Jazz Aspen Snowmass

Next time you are dreaming of bluebird ski days, alpine summer hikes, and all the other activities Aspen, Colorado has to offer, consider adding a music festival to that list. The city of Aspen and the festival organizers of Jazz Aspen Snowmass delivered a family-friendly and intimate experience with some of music’s brightest stars. 

On Friday night, St. Paul and the Broken Bones brought their southern funk west to the Rockies as a last-minute substitute for the previously headlining Black Pumas. The lead singer, Paul Janeway seemed to pull everyone up and out of their lawn chairs to groove under a mountain sunset. The grass is most definitely greener when St Paul and the Broken Bones take the stage. 

Leon Bridges closed out Friday night with a refreshing vibe change. Dark red lights acted as a moody backlight for his all-black sequenced suit. Bridges kept the party going playing all of his favorites, including our favorite, Texas Sun. His setlist shifted among his old favorites and his newer poppier hits. The festival exits were buzzing after two dance inspiring performances from our Southern favorites. 

Saturday started with a convenient 10-minute ride via shuttle to the festival grounds followed by dinner and drinks before the up-and-coming favorite Zach Bryan took the stage. For the second night in a row, the performance shined brighter than the pink Colorado sunset. A young Zach Bryan and Friends, already full of hits, shared their classic western sound in a genuine way. His biggest hit, “Something in the Orange,” seemed to be written for the Aspen Jazz Festival. It is safe to say Zach Bryan and Friends left Aspen with thousands of new super fans. 

After what most would consider an impossible show to follow, Chris Stapleton surprised no one by doing just that. Chris, his wife, Morgan, and their solid harmonies delivered some of our all-time favorites up close and personal. The Stapleton duo and their equally talented band shared a mix of hits and cover songs that made the crowd light up with a truly once-in-a-lifetime performance. 

Sunday continued with more of the same with Little Big Town and Stevie Nicks. Little Big Town surprised us with their showmanship and musical talent. Stevie Nicks pulled from her solo and Fleetwood Mac songbooks to build a solid setlist. Three well-chosen cover songs triangulated the evening: Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” came early in the set. Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” amped up the tail end of her set. Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” provided the musical knockout punch and sent everyone home rhythmically satisfied and eager for a return next September. 

(Additional reporting from Luke Hazel and Carly Auerbach)

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.