Jack Johnson eavesdropped on local teenagers hiking the Rim Trail (and discussing Jack Johnson) before playing Jazz Aspen Labor Day fest

Jack Johnson headlining the JAS Labor Day Experience on Saturday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson went for a hike up the Rim Trail in Snowmass Village on Saturday, before the surf-folk rocker headlined the Jazz Aspen Labor Day Snowmass Experience, and found himself eavesdropping on a group of local teenagers.

At the top, Johnson told his audience Saturday night, he sat near teens who were talking about Johnson’s show.

One asked another if he was going to the concert, and the kid replied, “I’m gonna hang out until he plays ‘Banana Pancakes’ and then I’m gonna split,” Johnson recalled.

So from the stage near the end of his performance, an amused Johnson started playing the song and gave those kids permission to take off for the night. “For those teenagers, here it is.”

The festival sold out all three days of concerts this year – a first in its 23-year history.

Jazz Aspen announced the sell-outs on Saturday night, shortly before Johnson’s headlining set.

The day’s concerts – featuring Bahamas, Fitz and the Tantrums and Johnson – along with Sunday’s roster of Zac Brown Band, Gary Clark Jr. and The Record Company had sold out last month. Friday’s concerts, headlined by Lionel Richie and Michael Franti, sold out on the day of the show.

Saturday’s sell-out crowd was late-arriving, however, with the festival grounds filling up shortly before Johnson took the stage. The crowds were likely spooked by the opening night evacuation boondoggle following a lightning storm that cut short Lionel Richie’s performance and the forecast for more extreme weather Saturday (the evening ended up staying mercifully dry).

The crowds were thin for a 3 p.m. set by Bahamas and a 5 p.m. show from Fitz and the Tantrums. Bahamas lead singer Afie Jurvanen, after a winning set filled with barbed banter and self-deprecating quips, thanked the small crowd for its enthusiasm and deadpanned: “There were literally dozens of you excited.”

But hours later, during Johnson’s sweet and rapturously received 100-minute performance, when Johnson brought Bahamas back out to join him on “Breakdown” and for a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” Jurvanen was singing to a packed capacity crowd estimated at 10,000.

Jazz Aspen has not yet released official attendance numbers.


Sunday’s main stage schedule:

3 p.m. The Record Company (read our preview here)

5 Gary Clark Jr. (more on Clark here)

7:30 Zac Brown Band (read our preview here)


See more