Summer schedule bursting with free concerts
As far as I know, nobody’s getting paid to go to concerts and listen to music. (Except me, that is, and I’m hanging on to my job.) So free music is about the best one can hope for.In these financially tight times – that is, until those tax cuts take hold, and jobs are piling up like cottonwood in early June – we can all use something for free. Something like very good music in exquisite settings, with no need to dig into your pocket for a few dollars, or even having to remember your ticket.Let’s do some comparative shopping here: For $154 – and that doesn’t include service charges – you can get good tickets to see the Eagles play the Pepsi Center on June 24. I’ve never been to the Pepsi Center – I’m a Coca-Cola diehard – but from what I’ve seen on TV, the place is a cavernous, generic-looking arena. The whiny, Aspen-bashing Don Henley will trot out versions of those moldy ’70s hits that Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski hates so much that sound exactly like the album version. The band members will barely even look at one another onstage; recall, this is a band that has said it would reunite “when hell freezes over,” the internecine feelings run that deep. The only decent thrill of the show will be when the band lets Joe Walsh off his leash for “Life’s Been Good” and “Ordinary Average Guy” (both songs, by the way, from Walsh’s solo repertoire). Or, you can pocket that $154-plus and go 10 days later to see the Del McCoury Band in Snowmass Village. McCoury and his band – picked by no less experts than mandolin master David Grisman and this very reporter as the finest bluegrass outfit in the world – will celebrate the Fourth of July on Snowmass’ Fanny Hill, a far more picturesque site than a pile of concrete in the middle of Denver slapped with the name of an inferior cola product. In contrast to the Eagles, the McCoury Band members actually like each other’s company: the band includes Del’s two boys, Ronnie and Robbie, on mandolin and banjo, respectively, and the quintet, which also features fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Mike Bubb, has been intact for over a decade. The McCourys, led by mandolin wizard Ronnie McCoury, can actually improvise onstage, so you won’t hear in concert the exact same notes you could hear on your home stereo. And you won’t hear the exact same songs the Eagles played on their tour three years ago, and five years ago, and eight years ago. The McCourys have put out two albums of fresh material in the last three years, and another CD is due out before the Snowmass gig.And did I mention that the McCoury show will be free? With the $154-plus per ticket, not to mention savings on gas, you can buy the entire Del McCoury Band catalog on CD, bring a foie-gras-and-champagne picnic up to Fanny Hill, and buy me a beer on the hill. You want have to stay cramped in your seat all evening long, but will be free to move to the front row for some dancing and roam around to your friends’ blankets. Fanny Hill won’t be packed with nothing but middle-age, well-to-do yuppies who can afford to blow $154-plus to sing along to a band whose best days are 25 years behind them. Fanny Hill will be filled with kids, freaks, tourists from all over, high school kids, old folks, and hillbillies from all corners of Colorado who can’t believe that they can see the Del McCoury Band for free. Did I forget to mention that the show will be followed by a fireworks display? en free concerts that will be staged in the valley over the next few months. And free here doesn’t necessarily mean cheapo acts; some of the top jazz, folk and blues acts can be seen without charging concertgoers one thin dime for the privilege of hearing them. Or, if you get in your car now, you can drive to Fiddler’s Green – beautifully situated in a suburban Denver office park – and spend $55 per ticket for best seats in the house to see – are you ready? – a triple bill of n see Free music on page B15n continued from page B13Styx, Journey and REO Speedwagon, this very night.It’s your money.Following are the free concert series lineups in the valley this summer. Everybody welcome. Take the kids, and let ’em scream. Bring in your own food and booze – sure, have a picnic. Want to move up to the front row, even though you arrived at the concert at the set-break? Be my guest. Glenwood Springs Summer of Jazz Two Rivers Parkall concerts at 7 p.m.Wednesday, June 4: Joey DeFrancesco Trio. Organist Joey DeFrancesco, a prodigy who as a teenager toured with Miles Davis, has fulfilled his early promise, becoming the latest groove-jazz star to sit at a Hammond B-3 organ.June 11: Irving Mayfield Quintet. New Orleans trumpeter Mayfield is making a name as one of the broadest-thinking jazzmen around; he also co-leads the Latin-oriented combo Los Hombres Calientes.June 18: Ben Sidran Quartet. Pianist Sidran had produced and played with the likes of Van Morrison, Mose Allison and Diana Ross as well as leading his own group.June 25: Kenny Werner Trio. The Brooklyn-born Werner, a busy sideman known best for his ongoing collaborations with Joe Lovano, is also renowned for the trio he leads.July 2: Benny Green & Russell Malone. The late bassist Ray Brown earned his reputation as a mentor in large part because of the accomplishments of these two proteges, pianist Green and guitarist Malone. The two have a recent duo CD, the live “Jazz at the Bistro.”July 9: Ren Marie Trio. Part of the current crop of popular female jazz singers, Marie’s 2002 recording “Vertigo” earned the title of best jazz vocal recording of the year in the Jazz Times critics poll.July 16: Masters of Groove Quintet. Some serious groove lineage here. Guitarist Grant Green Jr. is the son of groove-jazz icon Grant Green; drummer Clyde Stubblefield provided the beat to James Brown’s glory days. Add organist Reuben Wilson, and this show should get the park shaking.July 23: Chuchito Valdes Afro-Cuban Ensemble. More second-generation mojo here. Pianist Valdes is the son of Chucho Valdes, the most renowned of Cuba’s pianists. Performances in the ParkSopris Park, Carbondaleall concerts at 6:45 p.m.June 20: Barefoot Manner. Not a Colorado band, despite how often they perform in the valley. In fact, the four-piece progressive bluegrass band hails from North Carolina.June 27: Acoustic Syndicate. Another North Carolina outfit, comprising two McMurray brothers (banjoist Bryon and drummer Fitz) and a cousin (singer-guitarist Steve) Acoustic Syndicate turned out a so-so CD, “Terra Firma,” for their debut on the Sugar Hill label. That doesn’t stop them from being a monster live act, mixing jazz, newgrass and rock.July 4: Cabaret Diosa. This comical, theatrical, ersatz Latin group from Colorado has developed a loyal following, even (somehow) in the jam-band world.July 11: Manzanares. A Latin-influenced brother act, Manzanares earned four New Mexico Music Industry Association Awards this year, including one for their CD, “Nuevo Latino.”July 18: To be announced.Jazz Aspen June FestivalCooper Avenue mallJazz Aspen is making the most of the downtown location for this year’s June Festival, which runs June 19-20. A stage at the Wagner Park end of the Cooper Avenue mall will feature free afternoon and evening sets throughout the four-day festival.Highlights include New Orleans’ Basin Street Brass Band (June 19, 6 p.m.), Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers (June 20, 4:30 p.m., and June 21, 5 p.m.), vocalist Tierney Sutton (June 20, 6 p.m.), and the JAS Faculty Band (June 22, 3 p.m.).Snowmass Village Free Concert Series on Fanny Hillmost shows at 6 p.m.June 26: Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie. As authentic as zydeco music gets.July 4: Del McCoury Band. Simply the best bluegrass band going. Del and the boys earned The Aspen Times pick as show of the year for their Beyond Bluegrass performance at the Wheeler Opera House last year.July 5: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The swing revival is long past, but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy keeps swinging. The group has a new album, “Save My Soul,” due out July 8.July 10: Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited. Zimbabwean singer Mapfumo and his big band play contemporary African music with heavy social and political commentary. July 17: Los Mocosos. A San Francisco band that plays Latin-leaning funk.July 24: Ledesi. Another San Francisco act, Ledesi is a singer who mixes funk, r & b and jazz.July 31: Leroy Jones Band. Yet another hot New Orleans trumpeter-singer, cut from the Louis Armstrong mold.Aug. 7: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Forty years on, and singer-harmonica player John Mayall is still churning out an electric-British take on American blues. Aug. 14: Dar Williams. An acclaimed singer-songwriter, Williams’ new CD, “The Beauty of the Rain,” features the best of the jam-band world, including Bla Fleck, John Medeski, John Popper and more.Aug. 21: Jimmie Vaughan. Known to the broad public as Stevie Ray’s older brother; known to blues enthusiasts for making some of the finest contemporary blues albums of the last decade.Aug. 23: To be announced.Freestyle FridaysAspen Highlands, 5 p.m.June 27: To be announced.July 11: New Monsoon. A multicultural act with timbales, didgeridoo, dobro, guitars, New Monsoon shows it knows how to put the elements together on their recent CD, “Downstream.”July 18: Smokestack. A Midwestern jazz/jam quartet that has both talent and youth in its favor.July 25: Mountain of Venus. Probably the only jam band to come from Colorado Springs, the five-piece Mountain of Venus has scored dates at the High Sierra Festival and the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival.Aug. 1: JAKA. Recently relocated to Colorado from New Mexico, JAKA mixes African and American instruments for a rhythm-heavy sound. Their latest CD, “Balance,” is worth a listen.Aug. 8: Swivel Hips Smith. This Boulder quintet has been bringing its music, described as “jazzatronic groove,” all over the country of late.Aug. 15: Phix. A Colorado-based Phish cover band. But can they explain the intricacies of “Gamehenge?”Aug. 22: Newcomers Home. A Colorado three-piece that mixes folk, bluegrass and Celtic sounds.Bluegrass SundaysAspen Mountain, noonJune 15: To be announced.June 22: Barefoot Manner. See above.June 29: Cloudcity Syncopatious. You got me. Nice name.July 6: Sweet Sunny South. A traditional bluegrass quintet that is the cornerstone of the Paonia music scene.July 13: Frying Pan Bluegrass Band. A local acoustic quartet, released the 2001 CD “A Night at the Cabin.” Accustomed to playing on mountaintops.July 20: Free Peoples. Last year’s eponymous CD, with guests Tony Trischka and Tom Rozum, showed this Bay Area trio’s fresh take on newgrass.July 27: Lone Pine Bluegrass Band. This group of locals, pickin’ it since 1996, has made a name on the regional bluegrass circuit.Aug. 3: To be announced.Aug. 10: Shanti Groove. A Boulder jam-grass band. If you can believe that.Aug. 17: Flying Dog Bluegrass Band. The deans of Roaring Fork bluegrass. Aug. 24: High on the Hog.Aug. 31: Beans with Barnes. The info is sketchy. If I had to guess, I’d say this is North Carolina bluegrass band the Greasy Beans, playing with Bad Livers banjoist Danny Barnes, their frequent collaborator. Mountain FairCarbondale’s Sopris ParkJuly 25-27 Musical highlights include local blues band Big Daddy Lee & the King Bees and world-beat band Kan Nal on July 25; local acts Little Blue, TRUNK and Frank Martin, and Melvin Seals & JGB playing the music of the Jerry Garcia Band, on July 26; and Smokestack, Latin band Guajira, gospel group the Heavenly Echoes, and reggae act Rhythm Culture on July 27. All that, and it won’t cost you a cent. Except for the beer you buy me.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.