August 31, 2007
No, “Mr. High and Mighty,” the lead-off song to Gov’t Mule’s latest CD, “High and Mighty,” is not a reference to the group’s leader, Warren Haynes. (In fact, it’s a jab at the imperious stance of the current administration.) But high and mighty can be an apt description of Mr. Haynes. The singer-guitarist is known to pull off superhumanlike musical feats – like what he’s got planned for this weekend. Haynes starts off with a Sunday, Sept. 2, concert at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day Festival, appearing with the Allman Brothers Band – a group whose latest renaissance he kick-started. On Monday, Sept. 3, Gov’t Mule – a band which rides on Haynes’ back, as he does all the singing, takes almost all the solos, and writes virtually all of the material – headlines the festival. Haynes winds down with a solo acoustic performance later that night at Belly Up. It’s worth noting that, no matter the format, Haynes is known for playing long, intense shows. Labor day, indeed.
The mother of all pro-am volleyball tournaments began modestly in 1972 as a backyard barbecue tournament, organized by locals looking to add excitement to what was then a sleepy summer season in Aspen. Thirty-five years later, the Mother Lode Volleyball Classic, held each year over Labor Day weekend, has grown into the country’s largest open, attracting some 700 doubles teams. That includes current and former pro players from the AVP tour who come to play high-stakes matches in a setting that hearkens back to that first backyard tournament – raucous late nights included. The laid-back atmosphere is one of the reasons the Mother Lode is a favorite among volleyballers young and old, and remains a cherished local event. At Koch Lumber Park, home to the tournament’s top divisions, spectators don’t have to fight for space in the grandstands or peer around swiveling TV cameras. They can simply sit on the grass surrounding the grass courts, hamburger and cold drink in hand, and watch great volleyball, just the way Aspenites did 35 years ago.
With its new addition nearly complete, the Red Brick Center for the Arts is even a shinier jewel in Aspen’s shimmering arts crown. The Red Brick already held its public presentation of the west-side expansion and renovation (a few months before construction was finished), but it’s worth revisiting to see what the facility has become, and to see yet another dynamic exhibit. The Artists Eye features black-and-white street photography by George Stranahan, spiritually inclined paintings by Charles Andrade, compositionally complex paintings by Katie Van Alstine, and two very different takes on ceramics by Gail Bartik and Susan Muenchen. The exhibit opens with a reception for the artists on Thursday, Sept. 6.