August 22, 2005
Here’s the best measure of the growth in prominence of Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Festival: Nine years ago, one of the headliners was Creedence Clearwater Revisited, a band that featured CCR’s original rhythm section. This year, we get John Fogerty, the man who sang and played lead guitar on the band’s numerous bits of essential rock ‘n’ roll. But one need not dig so far to see that the festival, in its 11th year, has become a major destination for the music fan. This year, Jazz Aspen squeezes in a fifth day, to accommodate a two-night stand by Georgia jam-band Widespread Panic. And even though headline-quality talent is always in short supply, the festival manages to bring in three acts for their Jazz Aspen debuts: reggae singer Maxi Priest and reunited ’70s duo Loggins & Messina, as well as Fogerty. Additional main-stage performers include soul singer Joan Osborne, African reggae artist Alpha Blondy, New Orleans groove group Galactic and Willie Nelson.
Be warned: “The Aristocrats” is not for everyone. It is for the few who can handle the film’s filthy language, numerous scatological references and extremely gross tone. But for those not too offended by jokes about incest and bodily fluids, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette’s film is a treat. “The Aristocrats” features a glorious list of comedic talent, from George Carlin to Snowmass Villager Eric Mead, telling variations on the same old, not especially funny Vaudeville gag. But the comedians use the bit in the way a jazz musician uses a simple melody, as a riff on which to hang their own particular form of expression. The beauty of the film is that, while it outdoes virtually every other gross-out movie, it is a work of comedic art, both reflecting on comedy and delivering the laughs. “The Aristocrats” shows at the Isis Theatre.
Before the valley is swarming with Spreadheads and Loggins & Messina-heads, and before summer slips away, the thing that’s called for is a big bash for the home folks. Aspen’s Community Picnic & Group Portrait is just the ticket. All Aspenites, from the longest of the longtime locals to the greenest newbie, are invited to Paepcke Park on Wednesday, Aug. 31, for burgers and dogs, potato salad and lemonade. Aspen City Council members won’t be flipping the burgers as advertised, but will serve the meals. At 6:30, it’s time to line up for the community photo, to be snapped by Dan Bayer. There’s music, of course, by Elizabeth Wills. The only family members not welcome are the gas-guzzling variety; the picnic is designed to promote alternate modes of transportation, so use bike, bus or feet.