Hot Eagle is doing Americana ‘Justice’ |

Hot Eagle is doing Americana ‘Justice’

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Jackson Emmer (left) and Sam Moss have been playing together since they were classmates at Bennington College. Their current band, Hot Eagle, is playing headlining the Justice Snow's "Americana Series" through August.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go…

What: Americana Music Series

Where: Justice Snow’s

When: Sundays and Wednesdays through August, 9 p.m.

More info:

Jackson Emmer, Alison May and Sam Moss are having a busy month in Aspen.

The talented trio of musicians, performing as Hot Eagle, are in the middle of a month-long residency at Justice Snow’s downtown, where they’re headlining a nine-part “Americana Series.”

The band also is playing weekly daytime shows at the Woody Creek Community Center throughout the month. Those start at noon every Saturday through August.

Often joined at Justice Snow’s by local musicians, Hot Eagle is taking an inclusive approach to the idea of Americana. You might hear fiddle-based Appalachian tunes, bluegrass, early country and blues from the likes of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, alongside Jimi Hendrix, some originals (all three are prolific songwriters) and occasional folk-tinged covers of current pop songs.

“The definition of Americana music in this instance is pretty broad, so it’s kind of whatever strikes our fancy,” Moss said on a recent afternoon in the bar at the Wheeler Opera House. “Nothing is off-limits.”

Moss, a guitar and fiddle player from Cambridge, Mass., and Jackson, a Colorado Rocky Mountain School graduate, met in Vermont seven years ago at Bennington College and have played together for several years in different formations. They toured together for a two-week stretch before starting the Justice Snow’s residency.

May, a multi-instrumentalist based in Oakland, Calif., was Moss’s classmate at the Berklee School of Music. She recorded a promising folk album — “Loved/Dark” — in Carbondale earlier this year and released it in July. May plays drums for Hot Eagle but also steps out front to play guitar and sing with the boys. Her singer-songwriter material, showcased on the new album, is a literate and earnest brand of folk that’s refreshing amid today’s dominant tide of bubble-gum pop.

Justice Snow’s hosted the first Americana series in February, with Emmer and Moss’s previous band, The Howling Kettles, playing bi-weekly gigs.

“They said they wanted us back, and I said, ‘Hold August!” said Emmer, who has self-released a steady stream of songs, EPs and albums since his Bennington days.

For February’s run, Emmer and friends played two weekly shows, each with a theme focused on a region or type of music, and Justice’s bartenders made corresponding cocktails.

“That was fun but exhausting in some ways,” Moss said. “This time it’s more free-form. It’s a lot of old country and bluegrass — it’s all old-time music.”

Their hope is that the Justice Snow’s sets, along with the Woody Creek dates, will help develop Hot Eagle and build chemistry between its members, all in their 20s.

“Deep bonds are formed when you’re jamming together three nights a week for a month,” Emmer said.

For it’s part, Justice Snow’s has this summer solidified its stance as a player in the local entertainment scene, booking a solid lineup of local and touring bands for free shows — along with poetry and other events that have helped create a vibrant atmosphere. The lineup, curated mostly by Emmer, is somewhere between the cover-centric après-ski scene and the big name concerts at local venues like the Belly Up and Wheeler Opera House. Along with the night-time shows, Sandy Munro’s long-standing local celtic/bluegrass outfit, the Crowlin’ Ferlies, have been playing Sunday brunches there.