Valley’s live music scene heats up
Jazz, rock, classical music, bluegrass and even something from the New Age genre make up what promises to be a diverse live music scene over the next couple of months, not to mention the rest of this week.The entertainment bill features the likes of San Diego rock band P.O.D, the Cowboy Junkies, jazz pianist Chick Corea and New Age pianist Danny Wright. As usual, Aspen is all over the map when it comes to music.A rundown of every act scheduled on local stages before the lifts close is nearly impossible, especially since new stuff is added almost daily, but heres a sampling from the bursting entertainment calendar, starting with tonight:The Belly Up has Tracorum at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5. The Cirque, located slopeside at the end of the Snowmass mall, features the Damian Smith Trio from 3-6 p.m. If any act has established itself as a regular favorite at Steves Guitars in Carbondale, its the Hit & Run Bluegrass Band. The Front Range quintet, which returns to Steves on Thursday, Feb. 11, continues to rise in the acoustic world; the groups latest trophy is a win at the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Associations 2005 International Band Competition. Their second CD, Without Maps or Charts, was a fine example of contemporary bluegrass, and Hit & Run continues to get invites to the best festivals (Telluride, for one) and gigs. Later this month, the band opens for Ralph Stanley at the Boulder Theater, but the group hasnt stopped playing Steve Standifords tiny listening room in Carbondale. The rock quartet P.O.D. (short for Payable on Death) plays a free concert in downtown Aspen on Saturday, Feb. 11 in conjunction with the inaugural Aspen/Snowmass Open, a slopestyle and superpipe competition at Buttermilk. The band takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Cooper and Galena.P.O.D. has charted radio hits and three No. 1 videos on MTVs Total Request Live since the 1999 release and platinum success of the bands major label debut, The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown. The foursome of born-again Christians deliver what has been described as infectious grooves of reggae and Latin music and the heavy deliverance of hip-hop and rock.
Two summers ago, Jazz Aspen Snowmass had its biggest festival ever, with a lineup that included Steve Miller, Jack Johnson and Cheryl Crow, but turning in perhaps the best performance of a memorable weekend was Robert Randolph. The New Jerseyite is the current hero of a style called sacred steel an uptempo form of gospel that spotlights the steel guitar. Randolph and his Family Band got a major response with their Jazz Aspen opening act, serving up everything from a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” to a raucous Hendrix medley. The band should tear the roof off the Belly Up when it hits the stage at the Aspen nightclub on Sunday, Feb. 12. Tickets are $35. Former Leftover Salmon frontman Vince Herman brings his Great American Taxi Project to the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale on Saturday, Feb. 18. Pianist Yefim Bronfman presents Beethovens Moonlight sonata as well as works by Chopin, Ravel and Russian composer Balakirev on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Harris Concert Hall. His appearance is part of the Aspen Music Festival and Schools Winter Music Recital Series. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $52; call 925-9042. Jazz Aspen Snowmasss Winter Jazz series features singer-pianist Peter Cincotti on Friday, Feb. 24. The singer-pianists first DVD, Live in New York, was released last month, on the heels of last years CD, On the Moon. The 22-year-old was also featured last year in the Bobby Darin biopic, Beyond the Sea. Shows are at 8 and 10:30 p.m. the Belly Up Aspen; tickets are $35 and $45 at the Belly Up or go to jazzaspen.org.
The country blues/folk of the Cowboy Junkies the Canadian quartet of siblings Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins along with Alan Anton hits the Wheeler Opera House stage on Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40.The band released its 10th studio CD last year with Early 21st Century Blues. The Junkies first struck a chord back in 1988 with the starkly beautiful The Trinity Sessions, which showcased singer Margo Timmins vocals as an instrument in their own right. The slow, haunting cover of Lou Reeds Sweet Jane and Trinitys other tracks won acclaim from critics and fans.They followed up with a string of releases The Caution Horses, the country-feeling Black Eyed Man, the rock-and-blues-tinged Pale Sun, Crescent Moon and Lay It Down among them receiving radio airplay with songs like A Common Disaster and Southern Rain. A dozen years ago, San Diegos Greyboy Allstars kicked off the latest groove-jazz era. The Greyboys have retired several times since; fortunately, their reunion tours always include an Aspen stop. The latest is March 5 at the Belly Up.
New Age pianist Danny Wright, visiting friends in Aspen next month, will make a stop on the Wheeler Opera House stage, as well. Hell perform with classical/pop tenor Byron Mino on Thursday, March 16.Trained as a classical pianist, Wright has twice been named by Billboard magazine as a Top 10 artist in the New Age genre. Since his first release in 1986, hes made 22 recordings and sold more than 4 million CDs. Due for release in April is his latest, Timeless Romance.Tickets, available at the Wheeler Box Office, are $30 for reserved seating. In 1973, pianist Chick Corea and his fusion band Return to Forever scored with his best composition, Spain. Finally, Corea returns to Latin territory, and hes at Aspens Belly Up on March 16 with Spanish-oriented Touchstone, featuring members from Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucias band. His appearance is part of Jazz Aspen Snowmass Winter Jazz series. Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 p.m. and tickets are $45 and $55. Get tickets at the Belly Up; see jazzaspen.org for details. Tim OBrien, the former Colorado-based string and singing wiz, plays in a quartet on Sunday, March 19 at the new Thunder River Theatre in downtown Carbondale.
Coming to the Wheeler Opera House on March 25 is Michael Franti, aka Spearhead, a man who has never held back his politics from his music. Stay Human, his 2001 release, was a concept album that weighed in against the death penalty, as well as Big Business and Big Politics. On 2003s Everyone Deserves Music, he blasted the war machine: We got Bush War I, Bush War II / They got a war for me, they got a war for you, sang the musician also known as Spearhead on We Dont Stop.Lately, Franti has found another outlet for his social views. I Know That I Am Not Alone is a 95-minute film documenting Frantis experiences in the Middle East. Franti took to street corners, hospitals and military installations with his guitar, engaging whomever came by in conversations about war and life.His evening at the Wheeler will feature a screening of I Know That I Am Not Alone, a Q&A session, and a solo performance.
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