Grand Funk Railroad and Jurassic 5 are on the Snowmass concert calendar this summer, thanks to partnerships between the town and some group business.
Both of those concerts were announced April 1 along with the lineup for the free Thursday-night concert series, which includes a diverse selection of bands booked by Jazz Aspen Snowmass.
Long a popular community event, Snowmass Tourism attempted this year to also use the free concert series as an incentive to draw more group business. In addition, some of those groups have contributed to bring in particular shows, such as the Colorado Harley Owners Group State Rally, which matched the town’s spending to bring in Grand Funk Railroad on June 26.
Another example is the Wanderlust Yoga Festival coming July 3 through 6, which already would have opened its event with a music-and-lights show. By making that the free Thursday show, the town is able to cover expenses for a paid concert by Jurassic 5 on July 5.
“Honestly, I’m excited that we’ve been able to parlay what is normally a community event and parlay groups and events to come to Snowmass because of the quality of music we bring,” said Dave Elkan, Snowmass Tourism sales and events manager. “Using the money that was already allocated to do these concerts to generate revenue is what I’m most proud of, and then giving us the excuse to really hit it out of the ballpark.”
As in the past, the lineup for the free series is an eclectic mix of different styles and genres.
“Our approach is really to come up with a nice balance and a nice mix,” said Jim Horowitz, founder and president of Jazz Aspen Snowmass. “We look at it as kind of like the body of work. They’re all great bands in different ways, but it would be expected that anyone would naturally have their favorites.”
Someone who loves bluegrass will be excited about Hot Buttered Rum, and fans of New Orleans music will want to see Big Sam’s Funky Nation on July 10, Horowitz said. He won’t pick a favorite show, though.
“Almost as a matter of principle I never say, ‘Well, one show more than another,’” Horowitz said. “They’re like children. Don’t choose among your children.”
To Elkan, the free concert series is just one piece of a summer packed with great music. The season kicks off with the Mammoth Fest on June 13 through 15, which includes Leftover Salmon, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and The Motet.
A week later on June 19, the free series starts. The Deaf Camp Picnic then returns July 17 through 19, starting with the free Hot Buttered Rum show followed by two days of music. So far, the lineup includes all-female folk trio Red Molly, a John Denver tribute concert and headliner Ricky Skaggs.
The summer culminates in the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, which has Fun., OneRepublic and Carrie Underwood for its headliners.
Using the concert series to leverage group business is an argument in favor of the tradition. Some in Snowmass Village argue that the concert series doesn’t provide the town enough return on investment to keep offering it for free.
“Some argue that that’s Snowmass’ identity,” Elkan said. “We’re trying to get it not necessarily to be our identity but to be another great event in Snowmass that justifies lodging and coming to Snowmass.”