Piecing together Belly Up’s summer lineup (so far)
Back in February, the Aspen Music Festival and School dropped its summer calendar and sent classical music fans scurrying to study hundreds of artist names, composers, themes and symphonies. Likewise, Jazz Aspen released its full 10-artist JAS Café summer lineup in March.
Belly Up, like most music clubs, trickles its seasonal lineup out piecemeal and surprises us with email blasts and social media posts that offer jolts of anticipation; sometimes they just quietly add a name to their online calendar and put tickets on sale.
By this point in mid-May, though. you can start planning out your summer shows and stacking up your tickets. As experience shows, there will be more big names added to the docket and there will be some true surprises (like the Chainsmokers secret show last June). But this is how it’s shaping up so far:
The first big show of the season will be The Record Company, headlining on June 8. The Los Angeles trio played a few under-the-radar gigs at Belly Up in recent years. But they truly won over local music fans last summer at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience when they shared Sunday’s main stage bill with Gary Clark Jr. and Zac Brown Band in what ended up being — unexpectedly — one of the most talked-about sets of the big weekend.
The two splashiest announcements so far: the brilliant former Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, who just released the new solo album “On the Line” and will headline July 10, and the superstar pop singer Norah Jones, whose July 18 show sold out almost immediately when tickets went on sale this winter.
Another early sell-out: Band of Horses’ return on Saturday, July 20, with alt-country singer Nikki Lane opening.
During the new downtown version of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience, the club is hosting two of the festival’s biggest shows with two sets each by a pair of music legends: Booker T. Jones on June 21 and Taj Mahal on June 22.
Mavis Staples, following a well-received Belly Up debut during the ski season, returns July 17 (at $55 to see the Staples Singers legend, this might be the deal of the summer).
A slew of returning local favorites are on the calendar like Michael Franti (June 4), Long Beach Dub Allstars (June 12, the Austin indie-pop duo Wild Child (June 20) and roots rockers Jamestown Revival (June 30), with the throwback sounds of Lake Street Dive (July 6) and New Orleans jam band Galactic (July 11) and the always-incendiary blues rock duo Black Pistol Fire (July 26).
And, of course, there’s already some reggae on the bill: The Wailers are back in the club June 26; Toots and the Maytals on July 25 and Stephen Marley on Aug. 24.
Feel-good electronic duo Louis the Child — hot off of their X Games shows here in January — will be back in the club for a Friday night show on July 12. The next night, July 13, the orchestral pop hybrid Pink Martini rolls in.
While most of July’s weekend shows are already announced, August’s – at press time – are still wide open. Two major acts are scheduled so far for the month: two nights of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Aug. 8-9) and Amos Lee (Aug. 31).
The club has also started to fill in some of its stand-up comedy dates, with Kevin Nealon booked for June 23 and (sigh) Denver’s T.J. Miller on Aug. 7.
Further out, we’ve already got one reason to start craving autumn and leaf-peeping season: Gary Clark Jr. is coming back Sept. 17.
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A piano soloist with the bona fides of Daniil Trifonov and a conductor with the stature of Vasily Petrenko figured to make Sunday’s Festival Orchestra program one of the high points of the Aspen Music Festival season. It was.