Stewy’s guide to ringing in the new millennium
Those who haven’t yet made their plans for the approaching historic night apparently have plenty of company. Tickets remain available for virtually every open-to-the-public New Year’s Eve bash up and down the valley.Perhaps much of the apparent last-minute planning can be chalked up to the overwhelming range of options available. Prices range from $2,500 – with a substantial number of those dollars tax-deductible – to gratis; offerings stretch from the 11 separate bands, caviar, champagne, dinner and more at Jazz Aspen’s Artists for the New Millennium event at the St. Regis Aspen hotel to nothing more than the “good time” promised at Cooper Street Pier.I’m here, as I sometimes am, to help. Forthwith, I rate my personal New Year’s Eve options, from most attractive to least. Please keep in mind that I am a distinctive, singular, some might even say weird, human being. Your own list may vary, depending on taste, dollar availability, fear of the apocalypse, children to care for and other factors.But go out and do something. New Year’s Eve 1999-2000 is turning out to be the ultimate buyers’ market, with prices falling – in stark contrast to this year’s snow.1. Jazz Aspen’s Artists for the New Millennium, the St. Regis Aspen:There are all kinds of options just for this one event, from the all-inclusive $2,500 ticket – sit-down dinner, a 12th band that doesn’t have to be shared with the lower-priced ticket holders – to the $200 Locals Late Show, which allows admission from 1 a.m. on, provided you agree to clean up afterward.I’m recommending the $500 JAS After Dinner option. The ticket allows admission at 11 p.m. which, thanks to the staggered music set arrangement, will afford the opportunity to see all 11 bands, including headliner Dr. John with the extravagant Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians. Those opting for the JAS After Dinner plan will also get an open bar until 2 a.m., champagne, breakfast and dibs on all food not yet consumed by those who got to the party earlier.2. John Hiatt & the Goners and Keb’ Mo’, Wheeler Opera House: The double bill concert, produced by Avalanche Productions, recently added a $75 ticket for the 10:30 p.m. late show. Jump on it. The seats won’t be as good as the $250 or $150 tickets, but any seat in the Wheeler is good, and a double bill of Hiatt and Mo’ is a downright bargain for $75, regardless of the date. Plus, the cheaper ticket still gets you champagne, party favors and other surprise goodies.For those who want to see the music and also be in bed long before midnight, there is an early show, at 7 p.m., with the same double bill.3. Morris Day & the Time, Double Diamond: The Double D sure took its time getting a New Year’s Eve act, but they got a winner in Morris Day & the Time. The funk-rock band was pushed in its early days by Prince, who put the band in his movie “Purple Rain.” Morris Day & the Time should be an ideal New Year’s noisemaker; $200 buys admission and open bar all night.4. Dark Star Orchestra, Howling Wolf: This one’s for the Deadheads. Combine the all-night open bar, the uncanny way Dark Star Orchestra nails the Grateful Dead’s sound, and the fact that the band likely will pick one of the Dead’s marathon three-set New Year’s Eve gigs to cover, and by 4 a.m. many ‘heads will be convinced that Jerry returned to ring in the new millennium.5. Likewise, Acme Bar and Grill: The Acme New Year’s Eve blast, with music by local boys Likewise and an open bar for $175, looks like the first bar bash to sell out. But word on the street is that a handful of folks will be allowed in, at an unspecified cost, at around 11 p.m.And the Acme also has something for the common folk spending their New Year’s Eve working, the family folk who opt to spend the special night at home, and the diehard partiers who want to blow it out two nights in a row. On Thursday, the Acme will hold its Locals New Year’s Eve party, with music by Jes’ Grew.6. Jason Perrin Band, McStorlie’s Pub: Just $10 and music by the Jason Perrin Band. Low risk, high potential reward – anyone can scrape together ten bucks, and longtime Aspenite Perrin is a real music talent.7. Steve Peer & All That Jazz with special guests Nelson Rangell and dinner, Syzygy: The music comes with dinner – an eight-course feast that should be superb. The night costs $500, and the jazz should play on long into the morning.8. Dinner and the Jimmy Dykann Band, Cowboy’s: Cowboy’s, on the Snowmass Village Mall, is offering two seatings – an à la carte dinner at 6 p.m., and a later five-course feast, with champagne and open bar, for $250. There’s also music by and dancing to the Jimmy Dykann Band, and the early-seated folks are welcome to stick around, with the option of either listening or dancing to the music.9. Dinner and Friends of Your Mother, The Stonebridge Inn: For less than $100 – one dollar less – you get a four-course dinner, champagne, a champagne flute and music from Friends of Your Mother. A good reasonable night for a good reasonable price.10. Dinner and a Magic Show, The Tower: For those who prefer magic to music, the Tower in Snowmass Village has not just dinner, but a $175 four-course dining extravaganza. Points off for pretentiousness. But the magic, by the trio of Doc Eason, Eric Mead and John Stetson, should be top-notch, including that old favorite trick, how to keep the party going when there’s no electricity and the world is coming to an end.11. Cowboy Attitude, Shooter’s Saloon: I’m not planning on becoming a country music lover until 2000-01. But next year, yee-haw, Shooter’s here I come!12. Duane Lawrence & Vlad Girshevich, Lobby Bar at the Little Nell: This piano-and-vocal duo make sweet pop jazz music, but they do it five nights a week throughout the winter for free. New Year’s Eve, you’ll get charged 50 beans. Show up before 9 p.m., however, and there’s no charge.13. Masquerade Ball, Club Chelsea: I have to rule this one out, as I don’t own a black tie, and the only tie I own, a J. Garcia number, I wouldn’t consider painting black. Music is by Don Watson, Kelly Christensen, Wade Knauss and Cole McRory, none of whom have I ever heard of.On the positive side, the main dish is grilled venison with a blueberry grappa sauce, the winner of the best mask contest gets a trip for two to New Orleans, and the price for nonmembers like myself has dropped from $750 a month ago to $395.Mmmm, grappa.14. Roaring Fork Tavern: The Tavern gets right to the point, and you’ve got to admire their lack of adornment: $100 buys music from the juke box, some food and open rail bar, meaning no premium brands.It is funny, though, the idea of paying $100 to get into the Roaring Fork Tavern.15. Hotel Jerome’s Millennium Celebration: Sorry, but comparison shopping says this is an overpriced dud of a way to spend the last night of the 1000s. Tickets are $1,500 – way more than the lower-range tickets for the Jazz Aspen bash – and what do you get? A bunch of decade-themed rooms – a DJ in the ’70s room, blues vocal-and-piano duo in the ’20s room. Let’s hope the champagne and buffet dinner are top notch.And, on a downvalley note .For the downvalley folk, here is what’s going on, listed in no particular order. You’re on your own, but here’s the necessary info to help the decision-making process.-The Beaters, Stubbie’s: Two options here: four-course dinner with a champagne toast, free pool and music by the Beaters, for $50; or after-dinner music and activities for $20 ($15 if you buy in advance).You never want a place that bills itself as a “Sports Bar and Eatery” to serve you a “four-course meal,” or any meal that costs more than a large order of buffalo wings and two beers. Go for the late-night option.-JAKA, Carbondale Community School: Nothing like starting the millennium to the sounds of a five-piece marimba band. So catchy, you’ll want to do it again for the next millennium. Tickets are $20, and some of the proceeds go to COMPASS, the local education organization.-Jyemo, Lone Wolfe Brewery: In fact, marimba bands are such a popular new millennium sound that Carbondale has a second marimba band, Jyemo, at the Lone Wolfe Brewery. Jyemo has yet to set its cover for the night, but don’t expect it to be much more than $5.In addition, the Lone Wolfe will provide free limo service to its patrons, with service as far as Basalt, Glenwood Springs and Redstone. Hooray for the Lone Wolfe.-Reckless Abandon, The Shortstop: The pull is strong: Ten dollars gets you in, and lets you feast on the buffet of cold cuts, prime rib and assorted appetizers. Music is by Mike’s rock band, Reckless Abandon. Mike’s better at playing drums than he is at planning menus.-The Dags, Buffalo Valley Inn: Admission is just $20, and local boys The Dags play some fine music. But here’s the real deal: Have dinner at the Buff and they won’t even try to collect the 20 bones when the music starts.-Clayton Paul Band, Relay Station: See Cowboy Attitude, above. For those Relay Station devotees, however, this is the last night of live music at the bar for a few months.
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