Double D gets intimate with the new G Spot
As Aspen’s music scene comes to life, after an unusually deep and quiet spring hibernation, music lovers will see some changes in the landscape.Most significant, Aspen is now a one-music-club town, with the Grottos having shut its doors at the end of this past winter. (The space is set to reopen as Cabo’s, a Mexican-themed restaurant and bar, but there has been no word whether live music will be staged there.) That leaves the live, late-night music offerings almost solely in the hands of the Double Diamond. The 11-year-old Double D is aiming to capitalize on its status as the last club standing. Tim Lucca, former music booker at the Grottos, has moved in to take over music operations at the Double D. And with Lucca have come changes in the club’s look, feel and ambitions.The most radical change is to the club’s layout. With the main bar moved against a back wall, the Double D ushers in a new era of flexibility. The addition of a small stage immediately to the left of the entrance, plus a folding wall, will allow the club to convert from its usual large space to more intimate confines. The smaller space – known as the G Spot, in homage to the Grottos – will permit lesser-known bands to perform without the intimidation factor of a mostly empty club. The smaller space will accommodate approximately 150 patrons; the club will be able to easily convert to its full size for bigger acts.”The G Spot is where we’ll do a lot of smaller bands who couldn’t play the 500-person room without being intimidated,” said Lucca, who had managed the music end of the Grottos, and before that the Acme Bar & Grill in the same space, for a total of five years. “But in the new spot, it’s a party. We want to create the Grottos-like party.”The G Spot potentially turns the Double D into an entirely new kind of place. This summer, the Double D plans to offer live music five nights a week or more, a major step up from the two to three nights a week of recent times. There will be a greater range of acts, from the regional touring bands that used to stop at the Grottos to the bigger acts that Lucca still plans on booking at the Double D. There will also be a huge range of cover charges, starting at a dollar or two.The Double D schedule for late-spring and early-summer indicates that the club is diving headfirst into the new arrangement. The club reopens Thursday, May 29, with Speaking in Tongues, a side project of Motet leader Dave Watts that appeared last winter at the Grottos. The names get less recognizable from there. Wailer B, a Colorado reggae band, plays Friday, May 30. The combo of DJ Craig & Percussionist Kevin Wardell is set for Saturday, May 31, with Cletus & the Barnburners, a young bluegrass outfit from Ithaca, N.Y., doing a two-night stand Monday and Tuesday, June 2-3.A slew of bands make their Aspen debuts at the G Spot next week: the Boulder jam band the Whether Collective on Friday, June 6; North Carolina old-time bluegrass band the Greasy Beans on June 7; and Dr. Slide, an East German-born guitarist who plays old-school Delta blues on June 9. Warsaw, an Arizona hardcore band and a regular at the Grottos, is set for June 14, and Denver funk-jam band Cali Ma makes its Aspen debut June 15. The wall will come down for four shows later in June: English reggae singer Pato Banton, California groove band Vinyl, and funk-jazz band Robert Walter’s 20th Congress June 20-22, all part of Jazz Aspen’s JAS After Dark series, and electro-jam band Particle on June 23.Other acts coming to the Double D – and the G Spot – later this summer include the Motet, Hobex, New Monsoon and Psychedelic Breakfast. The Ute City Bar & Grill is also experimenting with a new sound, mainly Dixieland, to go with the new Cajun cuisine on the menu. Local band the Uptown Strutters, a trio pulled from the larger band Network, will play regularly midweek during dinner hours at the Ute. There are also major changes for Jazz Aspen’s June Festival. With a move from Snowmass Village to Aspen’s Rio Grande Park, Jazz Aspen plans to make the most of its downtown location with its biggest off-grounds lineup yet.The JAS After Dark program will present two concerts – singer-pianist Patricia Barber and pianist Brad Mehldau – billed as part of the festival proper, at the Hotel Jerome Ballroom. Barber plays June 19, Mehldau on June 20.New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins plays the Colony June 20-21, with Mitchell Long at L’Hostaria the same nights. Second Wind is at Syzygy June 19-22, with vocalist Tierney Sutton sitting in June 21. Jazz Aspen will also have a stage on the Cooper Avenue mall near Wagner Park, with such acts as Kermit Ruffins, the Basin Street Brass Band and the JAS Faculty Band performing free afternoon and evening concerts.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mario Ruiz came to Aspen Highlands from Bariloche through the ski patrol exchange as part of the Sister Cities program last winter. He quickly ingrained himself with the Highlands patrol. Ruiz was killed July 27 in an avalanche while working at his home ski area. The Highlands patrol is raising funds for his family.