The music ‘scene’ of the mountains |

The music ‘scene’ of the mountains

Special to the Daily/Valley JournalThe hypnosis of jam music is strong. in December 2003, Widespread Panic fans flocked to Carbondale seeking tickets to a rumored appearance by the band at Ship of Fools tavern. The band posted a notice on its Web site denying the rumor; the show never occurred. Widespread plays the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival tonight and tomorrow.

VAIL- Like anywhere, a person can find all kinds of music in the mountains. But the broad range of new interests in rock and indie you’d find in a city is vastly less prominent. Maybe I’m way off-track, but there seems to be an excessive interest in jam bands in these parts. Interest in jam music is not exclusive to the Rocky Mountains, I know. Put your finger on any spot on a map of the United States, and you’d be sure to find a jam band scene there. Like marijuana, jam bands and their enthusiastic disciples are everywhere in this country. Incidentally, the two frequently travel hand-in-hand. But, as far as I can tell, the jam band scene dominates the 20-40-year-old demographic in the mountains.”People who shop here like all sorts of music,” said Jeannie Robbins, co-owner of Eagle Valley Music Co. in Vail Village, whose weekly top-10 albums ranges drastically from everything between Beck, System of a Down and Wilson Phillips. “But the locals like Phish and String Cheese. Maybe it’s pure pressure. You listen to what your roommate listens to.”For those of us who haven’t quite seen the hypnotic allure of jam bands, it’s refreshing to walk into a local music shop and hear the Pixies or Johnny Cash, and that some local venues offer a nice assortment of musicians.

From the Bravo! festival to the jazz festival to the variety of artists playing the Tuesday free concert series at Ford Amphitheater, Vail is on top of the mix. Copper Mountain is another fine example. To close its ski season, Copper brought in Blue Oyster Cult as headliners for a pointedly non-jam band lineup of old-school big hair bands. The resort also featured a series of popular pop and rock acts from Latin and South America for a summer Latin festival, and is bringing in none other than Lyle Lovett this weekend.To launch its Oktoberfest this weekend, Beaver Creek is bringing in Eddie Money, and Vail has been known to pull in acts like Snoop Dogg, Chevelle and Flavor Flav – notably during high season when a broad population of the prospective audiences would be tourists. In the offseason, Vail has also hosted acts like folk phenom Ani DiFranco, and recently brought in Denver indie rockers the Hot IQs for a free show at Eagle’s Nest. Hat’s off for that. Much obliged. Despite the nearby offerings of music this weekend, I’m willling to bet a good number of locals will high-tail it to Aspen tonight and Friday to see Widespread Panic play the Labor Day Festival.

While bringing in a variety of acts, local clubs have a year-round abundance of jam bands playing at their establishments. You see Widespread cover bands, Phish cover bands, one member of Leftover Salmon jamming with friends, another member of Leftover Salmon jamming … and who can blame them? There’s a huge draw for that. You’ll find a crowd at almost every show. “Sometimes punk and metal bands come up here, but they never seem to do that well,” said Eagle County native Thomas Heriot, manager at Mojo Music in Avon. “It’s a different way of life up here. You’re going to see bluegrass jam bands, Widespread cover bands, Phish cover bands … It’s got to be something about mountain music. It’s just part of the culture here. Punk and heavy metal, that’s more urban culture.”Until moving to the valley a few months ago, local chef Rosalio Martinez listened almost exclusively to rap and R & B. Something about the ski town ambiance kneaded his taste to include the mountain music of popular choice: jam.”I started listening to it after living here for a little while,” Martinez said. “Yeah, I guess it’s something about the environment. It’s relaxing up here, so I guess people want to listen to relaxing music.”

For some of us, listening to a 40-minute song isn’t necessarily relaxing. Some of us prefer more structure to our music. Still, there’s got to be something we’re missing. If there wasn’t something magical about jam bands, why would artists like Phish, Widespread and numerous others have such a salivating fan base that follows them around the country?”It’s more positive music. It’s more positive about life,” Heriot said. “You’re not going to find an angry bluegrass player. You might find him sad about his girlfriend, but he’s not going to be cussing out the world like a lot of heavy metal or hardcore rap. I’m a positive guy, I like positive music. I like everything – country, ’50s rock, some punk stuff. I like String Cheese, Widespread, Phish … No, wait! Not Phish. ‘X’ that. I didn’t say ‘Phish.’ I hate Phish. Why? I don’t like their style. It’s too jumbled around. You have to take too many drugs to enjoy it.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or

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