Xavier Rudd returning to Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Xavier Rudd
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Thursday, April 11, 8:30 p.m.
How much: $48-$85
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
Xavier Rudd has assembled a global following with his virtuosic, rootsy multi-instrumental performances. He’s made instant classics with songs like “Follow the Sun” and “Spirit Bird.” But he says his latest record, 2018’s “Storm Boy,” is his creative breakthrough.
“I feel like I’m on another level in every way these days,” he told The Aspen Times during a swing through town last spring. “I feel there’s still an upward progression within myself. I haven’t gotten to the point where I feel like I’m going over the hill and going back down. I’m still surfing up the hill.”
The Australian singer-songwriter, who headlines Belly Up Aspen on Thursday, April 11, went six years between solo records before releasing “Storm Boy.”
Rudd burst on the international scene with an already defined sound with his definitive 2002 debut, “To Let.” His live shows became a sensation, with Rudd playing mostly as a one-man band using a complex instrumental setup worthy of Rube Goldberg: combining as many as three didgeridoos, with a slide guitar on his lap and more string instruments at his side, a stompbox at his feet — drums, dobros, banjos, harmonicas and more within reach.
He quickly became a must-see live act and an Aspen staple, with regular stops at Belly Up and festival slots at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day Festival and the Mammoth Festival.
Then, in 2015, Rudd took a creative turn and started packing stages with global collaborators. He put together an eight-piece collective called the United Nations that placed Rudd at the center of a veritable reggae-tinged orchestra. He put out an ambitious album, “Nanna,” with the group.
But many of the new “Storm Boy” songs have been gestating in his pre-United Nations period.
“It feels like a follow-up to ‘Spirit Bird’ in a way,” Rudd said, referring to his 2012 solo album. “I was writing these songs back then and some even before then. … The United Nations project, I wrote a bunch of tracks for that project and it was everybody bringing their individuality to the table, whereas this has been constructed by me. So I think it’s more personal, more reflective.”
Rudd has been outspoken on political and environmental issues throughout his career, and has led activist efforts on behalf of indigenous Australians. Playing the U.S. in the bitterly divided Trump era, he is doing his best to unite Americans with a universal message.
“We celebrate the roots of something that’s been connecting human beings since the beginning of time — that’s music,” he said. “Our planet responds to music of all forms — whether it’s birds, wild animals, humans. Our shows are about celebrating creation.”
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