The icing on jazz fest’s cake | AspenTimes.com
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The icing on jazz fest’s cake

Janet Urquhart

Jazz Aspen Snowmass has no reason to apologize, after presenting what I’d call the best Labor Day lineup since I’ve lived here. That’s why I was a little shocked to read a letter of apology from the festival exec Jim Horowitz this week. I assume he is trying to mollify miffed patrons – those folks in the exclusive, pricey VIP section – who didn’t take to Cake.It’s true, Cake’s lead singer made a point of repeatedly dissing the handful of cordoned-off VIPs. It was funny the first time and tiring by his third rant, though other Cake fans in the cheap seats – blankets on the grass – ate it up. Still, it has to look strange to a performer onstage – to the left, a crowd pressing against the stage; to the right, a handful of the well-heeled, sipping free merlot or whatever.I can appreciate Jazz Aspen’s explanation for the VIP treatment – those ticket buyers help subsidize the cost of producing the festival by a healthy margin, helping keep the “cheap” seats relatively cheap. In reality, the orange fencing probably separates the wealthy from the well-to-do, anyway.But, to label Cake’s behavior as “appalling” and compare it to a “deranged animal breaking into and wrecking one’s home” is a bit over the top. C’mon people, lighten up.The band actually gets radio airplay, and I don’t mean on “classic rock” stations. How many artists in a typical Jazz Aspen lineup can you say that about? I’ve been known to make snide remarks about the Labor Day “oldies show” Jazz Aspen tends to produce – packed with acts I first saw more than two decades ago. This year, that aspect was pretty much limited to Steve Miller, whom I caught 20-plus years ago as one of two opening acts for the Eagles’ “Hotel California” tour.Natch, I passed on tickets to Miller. Yawn.I was pretty bowled over, though, to find two acts in this year’s lineup that I was actually willing to shell out cash for – Sheryl Crow and Lucinda Williams. I was tempted to go for Jack Johnson, too. This was not my father’s Labor Day festival, for a frickin’ change.I was totally stoked to see Lucinda Williams. To sit around in the sun, drink beer and catch Cake first was the icing on, well, the cake. The fan base for the two acts couldn’t have been more different – a big chunk of the audience that came for Cake appeared to split before Williams took the stage, opening up the lawn for her fans. I happened to dig both.With Aspen continually fighting to shed its stodgy image, I’d hate to see Jazz Aspen rule out Cake or anyone else of their ilk for a future appearance.To anyone who was “justifiably offended,” Horowitz apologized. To anyone who was justifiably offended, I’d say, stay home. I think you can still catch Lawrence Welk on PBS.Janet Urquhart thinks this town needs something real to get upset about. Her e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com