Music flows smoothly at new Two Creeks venue

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Despite being moved from its usual spot by construction of a new golf course, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival went off on mostly positive notes this weekend at the Two Creeks base area.

“I think the venue, for what the June festival is, works fine,” said JAS executive producer Jim Horowitz. “We’re really happy.”

The acoustics were strong and clear inside this year’s 3,000-seat tent erected on the back parking lot at Two Creeks, which is a secondary portal to the Snowmass Ski Area.

“We’ve had a lot of positive comments about the intimacy of the venue with the back of the tent closed,” Horowitz said.

But the lack of lawn seating on flat ground outside the tent was missed by some concertgoers.

“The other site felt more like a festival,” said Bill Simon, a volunteer at the event. “This one is strictly a concert venue. It’s more formal. And there is less camaraderie among the crowd.”

While fans couldn’t hobnob from blanket to blanket this spring, there was a lot of energy inside the tent, especially for Earth, Wind and Fire’s show on Friday night.

“The fact of the matter is, the June festival has always been a tent-focused event,” said Horowitz.

The biggest crowds this weekend came out on Friday night and then again on Sunday night for the rock and blues of Dr. John, Robert Cray and John Hiatt. Saturday night, the straight jazz show headlined by Herbie Hancock drew fewer people, but it was still a solid show.

“It was great to see that the jazz festival could do a jazz night once in awhile,” said Horowitz. “And it wasn’t like nobody came, there were a lot of people there. It was a very well-received concert.”

Although a number of cars that parked illegally on Owl Creek Road and Highline Road were ticketed on Friday night, the Two Creeks site worked fine from a transit and parking standpoint, according to Snowmass Village Police Chief Art Smythe.

“Our goal is to get everybody in and out of here on the buses efficiently, and so far it has worked pretty well,” Smythe said just after the Dr. John show on Sunday.

The police chief did hear a few complaints from patrons who paid $10 to park at the rodeo lot and then still had to get on a shuttle bus to cover the short distance to Two Creeks.

“It’s a challenge with the new site, because you are not sure how things are going to work until you try them out,” Smythe said. “But things are going smoothly.”

And because the base of Two Creeks slopes upward, it required a short hike to get to the food vendors, especially to Goodfellows Pizza, which was at the top of the hill.

“We probably do more business at the Thursday night concerts than we did here,” said Jeff Layton, a manager at Goodfellows pizza in Snowmass Village. “But I understand they had to find a place quick because of the golf course that is going in.”

The next stop of Jazz Aspen Snowmass this summer is the base of the Buttermilk ski area, where the Labor Day shows with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Macy Gray will be held outdoors in a festival-seating arrangement.

And by next June, the festival expects to be back to its usual home on a flat baseball field across from the rodeo lot.