The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience is aptly named. It is truly an experience. More than just a music festival, the June Experience is an immersive, multifaceted cultural and artistic happening that spans the last two weeks of June. Of course, the music is the big draw. But Aspen being Aspen there are a myriad of other activities, goings-on and events to enrich and round out your concert adventure. Here are five reasons to experience the JAS June Experience.
1. The Music
Jazz Aspen Snowmass has been bringing world-class music to the Rocky Mountains for 28 years and it is the June Experience that really kicks off the summer music season. But what kicks off the June Experience? Although the festival doesn’t officially start until June 22, don’t tell that to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The New Orleans group will get things percolating for the season debut of the JAS Cafe summer series June 15 & 16, which runs throughout the summer and coincides with the June Experience.
The festival proper gets underway on Friday, June 22 at the Benedict Music Tent with performances from “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr.--who will be joined by the Aspen Music Festival & School Student Musicians--and jazz vocalist Lizz Wright. Every day at the June Experience is a big day, but Saturday is a large day. Texas large. The legendary Lyle Lovett and His Large Band come to the Benedict Music Tent on Saturday, June 23. The first weekend of the June Experience closes out with a free Gospel Brunch featuring Josh Kagler and Harmonistic Praise and music from guitarist Raul Midon later in the evening at the Cooking School of Aspen.
Following JAS Cafe performances from jazz pianist and vocalist Laila Biali on June 28 & 29, the June experience will wrap up with “Georgia On My Mind,” a tribute to the late great Ray Charles with acapella group Take 6 featuring guest vocalists Nnenna Freelon and Clint Holmes as well as Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum and the H2 Big Band. Click here for more information on the musical goings-on at the JAS June Experience. You can find ticket info for the June Experience and JAS Cafe by following this link.
2. Outdoor Activities
Some of the most picturesque mountains in the world ring the town of Aspen. 12 miles southwest of Aspen are the Maroon Bells, two iconic 14,000 plus peaks that are perhaps the most famously photographed mountains in Colorado. There are countless hiking and biking trails, camping and some great hot springs as well. Late June is absolutely gorgeous in Colorado. While you’re there for the June Experience get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, beautiful surroundings and music go so well together. For more information on outdoor activities, check out the National Parks website here.
After all that hiking and biking and hot springs soaking, you’re going to be hungry. Luckily, Aspen boasts a number of restaurants from 5-star gourmet cuisine to delicious pub fare. It’s Aspen and it’s all good. JAS also works closely with the Cooking School of Aspen and Little Nell Hotel--where JAS Cafe concerts are often held--and dinner packages are available for select concerts. Click here to learn more. For a guide to your Aspen culinary experience, follow this link.
4. Kids Stuff
The June Experience is a family-friendly event and there are some great musical happenings for the kiddos coinciding with the June Experience. JAS has teamed up with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s initiative Take Note Colorado to provide summer music workshops for students. A camp will be taking place at the Basalt Library June just down the road from Aspen June 11-15. Individual workshops will continue at the Basalt and Glenwood Libraries in June while you’re in the area for the June Experience. For more info on the JAS Beat Lab and Libraries Rock! Program follow this link.
5. Great Place to Get Away
If you’re looking to get away from the grind, the heat and hustle bustle of the city, but not go full hermit on a mountaintop, two weeks in Aspen full of beautiful scenery and world-class music will do wonders for the mind, body and soul. You work hard, and there's nothing like a vacation in idyllic Aspen to refresh and recharge.