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Patty Griffin joins John Oates for Aspen show

Traci GoudiePatty Griffin appears in the first concert in the Stories Behind the Songs series, Sunday, Feb. 15 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.
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ASPEN For years, Ive been certain that Patty Griffin and Patty Larkin are in on a scam to confuse listeners as to which Patty is which. That both are talented female singer-songwriters with reddish hair and sort-of similar last names is one thing but the fact that both have albums with red, running and dream in the titles makes it clear there are some intentional shenanigans. Any benefits from this scheme, I have yet to discern. So far, for me, it has worked to their disadvantage. Not being able to keep straight which is which, Ive avoided becoming a fan of either. So when I heard that Woody Creeker John Oates would have Griffin uhhh, yes! Griffin! as the first guest in his Stories Behind the Songs series at the Wheeler Opera House, I had to force my enthusiasm.But last week, flipping through the CD piles, I came across Griffins Living with Ghosts. I knew it was Griffin, and not Larkin, because it was filed in the Gs, and while I may not be completely on top of my female singer-songwriters named Patty, Im meticulous about alphabetizing my CDs. Since Griffin was coming to town, I gave it a spin. And now Ive got it straight: Griffin is the one whos really good. Living with Ghosts, her dark-hued 1996 debut, an almost entirely solo guitar-and-vocal album, is attention-grabbing enough so that I should be able to remember who she is. Her most recent album, 2007s Children Running Through (not to be confused with Larkins Angels Running, from 1993), shows shes still got it. Apparently, plenty of others have been onto Griffin; her songs have been covered by Emmylou Harris, Bette Midler, Joan Osborne and the Dixie Chicks. As far as I know, Larkin has not covered any of Griffins songs. Thankfully.Griffin plays some of her songs (and hopefully none of Larkins) and talks about the songwriting art with Oates on Sunday, Feb. 15 at the Wheeler. Joining them are California singer-songwriter Scott Miller, and Colorado Rocky Mountain School senior Riley Skinner, a winner of the local student songwriting competition.The series continues Feb. 26 with Tift Merritt (whos got a blessfully unique name); and March 19 with Jimmy Wayne. Both shows will feature Oates, a second guest songwriter, and a young, aspiring musician from the Roaring Fork Valley.Update on the Griffin/Larkin conflation: For kicks, and to hopefully distinguish the two once and for all, I listened to a Larkin CD. Bad idea. Turns out Larkin is pretty gifted herself. And the CD title? Red=Luck, which I cant keep separate from Griffins Flaming Red. Damn.

Warren Haynes has a lot on his plate, even by his yeoman standards. Next week, the singer-guitarist plays two rare solo gigs at Chicagos Old Town School of Folk. Next month he hits New York City as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, for the Bros annual two-week stand at the Beacon Theatre. Two weeks later he switches hats and becomes a member of the Dead, joining the surviving Gratefuls in a month-long tour. (It hits Denvers Pepsi Center on May 7.) In December, Haynes hosted his Christmas Jam in North Carolina, an annual fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. It being the 20th anniversary bash, the guest list was particularly impressive, featuring the Allmans, Ben Harper, Michael Franti and others over two nights. Next festival up: the Mountain Jam, which Haynes throws in upstate New York each May. This years acts include Ray LaMontagne, Coheed & Cambria, Railroad Earth, the Allmans and others.On the studio side, Haynes told The Aspen Times last summer that he had two side projects in the works: one that focuses on his singer-songwriter side, and the other influenced by the old-soul sound, but featuring all original material.So the last thing he needs is a shake-up in the membership of Govt Mule, the hard-jam band Haynes has led since the mid-90s. But last year it was announced that bassist Andy Hess was leaving the group, to be replaced by Jorgen Carlsson. The Swedish-born Carlsson got his first studio workout with the Mule, as the band finished recording sessions for a new album in Austin last week. Carlsson gets introduced to Aspen when Govt Mule performs on Sunday, Feb. 15 at Belly Up.Haynes has plenty of experience in adapting to new bassists in the band. After co-founder Allen Woody died in 2000, Haynes and drummer Matt Abts spent a few years rotating bassists through the group. Phishs Mike Gordon, Widespread Panics Dave Schools, the Meters George Porter Jr., Les Claypool, the Whos John Entwistle and Creams Jack Bruce all took turns holding down the low end.

Looking for good news? How about the slate of concerts that have been added to the local music schedule?The Wheeler takes a 180-degree turn and presents a genuinely young and fresh talent: 27-year-old rock singer Brandi Carlile, who plays on April 14. Carliles 2007 album The Story was produced by T Bone Burnett, who was behind the controls for Alison Krauss & Robert Plants multi-Grammy winner, Raising Sand.Back to the old (but good) guys: Randy Newman, whose 2008 album Harps & Angels has earned enormous acclaim, performs a solo show at the Wheeler on March 7. Canadian singer-guitarist Bruce Cockburn returns to the Wheeler on April 7.Over at Belly Up, powerhouse new shows are popping up like it was 2007 all over again. Conor Oberst, who burst out of Omaha as a teenager with his group Bright Eyes, makes his Aspen debut on April 11. The show features his new project, the Mystic Valley Band. The Thievery Corporation, the Washington, D.C., production duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, makes its Aspen debut, featuring a live band, on April 15. Hot Tuna plays an acoustic show on May 21, with Loudon Wainwright billed as a special guest. For a preview, Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen also appears at the Wheeler on Feb. 25, as part of the Guitar Blues package with Robben Ford and Ruthie Foster. For another taste, Kaukonens new CD, River of Time, was released this week.More recent additions at Belly Up: mix DJ Bassnectar (Feb. 26); DJ Z-Trip and Mix Master Mike (Feb. 27); rapper The Game (March 9); roots musician for the ages, Taj Mahal (March 20); and British groove group the New Mastersounds (March 25).Ratatat, a New York electronica duo, plays the Aspen Skiing Companys free Hi-Fi series on March 27 at the Gondola Plaza.



And while were looking so far ahead, lets not forget this packed week ahead of us. New Orleans groove band Galactic plays a free show in Snowmass on Sunday, Feb. 15, and a not-free show the following night at Belly Up. Also at Belly Up: DJ crew the Glitch Mob on Tuesday, Feb. 17; and British trance crew Above & Beyond on Wednesday, Feb. 18.The Wheelers got a packed lineup of folkie Tom Rush (Thursday, Feb. 19); South African singer, poet and activist Vusi Mahlasela (Friday, Feb. 20); and Texas legend Jerry Jeff Walker (Saturday, Feb. 21).stewart@aspentimes.com


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