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Current Events

Colorado mandolinist Drew Emmitt leads the Drew Emmitt Band to its Aspen debut at the Wheeler Opera House this week. Aspen Times photo/Stewart Oksenhorn.

For more than a decade, string player and singer Drew Emmitt has mainly plugged in, as part of the eclectic Colorado jam band Leftover Salmon. But with Leftover hitting the end of the stream, Emmitt has pulled the plug. His new Drew Emmitt Band is an all-acoustic quartet, a Rocky Mountain supergroup of banjoist Matt Flinner, guitarist Ross Martin, bassist Greg Garrison and Emmitt on mandolin. The group makes its Aspen debut Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Wheeler Opera House. Expect Emmitt’s new band to hew closer to New Grass Revival, the legendary and groundbreaking group Emmitt reveres.

Nobody could have ventured a guess what to expect when the Wheeler Opera House introduced its first Gongsköl two years ago. Since then, Gongsköl, timed for Wintersköl and modeled after the old “Gong Show,” has led to controversy, humor and memorable performances – both memorably good and memorably bad. Contestants from singers and dancers to yodelers and, hopefully, indescribable one-of-a-kind acts compete for a $500 first prize – and try to beat the gong – Friday, Jan. 14, at the Wheeler.

Some are bound to be baffled by the work of New York artist Tom Sachs; others are going to feel like kids in a video arcade. Literally. The centerpiece of “Dedicated to the Memory of Ben Plummer 1968-2004,” Sachs’ current exhibit at the Baldwin Gallery, is “The Delinquency Chamber,” a walk-in cubicle featuring the video game “Grand Theft Auto,” a fridge stocked with beer and vodka, and other barely mentionables. (Members of The Aspen Times editorial staff, it should be noted, have become regular visitors.) The exhibit, which also features the giant-sized, functioning boom box “Toyans Jr.,” runs through Jan. 30.

In Aspen, the name Pete Hutlinger has become somewhat entwined with late local icon John Denver. The association is for good reason; the Nashville-based Hutlinger, who was part of Denver’s band for several years in the mid-’90s, has been the bandleader of the Musical Tribute to John Denver concerts at the Wheeler Opera House. But those who see Hutlinger play – Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Main Street Bakery and Friday, Jan. 14, at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale – won’t get too much in the way of Denver-style folk singing. Hutlinger specializes in the technically intricate finger-style guitar, at the opposite end of the spectrum from folk-style strumming.

Don’t lump “The Yes Men” onto the pile of recent politically oriented documentaries. Yes, like “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Super Size Me,” “The Yes Men” takes on a powerful target, in this case the World Trade Organization. But instead of attacking with facts, figures and expert opinions, “The Yes Men” takes a pranksterish approach, infiltrating the faceless, shadowy organization through a website that looks identical to the WTO’s. The film documents the conferences and television debates attended not by actual WTO officials, but by the two-person Yes Men team, who undermine the WTO’s aims with absurd ideas and outrageous costumes. “The Yes Men” shows at the Wheeler Opera House Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 10Ð11.

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