2013 in Aspen and beyond: Save the date

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado by Stewart Oksenhorn

ASPEN — You’ve got a fresh, clean calendar, right? Of course you do; it’s day four of the new year.

Time to start marking up all those empty spaces. We’ve got some dates to save in 2013.

• “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Jan. 10-13, Aspen District Theatre

Theatre Aspen’s Winter Teen Conservatory, under Graham Northrup, presents this musical within a musical. A timid Broadway fanatic falls asleep listening to one of his favorite records; as he snoozes, the show — “The Drowsy Chaperone,” set in the Roaring ‘20s, with starlets, gangsters, romance and silliness — comes to life.

• John Waters, Jan. 18, Belly Up Aspen

The only interview I’ve done which I felt I should have paid for was with John Waters. The writer-director of “Pecker” and “Hairspray” can’t help but be funny, and my time with him felt like an exquisite stand-up performance with an audience of one. His monologue, “This Filthy World,” focuses on his obsession with trashiness, and the difference between good trash and bad.

• 5Point Film Aspen, Jan. 19, Wheeler Opera House

Carbondale has given much love to its hometown 5Point Film Festival; now, after five years, 5Point dips its toe into Aspen. This one-night event will feature climber Alex Honnold and his new film, “Hannold 3.0,” plus the Carbondale father-son duo of Michael Kennedy, past editor of Climbing magazine, and 22-year-old Hayden.

This one-night affair doesn’t affect the healthy relationship with Carbondale. 5Point stages its full festival in ‘Bonedale, April 25-28.

Farewell to Film, beginning Jan. 20-21, Wheeler Opera House

With the Wheeler set to make the conversion to digital projection in the fall, film — actual film — is basically a thing of the past in Aspen (as it is most everywhere). Jon Busch — who is a founder of the Wheeler Film Series, a film projectionist dating back to the ‘50s, and a traditionalist, is not going to let this moment pass without proper respect. The Farewell to Film series, scheduled to run periodically over the next few months, will present classics that beg for the old-school treatment. (The are asking for suggested titles; go to facebook.com/aspenfilm.)The series kicks off with “Lost Horizon,” being shown from a restored 35mm print that includes the 32-minute segment that had been lost for years. Expect an informative and from-the-heart introduction by Busch.

• Joe Lovano, Feb. 1, Wheeler Opera House

Lovano is a jazz saxophonist of the highest order, with some 30 albums under his name and credits as sideman to McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden and numerous others. Still, Lovano might not be the main attraction in his current Us Five combo; the quintet includes bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding, the hottest name in mainstream jazz and the 2011 Grammy winner for best new artist.

• Portland Cello Project, Feb. 2, PAC3, Carbondale

A bunch of cello geeks? Hardly. The eight (sometimes more, sometimes fewer) cellists of this Oregon ensemble form an indie-orchestra whose repertoire ranges from Radiohead to Bach to Kanye West. Their local debut is in the theater-like PAC3, but they have been known to play beer halls and symphony spaces.

Also at PAC3: fusion keyboardist Marco Benevento (Jan. 18); the Royal Southern Brotherhood (Feb. 7), led by singer-percussionist Cyril Neville and guitarist Devon Allman, both members of notable music families; Michigan acoustic quintet Greensky Bluegrass (Feb. 26); and rowdy Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen (March 30).

• “The Central Park Five,” Feb. 4, Wheeler Opera House

Documentarian Ken Burns, of the 16-hour TV epics, goes into short-form here. “The Central Park Five” clocks in at just under two hours, telling of the 1989 episode of “wilding” in New York City, and the rush to judgment against six black and Latino teenagers who were eventually exonerated.

Also in the Wheeler’s Monday Docs series: “Terra Blight” (Feb. 11), about the mountains of hazardous waste produced on earth; “Fambul Tok” (Feb. 18), about the wrenching effort at reconciliation in post-war Sierra Leone; “Decoding Deepak” (March 4), Gotham Chopra’s examination of his father, spiritualist Deepak; and “Chasing Ice” (March 18), a visually oriented look at global warming.

• Gil Shaham, Feb. 5, Wheeler Opera House

The Aspen Music Festival’s Winter Music series takes place in an odd venue — Harris Hall is unavailable this winter — but opens with the most familiar of faces. Violinist Shaham spent his childhood summers at the Aspen Music School, and has returned annually to put on consistently magnificent concerts. This performance, with pianist Akira Eguchi, includes a first half of Bach and Schubert, and a second half of living composers Avner Dorman, William Bolcom and Julian Milone. No matter the program, expect the Wheeler to explode.

Also in the series: the top-shelf, Boulder-based Takács Quartet (Feb. 28); and another Aspen alum, pianist Conrad Tao (March 16).

• “The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver” (release in early February)

Sixteen years after his death, John Denver is about to get much hipper than he ever was in life. This tribute album lines up some truly cool acts — Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Lucinda Williams, Brett Dennen, and My Morning Jacket doing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” — to reinterpret JD’s tunes. Admit it, you can’t wait.

• Dave Muller: Three Day Weekend, Feb. 16-18, locations to be announced

Dave Muller, whose music-and-mountains-inspired installation is at the Elk Camp restaurant on Snowmass, returns to present his Three Day Weekend. Expect some DJ events and a lot of esoteric musical knowledge.

• Aspen Laff Festival, Feb. 21-23, Wheeler Opera House

Christopher Titus, who gave a performance for the ages at the inaugural Laff Festival, returns to headline the third edition of the event. Also on the program are former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Colin Quinn, the enduring Bobby Slayton, and comedic looks at elective surgery and Congress and the female body.

• Mickey Hart Band, March 2, and YES, March 12, Belly Up Aspen

Two sides of the oldies coin. Hart, former drummer of the Grateful Dead, has evolved; his Belly Up show a year ago was an intriguing take on funk, fusion and jammy rock, without much reference to his old band. Opening is the African Showboyz, a quartet of drumming brothers from Ghana who will no doubt join Hart’s band for some rhythm exchange.

YES, in their local debut, is unabashedly exploring its past. The English prog-rockers, featuring longtime members Chris Squire on bass and Steve Howe on guitar, will play three early albums — “The Yes Album,” “Close to the Edge” and “Going for the One” — in their entirety.

On the younger side of things at Belly Up: Minnesota string band Trampled by Turtles (Jan. 12); electronica trio Savoy (Feb. 12); Midwestern jam-band Umphrey’s McGee (March 6-7); Colorado livetronica pioneers EOTO (March 12); the local debut of Seattle rock band Pickwick (March 18); and rising British folk-rockers the Dunwells (March 26), who make up for last summer’s canceled date — they chose “The Tonight Show” instead.

• Après-ski Cocktail Classic, March 14-17, Westin & Wildwood Snowmass

A new addition to the calendar. Joe Lang and Kevin Haasarud, who were behind-the-scenes talent at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, and cocktail recipe author Kim Haasarud, have concocted an event that stirs together tastings and seminars — along with the time-tested institution of the après-ski cocktail hour. Mixologists Tony Abou-Ganim and Charlotte Voisey and wine expert Steve Olson are scheduled to talk about single-malts, the best way to spike hot chocolate, and even mix up some pre-ski libations.

• 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival

Did you have the third week in March blocked out for the fourth edition of the Wheeler Opera House’s 7908 Songwriters Festival? Well, you can freakin’ unpost it. The festival has been suspended for 2013, due to difficulties scheduling acts. The Wheeler is rethinking the concept, with hopes to return in 2014.

• Sam Bush & Del McCoury, March 21, Wheeler Opera House

These two bluegrass icons make for an interesting duo. Singer-guitarist McCoury is one of the last of the old guard, a 73-year-old who was part of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, and leads the traditional-leaning Del McCoury Band. Bush, 60, is best known for using his mandolin to push the boundaries, and the rhythms, of bluegrass.

• Brett Dennen, March 22, Snowmass Base Village

Things have been oddly quiet on the Brett Dennen front. His website lists no tour dates; his last album, “Loverboy,” was released almost two years ago. So we should consider it extra special that the endearing redhead from California is coming to Snowmass with his bag of warm-hearted folk-rock songs. The concert is part of the Aspen Skiing Company’s Hi-Fi Series, which means admission is free.

Also in the Hi-Fi series: Easy Star All Stars bring Dub Side of the Moon, their reggaefied take on Pink Floyd, to Snowmass Base Village, on Feb. 16.

• Pedrito Martinez, March 29-30, JAS Café Downstairs@the Nell, Aspen

Jazz Aspen’s winter series at the Little Nell hits the Latin rhythms hard in 2013, with artists from Brazil and Jamaica. Fitting, then, that the series should end with Pedrito Martinez, a Havana-born, New York-based percussionist and singer, who leads his quartet to its local debit with a two-night stand. A recent New Yorker profile claimed, “If anyone can move Afro-Cuban music into greater visibility, it’s Martinez.

• I Don’t Get It, April 4, Aspen Art Museum

Aspen Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson sheds light on Warsaw artist Monika Sosnowska, whose exhibition of architecture-inspired sculpture opens Feb. 14 at the museum. Also opening Feb. 14 at the museum is an installation by Berlin artist Kathrin Sonntag.

• Aspen Shortsfest, April 9-14

There are scores of films, animation, documentaries, comedies and more, at Aspen Film’s annual celebration of shorts. But what really brings the festival to life is the dozens of filmmakers from around the world who gather here.

• Cheryl Strayed, April 12, Paepcke Auditorium

Strayed vaulted into household-name territory with last year’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” a memoir of the author’s 1,100-mile hike that prompted big-picture reflections on drug use, family dissolution and the death of Strayed’s mother. The book topped The New York Times bestseller list in July; a film version, starring Reese Witherspoon and with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, is in the works. Her appearance concludes the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s Winter Words series; also appearing are Serbian-born Téa Obreht (Feb. 7), whose 2011 novel “The Tiger’s Wife” earned the Orange Prize for Fiction; and Karen Russell, whose novel “Swamplandia!” was a finalist this year for a Pulitzer (March 4).

• “Arrested Development,” spring

The wandering-in-the-desert period is about to end. “Arrested Development,” Mitchell Hurwitz’s ground-breaking comedy of the Bluth family of Southern California, is returning after a seven-year hiatus. And yes, the entire core cast will be back. Appropriate for a show about dysfunctional characters that earned low ratings before developing a cult following, the return is presented in an oddball format: the new season, between 12 and 15 episodes, will be made available all at once on Netflix’s streaming video service. Whether this leads to the long-rumored “Arrested Development” movie is as much of a mystery as the subplot with Rita, 007 theme music and the elusive “Mr. F.”

• Food & Wine Classic, June 14-16, Aspen

The granddaddy of culinary festivals still attracts the top names. Among those coming for the 31st edition are Tom Colicchio, Mario Batali, José Andrés and Hugh Acheson.

• Aspen Summer Words, June 16-21, Aspen Meadows

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s annual festival examines the literature of China, with appearances by Lisa See, Xiaolu Guo and 2010 McArthur “Genius” Fellow Yiyun Li.

• Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 20-23, Telluride Town Park

Telluride Bluegrass doesn’t seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary for its 40th anniversary gathering. Instead, they carry on their core mission of presenting the best acoustic music out there in the most glorious setting imaginable. The early lineup includes Jackson Browne, Feist, Richard Thompson and the duo of Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, along with regulars Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan and Punch Brothers. There are a few slots left to be filled, so don’t discount the addition of some truly out of the box names.

• Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival, June 21-July 6, and Labor Day Festival, Aug. 30-Sept. 1

Yes, the Jazz Aspen staff has been downsized. But the organization, in its third decade, showed last summer that it could still put on festivals of the kind fans are accustomed to. No acts have been announced yet for the two summer festivals; expect pop, jazz and softer rock for the June Festival, at the Aspen Music Tent (plus a series of night-time, small-venue jazz shows in the Little Nell), and rock and reggae at the Labor Day Fest.

• “Burns & Allen,” opening June 22, Thunder River Theatre, Carbondale

The first in a series of original works presented under the banner Passionate Collaborators focuses on George Burns and Gracie Allen. The comedy team is brought to life by Lon Winston, director of Thunder River, and Valerie Haugen, a regular at the Carbondale theater.

Also: Eugene O’Neill’s classic family drama “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” with Winston directing.

• “Les Misèrables”: film currently showing, and Theatre Aspen, opening June 25

Tom Hooper’s current film version of the Broadway musical of Victor Hugo’s novel of crime and punishment in 19th century France is a leading contender in the Oscar race, with performances by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway being highly praised. But that might only serve as a prelude: Theatre Aspen opens its 30th season with its biggest production ever; its “Les Mis” will feature a cast of 20 and a setting that will, by necessity, make inventive use of the entire 189-seat venue.

• Aspen Music Festival, June 27-Aug. 18

With a season theme of Conscience and Beauty, the 65th Aspen Music Festival will focus on the composer in society, with performances of work that reflect the composers’ social conscience. There will be an intensive focus on Benjamin Britten, along with pieces by Adams, Shostakovich, Berg, Mahler, Pärt and many others. The opera season will feature Bernstein’s “Candide,” Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” and two from Puccini: “Gianni Schicchi” and “Suor Angelica.”

• Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, mid-July

Norbert de la Cruz III, whose choreography career was launched last year in Aspen with the hit debut of his first piece, “Square None,” returns. This time, he’s got a few awards to his name, including the Princess Grace Award, which helps fund the new dance.

• MountainSummit: Mountainfilm in Aspen, Aug. 22-25, Wheeler

MountainSummit has taken off in Aspen for the same reasons that its mother festival, Mountainfilm in Telluride, has become such a fixture: residents of mountain towns gravitate toward adventure, activism and the environment. Last year’s MountainSummit included fascinating looks into Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei, the making of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, and the effect of global warming on Arctic ice. Expect similarly thought-provoking fare at the upcoming fourth edition.