Aspen ponies up $5K for Taj Mahal, Chuck Leavell concert |

Aspen ponies up $5K for Taj Mahal, Chuck Leavell concert

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Courtesy of

With help from the city of Aspen, organizers of American Renewable Energy Day are a step closer to landing bluesman Taj Mahal and keyboardist Chuck Leavell for a free concert Aug. 18 at Paepcke Park.

On Tuesday night, the Aspen City Council agreed to kick in $5,000 toward the $49,000 cost of the concert, according to Chip Comins, chairman and CEO of the ARE Institute, which is planning a summit on the Aspen Meadows campus in the days that would precede the concert.

Comins had asked for $15,000 from the city but said Wednesday that he was happy to get the $5,000 pledge. The city has contributed money and assistance toward ARE Day every year over the event’s 10-year span, he said.

“It’s good that the city wants to support it,” Comins said. “Now I’m going to try to use that as a lever to put the rest of the funding together.”

He said that with the city’s pledge, he now has promises of about half of the money necessary to stage the concert. Last year, Taj Mahal played at Wagner Park for the ARE Day finale, but most of the tab was picked up by an anonymous supporter.

Comins, who is a friend of Taj Mahal’s, said he doesn’t have a contract with the 71-year-old Grammy-winning artist but that Taj Mahal is keeping the date free.

He’s also hoping that Leavell, who performs with the Rolling Stones, will be joining Taj Mahal for the show. Leavell, a tree farmer and conservationist who also was a member of the Allman Brothers Band during its 1970s heyday, fits well with the ARE Day Summit program, Comins said.

In seeking support from the city, Comins noted that the concert would take place one day before the USA Pro Challenge cycling race rolls into Aspen. He’s arranged for Taj Mahal’s band to use the same stage that bike-race organizers plan to set up prior to the two-day cycling event.

Comins said the concert would provide a “green bridge” between his summit and the bike race.

“We think this will bring a lot of value to the city. We want to capitalize on Aspen’s green initiatives,” he said, noting that the bicycle is an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Comins said donations toward the concert are welcome but that only the serious need apply. He needs big checks, given that he’s got about $25,000 more to raise to secure Taj Mahal’s and Leavell’s services as well as cover other costs of the show.

Comins can be reached at 970-948-9929.