Head out and listen up for regional concerts | VailDaily.com

Head out and listen up for regional concerts

Daily Staff ReportVail, CO, Colorado
Aspen Times file photo

One of the beauties of living in the central mountains is just that were central. In a short drive, we can experience the subtle, but refreshing differences of Aspen, Summit County, Glenwood or Telluride. With those differences come not only unique vistas while biking and hiking, but more variety in entertainment and culture.This summer Snowmass offers a mountain of music. Here are the towns highlights.

Snowmass Villages summer music calendar begins hot with the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest and ends huge with Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, featuring the Allman Brothers Band and two of its offshoots.And in between those bookends, Snowmass music scene gets massive.Snowmass Village announced nearly its entire schedule of summer music already, some 20 days of concerts including two Massive Music & Movies weekends, and the Snowmass Summer of Free Music series. The styles span reggae, blues, Latin jazz, funk, folk, bluegrass, African, some sounds that defy categorization and is topped by a blast of rock n roll. The acts range from high-profile debuts and young newcomers to returning rock stars and familiar faces appearing in uncommon formats.Capping the music is the setting. According to a press release, the town of Snowmass Village has invested nearly $200,000 in improvements to the slopeside Fanny Hill venue, with a better sound system, new sod seating and a more attractive stage.

The music season opens June 8-10 with the fourth annual Chili Pepper & Brew Fest. The event starts on an acoustic note, with the long-running David Grisman Quintet playing its distinctive jazz/Latin/bluegrass hybrid known as Dawg music to headline June 8. Sharing the bill is the Del McCoury Band, a Grammy-winning bluegrass act led by singer-guitarist McCoury, and featuring two of his sons.The festival plugs in as reggae singer Ziggy Marley headlines a June 9 bill that also includes swamp rocker Papa Mali, and the local debut of 19-year-old soul rocker Spencer Durham. Spicing up the festival are competitions and tastings of chili and homebrewed beer.

The Parrot Head Block Party, on June 23, features the first local appearances of Hawaiian Jake Shimabukuro, who has made his reputation as a ukulele virtuoso, and the Greencards, an acoustic Americana trio comprising two Australians and a Brit.

The Summer of Free Music Series begins June 28 with WAR, the multicultural Los Angeles band behind such hits as Low Rider and Why Cant We Be Friends. That opening concert extends to a full weekend of music with the first of two Massive Music & Movies events. The music portion of the weekend, on June 30, features the local debut of folk-rock band Son Volt, as well as one-man jam band Keller Williams.The free series continues with roots banjoist/guitarist Tony Furtado on July 5; Texas boogie-woogie pianist/singer Marcia Ball on July 12; and Scottish funk group the Average White Band on July 19.

Bettye Lavette, a 60-something R&B singer who has only recently made her name as an outstanding live performer, makes her first area appearance July 26. The free series continues Aug. 2 with San Diego Latin funk band the B-Side Players.

Massive Music & Movies returns to Fanny Hill on Aug. 4 with a double bill of acclaimed singer-songwriters, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin. Each will play a solo acoustic set.The Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars, a group that formed in a West African refugee camp and hit big with a 2006 debut, Living Like a Refugee, performs in the free series Aug. 9. The Ditty Bops, a theatrical folk-jazz duo of Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett, make their local debut Aug. 16. The free series concludes Aug. 23 with keyboardist Salvador Santana, son of Carlos Santana.

The setting shifts to Snowmass Town Park, at the entrance to Snowmass Village, for the Jazz Aspen Labor Day Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 3). This years festival is topped by Southern rock icons the Allman Brothers, as well as the side projects of its two current guitarists. Govt Mule, a hard rock quartet led by Warren Haynes; and the Soul Stew Revival, an act fronted by Derek Trucks (as well as Trucks wife, blues singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi), also make appearances. Soul rocker Ben Harper, acoustic group Nickel Creek and British soul singer Joss Stone are also scheduled to perform, with another headliner and additional opening acts still to be announced.

Closing the Snowmass season is R&B singer Ruthie Foster, who headlines the Oktoberfest event, Sept. 9. Stewart Oksenhorn, Aspen Times Arts and Entertainment Editor

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