Marble Rocks: Fall Fest on Saturday
The Aspen Times
Marble Fall Fest
Featuring the Samples, the Firefall Trio and more
Saturday at noon
When Dan Prazen, a well-liked Marble resident known for his welding and metal sculpture, was injured in a motorcycle wreck last year, his friends knew just where to turn for help — to the other 100 or so souls of the Marble community.
“In a town this small, if something is important to you, you have to do it yourself,” said Larry Good, a music teacher, lodge owner and one of Prazen’s poker buddies who has lived in Marble for 11 years. “That’s the nature of a small town. Nobody’s going to do it for you. We said, ‘What do we do?’”
It was Ryan Vinceguerra, a former food & beverage manager at the Little Nell who now owns Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble, and his co-worker Steve Horner, who came up with the idea of Marble Fall Fest. They also came up with the idea that Good, a longtime musician in the area, could put together an attractive lineup of musical acts to get people to turn out for an October weekend in the rural splendor of the Marble autumn.
“Ryan and Steve said, ‘Let’s do a concert,’” Good said. “I said, OK, that’s in my skill set and I know some people.”
The inaugural Fall Fest, held over two days last year, drew nearly 300 people. They raised $6,500 for Prazen, surpassing their goal. Good seems torn between what was most heartening about the event — that 60 people volunteered to put it on, or the performance by a nine-piece Celtic string band called Feast that put on a memorable show in a gig they used as a warm-up for a long tour.
“The vibe of the festival was mostly surprise,” Good said. “Everyone worked on the festival thinking we just want to do something for Dan, because he’s a super guy. Then when it happened and there were people there and Feast was playing and blew everyone away, everyone said, ‘Wow — we have a festival here, right in Marble, in the middle of town. Everyone was surprised and amazed and pleased that this was happening. People said it was great to see this town all working together.”
The townspeople coming together was such a pleasant experience that it was decided that there didn’t need to be a near-tragedy to do it again. No one in the Marble community appears to be in need the way Prazen was last year, but Fall Fest is returning. This year, the proceeds will go to the new Marble Community Relief Fund.
The second annual festival has been tweaked; this year, it is pared down to one day. But the musical lineup on Saturday represents a notable expansion: headlining the day with an 8 p.m. performance are the Samples, the Boulder-based band whose distinctive reggae-tinged rock sound was a radio staple through the ’90s. The band is still led by singer-songwriter Sean Kelly, and the Samples showed their enduring popularity and ability in a concert last year at PAC3 in Carbondale. Also on the bill is the Firefall Trio, the Colorado group from the ’70s responsible for the soft-rock hit “You Are the Woman.” Rounding out the bill are the Johnny O Band, led by former Carbondalian Johnny Ohnmacht; downvalley folk-rock bands All the Pretty Horses and the Milemarkers; Aspen singer-songwriter Dan Sheridan; and Johnny Kongo.
Fall Fest, held in a meadow across from Slow Groovin’ BBQ, also includes a beer tent, homemade giant marshmallows to roast in the fire pits; and food for purchase, including a hot dog created especially for the event, from Slow Groovin’. There are contests in log-splitting, pumpkin-carving, and pie-baking, and Good says the competition can get serious.
“The log-splitting is a big deal. Their whole mountain manhood is on the line. And there’s a women’s division,” he said. Good added that the carved pumpkins will be displayed at the front of the stage, with audience members voting on the winning pumpkin, and that the winning pie recipe will be featured on the Slow Groovin’ menu for the year.
Camping for the Fall Fest is available at the Bogan Flats site, on the river just past the turn-off from Highway 133. Shuttles will run from the campsite to the festival grounds.
* * * *
For a town of 100 or so people (a bunch more in summer, and several score fewer in winter, when the sun disappears from the tiny valley early in the afternoon), Marble displays an awful lot of community involvement. There is the Marble Historical Society as well as the Crystal River Heritage Association. The Crystal River Echo is published once a month. And while the town took a hit in population during the economic downturn— a good percentage of residents work in the construction trade, and had to flee when the industry tanked a few years ago — Marble seems to be growing again, if slightly. Good, who teaches music at the Marble Charter School, reports that the school has 40 students, the most it has had since it became a charter school. The school, which occupies a new building, now has a cafeteria serving hot lunches, and a new playground. “We’re swinging large,” Good said.
Though not quite as large as the old days, when the quarry that gives Marble its name was at full-speed, producing stone for buildings including the Federal Building in Denver and the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C. Back then, it was a company town with two newspapers and a movie theater.
“It all got leveled in the mudslide, in the big flood,” Good, who moved to Aspen in 1988 and then “started bouncing down the valley,” said. “There were two floods — one in ’41 and one in ’46. A neighborhood in Grand Junction has a lot of the old Marble houses in it.”
Good says the town’s residents can be split into two types — those who look at Marble as a retreat and keep to themselves, and those who seek engagement in genuine small-town life. (When I lived there for most of a year, in 1994-’95, I was one of the former. I don’t recall meeting any of my fellow townsfolk.)
“There’s a certain element there — people left alone to do their own thing,” Good, who runs the Beaver Lake Lodge with his wife, Karen, said. “We have a lot of artists — some involved in the community and some here to hide out.”
Last year, Good got to experience one of the treats of small-town existence. Recognizing his contributions to Fall Fest, his fellow festival organizers created a special sandwich in his honor — the Lorenzo Bueno (Good’s old stage name), featuring smoked chicken and crunchy vegetables known as Texas toothpicks.
“If you have your name on a menu, you’ve made it,” he said. “Your life is complete.”
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The Virtual Aspen Music Festival’s Sunday concerts have been going from strength to strength in a year without audiences in the seats.