August 28, 2009
Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Festival is a day shorter this year. Still, there is plenty packed into the new three-day format, which runs Friday through Sunday, Sept. 4-6 in Snowmass Village. Five acts make their Jazz Aspen debuts, including classic rockers the Doobie Brothers; rootsy rapper Citizen Cope; and Black Eye Peas, whose two current hits – “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” – have put the Los Angeles hip-hop group on top of the Billboard chart a record 12 weeks. Also on the lineup are Elvis Costello, Michael Franti, and the Allman Brothers Band, who come as part of their 40th anniversary tour, and who hold the Jazz Aspen attendance record, set at their 2007 Labor Day appearance. Side stage acts include Buckwheat Zydeco and Robert Walter’s 20th Congress. Anyone finding this an insufficient amount of music can continue the party at Belly Up, where late-night acts over the weekend include Southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers and New Jersey acoustic band Railroad Earth.
Emanuele Tozzi remains tightly connected to his native Italy. His music is influenced by his love of Puccini and Verdi; his films document Italian stories. But the 33-year-old is deepening his roots in Aspen, where he has spent most of the last two years. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Wheeler Opera House, he presents an evening of his work in a benefit for Challenge Aspen. The event opens with Tozzi on piano, collaborating with local musicians and dancers on his own compositions, highlighted by the Holocaust-inspired “Shalom la Pace Sia Conte.” The second half is a documentary film of three uplifting stories, made in Italy with his twin brother, Lorenzo. Admission is free; donations for Challenge Aspen will be accepted.
Louisiana’s Angola prison has been referenced in songs by Aaron Neville, Juvenile and Ray Davies, and for good reason. The prison houses over 5,000 inmates – half of them on homicide charges – on its 18,000 acres, and the work ethic imposed on the population has led to the nickname, “The Farm.” Angola has thus earned a reputation as a hell on earth, so “The Farm: Ten Down,” comes as an eye-opener. A decade after his Sundance prize-winner “The Farm,” director Jonathan Stack returns to Angola to shed light on warden Burl Cain, whose progressive policies seem to have turned the prison into a caring, functional community. The film is but a slice of Angola life, focusing on a small handful of model prisoners. But it does force viewers to think about punishment and spiritual rehabilitation, and whether our prisons need be overcrowded and dangerous. “The Farm: Ten Down” shows Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Wheeler Opera House, on the last day of the new MountainSummit festival.