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California Honeydrops and night skiing kick off Spring Jam events

The first full Spring Jam since 2019 starts Friday in Aspen

California Honeydrops at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver. (Courtesy photo)
IF YOU GO …


California Honeydrops at WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs, February 2019. (Steamboat Pilot archive)

Who: California Honeydrops

Where: Hi-Fi Concert Series, Gondola Plaza

When: Friday, March 25, 6:30 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: The concert coincides with the KickAspen Night Skiing event on Aspen Mountain ($7.50); aspensnowmass.com

For the first time since 2019, Aspen is poised to properly celebrate its spring break.

The weeklong festivities of the Aspen Skiing Co.-produced Spring Jam were largely canceled in 2020 as the pandemic was shutting down the world and were extremely muted last year. The on- and off-mountain festival, a local tradition in 2001, books a combination of concerts and ski and snowboard happenings as the weather usually warms up and college- and high school-aged visitors fill Aspen and Snowmass.

Spring Jam’s return opens with a big night at the base of Aspen Mountain, the first of two evenings of free Hi-Fi concerts on gondola plaza concurrent with night skiing on the Little Nell chairlift. The new night-skiing event is a rebranding of the KickAspen freeskiing comp, open to all for a $7.50 lift ticket (proceeds go to the Skico’s Environmental Foundation and Carin for Community Fund). On the tail end of a particularly divisive winter in the full-time Aspen community, the event promises to be one of the first opportunities for everyone to come together around skiing and music.



The headliner on night one promises to bring a celebratory soundtrack to the ski hill as the California Honeydrops bring their party-friendly live show to the stage.

“We’re about trying to find the line between a festival band and a party, bar band and a jazz club band,” drummer and co-founder Ben Malament told The Aspen Times in August before the band’s return to Belly Up, where they have been popular regulars in recent years. “We just want to have something for everyone. If everyone’s down to just bring a good energy, the band will keep evolving through those energies.”




California Honeydrops at WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs, February 2019. (Steamboat Pilot archive)

The Bay Area band’s live shows are funk-heavy and led by singer, trumpeter and guitarist Lech Wierzynski and bandmembers on washboard, sax, clarinet, keys, melodica, bass and trombone. It’s a big, easy-to-embrace sound that welcomes newcomers and demands audience participation — they often take audience requests and play unpredictable covers (their “Fire and Rain,” released as part of their “Covers from the Cave” record, has been a particular crowdpleaser at recent shows).

“The music in New Orleans is our heaviest influence,” Malament said. “Whether it’s New Orleans R&B, the brass bands, or the old jazz kind of stuff.”

Aspen was among the band’s first major shows, as they landed an opening gig for the blues great Buddy Guy at Belly Up in 2012. They’ve been a staple of the scene ever since, though playing to a skiing audience will be new for the band.

California Honeydrops at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver. (Courtesy photo)

“We love Aspen, and we’ve always had a great experience at the Belly Up,” Malament said.

After Friday night’s kickoff, the night skiing event returns Saturday with Celtic band The Seabillys, a quartet mixing the Irish instrumental tradition with American folk and pop. The week also includes the beloved NEPSA Awards, featuring the funniest and most extreme of new and locally made ski movies, on Thursday (landing this week after the pandemic knocked it off its tradition pre-ski season October date and the omicron surge canceled a January offing) at the Wheeler Opera House. And Spring Jam closes on Saturday, April 2, with what is poised to be the music event of the winter: the return of the free Downtown Core Party in Aspen, with evening-long festivities and a headlining set by the biggest current band out of Colorado in Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

In between the two major concert weekends, Spring Jam includes the Terrain Park Boot Camp in Snowmass and the 4 Mtn Mission scavenger hunt and the Slash the Mass Banked Slalom races. After the past two years of disruptions, nobody is eager to proclaim things are “back to normal,” of course, but based on the look of things at Spring Jam, it appears Aspen is ready to start having fun like it used to.

SPRING JAM 2022

FRIDAY, MARCH 25

All Day Anon 4 Mtn Mission begins

6:30 p.m. California Honeydrops, Hi-Fi Concert Series, Gondola Plaza

7-10 p.m. KickAspen Night Skiing, Little Nell Chair

SATURDAY, MARCH 26

Noon-3 p.m. Terrain Park Boot Camp, Snowmass Ski Area

6:30 p.m. The Seabillys, Hi-Fi Concert Series, Gondola Plaza

7-10 p.m. KickAspen Night Skiing, Little Nell Chair

SUNDAY, MARCH 27

Noon-3 p.m. Terrain Park Boot Camp, Snowmass Ski Area

THURSDAY, MARCH 31

6 p.m. NEPSA Awards, Wheeler Opera House

SATURDAY, APRIL 2

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Slash the Mass Banked Slalom, Snowmass Ski Area

4-10 p.m. Downtown Core Party, Paradise Corner

8 p.m. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Hi-Fi Concert Series, Paradise Corner

SUNDAY, APRIL 3

All Day Anon 4 Mtn Mission concludes

3-5 p.m. Bad Axe Throwing Competition, Snowmass

aspensnowmass.com


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