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Fanny Hill comes alive with music

Snowmass Free Concert Series celebrates 30th anniversary this year

Fanny Hill Concert attendees dance to the Pandas & People set list in Snowmass Village on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

For three decades, music lovers have flocked to the Snowmass Free Concert Series by the thousands for live outdoor music and community camaraderie on Fanny Hill.

The series, which started in 1992, is so popular that on any given Thursday night from mid-June to late August, there may well be more people listening to live music in Snowmass Village than there are full-time residents (population: about 2,800). The concerts regularly draw between 1,500 and 4,000 attendees, says Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism, the event producer.

The festivities kick off this Thursday, with the bluegrass band Hot Buttered Rum taking the stage from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The venue opens up at 5:30 p.m. for those looking to arrive early for their prime concert-going spot.



With this year’s 30th anniversary in mind, organizers are celebrating the milestone with commemorative goodies, an “enhanced experience” at the concert venue and a stacked lineup of fresh and familiar acts and characters. (Don Chaney, the quippy emcee, wrote in an email he plans to be back onstage as usual this year to welcome bands and remind concertgoers to drive safely.)

Concertgoers can expect some upgrades throughout the venue, including new crusher fine paths, aisles and a dance floor designed to withstand the elements, a revamped entryway and a new stage roof.




New “container bars” replace the beverage tents of the past, with drink sales based out of branded shipping containers. Also, the illuminated “electric dandelions” that debuted at the Snowmass Luminescence light show last winter add a pop of bright color to the venue.

Snowmass Tourism partnered with Jazz Aspen-Snowmass to book this year’s lineup, which includes a vibrant variety of performances spanning multiple genres. Concertgoers might find a soulful singer onstage one week — fan favorite Hazel Miller returns for a bonus concert July 3 — and a Chicano funk band jamming out the next, while Los Mocochetes performs for a new Latin night on July 7.

And, you don’t have to recognize the names on the playbill to have a good time, organizers emphasize.

“It’s that social community camaraderie that makes it so awesome,” says Snowmass Tourism’s special events manager Julie Hardman.

SUMMER PLAYLIST

June 16: Hot Buttered Rum

June 23: MarchFourth

June 30: The Altons

July 3 (Sunday): Hazel Miller

July 7: Los Mocochetes

July 14: Chain Station

July 21: Jemere Morgan

July 28: Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers

Aug. 4: Taylor Ashton Trio

Aug. 11: Freddy Jones Band

Aug. 18: Spazmatics

Aug. 25: Pimps of Joytime

Aug. 27 (Saturday): 
To Be Announced

Booked in partnership with JAS Aspen Snowmass

REELIN’ IN THE YEARS

This year may mark the 30th anniversary celebration of the current Fanny Hill concert series, but the slopes of Snowmass Ski Area have been a hub for summer live music since its earliest days as a resort.

In the 1970s, music fans filled a 1,200-seat pavilion at the end of the Snowmass Mall to see performers like Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett and Emmylou Harris for a weekly summer concert series. Another tent at the bottom of Fanny Hill hosted performers like Ray Charles and The Temptations, according to “The Story of Snowmass.”

In the 1990s, concert-goers rode the chairlift to Coney Glade for performances by the likes of James Brown and Ziggy Marley at the One World Festival in 1994 and Willie Nelson at the Jazz Aspen-Snowmass Labor Day Experience in 1995. (The JAS festival moved to Town Park in 1996.)

And for decades, thousands of concertgoers headed up to the hills for the annual picnic fundraiser for the Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Big names like John Denver, the Eagles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band drew thousands to the area near the Campground chairlift from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Live music fundraisers for the camp returned to Snowmass in 2013. It’s a tradition that now continues at the Fanny Hill Thursday night concert series, where the camp benefits from the proceeds of liquor sales.

PACK IT IN

Whether you’re looking to kick back and relax or snag a front-row spot on the dance floor, it helps to bring a few accoutrements. Start with something to sit on — a lawn chair or picnic blanket is a great idea — and follow these do’s and don’ts for a seamless concert experience.

DO bring an ID if you’d like to purchase canned wine, beer or cocktails from one of the new container bars in the venue.

DON’T try to schlep in your own booze or brews. (Fanny Hill’s bring-your-own-keg days are a thing of the past; no outside alcohol is allowed.)

DO pack a picnic or pick up a meal in Snowmass Village for a sunset dinner inside the venue. Restaurants throughout the Snowmass Mall and Base Village have great options for takeout, and concertgoers are welcome to bring in their own food and sealed nonalcoholic beverages.

DON’T bring beverages or food in glass containers.

DO bring blankets and sweaters for those cool mountain nights.

DON’T bring your dog to the concert, even if your pup is extra snuggly. Only service animals are permitted inside the venue, and they must remain with their owners at all times.

Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in the 2022 edition of the Summer in Aspen and Snowmass magazine, on newsstands later this week.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com


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