Jazz Aspen CEO: This year’s Labor Day Experience ‘best … ever’

Sting performs on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

From 1990s classics and covers from Weezer to 95 minutes of Sting’s greatest hits, many of the nearly 30,000 fans enjoyed another full-bodied JAS Labor Day Experience over the weekend.

Like last year, the Saturday and Sunday shows were sold out at the Snowmass Town Park venue’s 10,000-person capacity, and Friday’s show wasn’t far off with numbers around the 8,500 mark.

As Jim Horowitz, CEO, president and founding member of Jazz Aspen Snowmass, disclosed these numbers Monday morning, he also said they aren’t that telling.

“The story here is about what happened,” Horowitz said. “And all in all, this was the best Labor Day festival we’ve ever had.”

On Monday morning, Horowitz described Sting’s epic Sunday night performance as exceeding already high expectations, the performances of up-and-coming artists ZZ Ward and H.E.R. as great, the bus system in and out of the venue as running much smoother than last year and the three-day festival’s hot, sunny weather as “record-breaking” in his book.

“We saw standout performances all weekend long,” Horowitz said. “This was a great lineup because it featured artists who have never played here before.”

Horowitz said JAS has invited John Mayer and Sting to play during the Labor Day Experience festival several times in years past, but this year was the first year it worked out for both of them to perform here.

After securing them as the Saturday and Sunday headliners, Horowitz explained that he and his staff tried to find artists who worked well as openers and created a smooth blend of diverse genres over the entire weekend that a wide variety of music lovers could enjoy.

“We always work to create a balance and appeal to as wide an audience on different nights at different times as possible so altogether we have a great variety of sounds,” Horowitz said.

And this year, Horowitz said that balance was so great and the festival was such a hit that JAS has one main question moving into its preparations for its 30th anniversary season: How can we do that again?

“It’s always a logistical challenge to get 10,000 people on and off of a grass field via a two lane road in the mountains,” Horowitz said, laughing. “But people love it and there is a lot of tradition here. … We’re always looking for ways to improve the audience and artist experience.”

So far, Horowitz has heard from many of this JAS Labor Day Experience lineup’s artist managers that the musicians loved the festival and want to come back.

He also said there weren’t any major incidents that jeopardized public safety this year, or any major logistical issues despite a few minor challenges with parking.

“Big hats off to the production team and local officials who made it happen,” Horowitz said of this year’s JAS Labor Day Experience. “You know that saying, ‘It takes a village’? This event is the poster child for that slogan.”