The Food & Wine Magazine Classic used to be considered the kickoff to the summer season. But with the addition of Snowmass Village’s Chili Pepper & Brew Fest two years ago, the boundaries have been altered. Sure, it’s proof that offseasons are being squeezed – but are you going to argue with cups of hot chili, washed down by cold microbrews? And a heaping serving of top-level music to go with it? The third annual festival, Friday through Sunday, June 9-11, on Fanny Hill, features the usual regional and local chili competitions – in red and green categories – and adds a local brewers’ battle to the mix. While the chefs and brewmeisters are being crowned, let’s save some applause for bassist Chris Wood, who performs in his regular gig, with jazz-groove trio Medeski, Martin & Wood, and also in the new folk-blues outfit, the Wood Brothers, with his brother Oliver on guitar. Also on the music end are bluesmen Jonny Lang and Sean Costello, and Dave Matthews-esque newcomer Trevor Hall.
Tracy McLain, a lifelong valley resident who died in December in a car accident, was a beloved member of old Aspen’s music community. McLain was noted for not only her song writing – her tune “It’s Morning” was a highlight of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Welcome to Woody Creek” CD – and voice, but her enthusiasm for music. McLain’s biggest contribution came through the Tracy McLain Guitar Group, a massive ensemble of local pickers who played at the Carbondale Mountain Fair and school events. McLain’s life will be celebrated, naturally, with lots of music: Tracy’s Day, a benefit for her two daughters, features such longtime players as Dan Forde and John Sommers, returning musicians Danny Wheetman and Wayne Stewart, and a reunion of Starwood. The event is Saturday, June 10, at the Aspen Community School in Woody Creek, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
It’s not every bluegrass band that goes over so well in a rock club, but my money’s on Old Crow Medicine Show pulling it off. At their last Aspen appearance, as an opening act for Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, O.C.M.S demonstrated how hard an acoustic string band could rock, earning a standing ovation for their efforts. The band was formed in upstate New York by fiddler Ketch Secor, after Secor had traveled all over Canada and the States, absorbing all styles of folk music. Based in North Carolina six years ago, the band was busking on the street when they won over a fan, who was so impressed she had to bring her daddy out. Dad, it turns out, was flat-picking genius Doc Watson. Watson invited O.C.M.S. to play his Merlefest, which led to a gig at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, which led to a tour opening for Welch & Rawlings, and so on. Old Crow Medicine Show returns to Aspen with a gig June 10 at the Belly Up.
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