Aspen Times Weekly: Running down the Belly Up summer lineup (so far)

by Andrew Travers
Trombone Shorty will perform at Belly Up Aspen on June 12.
Aspen Times file |

Most of the valley’s venues and performing arts presenters announce their seasonal lineups in one big dose — a summer’s worth of events dropped in your lap to ponder. Belly Up goes for the slow play, gradually filling in the calendar an artist or two at a time.

This time of year, after the lifts stop spinning and town empties out and just about everybody closes up shop as the mud starts flowing, the music club’s regular lineup additions can be a beacon of hope for the action to come. The most recent was news that Baauer, the trap and bass maestro and the guy behind the uber-viral “Harlem Shake,” will play the club on June 30. Before that came a pleasant surprise presale announcement for singer-songwriter Josh Ritter making his return to the Belly Up stage on July 13.

Much of June and July has filled up at this point — kicking off with punk rock legends the Buzzcocks on June 1, singer-songwriter Langhorne Slim & the Law on June 2, and Austin-based duo Ghostland Observatory already sold out on June 3.

There are some returning acts, like Cracker (for twelve bucks!) on June 5 and a pair of Marleys the following week — Ziggy on June 7 and Stephen on June 10. And tropical house pioneer Thomas Jack — who packed the club in late December — comes back for a set on June 25.

New Orleans brass and funk virtuoso Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue headline the club on June 12.

The Fourth of July is on a Monday this year, giving us a three-day Independence Day weekend. Thievery Corporation is coming back for what’s become its early July pseudo-residency at the club with back-to-back concerts July 3 and 4. The beloved Washington-based collective will be preceded by Blues Traveler on Friday the 1st and vaunted Grateful Dead tribute band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead on Saturday the 2nd (reserved seats already sold out for that one; general admission are going for $65).

You can always count on at least a handful of classic rock heroes and heritage acts in the club during summertime — so far they’ve got Boz Scaggs on the calendar for July 23 and, further out, Gregg Allman on Sept. 27.

Blues guitar prodigy Jonny Lang plays July 22 and indie pop pianist Andrew McMahon headlines on July 25, followed a few days later by back-to-back young Texan throwbacks: country star Ryan Bingham on July 29 and blues master Gary Clark, Jr., whose July 30 sold out pretty much instantaneously this spring.

Belly Up has rolled out just three shows for August so far: Aspen regular Chris Isaak returning Aug. 1, Swedish electro-pop band Miike Snow on Aug. 2 in what promises to be a summer highlight, and bluesman Keb Mo on Aug. 11.

A few of the premiere summer dates haven’t filled in yet for the club, including all of Food & Wine weekend and most of Labor Day weekend (The Gipsy Kings play on Sunday, Sept. 4). So keep your eyes peeled and your expectations high as the rest of the summer lineup comes together. In the meantime, the club has its usual slate of free offseason shows (more on that in Current Events, page 4) and the return of the fantastic folk sister duo Rising Appalachia on May 20.