Mountains of music for your summer pleasure
Down in Glenwood, theres the Summer of Jazz series. In Carbondale, its the Summer of Music Concert Series, the sonic marathon that is Mountain Fair, and Steves Guitars. Basalt has River Days. Snowmass Village has the Snowmass Free Concert Series, the Massive Music & Movies events, and the music-filled Independence Celebration and a little thing called the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival. And Aspens summer is wall-to-wall music, with the Jazz Aspen June Festival, the Bluegrass Sundays series, the Aspen Music Festival and Belly Up.So lets call it a valley of music that is just getting revved up. Rather, has already gotten revved up Glenwoods Summer of Jazz kicked off this past week with an appearance by local pianist Walt Smith, and Snowmass launched its lineup with this past weekends Chili Pepper & Brew Fest, featuring sets by the Neville Brothers, Dr. John and Stephen Marley. (The festival concludes Sunday, June 8, with locally-made chili, locally-brewed beers and, of course, music, by hometown band, Jes Grew.)How to organize all this music? Chronological? Bo-ring! Alphabetical? A pain. By height? Hard to gauge; Wikipedia tends not to list everything but height. By region? Did that last year. Style? Intriguing, but theres so much overlapping territory there.Im going with my relative excitement level, starting with the most enticing, and going down my top 25.
Number one: Bob Dylan (Aug. 30, Labor Day Festival). I have a tremendous yearning to see Dylan as often as I possibly can without having to drive more than 15 miles. Its disappointing that Dylan isnt playing guitar these days only keyboard and harmonica but his setlists are as varied and interesting as theyve ever been, and recent reviews have been solid. The Jazz Aspen date is the only one he has scheduled around that time, so that might make for interesting things.And the rest, in order (with no promise that I will make it to every one of them): Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile (Aug. 13, Harris Hall). Bassist Edgar Meyers recitals have been highlights of the Aspen Music Festival the last few years. Here he teams with another dazzling stringman, mandolinist Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek. The Raconteurs (June 20, Belly Up). The latest project of White Stripes singer-guitarist has released two excellent albums, including the recent Consolers of the Lonely, that update guitar rock. Its a rare club appearance. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (June 21, June Festival). The word is out on this retro-soul act, which is being called one of the best live bands going. Steve Earle (July 6, Belly Up). The unrestrained alt-country guru piggybacks an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival with a solo acoustic show. Opening is his wife, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer.Dwight Yoakam (Aug. 31, Labor Day Festival). Never seen the old-school country singer, but not for lack of desire. Widespread Panic (Aug. 28, Labor Day Festival). History instructs to catch the first night of the Georgia jam-bands two-night stand in Snowmass, when the crowds will be a little more tolerable, affording more space to dance to their monster Southern boogie grooves. Ani DiFranco (June 18, Belly Up). After oodles of records from the prolific DiFranco, her folk-punk blend is no longer novel. But she hasnt played Aspen in more than a decade, and she remains an intriguing figure and a superb guitarist. Mavis Staples (July 5, Independence Celebration). The 68-year-old singer, a member of the legendary soul act the Staples Singers, is in strong shape, if last years socially inspired Well Never Turn Back, produced by Ry Cooder, is any indication. John Fogerty (Aug. 31, Labor Day Festival). In his last local appearance, Fogerty had the energy of a teenager and aimed to please, running through his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits. Since then, hes released a brilliant album, Revival.
Robben Ford (Aug. 14, Fanny Hill). Whether he plays a blues show or a jazz-fusion set remains to be seen. Either way, hell be as good a guitarist as there is. Christian McBride Situation (June 22, June Festival). The jazz bassist, a regular visitor to Aspen, brings us his new project. Expect him to bring the funk as well. Brian Setzer Orchestra (June 21, June Festival). So what has the former Stray Cat been doing these past 20-something years? Playing swinging rockabilly with an entertaining big band. Black Francis (July 7, Belly Up). The former leader of American post-punk band the Pixies dons his singer-songwriter persona which he does quite well, as evidenced by several recent albums credited to Frank Black. Radiators (June 15, Belly Up). The New Orleans rock machine celebrates its 30th anniversary with their second Aspen appearance in less than three months. The last show showed high spirits, but (for this Radz devotee, anyway), a lackluster setlist.Ahmad Jamal (Wednesday, June 11, Two Rivers Park, Glenwood). A favorite of the discriminating Miles Davis, the pianist brings his combo for adventurous acoustic jazz. Bebel Gilberto (June 19, June Festival). The 42-year-old daughter of Brazilian legend Jaa Gilberto is proving to be an innovative modernizer of the bossa nova style. Todd Rundgren (July 12, Belly Up). The slightly-underground rock innovator comes to Aspen celebrating his 60th birthday, and a new album, Arena, due out in September. Blues Traveler (July 5, Belly Up). The hard-rocking jam-band, led by harmonica god John Popper, has made Belly Up a regular stop on its July 4th run through Colorado. Yonder Mountain String Band (Sept. 1, Labor Day Festival). Colorados most popular bluegrassy outfit finally makes a big-stage appearance in the Aspen area. Drew Emmitt Band (June 26, Fanny Hill). Colorados best bluegrass picker makes another visit to the valley. Jerry Douglas (Sept. 1, Labor Day Festival). The undisputed dobro king and one of the best acoustic pickers anywhere is sure to make jaws drop. Panjea (July 13, Sopris Park, Carbondale). This African groove group, led by mbira player Chris Berry, who trained on the percussion instrument, also features former String Cheese Incident mandolinist Michael Kang. Expect a crowd. KT Tunstall (Aug. 25, Belly Up). The Aspen area gets a rare edgy act when this Scottish singer, who mixes folk with electronic sounds, makes her local debut. Andrew Bird (July 18, Belly Up). Surprise! Another off-the-beaten track performer, who uses whistles, glockenspiel, violin and more in his unpredictable music.Theres more. Plenty more. Plenty more that registers on my thrill radar. Keep reading these firstname.lastname@example.org