September 29, 2006
John Denver was hardly experiencing a career peak when he died in 1997 in an airplane crash off the coast of California. Yet the music Denver had made 25 years earlier hadn’t faded much, nor has it done so in the years since his death. Especially in Aspen, where he lived his adult life, “Rocky Mountain High” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” still resonate, even if the round glasses and “Far out!” have gone out of style. It’s appropriate that the Musical Tribute to John Denver concerts, now in their ninth year, focus on the songs. A host of Denver’s bandmates and co-writers – including local John Sommers, who penned “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and toured with Denver – get together to remember the man through the music. This year’s special guest is Kathy Mattea, who performs just one night, Friday, Oct. 13. But another new feature, the Glenwood Springs-based Symphony in the Valley, appears both nights, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13-14, giving a symphonic twist to the songs. Proceeds from both shows at the Wheeler Opera House go to Challenge Aspen, which provides recreational and cultural opportunities for the physically challenged. Also, local singer John Adams does his Rocky Mountain High tribute Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Wheeler, while the trio of Pete Hutlinger, Mack Bailey and Chris Nole performs that night at the Mountain Chalet.
The Aspen Art Museum’s Colorado Biennial provides a way for local art enthusiasts to see a bigger picture of the regional art world. Formerly known as the Roaring Fork Biennial, and limited to local artists, the expanded exhibit is now open to all Colorado artists. From another perspective, the show reflects the broad vision of Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, who became director of the museum mid-2005. In an effort to gauge the visual arts throughout Colorado, Jacobson and the museum’s assistant curator Matthew Thompson, who has curated the Biennial, toured galleries, museums and alternative spaces, and quizzed curators and dealers around the state to see what was out there. The Biennial is split into two halves, each featuring six artists. Part I, which includes the work of Snowmass Village mixed-media artist Ben Koch, opens with a reception Thursday, Oct. 12, and runs through Oct. 29. Part II, with contributions from local photographers George Stranahan and Karl Wolfgang, shows Nov. 9-26.