Stewy’s Labor Day Festival forecast
August 21, 2008
John Fogerty isa. the cranky, former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman who had a few decent solo albums a long time ago.b. the scary mobster from the film, A History of Violencec. the epitome of the well-preserved, 60-something rock starTrue of false: You saw Bob Dylan at the 2002 Labor Day Festival, couldnt even recognize Mr. Tambourine Man, and so have no need to see him perform again.Jerry Douglas main instrument is:a. oboeb. dobroc. guitjod. kazooWhich of the following is worth schlepping your butt away from the Main Stage?a. Big Daddy Lee & the Kingbeesb. the beer linec. those Indian naan bread thingies any flavor, really, but ask for the veggie combo of eggplant and spinach that for some reason can only be made at a festival food boothd. the Stanton Moore Trioe. all of the aboveDefine: Tift Merritt
Admit it, you didnt do very well on the exam. Probably didnt study very hard either. All is not lost, of course; I failed my share of exams and still ended up with a semirespectable life and job. Still, I cant help thinking my life wouldnt be a tad better had I spent the evening before my Calculus 202 exam studying calculus, rather than wasting six dollars trying to get the high score on Galaxian. (I did!) Probably wouldnt be having those anxiety dreams about not being able to find the right classroom for the exam.Fortunately, you dont need to study an entire semester or even cram one night to be prepared for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival. Ten minutes with Profess … make that Dr. Stewy is all you need to get the most out of these five days of music. Ive ranked the main-stage acts in descending order of appeal, and added some bonus notes on side-stage and late-night sets.And yes, this will be on the exam.
So, what has Mr. Dylan been up to since his last appearance in the valley? How about entering full-bore into the latest and one of the greater incarnations of Bob? Over the last six years, Dylan has published the first volume of his memoirs, the startlingly upbeat and open-hearted Chronicles; sat for interviews on 60 Minutes and for the outstanding Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home; became host of the Bob Dylan Radio Hour on Sirius radio; and gave his approval to the excellent, quasi-biographical film, Im Not There. He also released the 2006 album Modern Times, which earned two Grammy Awards. (Including one for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance; take that, all you who say the man cant sing.)Dylan the Transparent continues rolling, with this falls publication of Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: The Lost Manuscript, a collection of poems Dylan wrote in the mid-60s to accompany photographs by Barry Feinstein; Tell Tale Signs, the eighth volume of the Bootleg Series of recordings; and the anticipated second volume of Chronicles.
Listen to this years Free Somehow, and youd think Widespread Panic had sunk toward mediocrity. And they have in the recording studio. Which should have no impact on their standing as a killer live act. Their three-headed rhythm section of bassist Dave Schools, drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Sunny Ortiz lays down huge grooves; John Bell is as good a singer the jam-band world has produced. The band has even been infused with semifresh blood; since their last Jazz Aspen shows three years ago, replacing George McConnell with Jimmy Herring in the lead guitar slot. Expect even those studio clunkers to come to life.Note: Based on past experience, the Thursday night Widespread show should be more fan-friendly than Fridays. However, Jazz Aspen has taken steps this year to make the big-draw shows more manageable, with reduced capacity, bigger space, strolling food vendors, and more toilet facilities.
I cant say Ive been much of a Dwight Yoakam fan; never seen him play. But I badly want to be a fan. I like the idea of Yoakam the hat pulled down over the eyes thing; the ability to be both popular and alternative in the country world; his performances not just token appearances in three excellent movies, Sling Blade, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Red Rock West. On the purely musical side, my colleague Naomi swears that Yoakams last Aspen gig, two years ago at Belly Up Aspen, was probably one of her five favorite concerts ever. Naomi can be tough to win over.
Fogerty picked up a reputation for being bitter over a dispute with his record company. In concert, you could forget about the Creedence; Fogerty wouldnt play anything owned by his nemeses at Fantasy Records. But three years ago, in his Jazz Aspen debut, he was in shockingly good spirits, bounding around the stage like a kid and ripping through virtually every CCR hit. A few weeks later, it was revealed that he had reached a settlement concerning his catalog. This time holds the potential to be even better; Revival, Fogertys 2007 album, is a worthy throwback to his old swamp-rock.
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The answer is dobro, and Douglas is not only the best ever on his instrument, but ranks with pickers like banjoist Bla Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddler Mark OConnor in terms of redefining his instrument. In fact, he was in a band with Fleck, Meyer and OConnor, the sensational strings supergroup, Strength in Numbers. At his Belly Up appearance several years ago, Douglas emerged for his encore with a solo take on the Allman Brothers Little Martha, and it remains vivid in my memory. Douglas performs more such crossover feats on his new CD, Glide.
Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers stand as the only two-time winner of the Stewy Award for best show of the year. But be warned: This is not the Melody Makers, which featured three of Ziggys siblings. Without the Melody Makers, Marley can be on the overly mellow side, though his performance last year at the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest saw him coming into his own as a solo act.
Xavier Rudd generally performs with only his percussionist, Dave Tolley, accompanying him. But the Australian multi-instrumentalist seems to have no trouble generating plenty of sound, as he plays his multiple instruments slide guitar, didgeridoo, drums and more all at once. On his new CD, Dark Shades of Blue, Rudd cranks up the volume and heavier aspects.
On the other hand, Panic has been off for most of the month, and takes a respite from the road again after their second night in Snowmass. So maybe, in their annual end-of-summer, two-night Colorado stand, theyll make sure to use up all their energy and leave nothing on the stage. So probably the best course is to see both shows. Being a jam band, you wont get a repeat of the same songs.
Tift Merritt: A North Carolina-based singer-songwriter whose sound veers between alt-country and folk-soul, and whose popularity has not yet caught up with the critical response, especially to her 2002 debut, Bramble Rose. Another Country, Merritts 2007 album, deserves a listen. And then another.
For years I considered Yonder Mountain String Band as something like the opposite of Tift Merritt a band whose fan base seemed to exceed their artistic accomplishments. But in their last Aspen gigs, two years ago at the Wheeler Opera House, the Colorado quartet had finally found a way to make a unique sound that married the drive of rock with the sound of bluegrass instruments. Their latest release, volume five of their live Mountain Tracks series, showed they also have become not-bad as a bluegrassy band.
The potential surprise hit of the festival, Global Noize is a new funk/hip-hop/jazz fusion outfit headed by DJ Logic and keyboardist Jason Miles. Miles, best known as a producer of tributes to Weather Report and Marvin Gaye, also played with that other Miles Davis. Global Noize might best be judged by the company they keep: The sidemen for this tour include keyboardist Bernie Worrell of P-Funk and drummer Mike Clark of the Headhunters. The bands debut CD features contributions from Karl Denson, John Popper, Meshell Ndegeocello and Vernon Reid. The Labor Day show marks the first appearance by Global Noize.
A New York City-based folk-gospel group, Ollabelle made the rare jump from side stage at last years festival to main stage this year. Named for the late Appalachian singer Ola Belle Reed, the quintet features singer Amy Helm, daughter of the Bands Levon Helm.
Nikka Costa spent a chunk of her childhood watching her father, Don Costa, produce albums for the likes of Frank Sinatra. Now 36 and a soul singer, Nikka tries to capitalize on her popular 1996 debut, Butterfly Rocket, with Pebble to a Pearl, due for release this fall on the Stax label.
The Denver-based Taylor is beloved in blues circles Guitar Player magazine called him arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time but isnt confined to the blues. His latest album, Recapturing the Banjo, has him exploring the real roots of the instrument. (Spoiler: It goes back further than bluegrass.)
Despite their often uncanny sonic resemblance to the Meters, the New Mastersounds are not from New Orleans. Not even the same continent. The groove quartet hails from England.
Away from the main stage, but on the festival grounds, the dont-miss act is the Stanton Moore Trio, playing Friday, Aug. 29 at the Outside Music Lounge. Moore, played the main stage last year, in his regular gig as drummer for New Orleans groove band Galactic. He also appeared at a JAS After Dark show at Belly Up, as a member of Garage a Trois. This time through, he leads a combo featuring Robert Walter, keyboardist of the Greyboy Allstars, and guitarist Will Bernard.Theres nothing too new at Belly Up for the Labor Day weekend, just some old familiar faces. Rose Hill Drive is set for Thursday, Aug. 28; the Boulder trio expands its take on 70s-inspired hard rock on its new CD, Moon Is the New Earth. DJ Z-Trip returns on Friday, Aug. 29. Cashd Out returns on Saturday, Aug. 30 to pay tribute to Johnny Cash. DJ Rahzel, known for his membership in the Roots and for his beat-box skills, performs Sunday, Aug. 31.And the incomparable Warren Haynes makes it an official tradition by appearing at Belly Up for the third Labor Day weekend in a row. Two years ago, it was a rare small-club gig for his band, Govt Mule. Last year, Haynes flexed his muscle, playing festival sets with the Allman Brothers Band, on Sunday, and Govt Mule, on Monday (as well as sitting in on a few songs with Michael Franti), before doing a solo acoustic show Monday night. This time he takes the easy way out, with a pair of solo shows, Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 1-2. Personally, I wont be surprised if thats not all we see of Haynes over the email@example.com