He hails from Australia, but John Butler’s music makes its home in any natural landscape.
On Sunday, the tribal roots melange of the John Butler Trio will wash over the crowd at the Snow King Ball Park for the first JacksonHoleLive show of the season. Anderson East will warm the stage as the opening act.
Organizer and founder Shannon McCormick said John Butler Trio’s third show in town elevates the entire series.
“We are always looking to add an international act to the JacksonHoleLive lineup,” he said. “This year we found a rock god!”
For nearly two decades, the jam-roots rockers have traveled the world promoting peace and love through their performances. Each track has the nearly narcotic effect of moving crowds to dance, of creating happiness and community and uplifting the spirits of each listener. You can almost hear the smile on the man whose name, voice and guitar gave rise to the group.
“That kind of magic is not really mine if you know what I mean,” John Butler told the News&Guide. “It comes through art, and it’s best to just be as best an instrument as I can possibly be to let the music through.”
Those muses speak loudest to Butler while he wanders alone in what the Australians call “country.” For years, Butler has been an advocate and fighter for environmental justice, and on this tour he will collaborate with Rock the Earth, a nonprofit that protects natural resources, with the support of rock stars, to defend “the country.”
“I always stand up for country all over the world and nature and justice, but more importantly before doing that is actually connecting with it,” he said. “That’s what gives me my energy source, that’s what gives me inspiration, that’s what feeds my soul, that’s what allows me to do all my work.”
Although there won’t be enough time to meet with Jackson environmental organizations, he does plan to wander off in the woods and listen.
“I suppose I’d try to go for a hike and spend time not talking and let that wisdom sink in, because that wisdom for me no matter where I go in the world, especially for where you live, is so dramatically gorgeous, there’s so much to learn just from sitting in silence,” he said.
That wisdom is reflected in a catalog that has evolved from political to pacifying, but maintained an immense passion while recognizing the dichotomy of life: Not everything he does has a positive impact. The trick is in tipping the scales the right way.
“It’s how you do things,” he said, “not what you do.
“As I stand back farther from the canvas,” he said. “I just want to make sure that what I do is creating more positive than negative, and I think life is a duality. I think life is full of ambiguities and polarities and dualities. It’s full of hypocrisies. I’m going to create a mountain of carbon just to get to your country and your town, but hopefully the energy I create throughout that tour and positive energy is going to counteract.”
Playing an open-air show at the base of a mountain is only fitting and will be what Butler calls “beautiful.”
People can celebrate the start to another summer series of free music with Butler’s band and Anderson East at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the Snow King Ball Park. Food and beverage vendors will be on site.