Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jazz Aspen Snowmass 2008

Nan and John at Jazz Aspen Snowmass 2008Nan and I used to attend the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day weekend music festival every year, but we have missed it the last two years in a row, partly because we live in Grand Junction now and partly because we didn't think the music line-ups have justified the trip.

This past Labor Day weekend, we decided we would attend at least one day of the four-day festival. For us, it was a choice between Bob Dylan and John Fogerty. I had seen Bob Dylan twice before, once with my friend Curt Haensel back in 1986 at Alpine Valley when Bob was touring with Tom Petty and once with Nan at Jazz Aspen Snowmass in 2002 when it was held at the base of Buttermilk Mountain. We had both seen John Fogerty once before when he performed at Jazz Aspen Snowmass in 2005. That was our last Jazz Aspen Snowmass show and it was so good that in the end we decided to see him again instead of Bob.

As we waited for the festival gates to open at 2:00, the clouds that had looked threatening earlier in the day began to drop a steady rain. That's always a potential problem with outdoor concerts, but we were prepared with rain jackets and a waterproof tarp. Our plan was to run to a spot next to the sound tent, close to the stage but not too close, spread the tarp, position our lawn chairs to hold it in place, and then head to the tent-covered bar to stay dry. Luck was with us though, and the rain stopped as soon as we got in.

The first act was Tift Merritt. We didn't know what to expect since we'd never heard of her, but she and her band were terrific. Her voice sounded like a combination of Joni Mitchell and Mary Chapin Carpenter, and she accompanied herself on piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. When her set ended, we wandered over to the merchandise tent where Tift was signing copies of her CDs. She was very friendly and chatted with us briefly about what an enthusiastic reception she was receiving in Colorado. We smiled and told her it was because she was so talented and her songs were so heartfelt. Her latest album, Another Country, is still in our car's CD player. Good stuff, especially "Morning Is My Destination" and the title track.

Dwight Yoakam was next. He is a little more cowboy-country than what we regularly listen to, but he played a bunch of classic Buck Owens songs from his new tribute album and put on a great show with his excellent backup band.

John Fogerty on the stage at Jazz Aspen Snowmass 2008Our friends Robin and Dick joined us for John Fogerty's headline act with their son Alex and Dick's cousin, who was visiting from Sweden. I have been a John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival fan since the mid-1960s when my dad started buying their albums. I know all their songs by heart, but I wasn't the only one singing along to classics like "Who'll Stop The Rain?" and "Willie And The Poor Boys." The highlight of the show was a combination of songs off his latest album, Revival: "Long Dark Night" followed by "I Can't Take It No More." Together they form a harsh diatribe against the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. The crowd roared its approval. The show ended after two solid hours with fan favorites "Fortunate Son" and "Proud Mary."

It's always a blast to revisit the music of your youth, especially live in concert. If Jazz Aspen Snowmass keeps bringing in talent like John Fogerty, we'll keep coming back.

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