Asher on Aspen: A landslide of good music at JAS Labor Day

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

Asher on Aspen

Chris Stapleton performs as the headliner on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, the second day of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village. (Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times)
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times

This past Labor Day weekend was one that I wish I could relive 10 times over. It was filled up with an abundance of live music and wildly cool company. My insane, three-day concert high is all thanks to the JAS Labor Day Experience, an annual music festival that draws in crowds of 10,000 concertgoers daily.

Country, R&B, pop and indie artists who performed throughout the weekend included St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Leon Bridges, Zach Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town and Stevie Nicks. Oh, and let’s not forget about William H. Macy, who made a surprise appearance to perform an original song on his ukulele. Only in Aspen!

Actor William H. Macy, who lives in Woody Creek, made an appearance on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, during the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village. He made a pitch to the crowd to donate money in support of music education in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times

Walking into the gates at Snowmass Town Park, I was immediately dropped into a sea of excited, wide-eyed attendees who were ready to kick off Labor Day weekend in style. Festival patrons dressed to the nines in their most fashionable attire, which was clearly aligned to fit the theme of each night’s performers. Kemo Sabe hats and Western attire filled the crowd for Stapleton while whimsical, flowy outfits floated around for Stevie Nicks. Few things in life light me up more than a crowd full of people who have all come together to celebrate one shared commonality: a love for live music.

Soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges consumed Friday night’s audience with his effortless dance moves and creamy-gritty vocals. His genre-defying music is hard to categorize, as he brings such a diverse mix of R&B, soul, dance and electronic. He boasts a retro soul groove while spitting out sexy vocals that have a sweet way of caressing your soul and making you feel like you’re right where you need to be. With hits like “Texas Sun,” “River,” “Beyond” and “Coming Home,” this lively act kept everyone entertained and on their feet.

Leon Bridges performed as the headliner on the opening night of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience on Sept. 2, 2022, in Snowmass Village.
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times

Chris Stapleton ramped things up on Saturday evening with his outstanding performance, which wildly exceeded my expectations. This was by far the standout show of the weekend, and I can honestly say that seeing him live made me even more obsessed with his music. Stapleton is one of those artists for me that is a regular on my Spotify playlists. His juicy, deep sound is intoxicating, and he has a sweet way of making every car ride better. It was an unending delight to witness his charm and unique stage presence. Both he and his wife, Morgan, had the entire crowd singing along in masses to the gently swaying “Broken Halos” and “You Should Probably Leave,” followed by a rowdy, energetic dance around for outbursts like “Midnight Train to Memphis” and “Fire Away.”

Stevie Nicks walked out onto the stage on Sunday night like a ravishing, witchy goddess, who immediately left everyone awe-struck by her presence alone. At 74 years old, still touring and sounding terrific, she is truly a legend, and it was an honor to have seen her perform live. Nicks reaffirmed her status as one of the greats by performing songs from both her solo career and Fleetwood Mac while captivating an audience filled with several generations of fans. Her melodic, dreamy movements breezed across the stage, while her mic stand (filled with scarves and a tambourine) stood majestically on stage like a relic from the 1970s.

Rock icon Stevie Nicks, at a mere 74 years old, performs on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, as the final act of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village. (Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times)
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times

Nicks gazed out beyond the crowd and was struck by a memory that immediately hushed the crowd and made all heads turn. Nostalgically, she recalled her time spent in Aspen that inspired the iconic song “Landslide.” She was emotional while discussing this memory, her eyes at times filling with tears. The moment she started sharing this story also happened to be the moment that my phone died. Initially seen as an issue because I couldn’t take a video of this heart-felt song on my phone, I eventually came to realize that it was much more special this way. It was enough to just be fully in the moment and present with her alluring words and dazzling presence.

I’m having serious music withdrawals as I sit down to write this after an outrageously fun weekend. This festival filled me up in a way that few other things in life do. The whole time, I knew I was right where I needed to be, and I never wanted the weekend to end. With every high there is a low, and a concert high from live music is no exception. Some people feel it more than others, but there’s no denying that everyone feels the brutal comedown after the music comes to a crashing halt. Until the next enchanting concert, I guess I’ll have to rely on car jams with good friends and house parties with great playlists. Alexa, play Chris Stapleton!