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What’s your first concert going to be?

Live music is coming back. Here’s a look at the lineups so far.

Etienne Charles, pictured here at the 2019 Jazz Aspen June Experience, will return to the JAS Cafe this summer.

It’s been a long time coming. Live music is returning this summer as the post-vaccine season of cultural rebirth in Aspen is starting to take shape.

The three premiere live music venues and festival producers – Belly Up Aspen, the Aspen Music Festival and School and Jazz Aspen Snowmass – are all returning.

Belly Up has been shuttered since March 2020 when the novel coronavirus shut down the live music and touring industries. Jazz Aspen last summer canceled its June Experience and Labor Day Experience and hosted an outdoor truncated version of its JAS Café series. The Aspen Music Festival, for the first time in its 70-plus years, canceled the 2020 summer season and scuttled plans for a winter series.



They’re all back this summer. Here’s what is taking shape for their stages so far.

BELLY UP

In the past few weeks, in one of the most joyous returns to normalcy for live music fans, the club started making concert announcements and sending early ticket booking codes again, adding to the handful of shows that have been on the books for 2021 since they canceled last year.




Independence Day weekend includes two sold-out nights of deadmau5 (July 1 & 2) followed by Colorado heroes Big Gigantic (July 3) and a sold-out Blues Traveler (July 5). We can expect announcements soon about some big-name additions for late June, in addition to Belly Up-hosted portions of the JAS June Experience.

The rest of the club’s summer lineup will also fill in, but it’s unlikely to get back to hosting shows six or seven nights every week for another year or so. The complex gears of the touring industry are just starting to move again and will be slow to get back to fully operational.

Summer is already peppered with Aspen favorites and Belly Up regulars including country rocker Pat Green (July 18) and crooner LeAnn Rimes (July 24), the Beach Boys (Aug. 3), Melissa Etheridge (Aug. 8), Louis the Child (Aug. 22) and Moon Taxi (Aug. 29).

Much more is expected to be announced in coming days at bellyupaspen.com

JAZZ ASPEN SNOWMASS

Two big festivals and a summer-long jazz series are set for a triumphant, brassy return: the multi-venue JAS June Experience (June 24 -27), the massive outdoor pop extravaganza JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 3-5) and the intimate club series at the JAS Café (June 18-Aug. 15).

Lineups are mostly set, too, as Jazz Aspen plans a belated 30th anniversary this summer and expects to host the first major in-person festal in Aspen since the novel coronavirus struck.

Capacity is still expected to be limited at the June Experience, which is spread across eight small venues in downtown Aspen — a format that debuted in 2019 – but single tickets are available. Shows are spread between The Little Nell, Here House at Local Coffee, Belly Up Aspen, the Wheeler Opera House, the Velvet Buck at the St. Regis, the rooftop at the Aspen Art Museum and a tent at the Silver Circle Ice Rink.

The hottest June Experience tickets may be the funk shows at Jerome Ballroom on June 25 and 26 including a New Orleans Revue featuring Dumpstaphunk with bassist George Porter Jr. and the pianist/vocalist Jon Cleary. The festival lineup also includes Denver beloved funk outfit The Motet (June 25-26); the classic ’70s sound of The Family Stone (June 25-26); swinging trad-jazz group Sammy Miller & the Congregation (June 26-27; and vocalist Ms. Bettye Lavette (June 25-26) and many more.

Jon Cleary, pictured here in a previous Aspen performance, will be part of a New Orleans Revue at the Hotel Jerome June 25 and 26.

The summer-long Café series will host shows on the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum and at the Velvet Buck in the St. Regis, with early and late performances each night. The confirmed lineup includes jazz vocalist and saxophonist Curtis Stigers (July 9); jazz fusion pioneers The Yellowjackets, who performed at the Benedict Music Tent on the opening weekend of Jazz Aspen in 1991 (July 10); Shelly Berg & Friends (July 23); Etienne Charles & Creole Soul (July 24); Christian McBride & Tip City (Aug. 5); Kurt Elling (Aug. 6); and vocalist Catherine Russell (Aug. 13). The series is slated to close with the Jazz Aspen debut of fusion act Pascal Bokar’s Afro Blue Grazz Band (Aug. 15).

Details are forthcoming on capacity for the Labor Day Experience (Sept. 3-5), the pop festival that normally draws an audience of some 10,000. But the lineup is set with the acts that postponed last year: Stevie Nicks, Eric Church, Kings of Leon and Maren Morris. More at jazzaspensnowmass.org

ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL

Aspen’s longest and most-renowned musical tradition of summer classical concerts is returning with a 52-day, 150-event lineup for July and August.

This 72nd season will host almost all performances in the open-air Benedict Music Tent (bring a fleece for evening shows) and mark the return of its three symphonies (each performing weekly).

Highlights of the lineup include star soloists like pianist Matthew Whitaker, who will open the festival July 1, and violinist Augustin Hadelich, who will close it with the Aspen Festival Orchestra on Aug. 22.

Concerts will revive the themes from the canceled 2020 season — “Beethoven’s Revolution” honoring the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth and “Uncommon Women of Note,” exploring works by female composers and performers.

Beethoven is the star of opening weekend, which includes performances of his Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 5 by the Aspen Chamber Symphony along with his Symphony No. 9 by the Aspen Festival Orchestra.

The final three weeks of the season also will include free mobile concerts throughout the Roaring Fork Valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, performed from a to-go venue named The Concert Truck.

Two operas are on the bill, abridged concert versions of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” (July 17) and Handel’s “Rodelinda” (Aug. 21) as the festival launches its new Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program co-directed by luminaries Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers. Fleming also will sing with the Aspen Chamber Symphony under conductor Robert Spano on July 16. Spano, returning as the festival’s music director, will oversee the Aspen Conducting Academy and conduct four concerts this summer.

Along with three evening concerts running at the Benedict every week, the season includes free student recitals, free panel discussions and events for kids. The complete lineup is online at aspenmusicfestival.com.


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