Really, the strangest thing about Matisyahu is his appearance. Instead of the loud red, gold and green typical in reggae, the singer wears the plain black and white of the Hasidic Jew. Other than that, Matisyahu is much in line with reggae singers going back to Bob Marley. The sound is an updated form of reggae, influenced by socially conscious rappers, and even jam-bands like Phish, whom Matisyahu followed back when he was known as Matthew Miller. The message, on the 2005 breakthrough “Live at Stubbs” and this year’s “Youth,” is consistent with the reggae ideals of living humbly, overcoming oppression and connecting to a higher spirit. Matisyahu and his band, Roots Unity, make their Jazz Aspen debut Monday, Sept. 4, as the closing act of the 2006 Labor Day Festival in Snowmass Village. Also still to come at the festival are Eagle (and former Woody Creeker) Don Henley and Los Lonely Boys on Sunday; and the Polyphonic Spree and Keller Williams, who play opening sets on the main stage Monday.
It’s hard to fathom that the nation’s largest beach volleyball tournament takes place in tiny Aspen, a thousand miles from the shoreline. Founded in 1972, the MotherLode Volleyball Classic over Labor Day weekend has grown into the mother of all pro-am tournaments in the U.S. Last year’s classic attracted more than 700 two-person teams, and this year’s tourney should draw as many or more. For casual players, the MotherLode is the perfect setting for a getaway with friends and family; for up-and-comers, it can be a springboard to greatness. Many amateurs at the MotherLode have gone on to glory, including beach Olympians Dax Holdren and Dain Blanton, and a long list of pros on the AVP Pro Beach Tour. Thanks to its prestige, the Lode also draws a number of former top pros past their prime who still love to compete in the masters and seniors divisions. The action begins Thursday, Aug. 31, at parks throughout Aspen and concludes Monday, Sept. 4, with the amateur finals at Wagner Park, 9 a.m to noon, followed by the men’s and women’s open sand finals at Koch Lumber Park. The women’s final starts at 3 p.m.; the men’s at 4 p.m.
“Little Miss Sunshine” seems to have been around so long, it’s a wonder the public didn’t tire of it before it even got released. Due to problems with financing, the film took five years to make. It might have launched the acting career of Steve Carell, but “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” made after but released before “Little Miss Sunshine,” already did the job. The film was bought for a record $10.5 million at Sundance in January, setting off another round of press attention, and even further anticipation. “Little Miss Sunshine,” directed by music-video makers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, finally got its release, and by all accounts it has been worth the wait. A poke at dysfunctional families in a dysfunctional America, the story of a young girl on her way to a beauty pageant has been praised for the humorous touch it gives to serious topics. With acclaimed performances by Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Paul Dano, “Little Miss Sunshine” shows this week in valley theaters.
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