| AspenTimes.com

Colorado sit skier Trevor Kennison finds redemption in ‘Full Circle’

In 2014, at the age of 22, Trevor Kennison hit a 40-foot jump in the backcountry near Vail Pass, went sideways and landed on his back, paralyzing him from the waist down.

He said ultimately, the accident changed his life for the better.

“You can look at an event like this negatively or positively,” said Kennison. “I took everything learned from playing sports and turned it into ‘How quick can I get into my wheelchair?’ ‘How quick can I learn how to go to the bathroom and shower?’ ‘How quick can I learn to ski again?’ I realized that if I wasn’t going to do it, no one’s going to do this for me. I really took that as motivation. This a new life. I knew that there would be challenges, and I accepted them.”

Six years later, he executed a double back flip at the exact spot of his accident. The feature length documentary film, “Full Circle: A Story of Post Traumatic Growth,” directed by Josh Berman and produced by Denver based Level 1 Production, documents that journey.

“Full Circle” is kicking off Carbondale-based 5Point Film’s Summer Film Series with two screenings: Tuesday at the Wheeler Opera House, and Wednesday at TACAW. Kennison will be at both events, which will include a Q&A after the film.

“Full Circle,” Trevor Kennison at Corbet’s Couloir.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

Kennison, originally from New Hampshire, grew up a gifted all-around athlete and fell in love with Colorado when he was 12 on a family road trip across the Western states, which he called “the best experience of his life.” That trip, and the fact that his sister was living in the Roaring Fork Valley, inspired him to move to Avon when he was 21. Less than a year later, his life would change dramatically.

He said the first year after the accident was tough. After months at Denver’s Craig Hospital, he returned to New Hampshire and stayed with a friend, who took him in and let him sleep on the couch. But with the bathroom on the second floor, it wasn’t a long-term situation.

He credits his his sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Thomas Caruso, who lived in Snowmass, for getting him to a better place.

“They took me out for my first runs and got me involved with Challenge Aspen and other organizations, which was really cool,” he said. “But the first time was hard. After trying a few times, I finally got on a run, and I’m going down and going down and I’m just gripping the outriggers so hard, I couldn’t feel my forearms. And from there I was hooked. I was living in Aspen, and I was skiing Snowmass and Highlands with my brother-in-law snowboarding behind me every single day. That is why I became the sit skier I am today, because he gave me the confidence that I can try this and if I fall, he’s going to pick me up. For him to do that and watch me progress was just the best thing ever.”

Behind the scenes of the filming of “Full Circle.”
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

The film has been in the works since before the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which Kennison called a blessing in disguise. When he initially approached Director Josh Berman about the project, the idea was to produce a three-part limited docuseries leading up to his attempt at the double back flip. But the pandemic gave the filmmakers time to flesh out a more robust story and connect Kinneson’s story with one that happened 50 years earlier.

“Full Circle” follows Trevor on his path of post-traumatic growth and concurrently the story of pioneer climber and extreme skier Barry Corbet, who became a paraplegic after a 1968 helicopter crash in Aspen.

“Full Circle,” Barry Corbet filming at Craig Hospital in Denver.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

Though 50 years apart, their stories mirror each other with common locations and themes — injuries in the Colorado backcountry, rehab at Craig Hospital, fame in Jackson Hole. But they also share a resiliency of spirit and refusal to let their love of life to be diminished by their injuries. It’s ultimately a film about hope and not only surviving, but thriving through life’s most difficult challenges.

For Kennison who is just shy of his 31st birthday, he is grateful to be where he is today and said that not being afraid to ask for and accept help, as well as taking care of his mental health, ultimately got him through the dark days.

“I don’t care if you’re disabled or able bodied, it’s just so important to work on your mental health. This injury so physical, but at the same time with a spinal cord injury, it’s also such a mental battle,” he said.

“What do I want audiences to take away? If someone is struggling or going through anything difficult, I just want to give them some hope. I went back and got redemption. And I am just so thankful for everyone that helped me get to where I am and for what’s to come. I can’t wait for people to see this movie. It’s going to change so many lives.”

“Full Circle.” Trevor Kennison Vail Pass jump.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo
If you go…

What: 5Point Summer Film Series Presents “Full Circle.”
Where: Wheeler Opera House and TACAW.
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. (Wheeler) and Wednesday 7:30 p.m. (TACAW)
More info and tickets: https://5pointfilm.org/

Rain today just makes the grass greener, farmers markets sweeter — a guide to the bounty

Send your knives out to get sharpened, it is almost tomato season! The rich agricultural offerings of the Roaring Fork Valley and the region extend beyond the start of a caprese salad or a BLT sandwich.

Ranchers and farmers raise the cattle and produce that make its way to local restaurants and home kitchens. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the bounty throughout the summer at the farmers markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs throughout the valley. 

Those who are not so much of a home cook, fear not! In addition to the farm and ranch offerings, markets in the valley feature the work of local artisans — goods like honey, jewelry, and soaps. 

“Dining out, food festivals, farm-to-table dinners and experiences — all of these are such an important part of travel,” said Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello. “These experiences and the richness and variety of these offerings that are available in Snowmass and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, gives visitors and locals plenty to choose from.”

And the markets provide an accessible entry point for enthusiastic cooks and eaters interested in the farm-to-table and “eat local” movements. 

For a comprehensive map of agriculture, pick up a Roaring Fork & Farm Map — which illustrates the valley’s agricultural history and local food culture — from a local tourism organization. 

As the locals say, you come for the winter, but you stay for the summer.


Aspen Saturday Market: Every Saturday, June 10 through Oct. 7, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Starting Sept. 9, hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Aspen Core

At the Aspen Saturday Market, shoppers will find only Colorado–sourced goods from artisans and agriculture vendors. The stalls line multiple blocks of Aspen’s core, swinging from the Galena Street to Hyman Avenue intersection to Hunter Street and back to the intersection of Hyman Avenue and Galena Street. 

Summer Saturdays in Aspen have featured a line of local goods stalls since 1998, when Aspen City Council first approved the market. Since then, locals and tourists alike peruse the booths weekly for gifts or featured ingredients in their upcoming meals. 

Basalt Sunday Market: Every Sunday, June 18-Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Midland Spur in Historic Downtown Basalt

Sundays in Basalt revolve around the farmer’s market. And with the newly revitalized Basalt River Park to enjoy, visitors will be able to bring the fresh fruit and other market goods just a few steps away to a show at the bandshell in the park. 

In addition to local art and food, the market is a great place for a friendly lawn game or a tarot card reading. It is a gathering place for the whole family, as town of Basalt senior planner Sara Nadolny said. Her daughter has grown up spending Sundays at the market.

“She always wants to enjoy a mango-on-a-stick and sit and listen to the musicians, run around on the grassy lawn with her friends, and create masterpieces at the Art Base’s Crafternoons setup. The market offers such a wonderful opportunity to connect with and celebrate the community,” Nadolny said. 

Carbondale Farmers’ Market: Every Wednesday, June 7-Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 4th Street and Main Street in downtown Carbondale

Downvalley from Aspen and Basalt in Carbondale, passing a number of ranches and farms along Highway 82, shoppers looking to “buy local” can find Colorado goods on Wednesdays in downtown Carbondale. 

Sustainability and accessibility are top priorities for the market, as all of the vendors participate in Evergreen Zero Waste practices, using only compostable materials to serve food. And since 2019, the market has worked in partnership with the USDA-SNAP program to provide equitable access to local food. 

Be sure to stop by on the second or last Wednesday of the month, when the market features live music from Roaring Fork Valley musicians.

Two Roots Farm Stand: Every Friday, June-October, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the farm in Basalt, 100 Sopris Creek Road

For an opportunity to meet your farmer and get closer to the action than possible at a Farmers’ Market, check out the Two Roots Farm Stand in Basalt. 

Two Roots Farm is a fruit, vegetable, herb and flower farm that has used regenerative methods of farming since 2016. Their CSA program boasts 250 members and is currently on a waitlist but offers a membership program to their farm stand for 10% off purchases. 


Customers can add eggs to their meat CSA box from Dooley Creek Farm.

In the ecological wealth of the Colorado high country, consumers are tuning in more and more to the nutritional and environmental benefits of buying local meats and produce. One of the most popular ways to connect local farmers with local eaters is through CSAs, which make it easy for subscribers to eat seasonal offerings from local farms and ranches — cutting out long commutes for foods from faraway regions.

Nearly all CSAs in the valley sell out by the summer — a testament to the local dedication to supporting the region’s farmers and ranchers. But a few spots stay available throughout the season as different products come into season or subscribers opt out as summer progresses.

Here is a list of some Roaring Fork and regional CSAs, plus farms that sell directly to consumers, that are open as of May:

  • Desert Weyr, Paonia, on-farm pickup: Mutton cuts
  • Dooley Creek Farm, Carbondale, on-farm pickup or delivery: Meats (beef cuts, ground beef, pork cuts, and chicken cuts) with optional egg add-on
  • The Farm Collaborative, Aspen, on-farm or off-farm pickup: Eggs
  • Highwater Farm, Silt, on-farm or off-farm pickup: Vegetables
  • The Living Farm, Paonia, on-farm pickup: Meats
  • Mountain Freshies, North Fork Valley, delivery: Fruits and vegetables, plus a fall/winter box
  • Here is a list of some Roaring Fork CSAs that have a waitlist:
  • Two Roots Farm: Fruits, eggs, and (bi)weekly shares
  • Juniper Flowers: Flowers/floral arrangements

*Both Two Roots Farm and Juniper Flowers sell their yields at the Two Roots Farm Stand all season long. 

Juniper Flowers sells seasonal floral arrangements through their CSA and at the Two Roots Farm Stand.

A&E Agenda: What’s coming up

W Aspen launches inaugural June Pride celebration on Friday

AspenOut has partnered with W Aspen to host the first June Pride celebrations in the city’s history.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Guests and locals are invited to start Aspen Pride with a splash on Friday evening on W Aspen’s WETdeck, surrounded by beats from a lineup of LGBTQ+ DJs.

Festivities continue with a foray into Aspen’s mountain landscape for a serene yoga class Saturday, led by a special guest and yoga guru, capped off with a champagne toast.

A prominent tastemaker and spirits writer will also be on-property hosting Mixology 101 and sharing his cocktails with guests.

The day’s events will culminate with the Pride Ball Extravaganza, featuring stellar DJs and special performances throughout the hotel.

Guests are invited to enjoy a jam-packed Comedy Brunch Sunday, featuring comics, glam stations, and costume closets. All ticket proceeds from Pride Opening Weekend will be donated directly to AspenOUT.  

Full list of weekend activities:

  • Friday, June 2 – Friday Night Swim with DJ set by Crush Club
  • Friday, June 2 – Afterparty with Dragonette
  • Saturday, June 3 – Morning yoga + Guided Hike with Zacharias Niedzwiecki
  • Saturday, June 3 – Beyond Frosé Mixology Class
  • Saturday, June 3 – Playhaus Hotel Takover with Drag Queen Glam Stations
  • Sunday, June 4 – Comedy Brunch hosted by Quincy Bazen

For more information: marriott.com/en-us/hotels/asewh-w-aspen/overview/pride-celebration

Casterline|Goodman Gallery, New Summer Artists: Tyler Shields and Russell Young and Field Of Flowers exhibition featuring Nick Moss and Danielle Procaccio

Tyler Shields, “The Girl in the Red Car,” 2021, Casterline|Goodman Gallery.
Courtesy photo

Tyler Shields, June 1-July 9

Show title: “The Dirty Side of Glamour”

Name a celebrity, and Tyler Shields has probably shot them — from Hollywood legends like Bruce Willis to industry titans like Elon Musk and everyone in between. Born in 1982, his earliest work broke the internet with images featuring Lindsey Lohan running wild through L.A., Emma Roberts jumping off of buildings, and other young A-list stars doing what every magazine told him could not be done.

The series of work Shields is bringing to Aspen is playful and provocative, features with bright colors in some work juxtapositioned with images in black and white. He is multidimensional, just like his work. He is currently one of the world’s most celebrated fine-art photographers, but his background started in action sports, as he was once a professional in-line skater and X Games World Champion. 

Field of Flowers”: June 1-Sept. 15

The “Field of Flowers” exhibition features Nick Moss and Danielle Procaccio’s works at Casterline|Goodman Gallery. Moss experiments with welding and steel, which has developed into his process of art fabrication today. He makes all work entirely by hand without studio assistants through a process that’s dangerous and requires dexterity and attention to detail while behind a full-face welding helmet. Procaccio’s work is a combination of mediums. Her multi-layered composition gives the canvas texture and movement, fusing the indigenous with the sophisticated. Her art can be found in corporate and private collections worldwide.

Opening reception for “Stone Entropy,” Carbondale Arts Gallery, Friday, 5-7 p.m.

Stone carving by Luke Leone.
Courtesy photo

Carbondale Arts presents “Stone Entropy,” a group exhibition of local sculptors, all living and working in the Crystal Valley: Chet Haring, Gregory Tonozzi, and Lucas Leone. The community is invited to an opening reception Friday, with an artist talk at 5:30 p.m. featuring all three exhibiting artists.

These three carvers would like to think that these sculptures are a small interlude to be enjoyed in the history of the stones, displaying the beauty of the stone itself and diversity of stone carving.

Artist Gregory Tonozzi states, “Metamorphic processes have been happening to this stone for billions of years. My hands are now part of these changes. I owe a debt to the miners quarrying the stone and the geological formations that blessed me with such beautiful stone.”

The exhibition will be on display inside as well as outside in The Launchpad’s sculpture gardens through June 27, open weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more information: carbondalearts.com

Wilderness Workshop’s Community Party kicks off summer season on Friday

Wilderness Workshop hosts its 2023 Community Party. Celebrate summer to come, which will include restoration and stewardship projects, hikes in landscapes they are working to protect, bilingual events like Latino Conservation Week, and actions people can take to protect the environment. The annual Community Party is the workshop’s chance to say thank you to local supporters on behalf of Western Colorado’s public lands.

The free event is Friday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Sopris Park (corner of Main Street and Weant Boulevard) in Carbondale. Registration online is appreciated but not required.

Summer workshops at Anderson Ranch begin on Monday and kick off the lineup of free events through summer:

  • Sundays, 7 p.m. Guest faculty lecture
  • Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Guest faculty lecture
  • Fridays, 12:15 p.m. Auctionette, which includes a $20 buffet lunch will be served from 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and the auctionette, 12:15-1 p.m. Free and open to the public. 

For more information: andersonranch.org

Parker Millsap, TACAW, Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.

Parker Millsap will perform at TACAW on June 8.
Courtesy photo

Genre: Folk / Rock

Parker Millsap quickly made a name for himself with his live performances, soulful sound, and character-driven narratives. He’s had a string of successes including an appearance on “Conan,” a performance with Elton John at the Apple Music Festival, an Austin City Limits taping, and an Americana Music Association nomination for Album of the Year. He’s shared the stage with folks like Jason Isbell, Shovels & Rope, Patty Griffin, and Houndmouth.

Millsap’s early releases showcased a mastery of acoustic folk rock. “Be Here Instead,” his 2021 release produced by John Agnello, hinted at the wildness to come while exploring newer, more personal songwriting styles. Millsap’s newest album, “Wilderness Within You,” is a natural step in his evolution which interweaves threads of his musical past and newer influences to gorgeous effect.

For more information and tickets: https://tacaw.org/calendar/parker-millsap/

A&E Agenda

Aspen Indigenous Society presents POW WOW 2023, Saturday, 1-8 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m., Aspen High School

Aspen Indigenous Society presents POW WOW 2023, Saturday and Sunday at Aspen High School.
Courtesy photo

A pow wow is a social gathering held in indigenous communities. A modern pow wow is a specific type of event for Native American people to meet, dance, sing, socialize, and honor their cultures. The event includes a prize competition in various dance and drum categories.

General Admission: $10; Students: $5; Veterans and children under 12: free.

  • Contest dancing and drumming in full regalia
  • Raffle drawings
  • Native vendor booths (jewelry, arts & crafts)
  • Fry bread and Indian taco stand
  • Presentation booths

W Aspen Presents genre-bending musical artist Aluna, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Aluna will perform at W Aspen’s first W Presents on Saturday.
Courtesy photo

The Living Room, the W hotel’s après spot, will transform into an electric music venue for one night only. Guests and locals are invited to celebrate the start to summer with musical artist Aluna, featuring Frasure. Known for her explorative dance music, inspired by pop-house, dance hall, funk, and Caribbean and African dance genres, she will be the inaugural performance for W Aspen’s W Presents series. 

“We are excited to host our first W Presents with the incredibly talented Aluna, featuring Frasure, to kick off summer at W Aspen,” said Chris Jaycock, the W’s general manager “Music is core to our hotel ethos, and this concert marks the beginning of what will be a historic summer season for us. We invite the Aspen community and our guests to experience Aluna’s eclectic and revolutionary sound for one special night.” 

Launched this past spring, W Presents is a live, electronic showcase series featuring headlining artists handpicked by W Hotels’ global director of music.

Tickets to W Aspen Presents Aluna featuring Frasure are complimentary. All attendees are required to RSVP or entrance to the event. 

Shelly Safir Marolt: “Underneath” Opening Reception, Friday, 4-7 p.m., The Art Base, Basalt

The Art Base will host an artist reception for Shelly Safir Marolt on Friday.
Courtesy photo

The Art Base presents Shelly Safir Marolt’s solo exhibition, “Underneath,” featuring large-scale, Victorian-inspired portraits of women with a contemporary gaze and neon underlay, alongside smaller paintings with ink, mud, acrylic, glitter, and pastels celebrating the female form.

“I’m not an artist with a mission statement. I’ve never had one idea that followed through all of my work over the past 30 years. I paint what inspires me,” said Safir Marolt. “I see something or read something, and I get a spark, an idea, and I paint. My process for each series is unique and individual to the pieces. The Victorian women paintings, for example, start with a neon underpainting. I then paint with acrylics and glitter using brushes. The vulva paintings were made differently, with ink, mud, acrylic, glitter, and pastels and painted with tree branches and brushes. They are more organic and immediate.”

Artist talk moderated by Suzan Obermeyer.

More information: theartbase.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions

Tab Benoit, The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW), Thursday, June 1, 8 p.m.

Tab Benoit will perform at TACAW on Thursday, June 1.
Courtesy photo

Tab Benoit is a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and guitarist who has built a 30+ year career on the foundation of his gritty and soulful Delta swamp blues, acquiring a devoted legion of fans along the way, as well as 5 Blues Music Awards, including BB King Entertainer of the Year (twice) and an induction into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. 

His accomplishments as a musician are matched only by his devotion to the environmental health of his native Louisiana wetlands. He’s the founder and driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to preserve the coastal waters of his home state. In 2010, he received the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Benoit also starred in the iMax motion picture “Hurricane on the Bayou,” a documentary of Hurricane Katrina’s effects and a call to protect and restore the wetlands.

More information: tacaw.org/calendar/tab-benoit

Artist reception, Red Brick Center of the Arts, Thursday June 1, 5 p.m.

“A Feather in Her Hat” 30×30, Jennifer Hohlfelder
Courtesy photo

The Red Brick is holding an artist reception with food and drinks for two exhibitions. Artists will be in attendance.

“Messages,” Daniel Carr: An item diminishing in its importance, yet still charged with symbolism and representation, the postage stamp becomes the medium for the works by him. Stamps dating back 150 years and including all their cancellation marks and defects are rendered into images from the iconic to the everyday.


“Sense of Time,” Jennifer Hohlfelder, Hunter Hogan, Monica Goldsmith, Christie Helm: Many often think of time as linear, fixed, and for some, something there’s not enough of in a day. However, physicists have a different take and debate whether it is real, an illusion, or even a dimension. In this exhibition, time is considered in various ways. Nostalgia in Jennifer’s paintings is explored as an ideal that can offer joy and perhaps a reminder to appreciate the fleeting moments of life. In the quiet, sparse rooms of Monica’s interiors, time holds the potential for what is about to happen or just did happen in the scene. In Hunter’s paintings, images from magazines, home-finishing samples, and personal memories are cut from their original narrative and rearranged, collaging different events into a new story. Lastly, Christie takes us out of the immediate and draws us towards a spiritual realm where time is expansive, and eternal. These artists offer us different perceptions of time, which might be what is needed to make us accept its passing. 


Movie Review: ‘Fast X’ shows the franchise still up to old tricks

In “Fast X,” the Fast and Furious franchise is forced to learn the pro-wrestling rule that once you jump off a 5-foot post, you’ve got to jump off a 10-foot ladder, then a 20-foot cage, and next a 40-foot scaffolding. Eventually, there’s nothing left to jump off of, the audience gets bored, and you’re going to have to tell a story.

The series has gone into space and has gone underwater, and now there’s nothing else to do except to try to remember how to tell a story. The story here is carried by its characters, both old and new members of the infamous Corona-slugging family.

Its studio, Universal, is sans a superhero property, so they cling to this profit churner, clutching tighter than a starving pterodactyl. They throw oodles and oodles of money at not just special effects, but also toward their casting, each installment bringing in a new superstar.

Like a weigh station for fame, burgeoning A- and B-listers come in to check where they’re at. John Cena returns as his usual, effortlessly-charming self. Somebody was mean enough to put Vin Diesel across from Brie Larson for a dialogue scene in which she acts circles around him.

But it is Jason Momoa lending his handsome magnetism that makes the 150-minute runtime redeemable. Dancing around in impeccable costume design, he starts with trying to blow up the Vatican with an inflamed, bouncing sphere bomb, throws down a challenge for an old-school street race, and most notably, has his hair put up in adorable space buns during one scene.

Around him, the machine still knows what they’re doing. Mini-guns go whirr, booming soundtracks play over gorgeous B-roll of city skylines, with bouncing foxy butts mixed in for ambiance, and the action sequences are so outlandish that squeals of delight emit from the audience during several of them. Godfather Diesel has admitted that they’re beginning to wind down, so work is put into devolving the characters back to base zero.

It could lead to a finale where they shrink the scope and return to their roots, but I doubt it. After 10 movies, and one failed spinoff that has been mercifully forgotten, they’re floating in post-modern space. Way beyond irony, they’re reaching a driving glove deep into art’s dregs and coming up completely devoid of self-awareness.

I like Vin Diesel. At one point, I could have been called a Diesel apologist with performances in “Boiler Room” and “The Iron Giant” that are blindly overlooked; but now, he thinks he is Dom Torreto, so he shouldn’t have to act as Dom Torreto. He is the focal point of the flick but also is its greatest weakness.

At what point does campiness lose its charm and just become annoying? “Fast X” tightropes that line, leaning side-to-side precariously often but still never falling off.

Rating: 6.3/10

Aspen High’s Drama Club presents ‘Not a Cabaret’

Throughout the year, Aspen High’s arts and theater students work on plenty of projects, all created and directed by adults.

“We end up only performing in shows or concerts with material that we don’t really get to choose. A lot of the stuff we work on throughout the year never gets seen in front of an audience,” said Clare Williams, a sophomore.

She saw an opportunity to give fellow performing arts students a chance to show off what they’ve been working on all year and started the biannual “Not a Cabaret Student Performance Showcase.”

“I wanted to give students more performance opportunity, especially in times when we don’t have a show going on,” she said.

Gia Henrichon played piano and sang at the last Drama Club performance in the fall.
Olivia Ferrara/Courtesy photo

She said the name is somewhat ironic. It doesn’t follow the technical structure of a cabaret, which typically is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama performed in nightclub or restaurant. But it does adopt the general concept.

The first “Not a Cabaret” was in fall 2022, when students performed a range of acts from playing instruments to monologues. In the upcoming show, Williams estimated 12-13 students will be giving a variety of performances at the two premieres.

“I think every single performance is an opportunity to really grow as a performer and establish your skill. I think it’s really important to be in front of audiences, when you’re working on performing, if you want to get better at it,” she said.

Though this is only the second show the club has put on, she said she hopes they will continue to happen in the spring and fall each year.

“We’re learning a lot more about what needs to happen when preparing a show,” she said.

The show is made possible from a grant the club received from the Aspen Thrift Store.

“We’re really thankful for the community supporting us,” Williams said. “In my experience at the high school, there’s a lot of importance on sports and athleticism. I want to highlight the arts.”

The first performance will be at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Black Box Theater. Tickets are $10 at the door, and the performance will be in dinner-theater style, meaning food and drink will be served while the audience sits at tables and enjoys the performance. The second performance is at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Explore Booksellers. Admission is free.

The performance in the Black Box is dinner-theatre style.
Olivia Ferrara/Courtesy photo

Asher on Aspen: An evening with Gary Clark Jr.

It’s a quarter past midnight, but Gary Clark Jr. wants to keep going.

The guitar-slinging blues-rocker is standing in the center of a darkened Belly Up stage on a recent Friday night in Aspen. Never wanting it to end, the crowded venue went wild for the encore. Clark strolled across the stage with his laid-back, stylish demeanor and wailing electric guitar. The audience couldn’t help but close their eyes and sway their hips to his melodic grooves while embracing the last few songs of the evening. Enamored by his presence, it felt like everyone was on the same page, and no one wanted it to end.

Originally from Austin, Texas, the 39-year-old headliner is celebrated for his style of fusing blues, rock, and soul while adding elements of hip hop. Many fans would consider him the closest thing we have to a modern-day Hendrix. Music enthusiasts consider him to be one of the last real rock gods, along with fellow master guitarists like Jack White, John Mayer, or the late, great Prince.

It’s pretty incredible that a musician of this magnitude is still playing an intimate, 450-person venue while he is simultaneously selling out stadiums and world tours. Just the other week, I had the privilege of seeing him at the Hollywood Bowl for Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday, where he performed with Leon Bridges to a crowd of 17,000.

Clearly, there’s something about Belly Up that has stuck with him. Maybe it’s the close connection with the crowd, the way the acoustics sound in that room, or maybe it’s the people he’s met in Aspen along the way. Regardless, it’s obvious he’s a fan of the venue. This show marked his 10th performance on the Belly Up stage, with his first show dating back to July 2014.

The audience was fired up from the start, and Clark wasted no time in giving the crowd exactly what they came for. For roughly the first five minutes of the show, the lights stayed low as he passionately poured his heart out into his guitar while making it look effortless.

He and his four-piece band took the stage and tore into what is considered his signature song, “Bright Lights,” with many in the crowd holding up their phones to capture the moment. This was followed by a couple rowdier crowd pleasers, “Keep it Up Now” and “Travis County Line.” As the set moved along, he shuffled around the stage, revealing his guitar skills and interacting with the fans. He and his band worked together like a well-oiled machine, and it was exciting to watch their chemistry onstage.

The venue’s cozy, intimate atmosphere prompted a moment of authenticity in the crowd. Clark spotted a woman on the dance floor and stared her up and down. With his left hand on his hip and a baffled face expression, he looked down and pointed at her T-shirt. “I’m going to show up the next time you’re fly fishing, and wear a shirt that says, ‘I’d rather be on stage right now,'” he said as he chuckled at his own joke. The audience broke out in laughter, and I think everyone appreciated the organic moment.

He broke from his possession, “How you feeling, Belly Up? It’s good to be here. It’s good to be back,” he said while casting a grin. It was at some point during the second half when he slowed the tempo for “I Walk Along,” from his 2019 album “This Land,” and the romantic slow jam “Our Love” soon followed. The deep-pitted, emotional soul-cleansing continued, and I never wanted it to end. He continued to impress the audience with “Church,” where he showcased his impressive vocal range. I slowly grew hypnotized by his falsetto. Looking around, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t just me. Everyone was completely transfixed by his talent. I put my hand to my chest and closed my eyes while moving back and forth with the vibrations.

Clark and his band were electric from the moment they hit the stage at 10:15 p.m. They delivered a lively, two-hour show that displayed the range of the native Austinite’s ample talents and his compelling presence as a live performer. While it was a gift seeing him perform at the Hollywood Bowl, watching him perform at Belly Up in a venue with such close proximity was a different experience entirely.

WineInk: The magic of the Classic

As it is the middle of the offseason here in the Rockies, it is a perfect time to consider the coming summer of wine and to glance back at some summer memories gone by.

Summer is the best of seasons in Wine Country. It is the time when the grapes do all the work. Hopes are high for a bountiful harvest, and there is a little time to rest a bit and let nature do its thing. For wine drinkers, it is the season for sipping lighter-style wines. Rosé rules under the summer sun, and this year, it seems that Sauvignon Blanc will also have a moment. Bucket-cooled sparkling wines always refresh in the heat of the day or for sunset contemplation and celebration. For those who just want to keep drinking red wine, the lighter style, cool-climate Pinot Noirs from the Sonoma Coast or the fresh and fruity Gamay wines from Beaujolais can do the trick.

I have a couple of West Coast wine trips coming up — to the Pacific Northwest and to California’s Central Coast — and will be looking to indulge and report back on wines that are new to me and hopefully of interest to you. Summer wine travel is a blessing, as the days are long and the vibe is mellow.

But it is the 40th anniversary edition of the Food & Wine Classic that is circled in red on my calendar. Yes, that circle around June 16-18 came from the stained foot of a glass. I have been attending the Classic for three decades of those years, and I doubt that without it being such an integral part of the Aspen summer season this column would exist.

Donald Ziraldo and Gianluca Bisol toast the Classic.
Courtesy photo

When WineInk debuted in 2007, an initiative offered up by then-Aspen Times Editor Bob Ward, it was based on the correct premise that Aspen is a significant wine town. Much of that thinking had to do with the annual presence of America’s foremost culinary and wine event. He knew that Aspen had a world-class collection of sommeliers, collectors, and wine lists, but he also recognized the importance of the Food & Wine Classic to the community. The Aspen Daily News at that time already had a wine column written by Brenda Francis, and it was an honor to begin the process of chronicling the wine scene in this town and writing more broadly about all things wine.

Since that time, I have not have missed a Classic and have embraced the opportunities it provides each summer. You see, instead of having to actually travel to visit winemakers and taste their wines on their turf, the most esteemed wine producers in the world come here for three days each year and bring their best stuff to, well, my turf. It has always been a compressed and challenging three days in many ways, but the chance to meet so many legends and taste and talk through their wines has been a privilege and an education.

So many people and so many wines, it is actually hard to know where to begin. I guess the tents may be the best place. I have never toured the great wine regions of Spain, something on the must-do list; but thanks to the annual Wines of Spain activation that is a staple in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, I can tell my Albariño from my Mencía. That’s pronounced “Men-thee-ah” and is an aromatic red wine that comes from the northwest corner of Spain. Each year, I try to spend the best part of an hour tasting the top and absorbing as much knowledge as I can from those who pour the wines in my glass.

Randy Ullom and the Kendall Jackson team ski during the Classic.
Courtesy photo

For many summers, I have been lucky to spend time at the Classic with winemakers who became not just friends, but also in some cases, ski buddies as well.

Donald Ziraldo is a Canadian winemaker who produced what is arguably the most famous wines ever to come from up north. The Inniskillin late-harvest Ice wines that he founded were my first experience with Canadian juice. Well, other than Labbats. And tasting the wines made me think different, as the saying goes, about the passion winemakers can have for producing niche wines. I have spent many hours since with the Donald on chairlifts talking about the extraordinary nectar that are Canadian Ice wines.

I’ve also had the chance, during the Classic in 2019, to make turns on Aspen Mountain with the team from Jackson Family Wines, headed by their illustrious and esteemed winemaker Randy Ullom. Ullom, one of the most recognizable personalities in wine, has a big job overseeing the production of the global vineyards of Kendall Jackson, but that didn’t keep him away from the slopes of Aspen mountain that June Sunday after it opened for the Classic weekend, thanks to prodigious snowfall. Ullom has been coming to pour wines at the Classic for close to 30 years and is an example of a winemaker who has become part of the fabric of the Classic.

The late, great Terry Leighton was a fixture at the Food & Wine Classic.
Courtesy photo

And then there are the characters. The story of Charles Bieler taking a tour of the country in a 1966 Pink Cadillac de Ville to promote his Rosé was priceless — even if the car burned before it could make it down Aspen’s Main Street. And how about Italy’s Gianluca Bisol, the best-dressed man in any and every tent, who produces some of the finest Prosecco on the planet? He brought his Venissa wines produced from an ancient and nearly extinct grape called Dorona to Aspen for an epic debut. He makes this wine on an island off of Venice and labels it with a sheet of gold leaf. Amazing stuff.

I’ll never forget time spent sipping aged wines with Marin County winemaker Terry Leighton of Kalin Cellars. For years, he came to the Classic with his wife, Frances, to pour their minuscule production of white wines that spent years aging before release, as they believed that time made better wine. “Wine is a journey,” Terry liked to say as he poured just a bit of a 20-year-old Chardonnay into a glass of a novice taster. He passed away this past February, but his spirit will hover over the Grand Pavilion.

­­­And that’s just from the Grand Tasting. There have been extraordinary seminars and wine dinners and visits to the Mine and pig pulls … I could go on and may well do so in a future column. But as we sit here in the middle of offseason, I reflect back on the first line in that first WineInk in 2007 that read: “I’m a lucky guy.” And I am, especially during the summer.  


Whispering Angel

It was around 2009 that I first remember seeing the pink-hued wines behind the labels that featured cherubic angels. Of all the things that I have witnessed in my time attending the Classic, nothing has been as amazing as the rise of Whispering Angel and other Rosé wines in the public consciousness.

“I used to have to beg people to try Rosé at the Food & Wine Classic,” said Paul Chevalier, then with a company called Shaw-Ross Imports, who represented the wines. “Now we are amongst the most popular wines under the tent.”

Make that the world. Whispering Angel literally came of age over successive summers at the Classic.

Paul Chevalier launched Whispering Angel at Food & Wine.
Courtesy photo

Theatre Aspen confirms Julia Knitel and Sara King to star in ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,’ single tickets on sale Tuesday

Get ready Aspen, Broadway is coming to town and single tickets go on sale Tuesday.

Theatre Aspen announced casts and creative teams for Theatre Aspen’s 40th season, including “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” along with the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Doubt” and “RENT.”

The cast of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” (June 22-July 8) is led by Julia Knitel as singer/songwriter Carole King. The musical tracks King’s personal journey and professional rise from teenage songwriter through the release of her influential 1971 album, “Tapestry.”

“People know her, and they know her music, like almost no other female singer/songwriter” said Knitel. “But what they don’t really know is her story. ‘Will you still love me tomorrow?’ She was 17 when she wrote that. It’s wild.”

Knitel, who was the understudy on Broadway before she landed the lead for the first national touring company, was the youngest actress cast for the role and spent the ages of 22-24 playing King full time.

She said she is excited to perform in Aspen for the first time and revisit the role now that “she is almost 30,” and able to connect with her from a more mature and grounded perspective.

“I’ve learned a lot from her,” she said. “She and I have these parallel stories, which I didn’t even realize until it was behind me. I also started my career professionally at 16 and was unaware of my limitations. I learned from her how to be unapologetically yourself, because Carole was told, ‘Well, your voice is only good enough for the demos and you know you don’t really have the look for a star.’ But what made her special was that she looked different than anyone else. She was singing with her true voice, writing songs that were coming from such a deep place, and her ability to perform them in a very unapologetic unpolished, raw way is what made her a star.”

Sara King will reprise her role as Cynthia Weil in Theatre Aspen’s production of “Beautiful, The Carole King Musical” this summer.
Courtesy photo

Sara King will also be reprising her role after a multi-year Broadway run as legendary songwriter (and close friend and competitor with Carole King and first husband and collaborator Gerry Goffin) Cynthia Weil in “Beautiful.”

“Cynthia is just this absolute firecracker. She’s very independent. She has opinions, and not afraid to push the boundaries,” said King. “She’s a strong-willed, very expressive woman who didn’t take no for an answer in a male-dominated world. She was a role model for Carole. It’s cool because in the play we get to see kind of the difference in energy. Carole King was more passive and a little submissive and a little timid and then Cynthia walks in and she really does drive the competition between the groups of friends.”

The creative team for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” features direction and choreography by Joyce Chittick (Broadway: “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The Pajama Game 2006,” “Anything Goes 2011”) and by David Ruttura (associate director in Broadway’s “Beautiful,” “School of Rock”) and music direction by Alan J. Plado (“Beautiful,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Jersey Boys”).

Theatre Aspen also confirmed the creative team for “Doubt,” (July 14-29) featuring direction by Jenn Thompson (off-Broadway’s “Conflict,” “Women Without Men”), John McDermott (scenic design), Christina Watanabe (lighting design), Jane Shaw (sound design and composition), and Hunter Kaczorowski (costume design).

The production of “RENT” (Aug. 4-26) will star Michael Lepore (“Sing Street”) as Mark Cohen, Liam Pearce (“Legally Blonde” at The Muny) as Roger Davis, Chabely Ponce (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Ragtime”) as Mimi Marquez, and Jaye Alexander (“Titanique,The Drowsy Chaperone”) as Tom Collins.

The creative team for “RENT” features direction by Andy Señor Jr. (“On Your Feet!”), music direction by Jared Stein (“American Idiot,” “Deaf West’s Spring Awakening,” “Hair”) and choreography by Karla Garcia (“Hamilton,” “Wicked,” NBC’s “Smash”).

In celebration of Theatre Aspen’s 40th anniversary and to ensure locals get first shot at tickets, Theatre Aspen is hosting a special one-day-only on location event to kick off single ticket sales on Tuesday at 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Hurst Theatre Tent. The first 40 ticket buyers at the box office will receive a free 40th anniversary wine tumbler, three-day pass to Cycle Bar Aspen and some chippers from Paradise Bakery.

Tickets will be available for purchase online at TheatreAspen.org or by calling (970) 300-4474 starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

A one-day-only single ticket sales event will take place at Hurst Theatre Tent on Tuesday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Theatre Aspen, Mike Lyons/Courtesy photo

Wild Child finds way back with new album, ‘End of the World’

The first time Austin-based, indie-folk-pop band Wild Child came to Aspen to perform at Belly Up, they came over Independence Pass towing a trailer.

“I guess I just missed the sign that said, ‘Do not drive with a trailer,'” said lead vocalist and bariton ukulele player Alexander Beggins with a chuckle. “I was driving through the highest peaks I’d ever seen with a giant trailer going through these narrow turns, watching the back of the trailer get really close to the side of the road. And everyone’s on edge. It was the most stressful drive of my life.”

Luckily, they got to town safely and learned a good lesson: It might take work to get to Aspen, but it’s worth it. Since then, he said, they have returned to Belly Up “a handful of times,” though due to the pandemic, their show Sunday will be their first time back since 2019.

“My best memory of Belly Up is how the staff treat you. They are so accommodating and very friendly,” he said. “Of course, it’s also a wonderful, great venue just littered with memorabilia of different artists that have played it. It’s a good vibe, a good night all around, and Aspen is just a really cool town.”

Almost the end

Their recently released fifth studio album, “End of the World,” and subsequent tour almost didn’t happen.

Beggins said that in 2018, after being on the road for 10 years, the band returned to Austin “burnt out.” They decided to take a break, and he seriously thought his journey with the band might be over.

“It just wasn’t feeling good anymore, and we didn’t quite know what to do,” he said. “We started doing some of our own solo projects, and honestly, it kind of felt like we had our run, and it was time to walk off into the sunset. It ended up being so good for us to just take this break from the band. We were doing our own thing and just living our lives.”

He said after a yearlong break, during the pandemic, the band came together to make music for fun and try their hand at some digital content. They found a loyal fan base online that made them rethink the future of the band.

“We started writing music again, just because we wanted to, and it was fun, and there wasn’t pressure to make a new record or do anything,” he said. “After a good couple months of doing that, we had enough for a record and decided we wanted to record it. That’s what got us back together.”

Austin-based Wild Child is out supporting their new album, “End of the World,” with a show at Belly Up on Sunday.
Sarah Schneider/Courtesy photo

For “End of the World,” the two-surviving members of the original band, Beggins and Kelsey Wilson (lead vocals and violin), had the freedom to work with new musicians they had admired and try a new approach to recording the album.

“We hired this brilliant composer to arrange string and horn parts of songs, which we had never done before, and that was really rad,” he said. “Members of the Dallas Symphony came out to a recording session, and when they sat down with their sheet music and started playing, we were blown away. Sonically, it’s a much bigger sound that what we did before. It was kind of like hearing our music for the first time but through a different lens.”

Wild Child is finding its stride with this new album and tour. A little bit older and wiser and looking for more work/life balance, Beggins said, they have instructed their agent not to book them for more than two-week stretches on the road at a time, so that they get breaks to go home and avoid the burnout they experienced in 2018. 

“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “But we’re having fun doing it now and getting this new music out. It’s been great to see the responses of people singing the new songs. The record came out just over a month ago, and it seems to be digesting well. I think we’ll try and do a little bit more globe-trotting over the next year and see where that leaves us.”

If you go…

What: Wild Child w/Próxima Parada
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Sunday, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
More information and tickets: bellyupaspen.com/events/wild-child