With the explosion of the midvalley’s restaurant and shopping scenes, there is growing temptation for Aspenites to ditch their never-drive-downvalley rule. But the best lure to actually get past the roundabout remains the Carbondale Mountain Fair, the friendliest, freest and funkiest gathering in the valley. Chalk it up to the notion that the best ideas don’t need much tinkering: the 37th edition of Mountain Fair, Friday through Sunday, July 25-27, is much as it was in the good old days. Arts and crafts, wood-splittin’ and pie-eatin’, food and music, no admission charge, casual as can be, and located smack-dab in the center of town, in Carbondale’s Sopris Park. Even with all the familiarity, there is still a sense of discovery on the music stage, as Mountain Fair brings in little-known but generally outstanding acts, with an eye toward pleasing all segments of valley society. This year, the sounds range from Afro-beat to Celtic, klezmer to swing.
Two summers ago, Jayne Gottlieb took her troupe of child performers out of the theater proper, and staged a production of “The Wizard of Oz” outdoors, in Basalt’s Arbaney Park. It was a massive effort, but Gottlieb says that the move put her Jayne Gottlieb Productions on the map. The company, now known as Gottlieb Bartley Productions, moves outdoors ” and upvalley ” for a performance of “A Chorus Line.” The family-friendly version of the 1970s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about theater dreams and realities opened this past week at the Basalt Middle School. It goes al fresco on Snowmass Village’s Fanny Hill for one performance, on Sunday, July 20. The evening kicks off with a set by local teenage rock band, Slightly White, before the 45-member cast of “A Chorus Line” takes the stage for what should be one singular sensation. If you can’t catch it on the Hill, it shows through Saturday, July 26, indoors, in Basalt.
Often said to be the most socially significant and most musical of hip-hop outfits, The Roots seem to be distancing themselves even further from the pack. Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, the group’s drummer (yes, they have live instrumentation), served as producer of one of the best albums of recent months, Al Green’s retro-soul gem “Lay It Down.” Then there is the latest from The Roots themselves, “Rising Down,” featuring top rappers Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common and B. The forceful and focused album, heavy on complex beats, synthesizers and provocative raps, goes a long way toward fighting the idea that hip-hop is at a creative dead- end. The Roots perform Monday, July 21 at Belly Up Aspen.
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While many are breathing a sigh of relief at the loosening of local restrictions, some are feeling hesitant and are questioning whether the county is moving too quickly.