage, bringing you her hop hop poetic blend of notes and beats, in both Spanish and French.

Her style, which has always included spoken words and heavy beats, now goes indie.

When the Universal-Polygram merger took place and her next album was put on hold, Starr went independent to produce Tune-Up . Songs on the new album include Miles, and Red%x, that uses aboriginal chanting.

Starr played on the Scrappy Bitches tour with Veda Hille and Oh Susanna in 1997. Previously she was signed to Mercury Records, the U.S. label, that released Tidy .

Canadian music writers have called her "organic, dub-inflected, alterna hip-hop," but come see for yourself to get to the heart of the artist.

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