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Texas bands invade Aspen, the valley

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen TimesJim "The Reverend" Heath leads the Rev. Horton Heat to an Aspen gig Friday at Belly Up.
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ASPEN – A plea to all Aspenites: Can we hush it up on the Texan jokes, at least for the weekend? I know, I know, with the holiday rush still a fresh memory, there’s plenty of fodder for stereotyped (but, of course, spot-on) barbs about the way they talk, act and dress.

But Texans will be standing out in a different way than usual this weekend. An array of Lone Star musical acts appear on valley stages over the next few days. And not only will they be a welcome sight, they actually should look as if they belong here in the land of (relative) normalcy. A show by Robert Earl Keen (born in Houston, lives in Kerrville) has become as much a fixture as Wintersköl in Aspen’s January. The Band of Heathens (based in Austin) seem determined to play every last music venue in the valley. (And then some: Friday, they play at a makeshift music venue, with a gig at the Church of Carbondale.) The Rev. Horton Heat, led by singer-guitarist Jim “The Reverend” Heath (born in Corpus Christi, based in Dallas) competes for the record of most appearances at Belly Up Aspen.

Blame – I mean, thank – Steamboat Springs for this current invasion. For 25 years, Steamboat has hosted a bash now known as The MusicFest, centered around Texas acts. (Someone explained that the roots of the festival are in the fact that Steamboat’s emergence as a ski resort was financed by Texans.) The MusicFest rounds up several dozen acts (30 this year, over six days, ending Jan. 11) to perform in clubs, on mountaintops, in a ballroom, and under what they call The Really Big Tent. Apparently, they don’t mind sharing their musicians, so the Texas acts piggyback Aspen dates onto the festival appearances.

The schedule: Friday, The Band of Heathens, a fast-rising roots-rock quintet, plays a benefit for the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, with the local Hell Roaring String Band kicking off the 7 p.m. show. The Band of Heathens are riding high on their excellent September release, “One Foot in the Ether.” And don’t sweat about seeing the Heathens in a church. Sure, it’s a bit sacrilegious, but the 500-person space is touted as downvalley’s best damn music venue.

Also Friday, the Rev. Horton Heat lights up Belly Up with their aggressive, comedic take on rockabilly.

On Saturday, Jan. 9, Keen returns to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on the tails of his own worthy September release, “The Rose Hotel.” Later Saturday, rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed (whose members are split between Oklahoma and Texas) team up with opening act the Randy Rogers Band, a country group from Austin, for a Belly Up gig.

Sorry to say that Lyle Lovett (born and lives in Klein), who often stops at the Wheeler around this time of year, is apparently skipping town in 2010. But for those who need more than one weekend of Texas, fret not. There’s another round beginning mid-February, as the Wheeler hosts Guy Clark and Radney Foster (Feb. 19), Jerry Jeff Walker (Feb. 20), and the Acoustic Brotherhood Tour (Feb. 28), featuring Los Lonely Boys, Alejandro Escovedo and Carrie Rodriguez – Texans all.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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