Live Music in Aspen Colorado – The New Underground Scene?
Aspen, Colorado is home to some of the most majestic mountains to grace the United States. It’s also home to some of the best skiing. What’s something most people don’t consider when thinking about Aspen? Music. That’s something that I’m trying to change.
In the off-season (spring/summer) the city comes alive and a trip to the bar becomes a pleasant expedition instead of a dreaded production involving snowpants, multiple layers, and car defrosting. Mountain Biking and summer festivals dot the landscape. Even though Aspen sees altitude levels of over 7,000 feet it still can be a pleasant place in the summer to sip on beers and catch local musicians.
Typical Styles of Live Music in Aspen Colorado
Because we live in a mountain region we’re exposed to music that is often typical of this environment. If you’ve ever been to a ski lodge you have probably been exposed to ski bum culture. This is a culture built upon a love of powder and also a particular habit which some may find distasteful: marijuana smoking.
Much of the local music scene in Aspen can be described by these genres:
- Jam Bands
These go hand in hand with the local culture of ski bums and skiing. When I first got to If you enjoy getting in the groove with some old geezers that know what they’re doing then you know you’re in the right place. Even though Aspen is no longer a cheap destination
Best Venues in Aspen to See Live Music
Despite it’s incredibly small population (less than 7,000 year-round residents) Aspen still offers locals and tourists opportunities to catch quality live music. The best part: All of these places are located real close to each other, so in theory you can hit em’ all up in one night. I call that feat the “Beast of burden”.
1 ) Belly Up Aspen
By far the most popular venue in Aspen, the Belly Up is the premiere music venue for us mountain folk. From Boz Scaggs to Chris Isaak, you’ll find plenty of jazz legends coming in and out these doors. Usually a little pricey, but hey, what can you ask for when you get standing room seats for some of the best bands in the country.
2) Wheeler Opera House
The pinnacle of musical showcasing is on display at the Wheeler Opera House. Come and take a seat! Put on your finest cuff links and top hats! They’ll give you a good show of classical music and opera standards to keep your Aspen sophistication at a high level.
3) Aspen Music Festival and School
Showcasing local talent from students and also nationally celebrated composers, the Aspen Festival is a great way to see premier orchestras under the big tent of music. Tickets can get pricey, but it’s well worth it to see the big names in a small mountain community.
4) Shadow Mountain Lounge
Daily live music is offered between 3-5pm in conjunction with their Apres Ski Series. If you enjoy a classy atmosphere with bluesy, jazzy numbers to uplift the ole ego then this is the place for you.
5 ) Aspen Mountain
If you really wanna get creative you can get your music fix on the top of a mountain. Yup, you heard me right. Aspen Mountain offers free live music every week during the summer atop the peak where you can behold God’s green earth and absorb the sounds of violinists, bluegrass bands, and even pianists.
How does Live Music in Aspen Compare to Denver?
So I’m biased. I’ll get that out of the way. Denver is a beautiful city with access to plenty of amazing amenities. However, it’s just not Aspen. I love being able to drive ten minutes and be in a secluded mountain vista and that Aspen air is something to behold. That being said…
Denver is Obviously the King of Colorado Music
Boasting over 60 bars that feature live music, Denver has a clear advantage over Aspen because of its shear size. It carries almost 12 times the amount of people as Aspen and is a fully functioning city. Aspen is merely a skiing village for the affluent. If I had to give my recommendation I’d say that music lovers should go to Denver for the music, but come back to Aspen for the skiing and camaraderie.
Aspen vs Denver by the Numbers
Number of Bars With Live Music
Number of Arenas for Big Shows
Population of City: