Playing Around: Liza and the Soul Stars 

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If there is a darling of the Colorado mountain jam scene, it is Liza Oxnard. Leader of Zuba for 8 years, the band broke up in 1999 and Liza has since been performing with bands like Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, P-Funk and Blues Traveler, but her strongest relationship is with Billy Nershi and String Cheese Incident. She's been part of several recent tours with the band, and recorded a bluesy, roots-based solo project with Nershi called It's About Time, a collection of gently beautiful original songs.

She's adorable, but Liza isn't garnering all this attention by being cute -- she's a girl with a guitar that can sing, without being pretentious or precious. A talented songwriter, Liza creates music that is fully rich and expressive of emotion without being sappy, driving and forceful without being obnoxious, and appropriately funky without becoming trite. Her voice is clear and pure, aqueous with its fluidity and controlled in tone, some say "silvery."

Liza is now on the road with her new band, the Soul Stars, featuring Fat Mama keyboardist Erik Deutsch, drummer Brian McRae (Sally Taylor, Freddy Jones Band) and Aaron Snyder of Sucker on bass. The new incarnation includes all of Liza's feminine guitar-powered funk, high-country rock and mountain folk. The band plays Utopia Caf Friday night. Tickets are $6. Call 633-1080.

-- Kristen Sherwood


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