For many – mostly those who don’t live here – Aspen is still that idyllic natural paradise of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” and “I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado.” The town has changed a bit since Denver arrived in 1970, but ever since Denver’s death in 1997, for one October weekend the pages of the calendar are turned back to Denver’s heyday, with the Musical Tribute to John Denver concerts. This year, the concerts represent a double celebration: Saturday, Oct. 8, the Chad Mitchell Trio, the folk group in which Denver first made his name, marks the 40-year anniversary of Denver joining the group by making a guest appearance in Aspen. The concert on Friday, Oct. 7, won’t include the Mitchell Trio, but will include special guest Mike Taylor, co-writer of “Rocky Mountain High,” and numerous other Denver collaborators. Both shows, at the Wheeler Opera House, benefit Challenge Aspen. Monday, Oct. 10, local musician John Adams, who has made a career of singing Denver’s material, performs his own tribute to the late singer-songwriter.
Aspen Filmfest 2005 comes to a close with a big final day, Sunday, Oct. 2. “What Remains of Us,” a highly anticipated – and tightly secured – documentary of life in Tibet under Chinese occupation opens the program in Aspen at 1 p.m. The film was shot in secrecy, and audience members will be searched, as cameras, cell phones, handbags and backpacks will not be permitted. “Ushpizin,” a spiritual comedy set in Jerusalem’s Orthodox Jewish community, follows at 3:45 p.m. “Bee Season,” starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche as a couple whose stability unravels, shows at 6 p.m., with the Surprise Film, (almost) always worth a gamble, at 8:45 p.m. Downvalley, the Senagalese film “Moolaade” and the French romantic comedy “Happily Ever After” show in Carbondale, and the family film “Duma” and the Chilean coming-of-age drama “Machuca” are in Glenwood Springs.
Virtually every band of the jamming variety vows that their latest album will take full advantage of studio technology, and will be of a separate piece from their live shows. Few, though, have taken that vow as seriously as New Monsoon. In their Snowmass appearance in June – as on last year’s live release, “Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival” – the San Francisco septet was as jamming as they come, spinning long improvisations that touched on bluegrass, rock, Latin and Indian sounds. But on their new CD “The Sound,” New Monsoon has a borderline hard-rock feel, crunching, echoic vocals and pounding drums into generally concise songs like “Another Night in Purgatory.” Fans can see what direction the band takes onstage when New Monsoon plays the Belly Up Wednesday, Oct. 5. The show kicks off what should be a jam-filled week at the club; blues-rock trio the North Mississippi Allstars is set for Thursday, Oct. 6, with New York band Soulive Saturday, Oct. 8.
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