Aspen and Snowmass Village often are referred to as one community separated by a few miles, but the differences between the two can be plain to see.
Aspen: Party central. Snowmass: Family-friendly (or, in a word, Slowmass).
Aspen: A steep, tight ski mountain not meant for those lacking serious skills. Snowmass: An expanse vast and varied enough to accommodate downhillers of every type.
Aspen: Home to the cutting-edge Aspen Art Museum. Snowmass: Home to the relatively traditional Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
Now the two communities even seem to be dividing over tastes in music. Aspen leans toward indie rock and electronic dance music. Look at this past Winter X Games weekend, when Wagner Park featured shows by indie rockers Phoenix and Matt & Kim and a dance party with DJ Tiesto. The big names at Belly Up recently have been The National, Weezer, the Flaming Lips and BoomBox — all acts that push toward the future of music.
Snowmass tried the indie and electronic route last year with the inaugural Snowmass Mammoth Fest. Mammoth Fest replaced the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest and its diet of roots styles — reggae, funk, soul — with boundary-pushing acts including the young duo Twenty One Pilots, electro-rockers Awolnation and indie rock band the Joy Formidable.
It hasn’t taken long to switch directions. On Wednesday, the Mammoth Fest announced its lineup for this year’s event, and the sounds will be a lot more Snowmass-y. Headliners for the Mammoth Fest, set for June 13 through 15, are the jam band the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, whose leader is best known as frontman of the Southern- rock group the Black Crowes; and Leftover Salmon, a long-running Colorado institution whose sound is a blend of roots styles including bluegrass, zydeco and country. Also on the bill are the Colorado jazz-funk group the Motet, Australian roots-rocker Xavier Rudd, Louisiana blues-rock band the Royal Southern Brotherhood, New York power trio London Souls and the New Orleans brass band Bonerama.
“It’s a little more approachable, common-denominator, user-friendly,” said Steve Gumble, president of Mammoth Fest producer SBG Productions, from his office in Telluride. “There are some indie influences in there, but we thought it would be more well-received in the Roaring Fork Valley with more roots stuff, more bluegrass, as opposed to real indie rock.”
Avant-garde bassist Les Claypool is also in the lineup, but Claypool, best known as the leader of the experimental band Primus, will be taking an atypical look backward. He will appear in Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, a twosome whose sound is inspired by gypsy-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and hillbilly sounds from the early 20th century. The duo also includes guitarist Bryan Kehoe.
Also announced are - rockers Houndmouth, of Austin, Texas. Americana band the Wheeler Brothers, Denver singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff, Los Angeles folk-rock band Miner and two local DJs — Berkel Beats and Echo da Funk.
Gumble believes that the music at last year’s festival went over well.
“People are still hoping for Twenty One Pilots to come back,” he said. “Looking at Facebook, we didn’t see many negative comments.”
Gumble also notes that the coming festival will not be restricted to older acts and older styles. Claypool, he said, might be playing a brand of roots music, but given the bassist’s personality, Gumble expects the sound to be fresh.
“It’s sitting-on-your-porch, heavy bass, twangy,” Gumble said. “But it’s Les Claypool — he’s a monster bass player, and it’ll be out-there. It brings a very cool element to the festival.”
Some of the lesser-known acts at this year’s Mammoth Fest are young groups that mix roots fundamentals with an indie approach.
“Houndmouth, the Wheeler Brothers, Miner — they’re more on the indie-folk side of things, not just the rock side,” said Gumble, who founded the successful Telluride Blues & Brews Festival 20 years ago, . “They’re making a buzz on the international festival circuit. And they’re the newer stuff.”
Still, the future of the Mammoth Festival seems to be less indie and more established roots.
“It would be a long, long, upward struggle to get people to come in large numbers if we stick to an indie genre,” Gumble said. “This lineup is more recognizable to a mountain-town-style festival. The Roaring Fork Valley is more receptive to the rootsy, folky music.”
The sounds coming from the stage won’t be the only changes evident at the second Mammoth Fest. The event has been extended to three days, with a free Friday evening of music, a parade and chili-and-salsa tastings on the Snowmass Village Mall. A VIP area, with an open bar, shaded seating, close-up parking and more, will be added to the main venue in Snowmass Town Park.
Tickets go on sale Saturday. For further information, go to www.snowmassmammothfest.com.