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Chicago musicians bring it back to Colorado

Stewart Oksenhorn
The duo of Jason Litwin and Dave Andersen performs aprs ski on Friday and Saturday at the Blue Door in Snowmass Village.
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Jason Litwin and Dave Andersen both grew up in Chicago, and heavily influenced by their hometown’s rich musical culture. Litwin’s grandmother was a classical pianist; his father played guitar and harmonica. Andersen, meanwhile, absorbed almost every kind of sound there was to be heard in Chicago, from the city’s signature blues to ethnic sounds from Polish to African.Both turned their love of music into more than a hobby. Litwin started playing drums professionally in the early ’90s; a few years before that Andersen began singing and playing guitar in folk and blues clubs, in reggae bands and more.The two met in the mid-’90s at the open-mike that Litwin hosted at The Wrigleyside. Music junkies both, they bonded quickly. But it took their separate relocations to Colorado for the two to start playing together.

Litwin lived for several years in the late ’90s in Aspen, where he sat in with everyone from local folk-rock group Friends of Your Mother to touring funk act Merl Saunders & the Rainforest Band. Unbeknownst to Litwin, Andersen was residing in the Vail area, where he took virtually any kind of music gig he could find.No surprise, it was music that brought them together again in Colorado. “I bumped into Dave at a Liquid Soul concert at the Double Diamond, and we just started playing,” said Litwin, who, at 35, is about a decade younger than Andersen.After both Litwin and Andersen put in several more years in Chicago, the two returned, separately again, to Colorado in the past year. So the natural thing to do was form a duo. Andersen and Litwin, both living in the Montrose area, perform together Friday and Saturday for après-ski at the Blue Door in Snowmass Village.

Litwin says the repertoire is a bit of almost everything the two know, from Johnny Cash to Bob Marley to Lindsey Buckingham to Andersen’s originals. The instrumentation is spare – Andersen sings and plays guitar and mandolin, while Litwin keeps the beat on percussions – and that suits them just fine.”Braking it down acoustically is cool,” said Litwin, who had been playing with the reggae band Gizzae, and the funk-rock group Lubriphonic, in his recent Chicago stint. “Acoustic music is so true to the root of everything. It drives straight to your heart. And we can still get a whole room dancing, just the two of us. We don’t need a whole band.”Andersen moved back to Colorado for his wife’s job, as a county probation officer. But he doesn’t seem to mind the relocation.

“I wanted to drive from ski town to ski town for a while, instead of driving from Rockford, Ill., to Madison, Wis.,” he said.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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