Music marches on through the ‘offseason’
September 9, 2005
With Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Festival in the rearview mirror – joining the Massive Music & Movies events, the Snowmass Summer of Free Music series, Bluegrass Sundays and various other music moments – it’s time to settle into the real quiet of the offseason, right?Wrong. That was the olden days of a year or two ago, when even Aspen’s high times seemed unusually quiet. But the Belly Up is gearing up to rock through the fall, Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale has an especially compelling lineup, and there are special events most everywhere you look.Reggae Monday at Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Festival last week was a bust, as Alpha Blondy begged out after a few songs due to a weak voice, and Maxi Priest offered mostly bland pop music with reggae pretensions. But Belly Up’s Reggae Sundays should make amends.The series continues with Jamaica’s Prezident Brown & the Solid Foundation Band on Sunday, Sept. 11, and Inner Visions, a veteran outfit from St. John, the Virgin Islands, Sept. 18. The series highlight, and among the highlights of the fall, is Burning Spear, Sept. 25. The former Winston Rodney is reggae’s chief proponent of Garveyism, the Afrocentric philosophy advanced by early 20th-century activist Marcus Garvey. A spellbinding performer, Burning Spear has a new album, “Our Music,” due out Sept. 20, the follow-up to 2003’s Grammy-nominated “Freeman.” The album predictably features a song about Garvey – “Down in Jamaica,” praising his quality of leadership.
Early word for John Scofield’s show in June was that the jazz guitarist would be playing his Ray Charles show, in connection with his fantastic Charles tribute CD, “That’s What I Say.” That gun was jumped; Scofield actually performed the Belly Up show, part of Jazz Aspen’s JAS After Dark series, with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart – the combo featured on Sco’s last album, “En Route.” There was no Charles-style soul, no “Hit the Road, Jack.”But now it can be said for sure: Scofield will raise the spirit of Brother Ray at the Belly Up, Sept. 26. The show, slated for a 9 p.m. start, features Meyer Statham on vocals and trombone, John Benitez on bass, Gary Versace on Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer, and Steve Hass on drums. The album, which features contributions from Aaron Neville, Warren Haynes, Mavis Staples and John Mayer, is an inspired take on the Charles songbook; the show should smoke. Several acts coming to the Belly Up have albums even fresher than Scofield’s.The North Mississippi Allstars are set for the Belly Up Oct. 6, a month to the day after the release of “Electric Blue Watermelon.” The band’s fourth album – produced by Jim Dickinson, father of Allstars Cody and Luther Dickinson – splits the difference between 2003’s pop-rock “Polaris” and the band’s earlier blues-rock recordings. Though not as heavily produced as “Polaris,” “Electric Blue Watermelon” features a host of guests: steel guitarist Robert Randolph, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, fife-and-drum man Otha Turner and Lucinda Williams, who sings a duet on the breezy “Hurry Up Sunshine,” which has been turning up plenty on local radio.Two nights later, Soulive hits the Belly Up, hot on the trail of its Sept. 13 release, “Break Out.” The album has the New York jazz-funk trio breaking into heavy soul territory, with such vocalists as Chaka Khan, Ivan Neville and Reggie Watts, of soul band Maktub, lending a hand. The touring band will go a long way toward replicating the studio effort; Watts will be on hand to handle the singing, and the Soulive horns, trumpeter Rashawn Ross and saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, will be in attendance.And more: Southern blues-rock band Mofro plays Friday, Sept. 16, with Colorado hard-rock band Rose Hill Drive Sept. 17. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings bring their old-school Nashville soul sound to town Sept. 21, with Tishamingo, featuring former Aspenite Cameron Williams on guitar and vocals, delivering more Southern rock Oct. 2.
San Francisco’s New Monsoon, which opened the summer’s festivities at the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest, bring their jamming ways back to Aspen Oct. 5. Also on the calendar are Ghostface, Oct. 19, and electronica outfit the Crystal Method, Oct. 28. You need a festival atmosphere, the great outdoors, as a backdrop to the music? Try the Snowmass Balloon Festival, which has a local, acoustic soundtrack to its floating escapades. The Lone Pine Bluegrass Band performs at the festival barbecue, Saturday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. on the Snowmass Village softball field. Accompanying the food and tunes will be the Nite Glow, with the balloons lit up and perched just aboveground. The morning of Sunday, Sept. 18, singer-songwriter Dan Sheridan will play on the Snowmass mall as part of the champagne brunch and awards ceremony.Running alongside the balloons, at a slightly lower altitude, is the Snowmass Wine & Jazz Festival. Chris Daniels & the Kings, an r & b/swing group that appeared under the Janus Music Tent at the Labor Day Festival, returns to play on the mall at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17, followed by Swing Essence at 3:15 p.m.And for those who still haven’t had their fill of Chris Daniels, he and his Kings appear at a Music on the Mountain event at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Sept. 23. Also on the bill is local band SoulFeel. The park will open its rides, caves and restaurants through the evening.
Even the Wheeler Opera House gets into the live-music action. All About the Song, a free event on Wednesday, Sept. 14, brings together local musicians Derek Brown, Bo Helmich, Brian Payne, Trenton Allan, Austin Dey, Tim McMahon and Meg Simon to present a night of original tunes.Fans of the event should also be interested in the eighth annual Musical Tribute to John Denver concerts, Oct. 7-8, at the Wheeler. Mike Taylor, who co-wrote “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and “Rocky Mountain High,” will appear both nights; the Chad Mitchell Trio, the group with which Denver first came to fame, is featured Oct. 8 only. Kelly Joe Phelps, who brings a John Coltrane-like sensibility to the guitar (six-string, slide and lap varieties), and sings with an ancient spiritual-blues tone, comes to Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale, Oct. 7. Other dates of note at the shop: finger-style guitar master Pierre Bensusan (Sept. 20, with a master class Sept. 19); singer-songwriter Willy Porter (Oct. 13); and acoustic rock band the Clumsy Lovers (Oct. 16).Will they never let me sleep?Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org