Student musicians take the Wheeler stage for Aspen Rocks competition on Saturday |

Student musicians take the Wheeler stage for Aspen Rocks competition on Saturday

Gracie Feinberg, who won second place last year, working with sound engineer Marc Meeker.
Courtesy photo

“Aspen Rocks” will return for the second year to the Wheeler Opera House, where six local student musicians will compete Saturday night for a chance to win recording time with a professional engineer at the legendary Mad Dog Ranch+Studios.

The “American Idol”-style competition is organized by the Inspire Aspen Foundation run by co-founders and co-executive directors Julie Garside and Tami Word. They created the foundation to provide opportunities for aspiring musicians in the Roaring Fork Valley through mentorships, performance avenues, and educational programs.

“For these kids, the experience of getting to perform live in front of your peers and an audience is very meaningful,” said Garside. “We’ve found that they instantly bond because they’re in this experience together. They root for each other, play together, and write songs together. But just having that creative avenue to express themselves is healthy and productive.”

Lewis Brown, a 2022 “Aspen Rocks” finalist.
Courtesy photo

Inspire Aspen produces the “Aspen Rocks” music competition at The Wheeler, along with providing singer/songwriter, audio engineering, and workshops, as well as concerts throughout the year.

The foundation is based at the Mad Dog Ranch+Studios – the creative sanctuary and recording studios where Jimmy Buffett and Glenn Frey, of the Eagles, recorded for years.

Garside, who has lived and worked in the Aspen area for over 30 years, bought the property in Old Snowmass in 2016.

Co-leaders of Inspire Aspen, Tami Word and Julie Garside aim to provide musical opportunities for youth in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Courtesy photo

“Once I learned more of the history of the studios, I was just like, we really need to continue the legacy and keep paying it forward,” she said. “It’s such a creative sanctuary. When Jimmy and Glenn had it, every musician who came to Aspen would go out there and record, play, and party.”

One way of paying it forward is through programs like “Aspen Rocks.” Students in grades 6-12 were invited to submit a one-minute video for their audition. Garside, Word, and lead engineer Marc Meeker chose the finalists who will perform Saturday night.

The students will be competing for recoding packages at the studio with guidance from experienced engineers and producers. Local musicians will act as judges, and the evening will include performances by Louis B Middleton, Randy Brown, Dylan Starrs, and Morgan Crouse.

2022’s third place winner Dante Clark recording at Mad Dog Ranch + Studios.
Courtesy photo

Proceeds from the event will benefit Inspire Aspen Foundation and go toward giving opportunities to student musicians in the Aspen, Snowmass, and Roaring Fork Valley area to pursue their talents and musical journeys.

“One of the most encouraging things for us with last year’s event was that we got to bring our community together,” said Word. “Aspen has this great depth and rich tradition of amazing community. This is an old-school, amazing Aspen event that brings us together and celebrates our creativity, our kids, and what this place is all about.”

For more information:

If you go…

What: Inspire Aspen Foundation Presents Aspen Rocks
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Tickets: $30 adults / $15 students,

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