Longform

The JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Shows Are Now an "Experience," Not a Festival

The word "festival" carries some tricky connotations for the organizers of Jazz Aspen Snowmass, or JAS. For the past 23 years, they've used the term as a shorthand descriptor for the three-day concert series that falls on Labor Day. At first glance, that seems perfectly fitting. Every August, a faithful crowd of thousands reports to Snowmass for a diverse musical lineup. The event has hosted the legendary likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. It's featured jam bands and accomplished jazz statesmen, up-and-coming singer-songwriters, local bands made good and reggae superstars.

But the word has a different meaning in the era of Coachella and South By Southwest. With its single stage, small roster of artists and roots as a nonprofit organization devoted to music education, the Labor Day gathering is distinct from those epic affairs.

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A.H. Goldstein