Eli Young Band back on stage at Belly Up
Country stars headline first Belly Up-produced show in the venue since March 2020
Special to the Aspen Times
Who: Eli Young Band
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Monday, June 28, 8 p.m.
How much: $55-$155
Eli Young Band, an American country music group, will take the stage on Monday evening as Belly Up Aspen opens its doors after a 15-month pandemic hiatus from live music.
The 450-person venue will reopen at full capacity with no mask or social distancing requirements. Vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests are required for ticketholders.
The show marks Eli Young Band’s second performance at the club. The band has eight times hit the Billboard country charts, with four of their singles having reached No. 1: “Crazy Girl,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” Drunk Last Night,” and “Love Ain’t.”
“Belly Up is really unique in that it’s a small club, but it’s top-notch,” bass guitarist Jon Jones said in a recent phone interview from his home in north Texas. “Their production, their sound, the stage — it’s everything you’d want a smaller club to be and it’s just very intimate.”
Monday night follows the first Belly Up-produced concert in the venue since March 2020. The venue opened this weekend for six shows presented by the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience.
Jones recalls his last show in Aspen, saying, “I remember the excitement in the audience. I love the really big shows but I also love the really small, intimate shows. I think as a band, you tend to feed off the energy of the crowd. I remember it was a really fun place to play.”
The guys behind the band — Mike Eli (lead vocals, guitar), James Young (guitar), Jon Jones (bass guitar) and Chris Thompson (drums) — met while studying at the University of North Texas outside Dallas. The gang have been making music together since 2000.
The four members come from four very different backgrounds.
“It was a matter of blending our music and figuring out where we fit in,” Jones says. “Mike’s voice and his background is undeniably country. That’s where it always ended up, which we always loved.”
Drawing inspiration from classic rock, ‘90s country, Texas artists and the Red Dirt scene, Eli Young Band carries a unique modern country sound that doesn’t fit any one mold. They’ve found an audience doing it, having sold out venues from coast-to-coast as headliners and shared the stage with Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean and Toby Keith.
Despite the pandemic setbacks and show cancellations, bandmembers were able to find comfort in slowing things down and taking time off from performing.
“I’ve done a lot of songwriting,” Jones notes. “I’ve been to the studio and we have seven tracks done that we are just finishing up. We’re trying to get a release date and (get) all of that put together. For four guys that love playing live and being on stage, it was really tough being away from all that.”
They’re excited about the new music, Jones said, but he doesn’t think it’s quite ready for release or for concert audiences.
“I think people are looking for comfort right now and comfort in familiarity,” Jones says. “I think there’ll be a time to add some of that new stuff in, but I think right now, everybody wants to have fun, everybody just needs that release.”
With the mask ordinance recently lifted in Aspen and elsewhere, performers and audiences are having fresh experiences and grateful for the crowds.
“There’s a renewed sense of life that goes around doing those things for the first time,” Jones says. “ We are really getting into it. We’ve been having more fun on stage than we have in years and I think that translates.”
Jones is looking forward to being back in Aspen and headlining the return of live music to Belly Up.
“We’re going to come out to play the hits and to have fun. We’re looking to share an experience of a night out with everybody else. We’re all in this together right now. After a year of being apart, it’s nice to be in something all together.”
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Local musician and Roaring Fork Valley resident Brad Manosevitz had a few words of thanks and a sea of gratitude to share during public comment at an Aug. 2 Snowmass Village Town Council meeting.