ASPEN - Woody Creek rancher and musician John Oates rocked the house Saturday night to a packed dance floor with hits from his Hall and Oats days, to his latest "1000 Miles of Life," rock and funk album in the vein of Dylan's Modern Times - a reflection of the years gone by and those still ahead.
I been traveling this road for so long
Searching for a place where I might belong
Survived the fight for 1000 miles of life
I got one more left in me. --John Oates
While John jammed, patrons told the bartenders "I got one more left in me... make it a gin tonic." Ah, the beauty of Aspen: homes are crawling distance to the club and skipping distance to the gondola for the next morning ski day. Good shows, cocktails, dancing while much of the country is tied up in airport hell, mortgage crisis and healthcare confusion, local fly-fishing guide Sean Groover's line "my life is better than your vacation" couldn't be more true. So it was a welcome sight indeed, to see one of our beloved musicians jam on stage with a great band and while good people danced their stress away.
They will be singing the same tune on Monday night when BB King comes to play for this little town with a population of six thousand. One long-time local yoga instructor, live music buff and former employee, Amber Kurkoski, said Belly Up has changed her way of looking at live music. "When you've been a live music fan all your life, you might think that you really know all about it. The Belly Up totally broadened my horizons and opened me up to music I never thought I'd enjoy. I think it's enriched all our lives."
How did the Belly Up come to be a place where musicians ranging from BB King, John Oates, Paul Oakenfold, Jimmy Buffet, Lucida Williams, Tom Morello and Seal (to name a few) come to perform in such a tiny town?
The years before Belly Up, the venue was named " The Double Diamond," also a beloved live music bar with a dedicated staff and often packed house. But the dive atmosphere, not-so-great sound system and creepy bathrooms just didn't create the environment to welcome great bands. Michael Goldberg set up shop, invested a lot of heart, a ton of dough and didn't take my late husband's advice to name the club "Fat City." Here's the rub:
The flagship Belly Up, in San Diego, was opened in 1974 by a friend and Vietnam Veteran who wanted to have a place for his buddies to relax and listen to good music where there wouldn't be guards keeping you a mile from the stage. Some laughed and said it would go belly-up in no time - hence the name. Thirty five years later, after Steve Goldberg took the reigns, he helped his brother, Michael, bring the same vibe to an already magical Aspen Valley. It doesn't appear to be at risk of going belly up, but it's a good place to come turn your belly up and get a rub of good music. "We stay true to the music," Goldberg said. "It's all about providing good shows."
Indeed John Oates gave us one of those last night. Thanks gentlemen!