New Orleans gets mountain support
ASPEN – This past New Year’s Eve, the Wheeler Opera House hosted Alive ‘n Kickin’, a concert featuring a flock of New Orleans musicians. The idea, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was not only to celebrate the culture of the devastated city, but to give its musicians a chance to play. “All the performers are out of work, and what they need most is gigs,” Russell Rocke, a former New Orleans resident who produced Alive ‘n Kickin, told The Aspen Times then.While cries are still heard that the ongoing situation along the Gulf Coast has been overlooked, the idea of giving Louisiana musicians work in the Rocky Mountains has continued life.In Glenwood Springs, the Summer of Jazz concert series has been devoted entirely to New Orleans acts. The Snowmass Village Free Concert series features five concerts – including the first four – by bands from southern Louisiana. Jazz Aspen Snowmass, which programs the Snowmass series, has several New Orleans-related programs in its June Festival, and has given its July fundraiser a New Orleans theme: Crescent City Swing.”What these people really needed, in the wake of the storm, was what gives their lives value, and that is to work,” said Jim Horowitz, executive producer of Jazz Aspen. “We’ve always been interested in, and supportive of New Orleans music. This year, it’s appropriate and necessary, whenever possible, to give work to these musicians.”Bob and Mary Noone, founders and directors of Glenwood’s 21-year-old Summer of Jazz, picked up more than the phone. The couple picked themselves up last month and attended their first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Noones had already decided to give an all-New Orleans theme to this year’s series; the trip to the famed Jazzfest provided the chance to hand-pick the artists they wanted to present.”We were on a mission,” said Mary. “We literally would run from stage to stage. We didn’t eat any of that great food.”
The trip was a combination of exhilaration and devastation. The friend’s house where the Noones stayed, two blocks from the Fair Grounds Race Track, site of the festival, was spared much damage; a 200-year-old pecan tree was destroyed. But all around the festival entrance were homes still abandoned and badly damaged. The two toured the Ninth Ward, the low-lying scene of the worst devastation. Inside the Fair Grounds, where the festival drew huge crowds and excellent reviews, they witnessed one memorable performance after another.”The musicians, they really did shine a different kind of light than those who weren’t from New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, since Katrina didn’t blow them all away,” said Bob Noone. “You could feel the musicians weren’t playing the scales to get their pay and get on the bus. They’re celebrating.””We want to help out however we can,” said Mary Noone. “And we think hiring them is the best thing we can do.”Snowmass Free Summer Concert Series (Thursdays, at 6 p.m. on Fanny Hill) June 29: Tab Benoit July 6: The Iguanas July 13: Papa Grows Funk
July 20: the subdudes July 27: Li’l Ed & the Blues Imperials Aug. 3: Soulive Aug. 10: Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen Aug. 17: Sonya Kitchell Aug. 24: Sam BushGlenwood Springs Summer of Jazz (Wednesdays, at 7 p.m., Two Rivers Park)
June 7: Dr. Michael White June 14: The Jordan Family June 21: Troy “Trombone Shorty” and Orleans Ave. June 28: The Jason Marsalis/Jonathan Batiste Trio July 5: Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, with the Wild Magnolias opening July 12: Irvin Mayfield Quintet July 19: The Jazz Vipers July 26: Soul Rebels
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