Two questions loom over the Wu-Tang Clan’s Aspen date, Wednesday, Dec. 19, at Belly Up Aspen: Who in the eight-member collective is scheduled to come? (That has been a little fuzzy, and neither the club nor publicists have provided total clarity.) And will anyone show up at all? (Various individual Wu-Tang members have canceled shows at Belly Up, most recently the RZA, the group’s resident genius producer, who failed to make his scheduled show last week. RZA was good enough to call ahead to inform that he won’t be part of the Clan date here.) Assuming a few of the rappers and DJs appear, expect something memorable. The New York-based Wu-Tang has released such hip-hop classics as “Enter the Wu-Tang” and “The W,” and recently reassembled for the new “8 Diagrams.” Individually, such members as Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Method Man, the GZA and the RZA are responsible for a hefty portion of hip-hop’s most distinctive albums over the past decade, including Ghostface’s “Fishscale,” Method Man’s “Blackout!” and GZA’s “Legend of the Liquid Sword.” Buy a ticket and cross your fingers.
The Aspen Community Christmas Concert features a B-3 organ, a 40-voice choir, and a song list that leans decidedly toward the holy: “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” And for eight years, the concerts have been organized by Derek Brown, the music director at Crossroads Church. For all that, the concerts won’t feel much like church sermons set to music. Brown boasts of the wailing guitars, the overall blues-rock style of the music, and even the hard-rock arrangement of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” he has in store for concertgoers. This year introduces yet another musical element to the show: an interlude featuring the local jazz ensemble, Bob Levy’s Intervention Band. The family-friendly concerts are set for Thursday, Dec. 20, with shows at 5 and 8 p.m.
Even if there were no snow, no parties, no high-end boutiques for gift-buying, Aspen would still be the place to spend the holidays ” as long as there is Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings. The series, in its 17th season, packages together the season’s most highly anticipated Academy Award contenders, plus a few highly regarded films from earlier in the year, and presents them in a cine-blizzard that lasts through the holiday season. This year 24 films will be screened, giving movie buffs a head start in charting the Oscar race. Academy Screenings opens Friday, Dec. 21, and runs through Jan. 2, usually with two films a day. On this week’s schedule: “The Great Debaters,” a true-life drama directed by and starring Denzel Washington; “Juno,” a dark comedy about teenage pregnancy; “Margot at the Wedding,” a dysfunctional-family drama starring Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh; and “La Vie en Rose,” a biopic of the French singer Edith Piaf.
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Max Weintraub has been senior curator at the Aspen Art Museum since January 2019.