The Telluride Daily Planet: Orbit: Risan Media and Salem

Salem to bring musical hybrid to O’Bannon’s

Hip-hop, jazz and neo-soul shape band’s music


Staff Reporter

The Colorado-based band  Salem will be bring a hybrid of hip-hop, jazz and neo soul compositions to the stage at The Moon at O’Bannon’s on Saturday, Dec. 17.

The band is traveling with Risan Media — an events production company that specializes in bringing together the cannabis industry, ski films and avalanche-safety videos on tours throughout Colorado and Alaska — which means the night will be about more than just music.

At 9 p.m., there will be a screening of Absinthe Films’ latest snowboard film, “/fterForever. Salem is set to start at 10 p.m. Door prizes will be provided by Giro, Native Eyewear and Swany. The cover charge is $10.

Salem was started by Todd Johnson in 2005 in Seattle. A few years later, Johnson moved to Colorado, where he reformed the group with new members. Johnson is the founder, singer, songwriter and drummer of the band.

The performance on Saturday includes a six-string bass, two guitarists and a percussionist from Ghana laying down some beats on a djembe.

“We have some pretty energetic percussion sessions through the night,” Johnson said.

Johnson called the music “rock- in’” and said the style is influenced by Afro-Cuban hip-hop and reggae.

This will not be the band’s first visit to Telluride.

“We performed at Fly Me to the Moon Saloon back in the day,” Johnson said. “We are looking forward to being with the folks down there (in Telluride) and definitely to get into O’Bannon’s. I’m glad that they are still doing some music down there.”

As part of Salem’s winter tour, the band will be performing in other mountain towns including Silverton, Edwards, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Keystone and Durango.

Johnson said the tour is designed with the mountain culture in mind.

“I’ve always been a snowboarder and used to ski race and got turned on to split boarding years ago.

“I was lucky enough to find some super-talented players that are also backcountry skiers and snowboarders as well. …We enjoy being able to perform in the evenings in some of these mountain destinations and get out and recreate during the day,” Johnson said.

The evening will include a screening of an avalanche safety video produced by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.

“We are backcountry enthusiasts and we like to be safe and smart and we like to bridge awareness of that as well,” Johnson said. “We have the ability to share the projection screen and share some really cool content along the way, so why not utilize it.”

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