Aspen Times Weekly: On tap for the offseason |

Aspen Times Weekly: On tap for the offseason

by Andrew Travers
Aspen will celebrate screenwriting legend Lorenzo Semple, Jr. at the Wheeler Opera House on Sept. 23.
Courtesy photo |

There’s a choice paralysis that sets in during the high season in Aspen. One weeknight in August, I recall, there was a classical music recital, a rap show, a film screening and a play all happening at once. I wanted to check them all out, but facing the choice of picking one, I ended up choosing none and staying home.

It’s a good problem to have, of course, the slate of cultural opportunities during the jam-packed summertime, but — like a lot of people who live here full time — when our golden mountain fall arrives, I welcome the change of pace and more manageable slate of options.

This autumn, Aspen has a steady stream of events to keep us entertained until the ski lifts start up. Along with long-running fall events, like Aspen Filmfest and Aspen Community Theatre’s annual production, there is world-class music at the Belly Up and the Wheeler, some new events and off-the-beaten path offerings. Mark your calendars, here are some highlights.

Sept. 19 & 26

‘Pop Up Pin Down’

saw in Carbondale

This innovative event at the Studio for Arts & Works (SAW) blends dance, paint, sculpture, and spontaneity for an unconventional exhibition in Carbondale. Dubbed “Pop Up Pin Down,” it features installations by SAW artist Chris Erickson that will be moved, altered, and explored by collaborating dancers during a show directed by Deborah Colley. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20

Anderson Ponty Band

Wheeler Opera House

Prog-rock pioneer Jon Anderson and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty are teaming for a new project, and calling the Wheeler home for the month of September. The residency of the Yes singer and the international jazz superstar in Aspen marks the beginning for the Anderson Ponty Band, which formed just months ago and also features Jamie Dunlap on guitar, Wally Minko on keyboards, Baron Browne on bass and Rayford Griffin on drums. In July, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project and an album is scheduled for a 2015 release.

After three weeks of rehearsals, they’ll play a show at the Wheeler on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Sept. 23

Lorenzo Semple, Jr. Tribute

Wheeler Opera House

Longtime Aspenite and Hollywood screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who died in March, left an indelible creative imprint on this town and on pop culture as a whole. Semple wrote the campy 1960s “Batman” series and films like “Flash Gordon” and “Orca,” along with thrillers like “Papillon,” “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Parallax View.”

He gets a well-deserved local celebration on Sept. 23 at the Wheeler, where his son, the Aspen Daily News columnist Lorenzo Semple III, and his daughter, the novelist Maria Semple, will present clips and share stories in an evening program co-presented by Aspen Film and the Aspen Writers’ Foundation.

Sept. 24

Conor Oberst

Belly Up

Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, who performed as Bright Eyes from the late ’90s until a few years ago, was long hailed as the next Bob Dylan and the voice of a generation as he turned out impeccable albums like “Lifted” and “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning.” Oberst, now in his 30s, is touring in support of his latest, “Upside Down Mountain,” and returning to Belly Up on Sept. 24 in what promises to be a musical highlight of the year for Aspen.

Sept. 25

Hot Rize

Wheeler Opera House

Colorado-bred bluegrass innovators Hot Rize are going on tour and releasing a new album for the first time since 1990, and making Aspen one of their first stops on the road. It’s a monumental event for bluegrass fans, welcoming Tim O’Brien and his band back to town at the Wheeler on Sept. 25.

Sept. 26-Oct. 1

Aspen Filmfest

Wheeler Opera House, Isis Theater, Crystal Theatre

The Roaring Fork Valley’s premier fall festival returns for its 35th year, with a lineup of feature films, documentaries and foreign offerings. Some highlights include the documentary “Limited Partnership,” about the early days of the fight for gay marriage rights here in Colorado, the Benedict Cumberbach World War II drama “The Imittion Game,” and Jason Reitman’s latest: “Men, Women & Children,” along with the surprise film screening on Monday, Sept. 29. Reitman and Oscar-wining documentarian Daniel Junge are among the guests coming to town for panels and audience Q&A sessions.

Sept. 28

Sunday Cinema

Aspen Art Museum

The new dowontown Aspen Art Museum kicked off its monthly Sunday Cinema series in August with “Piercing Brightness.” The series promises avant-garde films you won’t see anywhere else, screened on the museum’s rooftop, with special menus of food and drink, on the last Sunday of every month.

Oct. 2-4

The Meeting

Wheeler Opera House, Belly Up

The annual stokefest and ski-porn festival returns for its 10th year, with three days of films including TGR’s latest snowboard adventure epic, “Almost Ablaze,” and big mountain rider Jeremy Jones’ new “Higher.” Winter sports movies have made huge advances in recent years, with stunning cinematography and inspired storytelling from the likes of Jones — making The Meeting a must for film lovers and anyone ready to get excited for shredding season.

Oct. 26


Belly Up

This Minneapolis synth-pop outfit has crafted an inimitable sound over the last few years and earned a reputation as a can’t-miss live act. With beats by producer Ryan Olson and vocals by Chany Leaneagh, and the band behind them, Polica has made two of the best albums in recent years with 2012’s “Give You the Ghost” and 2013’s “Shaulamith,” blending elements of R&B with electronic sounds and goth rock. They make their Aspen debut at Belly Up Oct. 26.

Nov. 5

The Airborne Toxic Event

Belly Up

Indie rockers The Airborne Toxic Event have been consistently producing literary, often grand songs since 2006. Currently touring in support of the 2013 album “Such Hot Blood,” they come to Belly Up on Nov. 5. Other notable November shows at Belly Up include Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass (Nov. 7), Denver indie pop husband-and-wife duo Tennis (Nov 8) and Chicago hip-hop duo Flosstradamus (Nov. 22.)

Nov. 7-16


Wheeler Opera House

Aspen Community Theatre is coming off of two seasons of impressive shows with last year’s “The Producers” and 2012’s “Crazy For You.” They aim to keep the streak of wins going this fall with a production of the long-running Off-Broadway musical hit “Nunsense.” The madcap farce runs for eight performances at the Wheeler, with a cast and crew of your friends and neighbors from the valley.