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Current events

Soul singer Joss Stone makes her local debut Saturday, Sept. 1, at Jazz Aspen's Labor Day Festival. (Thomas Rabsch)

Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ 13th annual Labor Day Festival is notably short in only one area: fresh faces. Of the main-stage acts, the only one making a local debut is Joss Stone. Of course, even if Stone had made an earlier Aspen appearance, this would still be the premiere of the new Joss Stone. After two smash albums, the 20-year-old British soul singer reinvented herself earlier this year with “Introducing Joss Stone.” The album kicked off with a short rap about change – though the music remains an updated take on old-school soul. Still, “Introducing” does convey Stone’s affirmation to be her own woman and recover from past wounds. And she did change her look, from barefoot, neo-hippie blonde to edgy, with purple and black locks. Stone introduces herself to Aspen audiences Saturday, Sept. 1, opening for fellow R&B Grammy winner, John Legend.

To many ears, gospel and soul are close cousins, spiritually inclined genres formed out of the experience of black America. But Ryan Shaw has seen the divide between the two. Growing up in Georgia as part of a Pentecostal family, Shaw had virtually no exposure to any music that wasn’t church music. His first taste of professional singing came in the gospel musicals “A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Part II)” and “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” That led to a gig at New York’s Motown Cafe, where he was finally introduced to secular songs. Shaw fell in love with the old soul sound of Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack. The debut CD, “This Is Ryan Shaw,” released in April, features songs by those two soul giants, several of Shaw’s own contributions – and the singer’s updating of the classic soul style. The 26-year-old Shaw makes his local debut Saturday, Sept. 1, in the JAS Music Tent, on the Labor Day Festival grounds.

Anyone witnessing the mad talents of guitarist Eric Krasno, keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans – who make up the New York instrumental groove group, Soulive – knows there’s not much missing musically in that trio. Still, there was something amiss, as the group announced an indefinite hiatus from touring. But at the group’s Snowmass Village gig last summer, they brought on a guest singer, Toussaint, and whether it was the additional dimension of vocals or the positive vibe he brought to the band, the group reached a new, higher level. Toussaint is now a full-fledged member of the band; the quartet has a vocal-heavy new CD, “No Place Like Soul,” on the revived Stax label; and Soulive moves indoors to Belly Up for a Thursday, Aug. 30, gig.

To many ears, gospel and soul are close cousins, spiritually inclined genres formed out of the experience of black America. But Ryan Shaw has seen the divide between the two. Growing up in Georgia as part of a Pentecostal family, Shaw had virtually no exposure to any music that wasn’t church music. His first taste of professional singing came in the gospel musicals “A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Part II)” and “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” That led to a gig at New York’s Motown Cafe, where he was finally introduced to secular songs. Shaw fell in love with the old soul sound of Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack. The debut CD, “This Is Ryan Shaw,” released in April, features songs by those two soul giants, several of Shaw’s own contributions – and the singer’s updating of the classic soul style. The 26-year-old Shaw makes his local debut Saturday, Sept. 1, in the JAS Music Tent, on the Labor Day Festival grounds.

In the ’90s Nashville-based Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, singer-guitarist Mike Farris made a Southern-fried version of jamming rock. Then, as leader of Double Trouble – Stevie Ray Vaughan’s old rhythm section – he played the blues. But neither of those gigs helped to save Farris’ soul, which was much in need of healing. As part of his recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, he turned to the gospel. The result is a sober Farris – and “Salvation in Lights,” a revelatory stomp through such tunes as “Streets of Galilee” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and his own “The Lonely Road.” There’s nothing maudlin about the album; Farris’ “Salvation” is upbeat and stamped with the glory.