Jones highlights a hot summer |

Jones highlights a hot summer

Let’s face it, with the New York Philharmonic, Dallas and Rochester symphonies, and the Vail International Dance Festival on the schedule, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater Vilar Pavilion is looking a little buttoned-down this summer.Not to worry. If the Chablis and brie crowd’s got you down, the Vail Valley Foundation promises to lighten things up with its free Budweiser Hot Summer Nights concert series and a handful of big-name pop acts that will get you up off your blanket and dancing in the aisles.Hot Summer Nights the social event of the summer now in its 17th season includes some of the hottest names in funk, blues, bluegrass and rock every Tuesday night at 6:30, June 17 to July 29.While the free shows feature quality acts, they may not all be household names. That’s where a few special concerts each summer come into play. Past acts have ranged from Bob Dylan to James Brown, and this summer is no different in terms of big-name draws.Norah Jones, who cleaned up with eight Grammys in February for her debut album, “Come Away With Me”, plays the 2,763-seat Ford Amphitheater at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14.Described by the Los Angeles Times as the “anti-Mariah” for her soulful artistry that breaks out of the “prefab pop” mold, Jones is an incredible coup for the Vail Valley Foundation, which runs the amphitheater.Voted Best New Artist and winner of Album of the Year, acts don’t get much bigger than Jones in remote resort towns, and Courtney Harriss, operations liaison for the foundation, says there are still some tickets left. She also says music fans are likely to be treated to some other big-time acts this summer.”It’s going to be a great summer concert series,” Harriss says. “I’m hoping everything falls into place in the next couple of weeks and we’re able to bring some more really big names to the valley.”The 23-year-old Jones promises to be the highlight of the summer concert scene, but don’t tell that to the unpretentious diva whose influences range from jazz greats such as Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday to country legends Hank Williams and Willie Nelson.Raised by her mother, New York music producer Sue Jones, Norah Jones’ father is Indian sitar guru Ravi Shankar. Jones eschews the image-is-everything ethic of the modern music industry.”The record industry has gotten so into image that image becomes more important than the singer,” Jones told the Times in January. “Everyone just seems to go for the fast buck.”While Jones has arrived on the pop scene, another up-and-coming though less heralded diva, Vanguard Records artist Shana Morrison, opens the Hot Summer Nights series Tuesday, June 17.Described as “pop with a side of blues and rock,” Morrison’s 2002 release, “7 Wishes”, has been receiving critical acclaim and radio airplay nationwide.The series concludes Tuesday, July 29, with a name that should be familiar to valley music fans. Bering Strait is a critically recognized act on the rise with the odd distinction of being a bluegrass band from Russia, and they’ve played in the area in the past.In between are five acts ranging from Cuban dance to funk (see schedule box) all guaranteed to be worth the price of admission.Also on the schedule for the amphitheater this summer is the Children’s Theatre School’s new production of the classic &quotThe Wizard of Oz&quot. The July 24 and 27 performances are in cooperation with the Vail Public Library. Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children. Call (800) 833-4456.To try and get one of the few remaining Norah Jones tickets, which are $50 reserved and $36 for general admission lawn seats, call Ticketmaster at (303) 830-8497, or click on to keep up with other big-name acts coming to the amphitheater this summer or for more information on Hot Summer Nights, click on the Vail Valley Foundation’s Web site at Budweiser Hot Summer NightsJune 17 Shana MorrisonJune 24 Jackie GreeneJuly 1 The EldersJuly 8 Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks UnlimitedJuly 15 Los MocososJuly 22 Chuchito Valdes Afro Cuban EnsembleJuly 29 Bering StraitAll shows are free and start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

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