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Sellout crowds pack June Fest

Chad Abraham

The kids are all right, at least as far as Jazz Aspen is concerned.With bookend acts that appealed to the younger set – Jamie Cullum’s Thursday night show and Trey Anastasio on Sunday – this weekend’s June Festival drew its largest-ever crowds.The venue at Rio Grande Park sold out two – and possibly three – of the four nights. Both Friday night’s Diana Krall concert and the Elvis Costello-Delbert McClinton show the next night sold out, and the Anastasio-Maceo Parker event was well on its way Sunday morning.Jim Horowitz, Jazz Aspen’s executive director, said at least 2,800 tickets in the 3,000-seat venue had been sold for Sunday’s concert. All told, some 11,000 got their groove on this weekend.”These are definitely the biggest numbers we’ve ever had for the June Festival,” he said.The Rio Grande site was first used in 2000, and the only year that compared to this weekend’s attendance was in 2001, when Krall, Natalie Cole and Bonnie Raitt took the stage, Horowitz said.Lizz Wright opened for Cullum in a concert that drew 2,200 people, the only night that didn’t approach a sellout.The numbers thrilled Jazz Aspen organizers, Horowitz said.”Attendance is just important because it creates an overall positive feeling for everyone, whether they’re attendees or sponsors,” he said. “If it feels full, that’s better than feeling half-empty.”At last year’s June Festival, for example, David Byrne played a “spectacular” set Friday, Horowitz said.”But it was probably 70 percent of capacity, probably 2,300,” he said.Large crowds “just make everybody feel good, if it’s a good concert,” Horowitz added. “You can have a half-full house and have a great concert. You can also have a full house and have an average concert.”This weekend helped the June Festival emerge from the shadow of its younger and more popular cousin, the Jazz Aspen Labor Day concerts (see related story).”The June Festival this year really feels like it busted out,” Horowitz said. “There was a very big lineup this year. But that was not accidental.”Jazz Aspen officials last fall made a concerted effort to revive the June shows – “and that meant going after really big talent.”And we wanted to program some nights that really aggressively went after a younger audience,” he said. “Which really hasn’t been the MO for the June Festival in the past. We really were trying to make our younger audience pay a little bit more attention. That seems to have worked.” Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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