A wordly summer of music for local fans
Appearing at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival later this summer are Nickel Creek, the best-selling acoustic combo who turned in one of last summers highlight concerts in the upper valley; the recently reunited Leftover Salmon, in one of just two comeback concerts scheduled for their home state this summer; and Jackie Greene, the 26-year-old California singer-songwriter whose American Myth made my list of the best CDs of 2006.Thats the good news. The really good news is that those three are all opening acts as in, first acts of the day at the Labor Day Festival. And the extremely good news is that the nearly three months leading up to Labor Day are almost as packed with musical treats, in a variety of venues stretching from Belly Up down to Glenwood Springs Two Rivers Park.From one perspective, it shouldnt really come as news that the valleys summer concert lineup is eye-popping. For at least a dozen years, since Jazz Aspen added its Labor Day bash, the Roaring Fork Valley has been drawing top names. But far from crowing out the field, Jazz Aspen seems to have opened the door for more music, from Snowmass Villages Chili Pepper & Brew Fest and Massive Music & Movies weekends to Belly Up, to the Bluegrass Sundays series on Aspen Mountain. So each spring, as the summer lineup begins coming together, it strikes me anew: Jeezum crow, theres a boatload of good shows coming.How do I even begin to list these? Chronologically? By venue? Genre? Descending level of my anticipation? Height?How about by region? We start with the place where American music is said to have been born, and where it continues to be made like no other place New Orleans.Root singer/guitarist Papa Mali (born in Shreveport, La., but now firmly associated with New Orleans fonk) performs Saturday, June 9, at the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest. Mali born Malcolm Welbourne has a new CD to brag about, Do Your Thing. New Orleans wouldnt be represented without a Marsalis; Wynton Marsalis lays down his trumpet to conduct the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (June 26, Benedict Music Tent) in a performance of his Congo Square.Glenwoods Summer of Jazz series, for the second consecutive year, has devoted its entire lineup to acts from southern Louisiana. The highlight should be Crescent City icon Allen Toussaint (June 27), who appeared in two killer Aspen shows last summer: as a special guest with Elvis Costello and, even better, leading his own band at Jazz Aspens Crescent City Swing fundraiser. Other series high points: the Wild Magnolias (July 4), saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. (July 11), singer Marva Wright (July 18), and the Rebirth Brass Band (July 25). Leo Nocentelli, of New Orleans groove legends the Meters, plays Carbondales Performances in the Park series, July 15.
Belly Up Aspen is light on Louisiana this summer, but it makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is featured in a Food & Wine benefit, Friday, June 15. And singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, whose last Belly Up appearance stands with the finest in the clubs two and a half year history, returns July 12.Moving to the Southeast, the field gets crowded. The Labor Day Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 3) is loaded with Southern rock, including the Florida-born, Georgia-bred Allman Brothers Band, and two of its offshoots: Govt Mule, and the Soul Stew Revue, led by Allmans guitarist Derek Trucks. Belly Up has a former Allman Dickey Betts, July 28 the one-time kings of Southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, July 31, and party-rock legends the B-52s (Saturday, June 16, a benefit for the Childrens Health Foundation). And Jazz Aspens June Festival (June 21-24, in Rio Grande Park) closes with the Black Crowes.Heading slightly west, we come to the sonically bountiful state of Texas: Dallas product Stephen Stills (June 29); boogie keyboardist Marcia Ball (July 12); singer-songwriter James McMurtry (July 16, Belly Up); Shawn Colvin (Aug. 4, Snowmass); and the choral rock group, the Polyphonic Spree (July 23, Belly Up).From California come soul rocker Ben Harper and cutting-edge acoustic combo Nickel Creek, both playing the Labor Day Festival, and, at Belly Up, hard-core punks Social Distortion (July 5); crooner Chris Isaak (July 18); funk-jazz act the B-Side Players (Aug. 2, Snowmass); and punkabilly trio the Rev. Horton Heat (Aug. 13, Belly Up). Los Angeles ghetto band WAR opens the Snowmass Free Concert series, June 28.Heading from the Heartland are Chicago-born jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (June Festival); roots rockers Son Volt (June 30, Snowmass); Michigan-born soul singer Bettye Lavette (July 26, Snowmass); and Indiana native John Hiatt (Aug. 4, Snowmass).East Coasters coming to our mountains include Virginia-based one-man band Keller Williams (June 30, Snowmass); from the so-called Garden State of New Jersey, rockers Blues Traveler (July 2); Page McConnell, former keyboardist of Vermont jammers Phish (July 14, Belly Up); Manhattan-based, pan-Latin band Yerba Buena (July 21); and New York old-school soul singer Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (Aug. 2). Philadelphia-born, Jersey-based bassist plays a recital with fellow bassist Edgar Meyer (born in Tennessee), July 19 at Harris Hall.Even Hawaii represents, with ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro, playing Snowmass Parrot Head Block Party, June 23. The sounds, of course, are not confined to the U.S. of A.Canadian band Cowboy Junkies play Belly Up June 13. Scottish soul group the Average White Band is set for July 19 in Snowmass. Australian reggae rocker Xavier Rudd makes his local debut June 23 at Belly Up. And from the British Isles, we import Steve Winwood (June Festival); the Greencards (June 23, Snowmass); soul singers Joan Armatrading (June 26, Belly Up) and Joss Stone (Labor Day Festival).The smoking sounds of Jamaica waft through the mountains as Ziggy Marley headlines day two of the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest (Saturday, July 9), and Lee Scratch Perry (July 19) and Morgan Heritage (Aug. 6) both land at Belly Up.And finally, theres Africa. Loads of Africa this summer. Les Nubians, a sister act from Frances Afro-pean community, plays Belly Up June 22; Malian singer-guitarist follows at the club June 25, in an Aspen Writers Foundation event. Ghanaian drummer Yacub Addy had to cancel his scheduled appearance June 26 with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, but his percussion ensemble, Odadaa! will still be onstage. Femi Kuti, son of Afro-beat pioneer Fela, makes his local debut at Belly Up on July 30.And if youre looking beyond the summer, Africa has a jump on everyone. Senegalese singer Youssou NDour one of Time magazines 100 most influential people of 2007 has a December date at Belly Up.Stewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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