The sounds of spring keep town rockin |

The sounds of spring keep town rockin

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times Staff Writer

Along with the crowds, longer days, warmer temperatures and elevated spirits, the last month of winter always brings plenty of music to Aspen. Following is a look at musical highlights over the next several weeks.The sounds begin to fill the air this weekend. Newcomers Home, a Boulder-based quartet that mixes bluegrass and folk, plays the Aspen Skiing Companys Bud Hi-Fi Series on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m., at the end of the Snowmass Village mall. Former Boulderite Tony Furtado, whose American Gypsies band has been doing wonderful things with roots music, is at Whiskey Rocks that night.Mardi Gras means Snowmass Village turns into a party town for a day. Making the noise on Tuesday, Feb. 24, will be Take the Wheel, joined by guests Jed Lieber on keyboards and Richie Canatta, famed for his years with Billy Joel, on saxophone. Take the Wheel and guests also play the Blue Door in Snowmass on Friday, Feb. 27, a special aprs-ski gig that will have the local band recording a DVD.Bloodkin, a Georgia band often in cahoots with Widespread Panic, plays the Grottos on Feb. 28. Other dates of note at the Grottos: The Packway Handle Band, a bluegrass band also from Georgia, on March 1-2; Bump, a Michigan jam-rock band, plays March 8-9; and Colorado jam-groove band the Motet is set for March 20.For classical fans, an unbeatable quartet of violinist Cho-Liang Lin, violist Daniel Phillips, cellist Gary Hoffman and pianist Leon Fleisher performs in the Aspen Music Festivals Winter Music series at Harris Hall on March 3. The series concludes with a recital by Jonathan Biss, a 22-year-old student of Fleishers making his Aspen debut on March 19.For reasons that elude me entirely, Colin Hay, best known as the leader of 80s Australian band Men at Work, will be performing at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival March 4-5. Come to think of it, his accent was sort of funny.The Wheeler Opera House will be rocking for two nights in mid-March. The North Mississippi Allstars, a hard-edged, blues-based band that ripped at last summers Jazz Aspen Labor Day Festival, is set for March 11. The following night, John Hiatt performs a benefit for Aspen Grassroots Experience. Performing solo, Hiatt may focus on songs from his standout acoustic-leaning albums, Crossing Muddy Waters and Walk On.For those looking to travel back in time, 1964 … The Tribute, a live re-creation of the early years of the Beatles, returns to the Wheeler March 13-14.Jazz Aspen swings back into action with its two-part Winter Jazz series at Harris Hall. On March 13, a pair of female vocalists, Stacy Kent and Paula West, will offer their takes on the Great American Songbook. On March 23, Cuban pianist Chuchito Valdes, son of another Cuban pianist, the legendary Chucho Valdes, leads his Afro Cuban Ensemble to Harris Hall.Aspen Spring Jam brings the Wild Bunch, a Los Angeles 14-piece outfit billed as a hip-hop version of Earth, Wind & Fire, to downtown Aspen on March 20. Plans are to transform the corner of Cooper and Galena into something approximating a nightclub for the event. The Skico is also looking to present bands at its Fusion Pipe event in Snowmass March 21, and for the closing day of the season at Snowmass on April 11.Things get spirited at Snowmass Village again on March 21, when a double bill of Ziggy Marley and Spearhead performs at the Snowmass Conference Center.Plenty of acoustic sounds are on tap at the Wheeler when the fourth edition of Beyond Bluegrass settles into the Opry House. The five-show series opens March 24 with the trio of Phillips, Grier & Flinner, and runs consecutive nights with, in order, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Jerry Douglas Band, the Seldom Scene and a double bill of Bearfoot Bluegrass and Open Road.Thats most everything that I know. It should be enough to keep this end of the valley rocking.Stewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is