For the 23rd year in a row JAS / Jazz Aspen Snowmass presented a stellar musical line-up in June. The Benedict Music Tent on the campus of The Aspen Institute is probably the best venue ever. The indoor / outdoor acoustically perfect Bedouin-style, semi underground concert hall under the big top is an Aspen treasure. The headliners of the 3-Day June Fest were Jackson Browne w/ Sara Watkins, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite and Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Naturally 7. The ongoing mission of Jazz Aspen Snowmass is to present and preserve jazz and related music forms through world-class festivals, performances and education programs. So the bands played on.
Click 4 pix: THE SWEET SOUNDS of JUNE
Both the VIP Patron's tent and the free lawn party were bustling with bars, food stations and world music from Mezcla-Afro Cuban All Stars and Tizer a jazz rock fusion trio. Locals and tourists were dancing side by side both inside and outside the tent. The VIP area was a decadent scene as it always is for all Jazz Aspen Snowmass events. The food and drinks flowed copiously. The guys looked mountain ca$h and the ladies chic and sexy. Chef Martin Oswald and the team from Pyramid Bistro created an eclectic and delicious nutrient packed menu. If I had to pick a last meal it might just be Bryan Nelson's Garlic Shrimp chased by Pyramid's blueberry cobbler ala mode. The lawn party was free and open to the public with food from local vendors and a large tequila bar. While the lawn has an obstructed view, the tunes were flowing freely. The lawn party certainly offers a less VIP experience...it's still a great vibe and open to everybody. In fact...the lawn party is my favorite part of JAS because it makes the music accessible to all... free and open to the public.
Friday night felt like 1977 again as Jackson Browne kicked off the fest with a sweet sounding set. A. Party had a serious flashback while shooting pix in the front row. The Pretender, Running on Empty, Doctor My Eyes and Somebody's Baby were highlights. Take It Easy...made famous by the Eagles and co-written by Browne & Glen Frey brought the house down. But JB was not finished yet, as he closed it out with a rowdy rendition with My Redneck Friends. Sara Watkins the fiddle player from Grammy winner Nickel Creek and a full band provided support. Browne sounds great...his voice resonates a time gone by. Even the patron's section was standing & swaying in the aisles. If you closed your eyes...and you didn't look too closely at Jackson's youthful, but almost 65 year old face...it was a flashback to the 70's...and it felt soooo niiiice.
Saturday Ben Harper the Grammy winning singing song writing blues, folk, soulful, rocker teamed up with harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite to "almost" blow the roof off the music tent. Harper and Musselwhite are touring behind their new album Get Up!. Musselwhite known for his harp is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame. The undisputed peak was the rousing cover of Led Zeppelin's...When the Levee Breaks. The fairly docile crowd up front erupted in a frenzy during the crescendo of this classic rock ballad.
Sunday capped it all off with the husband & wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks and their tightly knit Tedeschi Trucks Band or TTB. With Allman-esqe guitar licks and a long musical heritage including Grammy's, TTB did it's thing to the delight of the full house and even more packed lawn party. Opening for TTB was Naturally 7, a group of seven vocalists who replicate instruments to such a degree, that they have you looking for the actual band. Naturally 7 are known as the "first vocal play group ever". They received a standing O from the JAS Festival crowd.
Spectacular June weather and an undeniably awesome venue at the Benedict Music Tent made JAS's June Festival a huge success. Whether you enjoyed the shows from the lawn or you were in the big money front row at JAS's June Festival, it crystal clear that the music , the overall vibe and the community scene was very sweet indeed.
Click 4 pix: THE SWEET SOUNDS of JUNE