Aspen Songwriters Festival makes quick return |

Aspen Songwriters Festival makes quick return

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Stewart Oksenhorn/Aspen Times fileSinger-songwriter Shawn Colvin will open the second edition of the Wheeler Opera House's 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival next month.

ASPEN – Has it really been nearly a year since the inaugural 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival?

No, it hasn’t. But in an effort to give the event the calendar spotlight its producers believe it deserves, the second edition of 7908 is set to begin in late March – just half a year after the festival premiered.

“Some people would say it’s crazy to produce a second festival six months after the first one,” Gram Slaton, executive director of the Wheeler Opera House, which co-produces the festival with local musician John Oates, said in a press release. “But when you’re as excited as we were by the results of the first one, you just jump right on it.”

The four-day 7908 Festival will again focus on the art of songwriting as it exists in a variety of stylistic realms. This year’s edition of the festival will bring together Nashville pickers, Texas rockers, California surfers, ’80s hitmakers, British New Wavers and more.

The festival opens March 30 with a bill of Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin, and Michael Smith, an Edwards-based musician who appeared at the first 7908 Festival last September. The opening day of the festival will also feature a late-night performance by Austin roots-rockers the Band of Heathens, who have played at various venues throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, and will be making their Wheeler debut.

March 31 through April 2 will feature three concerts each day.

The first show on March 31 is a triple bill of rising Nashville songwriters: James Otto, Sarah Buxton and Brett Eldredge. The second show features two women: Elizabeth Cook, whose recent album “Welder” was picked as one of the best of 2010 by Rolling Stone; and Kim Carnes, who had a hit with the 1981 song “Bette Davis Eyes,” and has written songs Tim McGraw, Tanya Tucker and Sawyer Brown. The evening concludes with folk-blues musician Keb’ Mo’, who will be joined by mandolinist Sam Bush, who returns after an appearance in the first 7908.

On April 1, Texas-bred singer Ruthie Foster performs an early show. Foster, who recently gained notoriety by appearing in the new Warren Haynes Band, played at the Wheeler in 2009, alongside guitarists Jorma Kaukonen and Robben Ford. Also on the bill is Colorado native Andy Hackbarth, who has been a finalist in the Billboard Songwriting Competition. An alt-rock show pairs Miles Zuniga, founder of the Texas band Fastball, and Mat Kearney, a Nashville musician who has had four Top 20 hits. The day closes with bluesman John Hammond, whose collaborators include Eric Clapton, the Band and G. Love. Opening for Hammond is Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon, who has three number-one country hits to his credit.

The early show on April 2 features Cy Curnin, best known as lead singer for the British New Wave band, the Fixx. Another singer from the British New Wave, Glenn Tilbrook, of the hit-making group Squeeze, follows. The festival closes with a double bill of California-born singer-surfer Donavon Frankenreiter, and Matt Nathanson, whose hit song “Come On Get Higher” was performed by Tim Urban on “American Idol.” Rounding out the program is Mexican sensation Ximena Sarinana, a 25-year-old who has toured with Frankenreiter and been nominated for two Latin Grammys.

Tickets for the 2011 7908 Songwriters Festival will go on sale Feb. 18. Full festival passes will be sold for $189; also available will be single-event tickets, priced between $18 and $37.50, and discounted full-day passes.

For further information, go to

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