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Listen Up!: The unofficial WinterFest listening guide 

All the bands that will appear at this year's WinterFest.

Larry and His Flask: Given'er Every time

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In recent years, LAHF has transformed from a fun, but rough-around-the-edges local band, to a sharp and polished group, complete with multi-part harmonies and fast banjo picking. What was once a loose pack of half-drunken screaming lunatics, is now a tight collection of half-drunken lunatics.

Credit some of that polish to LAHF's time on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. The percussion-powered string band also honed its sound and style touring with Celtic punk lords, Dropkick Murphys, icons in the larger post-punk world.

After WinterFest, the close-knit crew is spending the spring touring the Midwest. Catch the local boys now, for cheap. You won't be disappointed by a group that always answers the call of the crowd.

MarchFourth Marching Band: Like Mardi Gras in a Bottle

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The genre-bending MarchFourth Marching Band might just be the musical highlight of this year's WinterFest. Part musical act, part burlesque show, and fully entertaining, the Portland-based marching band is a musical and visual feast whose performance draws as much from the American circus tradition as it does from Brazil's famed Carnival celebration. But MarchFourth is more than just a sideshow, the band has seen its fair share of critical and commercial success. NPR recently featured the single "Rose City Strut" from the band's latest album Magnificent Beast as its Song of the Day.

More than a dozen members strong, with an emphasis on percussion and horns, the Marching Band is a sort of traveling Mardi Gras. Elaborately and suggestively costumed performers pump out a mix of mostly original and dance-friendly instrumentals that have been known to whip audiences into a tribal dancing frenzy. But if you just want to stand and bob your head, that's fine, too. We recommend you come ready to shake it, though, because this performance is best experienced as a participant rather than a passive observer.

Key n Krates: Canadian Remix Masters

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If you haven't danced your fill before the gates close on Friday night, you can take your bad self over to the Century Center where buzz heavy re-mix artists Keys N Krates will be laying down beats well into the night. The Ontario-based trio recently released its first EP. The seven-song album followed several years of underground work that's earned them an up-and-comer label in the hip-hop community alongside such luminaries as Questlove and K'Naan. Expect epic grooves and remixes aplenty well into the morning hours. Glow sticks and energy drinks not provided.

Mosley Wotta: We're all H20

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Musician, painter, educator, advocate, dancer and poet Jason Graham wears a lot of hats for a homegrown artist. Graham, singer and main man behind MOsley WOtta, has been a staple in the arts community of Bend for years.

Although you may not catch every lyric in the flow of Graham's delivery, rest assured he preaches a message of intelligence, peace and community. Vocalist Stephanie Slade will make you shiver with her powerful choruses paired with Graham's politically conscious hip-hop rhymes. The singers are backed by a solid set of musicians and together the MO WO experience is an all inclusive love fest. Just remember we are all MO WO (mostly water) so don't be afraid to rock your own boat and dance to their soulful hip-hop.

The Coup: Old School Oakland Hip-Hop

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Oakland hip-hop purveyor The Coup completes the Saturday's West Coast hip-hop extravaganza. Expect The Coup to drop a heavy dose of political reality and hip-hop morality on Saturday night's crowd. Perhaps best known for a pair of musical references in the comedy classic Superbad, The Coup is no stranger to activism and controversy, having nearly released an album cover showing an exploding Twin Towers in September 2011 that prompted conservative pundit Michelle Malkin to blast the group as anti-American. (The album art was developed months before the 9/11 attacks). But if you're worried that Saturday's main stage is going to look like some kind of a gangsta O'Reilly Factor, rest assured that the 20 years of touring and recording has established The Coup as a serious musical force whose sound draws from the funk and Motown traditions as well as West Coast hardcore rap. Bonus fact: frontman Boots Riley's old school afro is so epic that it may require a height variance from the Bend City Council.

Buck 65: The Chameleon

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Buck 65 may not be a household name in Bend, but his resume as a rapper, producer and turntable maestro is well established north of the border. Known for his willingness to experiment, Buck 65 can deliver performances that draw from traditional rap, electronic, folk, blues and other genres. Given his diverse background and well-documented performance chops, we're calling Buck 65 the wild card in the musical line-up and one that you just might not want to miss.


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