Fifty musical acts over 10 days of TWSSF 

Headliners include Blackalicious, Michael Franti, Headley, and more

What: Whistler Concert Series

When: April 14-23

Where: iTunes Mainstage

Where: Skier’s Plaza

Tickets: Free

If you didn’t catch Canadian Idol finalist Jacob Hoggard closing out last week’s Juno Awards in Halifax with his band Hedley, the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival gives you a chance to catch him live at Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series, April 14-23.

And yes, it’s free. Not bad when you consider the Hedley performance at the Junos would have lightened your pockets by $125. The Whistler lineup also includes Blackalicious, which comes with a $25 price tag at the Commodore Ballroom April 21.

For the price of the Vancouver show, gas, parking and a hotel room, you can buy your friends and yourself a couple of rounds of beer on the GLC or Longhorn patios, which will overlook the outdoor stage set up in the Skiers Plaza at the base of Whistler Mountain.

Alternatively, a few highly-organized music buffs have taken in the 50-plus band lineup in style in years past, dragging out a couch to enjoy the 10 days of music madness.

Hip hop, funk, rock, punk, Latin, reggae alternative, just name your poison – there is something for everyone’s ears in the 2006 lineup.

The headliners for the festival include Platinum-selling artists Hedley April 19; Blackalicious, which has opened for legends such as Jazy-Z, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige, April 22; and Michael Franti and Spearhead return April 23. Crowds of thousands have flocked to hear festival favourite Franti, never tiring of his funky, socially conscious rap infused with rock chords, reggae and dancehall beats.

Looking to lay back with Jack-Johnson-style grooves? Get the same mellow out vibe with California’s Slackstring on April 15. The acoustic beach boys have opened for fellow groovers Johnson and Sublime.

In one of the moods where you can’t make up your mind? Neither can Umphrey’s McGee, who play from moment to moment April 16: the Chicago band covers progressive rock, metal, funk, folk and jazz in their spontaneous jams.

For listeners who weed through band names looking for accomplishments, there are the Juno-Award-winners Default, whose rock ’n’ roll is most famously known from their single Wasting Time. They’ll be joined by West Coast Music Award winners Hermit on April 15, featuring organic electronica instrumentalized.

The Province’s Stuart Derdeyn summed up the funky electronica trio of Panurge (April 18) in one word: "Wow!" CBC used three words: "damn-near perfect."

The Rolling Stones back the off-kilter indie rock of Metric (April 18). Metric opened for the legendary rockers at New York’s Madison Square Garden this year.

Get those hips shakin with the Latin rhythms of two bands: Flow Motion (April 16) brings Latin and African rhythms fused with funk, jazz and rock jams. Pacifica returns with sultry Spanish notes April 22.

There is plenty of hip hop to go around with Jurassic 5 teaming four MCs and DJs to unearth the beats of L.A.’s underground April 20, and Souls of Mischief stray from West Coast hip hop routine with jazz and instrumental inserts April 21.

Turntable talent to scout out is Toronto’s multi-media guru Mike Relm (he has opened for the likes of Black Eyed Peas) April 20 and California’s MyG April 21. MyG is most famous for his X-Box games tracks (Transworld, Amped).

As if bobbing your head in the sunshine watching the concert stage framed by Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains wasn’t enough, organizers throw concertgoers’ senses into overdrive with a whole lot of adrenaline thrown into the mix.

Team Canada, a Montreal DJ duo who have hip hopped with the best including De La Soul and Black Eyed Peas, is ramped up with the Rail Session playing alongside the evening concert April 15 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Blackalicious also flies high April 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. with the Big Air competition. Athletes will spin 30 feet into the air alongside the hip hop stars. There will also be guest performances from Lifesavas, Fatlip w/ Omni and Pigeon John.

Other names to look out for include Mariana’s Trench, Mobile, Stabilo, Pauder, The Left, Rally Car, Adam Ezra Group, The Wassabi Collective and Whistler’s own Kostaman.

Unless otherwise noted, concerts run daily from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Skier’s Plaza. Visit for a complete schedule of the iTunes-sponsored event.

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