Widespread Panic to lure valley locals to NOLA Jazz Fest | AspenTimes.com

Widespread Panic to lure valley locals to NOLA Jazz Fest

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A lot of people I know from Aspen to Carbondale are excited about the upcoming Jazz Fest. The inclusion of Widespread Panic to the lineup has a lot to do with it.

Oh, you thought I was talking about the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival. Hardly.

No, I’m “talkin’ bout, talkin’ bout, New Orleans,” as The Meters’ song repeats. Since 1970, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been one of the top annual attractions for music lovers worldwide.

And it comes during a time of year when there’s not a whole lot going on in Aspen — the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May — the start of the slow spring offseason period when service-industry workers and part-time residents take flight, leaving Aspen to resemble a ghost town. Will anyone be around to vote in the mayor’s race?

Panic is set for the Thursday of the second weekend, which used to be known as “locals day.” With thousands of Spreadheads planning to hit the Crescent City primarily for that show on April 30, the event site, the historic Fair Grounds Race Course, will be anything but a day reserved for locals.

A lot of other big names are on tap this year: Wilco, April 24; The Who, April 25; Jimmy Buffett, April 26; No Doubt (or Chicago), May 1; Elton John (or Jerry Lee Lewis), May 2; Steve Winwood (or The Meters or the O’Jays), May 3, which is closing day.

Typically at Jazz Fest, I skip the names that draw massive crowds, and I lurk around the smaller stages. (That said, I will probably check out The Who, Panic and The Meters.) I hate getting bogged down in a sea of sweat and heat and warm beer and bodies virtually lumped on top of each other.

Here’s my offer of a few best bets for the many hundreds of Roaring Fork Valley residents who are planning a trip to the Crescent City in less than two months for this year’s version of Jazz Fest:

• April 24: Fans of Zydeco music and Swamp-tinged blues won’t want to miss opening day. Park yourself at the Fais Do-Do Stage for many of these acts: Wayne Toups, Sunpie & the Sunspots, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, Lil’ Nathan and Chubby Carrier.

• April 25: Personally, I want to see if The Who has still got any of its special brand of power rock left. Otherwise, this looks like a good day for milling around, eating Crawfish Monica and checking out various artists and bands, including Robert Cray, Dumpstaphunk (with Art Neville) and Raw Oyster Cult (all-star band with John Gros and Dave Malone). The nerds will want to see John Legend.

• April 26: I’ll skip Jimmy Buffett and opt for the weirdness of Tony Bennett performing with Lady Gaga. The first Sunday also includes Irma Thomas, Beausoleil and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.

• April 30: Get there early and spread a blanket near the front of the mega-stage for Widespread. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Runner-ups: Amanda Shaw, Alison Krauss.

• May 1: Spend the day in the French Quarter or take a river cruise. Wait for the night shows in the clubs. If you absolutely must go to the Fair Grounds, head to the Gospel Tent and inject yourself with some much-needed Holy Spirit. You Colorado heathens need some religion, badly.

• May 2: “The Killer” is back — Jerry Lee Lewis is a living legend and he can still pound those keys. Otherwise, I’m pointing the way toward Kermit Ruffins, Henry Gray and Taj Mahal.

• May 3: What a huge closing day: The Meters, Lenny Kravitz, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, The Radiators, Dr. John, Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne. So many greats, so little time.

Booked your flight yet?

andre@aspentimes.com


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