| PostIndependent.com

Gregory Popovich’s comedy pet show returns to Aspen

The Wheeler Opera House is going to the dogs – and the cats, the doves, and other members of the animal kingdom – as famed animal trainer and circus performer Gregory Popovich brings his Comedy Pet Theater back to town on Friday.

The cast of the family-friendly show includes cats, dogs, parrots, doves and a mini horse.

"I try to open the personality of each pet," Popovich said during a 2015 swing through Aspen.

Skits include a dog classroom, where dogs act as Popovich's students and "Animal Train Station," where he acts as a train conductor collecting tickets from animals.

This winter, Popovich is on a national tour with his cast of 30-some animals. They travel in a custom-made trailer that includes heating, air conditioning, water and other amenities to keep his four-legged supporting cast comfortable, Popovich said.

"Our main message is that animals are people, too," he explained. "It's not just pets doing simple tricks. I've found different ways to have pets in situations where it looks like pets are acting – they are acting."

His castmates aren't groomed, specially bred performers or show animals. They've all been adopted from shelters. The love and camaraderie of traveling and performing, Popovich said, helps rehabilitate animals that might have had difficult beginnings.

"It takes weeks to rebuild communication and trust," he said. "Coming out of shelters, many of them have lost their trust in humans."

And cats – those divas of the animal kingdom – tend to pose some extra challenges, even for Popovich, author of "You CAN Train Your Cat: Secrets of a Master Cat Trainer."

"Cats are difficult animals and you can't push them to do anything they don't like," he said.

A fifth generation circus performer and Russian native, he grew up in the world of animal training and juggling (he's in the Guinness Book of World Records for juggling nine rings while standing atop a nine-foot ladder). He began performing in Las Vegas in the early 1990s with his wife and their pet cat. As they got involved in pet adoption advocacy work, they added to the animal cast and repertoire of tricks, becoming a hit in Vegas and around the world – soon landing Popovich and his furry friends on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "America's Got Talent."

Showbiz is in Popovich's blood. But his heart is in finding good homes for good animals.

"Ordinary pets can do interesting things," he said. "They're talented. And if anyone adopts a pet after our show, then our message is being heard."

atravers@aspentimes.com

Aspen’s Zocalito Latin Bistro moves to Denver, and brings its rare Oaxacan peppers with it

Michael Beary loves peppers with the intensity that most people save for other people, pets or, well, the finished edible product of those peppers.

Beary is the chef/owner of Zocalito, the Latin bistro that just relocated from its 15-year home in Aspen to downtown in the Denver Place building. The Aspen building was sold and intended to be demolished, according to a release.

The food is all about Oaxaca, Mexico, but it's not quite the Mexican food that most of us are used to. That's because of those peppers.

The menu revolves around them — specifically chilcosles, pasilla de Oaxacas and the red, black and yellow variations of chilhuacles — and highlights their unique flavors in moles, salsas and picos. These guys are rare; so rare that Beary said they stopped showing up in 2004 due to genetic erosion of the peppers' species. So, like Justin Timberlake with sexy, he decided to bring them back.

Continue reading on Denverpost.com.

Rapper Drake faces controversy after video with 17-year-old from Denver

Rapper Drake, who never seems far from a professional beef or bit of controversy, is being criticized for his behavior with a fan who said she was 17 years old on stage at Denver's Ogden Theatre in 2010.

The concert, clips of which resurfaced on social media last week, included a moment where the then-23-year-old Canadian rapper, singer and actor brought a young female fan on stage between songs during the May 17 concert.

Bree Davies, the show's reviewer at the time for The Denver Post's music site, Reverb, wrote this of the encounter:

"After lubricating his audience with plenty of sweet talk, Drake finally topped himself: He handpicked a woman from the audience and brought her on stage, warning her briefly about what was about to unfold. The man who had, just moments ago, flipped his tongue ever-so suggestively at the crowd was now pulling the lucky girl in close, whispering in her ear while they slow danced. The theater seethed with jealousy as Drake nibbled on her neck, kissed her forehead and eventually kissed her lips. After sufficiently romanced, he asked her age, to which the girl replied '17.' "

Continue reading on the The Denver Post.

 

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Aspen Film and Anita Thompson toast 20th anniversary of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ movie adaptation

Marking the 20th anniversary of the film adaption of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," Aspen is toasting the late and legendary writer Hunter S. Thompson.

His iconic tale of journalist Raoul Duke and attorney Dr. Gonzo's darkly comic drug-assisted journey to the ugly heart of Nixon-era America was first published in 1971. The contemporary classic film adaptation by director Terry Gilliam, with Johnny Depp as Duke and Benicio Del Toro as his attorney — alongside a cavalcade of inspired cameo appearances, including Thompson himself — arrived in theaters in May 1998.

Aspen Film is hosting an anniversary screening at the Wheeler Opera House on Friday night, followed by a Q-and-A with Thompson's wife, Anita.

"This story is a journey that is about the 'we,'" she said in a New Year's Day interview at Owl Farm in Woody Creek. "About not trying to do everything on their own. That's such an important message right now."

On a bookshelf behind her in the living room sat a commemorative clapper board from the film shoot, signed to Hunter Thompson from Depp (who writes "Why have you cursed me?"), Del Toro ("…and we have Magnums!") and Gilliam ("We are all going down together — no survivors!"). A photo of the marquee at the film's premiere at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, inscribed by the author, is on a nearby shelf. Both are on view in a preserved Owl Farm compound that Anita Thompson now operates as a private museum, and where she is working to establish a residency program for writers and musicians.

Proceeds from the anniversary screening will benefit Aspen Film and The Gonzo Foundation, also run by Anita Thompson, which funds scholarships for military veterans to attend Columbia University (the "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" author attended Columbia after his service in the U.S. Air Force).

Depp, in preparation for his role as the fictionalized Hunter, lived in the basement at Owl Farm in the spring of 1997. He stayed across the hall from what Thompson called "the war room," the study where he'd meticulously polished "Vegas" — based on an actual trip to Sin City with attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta — after writing an initial draft in a Los Angeles hotel. The tales of Depp's time embedded at Owl Farm have become the stuff of local lore in the two decades since. (Former Pitkin County Sheriff and "Kitchen Readings" co-author Bob Braudis will join Anita Thompson on stage at the Wheeler on Friday to share some of his memories).

The actor studied Thompson's speech and mannerisms and received personal lessons in Thompson's driving style — which was notoriously skilled but decidedly non-traditional — by whipping around Aspen in Thompson's "Red Shark" convertible. Preparing his cinematic doppelganger, Thompson, a diligent self-archivist, also dug up hotel receipts and menus and unpublished notes from the actual Vegas trip for Depp to study. He loaned Depp the Red Shark for the film along with the clothes he wore in Vegas — his signature patchwork jacket and safari hat, Hawaiian shirts and a batch of TarGard cigarette holders. And Thompson, in the kitchen at Owl Farm, himself shaved Depp's head down to a bald pate to match his own from the "Fear and Loathing" era to complete the actor's transformation.

Depp first made contact two years earlier during a 1995 visit to Aspen with then-girlfriend Kate Moss. The pair were drinking at the Woody Creek Tavern, the story goes, and asked — through a mutual Woody Creek friend — if they could meet Depp's favorite living writer. Thompson made his way to the Tavern and greeted Depp by ceremoniously bopping him on the head with a cattle prod. The group then headed back to Owl Farm, where Depp detonated a Thompson-constructed bomb in the yard by firing a pistol at it. Thus, the pair's enduring friendship and creative partnership was sealed.

Months later, the pair of Kentucky natives attended a Louisville event honoring Thompson. The author was ceremoniously bequeathed a key to the city. Both he and Depp were made official Kentucky colonels. (Thompson thereafter referred to the actor as "Colonel Depp.")

"No one has enough money to pay for the experience I've had on this movie," Depp said in 1998 production notes for the film. "To be able to spend the amount of time I did with Hunter, and then to work with Terry, Benicio and the incredible company of actors and crew."

Though not a box office hit, in the two decades since its premiere the film has attained cult classic status and has received a prestigious Criterion Collection release. Thompson's literary legacy, meanwhile, has grown in stature in the 14 years since his death by suicide. Anita Thompson noted that recent years have brought a steady stream of dissertations, books and attention from academia. While his role as a political activist — both here in Pitkin County from the 1970 "Freak Power" campaign onward and nationally against authoritarianism from the Nixon years through the Bush eras — has been increasingly recognized.

The film has provided a pop culture entry point to that work for young people.

"After a writer dies, there's no guarantee that their work will continue to live," Anita Thompson said. "Anything to get a new generation or a new person introduced to Hunter's work will make the world a better place. Once they read a page of Hunter's work, they gain confidence — I've seen that over and over and over again. … Having this movie celebrated is an indication of that and it will introduce someone to Hunter's work that's never been introduced before."

The wild drug-fueled ride of the film version and its generous doses of booze and blow and acid (and amyls and ether and "uppers, downers, screamers, laughers," etc.) may overshadow some of the incisive Nixon-era political messages from the book.

"The movie is more about the lifestyle, but if you pay attention you'll see that it's about the activism and staying on your own path," Anita Thompson said.

The often-quoted "wave speech" from the book, for example, gets reverent treatment in Gilliam's film. This poignant elegy for '60s idealism is narrated in voiceover by Depp's Duke as he works on his typewriter in a dim-lit hotel room with The Youngbloods' "Let's Get Together" playing in the background, with flashes of Flower Power-era San Francisco on-screen.

How to handle the speech was among the last straws for Thompson before the dismissal of director Alex Cox from the film. Cox had been attached to "Fear and Loathing" before Gilliam signed on. After some rough-and-tumble creative battles with studios and producers — and a long, tortured development process that extended back to the 1970s with a revolving door of directors and actors — Cox and Thompson split over the treatment of the wave speech.

"Alex Cox had a drug-addled view of the wave speech, which was not the point at all," Anita Thompson recalled. "Hunter always called it 'the crown jewel.' Cox didn't get it. But Terry Gilliam did and Johnny did. It comes through."

Gilliam, the visionary Monty Python alum whose pre-"Vegas" work included "Brazil" and "12 Monkeys," brought the book's hallucinatory visions to the big screen — miraculously capturing "Vegas" iconography from the bats overhead in the desert to the lizard people in a Vegas casino. The original New York Times review described the visual aesthetic as "splendiferous funhouse terror" and called the film "the closest sensory approximation of an acid trip ever achieved by a mainstream movie."

"My guess is that today's audience wants this film desperately," Gilliam said upon the movie's release. "I think they need it. That's why I've been referring to 'Fear and Loathing' as a cinematic enema for the '90s — just clean out the system."

Thompson famously balked at attending the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, writing to Depp to try to stop Gilliam and Universal from marketing it as a drug movie ("Airports are hard enough for me now," Thompson wrote at the time).

Depp's portrayal of Raoul Duke is an exaggerated caricature of Thompson, like artist Ralph Steadman's illustrations for the book. Some of the added flourishes in the film — like lashing out at wait staff — bothered the author, Anita Thompson recalled.

"Hunter loved Johnny, but he was insulted by the way that Johnny depicted him," she said, recalling with a chuckle: "Hunter said, 'If somebody acted that way in my presence I'd hit them over the head with a chair.'"

The author's misgivings about the portrayal didn't dull their friendship, however. It continued through Thompson's death, when Depp funded Thompson's funeral and fulfilled his wish to have his ashes fired out of a massive canon behind Owl Farm, and since then as Depp has purchased and preserved Thompson's papers and personal archive (along with reprising his role as a fictionalized Thompson in the 2011 film version of Thompson's novel "The Rum Diary").

The author also appreciated the power of the film medium in popular culture, and the influence of having a generational talent like Depp bringing the fictionalized Thompson to life on the big screen.

"He recognized Johnny's influence on an entire generation and on people who wouldn't have otherwise read Hunter's work," Anita Thompson recalled.

This weekend she'll be celebrating that influence, this one-of-a-kind film and the rare opportunity for the gonzo faithful to gather in Aspen to see it on a big screen.

"It's great that they're putting it on the silver screen again," Anita said, "so that we can all watch it together as a community at the Wheeler."

atravers@aspentimes.com

Garfield County (and vicinity) New Year’s Eve happenings

Grand Valley celebration

8 p.m. — The town of Parachute and the Parachute Battlement Mesa Parks and Recreation District sponsor a first-time New Year's Eve celebration, including fireworks at midnight. Local musicians from western Garfield County will perform in the lounge, and there will be a dance will be in the gymnasium. Cash bar and free finger foods will be available. Fireworks will be lit at midnight from the TOP Adventures parking lot in Parachute. For those in the Parachute/Battlement Mesa area, a shuttle home will be available.

Grand Valley Recreation Center, 398 Arroyo Drive, Battlement Mesa | Free

NEW YEAR’S BOOGIE

7:30 p.m. — The Third Street Center in Carbondale hosts a New Year’s Eve party in the Round Room, with dancing, snacks and more.

Third Street Center, 520 S. Third Street, Carbondale | $10 per person

NEW CASTLE NEW YEAR

7 p.m. — Grove’s Black Dog Saloon has live music with Whiskey Stomp, and will be ringing in the New Year East Coast time at 10 p.m. with a fireworks display by the town of New Castle.

Black Dog Saloon, 219 W. Main St., New Castle | Free

New Year's Eve at Rivers

Starting at 4:30 p.m. — Rivers Restaurant presents a five-course prix fixe menu at $50 per person, including Champagne toast and party favors. Regular dinner menu also available. Call for reservations.

Rivers Restaurant, 2525 S. Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs | $50 | 970-928-8813

Great Gatsby-themed party

5 p.m. — Heather's in Basalt features music and entertainment by Chris Bank, Mark Johnson, Bobby Campbell and special guests. Music Starts at 8 p.m.

Heather's Savory Pies and Tapas Bar, 166 Midland Ave., Basalt | Free

Vaudeville Holiday Show

4:30 and 9 p.m. — Glenwood Vaudeville Revue hosts two performances of its annual Holiday Show, with a variety of comedy skits, jokes and more. Both events include a complimentary glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider and party favors, with Champagne toasts at 8 p.m. and midnight.

Glenwood Vaudeville Revue | $35 and $50 | 970-945-9699

Soak in the new year

7 p.m. — The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool will be open until 1 a.m. and will have special events taking place throughout the evening. All ages are welcome to the alcohol-free celebration. Games include a handstand contest, ping pong scramble, biggest cannonball, and best dive or dive trick. Party favors, including noisemakers and hats, available while supplies last.

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool | regular admission | http://www.hotspringspool.com

TRTC's Crystal Theatre Review

8 and 10:30 p.m. — After a four-year hiatus, Aspen's Crystal Palace alumni are back with new musical numbers and political satire. TRTC's "The Crystal Palace Review" features numerous stage performers, including Gary and Meredith Daniel, Travis Lane McDiffett, Kathy Pelowski, David Ledingham, Dani Grace Kopf, Nina Gabianelli and newcomer Emery Major Shows.

TRTC, 67 Promenade, Carbondale | $40-$200 | thunderrivertheatre.com or 970-963-8200

Dirty Revival at The Temporary

9 p.m. — The Temporary at Willits features the seven-piece funk/rock group Dirty Revival, from Portland, Oregon. Open bar, entertainment, dancing, a Champagne toast, and a dessert buffet are included with ticket.

The Temporary, 360 Market St., Basalt | $200

Colorado Mountain College photographers earn accolades

Three Colorado Mountain College professional photography students are echoing the success of other CMC alumni in the world of photography.

Since 2011, the international College Photographer of the Year competition has given 15 awards to CMC students. This year's competition received nearly 10,000 entries from 550 student photographers attending 126 colleges and universities in 17 countries.

CMC's Stephanie Stocking recently earned a silver award for her image, "Cisco Remains," in the CPOY's interpretive eye category. Fellow CMC student Dustin Gregory won an award of excellence in the competition's photo illustration category for his image, "Layers of Time: Day to Night in Canyonlands."

And students are breaking through in new areas, according to a press release issued by CMC. A third photography student and Global Imagination Scholarship recipient, Laurel Smith, recently created a short film that's bringing public attention to the plight of Araceli Velasquez. An asylum seeker from El Salvador, Velasquez has entered sanctuary in a Denver church, which she has not been able to leave for over a year.

Smith, Stocking and Gregory join two CMC photography alumni, Guadalupe Laiz and Jeremy Joseph, who have also achieved recent success. Originally from Buenos Aires, Laiz studied photography at CMC. This fall, she signed a book deal with teNeues, a global publishing company, for her work photographing the horses of Iceland. She recently opened a gallery in Aspen.

Joseph's outdoor adventure photography is currently on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. With work selected to be included in the highly competitive 2018 "Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards" exhibit, Joseph is recognized as a highly honored winner in the outdoor adventure category for an image made during a climb of Mount Rainier.

The college's professional photography program is under the umbrella of CMC's Isaacson School of Communication, Arts and Media.

"Our students continue to win acclaim on an international level," said Derek Johnston, director of the college's photography program.

How to spend New Year’s Eve in Aspen on any budget

As one of the more unique places in which one may ever vacation — or for us lucky locals, live — Aspen truly offers a little something for everyone.

New Year’s Eve is no exception to this, whether your ideal night involves bottles of Champagne and a glittery gown, or synthetic skins, layers and a little sweat (or in many cases, both).

Says Aspen Chamber Resort Association director of marketing Eliza Voss, “The diversity of New Year’s Eve offerings mirrors the vast array of visitor and locals’ interests.”

From five figures to free, below are a handful of New Year’s happenings suited to all budgets.

 

THE LITTLE NELL

CLICQUOT CATS ($10,000 for 12 people)

At the intersection of snowcats, caviar and Veuve Clicquot is, of course, “Clicquot Cats.”

Not familiar?

A party of 12 may rent a snowcat for $10,000++ via Aspen Skiing Co. and enjoy a short, blanketed ride up Ajax to watch the firework shows at 8 p.m. or midnight.

A server will pour Veuve Clicquot Jeroboam La Grande Dame by the magnum and present a raw seafood bar, caviar, truffle and brie grilled cheese and chocolate-covered strawberries.

The Little Nell’s signature hot chocolate also is available for the kiddos.

Skico’s posh Little Nell hotel launched this inimitable event in 2016, and it’s sold out every year since, says May Selby, the Nell’s director of public relations and social media for the Nell.

The Nell runs three snowcats, which can hold 12 people each, for both fireworks show.

DOM PARTY ($595++)

If $10,000 for a group of 12 seems a little steep for one night, also at our baller level is the Little Nell’s Dom Pérignon Party.

At $595++ per ticket, this swanky soiree is scattered throughout the hotel, with various musical acts across threes venues: The Manhattan Party Band in the Belvedere Lounge, DJ Cyn in the Dom Pérignon Lounge and The Flatirons Jazz Band in the Hennessy Lounge. Brazilian funk and freestyle dancers also will entertain.

Bottomless Dom Pérignon will be served, and food stations staged in the living room. Executive Chef Matt Zubrod crafted a street food themed menu complete with ceviche, sliders, chicken dim sum, pork belly fried rice, veggie pad thai and transmontanus caviar on fingerling chips. Sweet bites from pastry chef Amy Andrews include macaroons, chocolate truffles and fudge.

While “not inexpensive,” Selby admits, “It’s certainly great value considering all of the entertainment, fine wine, delicious food and more included.”

Since its 2015 inception, the event has grown each year, and “truly encapsulates everything about Aspen and the holidays,” says Selby, from the international crowd to the “infectious” nightlife.

Like Clicquot Cats, the Dom party also sells out each year.

“Best to book sooner than later when we can’t pull any strings,” notes Selby, adding that the party often reaches capacity in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve.

BELLY UP ($300)

D.A.N.C.E into the New Year with Justice at Belly Up’s first-ever masquerade ball.

Aspen’s premier music venue always delivers big names over the New Year holiday, drawing to town artists like the Flaming Lips, Chromeo, Jane’s Addiction (pictured here) and ZZ Top in years past.

This year’s New Year’s performance also marks Justice’s Aspen debut.

The show also will be chock-full of special production value, says Belly Up marketing manager Kailee Winslow, and the electronic duo will orchestrate a countdown from the stage as the clock nears midnight.

While tickets were still available by press time, Belly Up’s New Year’s Eve shows typically sell out, Winslow says.

Further, the intimate locale only holds up to 450 people.

Admission to the show is $300.

“Dress to impress in cocktail attire and don’t forget your mask,” says Winslow.

ASPEN 82 (LIMELIGHT) PARTY ($230)

Somewhere between the Dom Perignon Party and the Red Onion is Aspen 82’s New Year’s Eve party, quips Tim Sack, the television station’s director of development.

In its current iteration, the party started in 2015, first set at the Hotel Jerome, then Grey Lady, and over the past three years, at the Limelight Hotel.

However, the shindig truly began “as a party we used to throw for with our friends,” recalls Aspen 82 owner Spencer McKnight.

“We would rent a space and everyone would split the bill evenly. That was really popular and friends of friends of friends wanted in,” McKnight said, leading him to realize that Aspen lacked a true “locals” party at the time.

“After our first year, we knew this was something the local crowd wanted and we made it bigger and better with different DJ’s, new themes, different offerings and it worked every year.

“We set a really high bar for ourselves after each NYE event and it’s been a fun challenge to try to outdo ourselves.”

With an emphasis on the experience, this year’s theme is “Odyssey,” says McKnight, noting, “The space and interactions will create something more than just a big dance party.”

The Limelight Hotel lobby will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with features like palm and tarot card readings, an oxygen lounge, a photo booth, gourmet bites and a premium open bar as well as an ice bar outside mixing up espresso martini’s.

Tickets to the party as of press time were $230.

“It takes a certain amount of time to become a part of the fabric of the New Year’s Eve party scene,” Sack says, “and in our five years we have learned how to refine our product, customer expectations, and perfected the delicate balance between organization and chaos.”

SKI(N), WATCH FIREWORKS, PARTY IN THE PARK (FREE)

For the active visitor or local, create your own party on Aspen Mountain. Skin up the hill for a prime view of the fireworks at 8 p.m. or midnight.

Just remember to pack up anything you bring or break out.

If skinning isn’t for you, the city of Aspen hosts a free party, complete with a bonfire and DJ at Wagner Park beginning at 8 p.m. in conjunction with the first fireworks.

For those wondering, the 8 p.m. show is 12 to 15 minutes, while the midnight display lasts 5 to 7 minutes, says Kirsten Klein, the city’s special events permit coordinator.

The party at Wagner Park is going on more than 10 years strong, Klein says, adding that she is unsure exactly what year it began.

Traditionally, the party sees 300 to 500 people, she said.

Don’t forget to look up — the spectacular explosive spectacle costs Aspen nearly $30,000.

Cheers!

Eagles tribute band Boys of Summer set to play Rifle Saturday

(Correction: A print version of this story in Thursday’s Citizen Telegram had the incorrect day. The concert is Saturday night.)

The boys are back in town, and the Ute Theater will be rocking this Saturday night as The Boys of Summer, an Eagles tribute band, kick off the last weekend of 2018.

Based out of Los Angeles, the band is made up of James Williamson, drums and vocals; Darrel Monson, guitar and vocals; Dave Williams, guitar and vocals; Chad Quist, guitar and vocals; Chris Turbis, keyboards, saxophones, acoustic guitar and vocals; and Rich Berglund, bass/vocals.

"We are a bunch of older cats out here doing this stuff," drummer and vocalist James Williamson said.

A big outdoor enthusiast, Williamson fell for the Western Slope back in the 1980s.

"Snow skiing is my first love," Williamson said from his home in Fruita.

Around 20 years ago, Williamson purchased a home in Colorado, splitting time between the Western Slope and Los Angeles, before becoming a full-time resident five years ago.

"I love the people, man," Williamson added. "They are just awesome, warm and friendly. It reminds me of where I grew up in Los Angeles as a kid."

Formed in 2004 by the six lifelong friends, they began as a Don Henley tribute band. With several other Eagles tribute bands in the L.A. area at the time, Williamson said they wanted to make a bold statement, initially focusing on music by the legendary Eagles vocalist and drummer.

"We have always been Eagles fans since we were young," Williamson said. "I'm amazed by their versatility, their guitar melodies and harmony, not to mention the harmony vocals."

After limited success at booking gigs, they decided to regroup and alter their path.

"It was a hard sell," Williamson said. "We decided about six months out to do an about face and go hardcore Eagles."

As soon as they switched, they started booking more dates, and for the last 14 years they have been touring the wine country of Northern California, Western Colorado and New Mexico.

The trips to Colorado are always special for Williamson, now that he makes his home on the Western Slope.

"I've always had a love for Colorado," he said.

The band plays at least two gigs a year in western Colorado.

"We love playing Glenwood. It's a lot of fun," Williamson added.

The Boys have played the Vaudeville Revue theater in Glenwood Springs twice, and this will be the second trip to Rifle's Ute Theater.

Saturday's all-ages show starts at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (970) 665-6569 or visit utetheater.com

Popular local musician, singer,and songwriter Morgan Crouse will open the show.

"I'm looking forward to playing Rifle again," Williamson said. "We had such a blast last time. The scene is amazing. They love the Eagles in Rifle."

kmills@postindependent.com

Zombies invade new Aspen Art Museum exhibition

The undead have taken over the basement of the Aspen Art Museum this winter.

A group exhibition of 27 works by 24 artists, “Zombies: Pay Attention!” will open at the museum today.

Inspired by Max Brooks’ best-selling book “The Zombie Survival Guide,” museum director Zuckerman wanted the show to be a playful, accessible offering for the zombie-loving masses, but also aimed to give visitors some serious ideas.

“The primary or most available reading for this zombie show is obviously a kind of popular culture iconographic phenomenon,” she said in an interview. “There is also this larger dread of how our world is in a pre-apocalyptic — and I’m saying pre-apocalyptic because I’m an optimist — stage.”

In an age of cataclysmic climate change reports and what appears to be a daily unraveling of civil society playing out in news headlines and on the president’s Twitter feed, it’s no wonder that people are attracted to stories of brain-eating zombies running rampant.

The show uses zombie-themed and zombie-suggestive works as a jumping-off point to address the fear — fittingly, a fire alarm led to a brief evacuation of the packed museum during its opening reception Thursday night — and the complacency of our cultural moment.

“It’s about asking these larger questions about who we are and how we are living,” Zuckerman told the crowd Thursday, later adding: “It’s an opportunity to ask, ‘If the zombie apocalypse did come at 11:59 would you be happy with what you’ve done?'”

It includes pieces by contemporary art giants like Cindy Sherman, Tom Sachs and Ed Ruscha, along with gory works like Piotr Uklanski’s massive blood-red abstract sculpture “Untitled (Rigor Mortis),” which suggests the grisly remains left behind after a zombie attack and a Will Boone painting of a mangled face and Sue de Beer’s photo print “In Sides” of a woman sliced in half from head to waist.

But the most arresting portions of the show may be its text-based works. Zuckerman selected panicked text art by some of the leading names in contemporary art.

Rashid Johnson, the artist and filmmaker whose work will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the museum in 2019, contributed a neon “Run.” Christopher Wool’s stenciled painting reads ominously “Sell the House Sell the Car Sell the Kids.” Bruce Nauman’s “Pay Attention” prints the phrase backward in jarring slanted text and punctuates it with an expletive.

“People always look at it and go, ‘What does that say?'” Zuckerman said of the Nauman. “But then you read it and you say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the key to life.'”

The museum also has converted one of its basement galleries into a movie theater for the next three months. There, it is pairing the exhibition with free weekly screenings of zombie movies. The 23-film “Zombie Survival Movie Club” series will open Wednesday with the 1936 Boris Karloff classic “The Walking Dead” and will proceed chronologically through the decades of undead cinema with entries like 1968’s genre-spawning “Night of the Living Dead” and 2004’s spoof “Shaun of the Dead.” It culminates with the 2013 satire “Warm Bodies” on March 20. (Anyone who comes for all 13 movies will win a copy of “The Zombie Survival Guide.”)

The series of zombie flicks continues a recent run of interactive and experiential audience engagement events at the museum over the past year, including a fashion show directed by artist Cheryl Donegan, the edible performance art work of Alison Knowles’ “Make a Salad” and the diverse slate of quirky events linked to the recently closed “Ritual” group show.

“I’ve always tried to proselytize about this a little bit: that contemporary art can be fun and that a museum can have a sense of humor,” Zuckerman said.

atravers@aspentimes.com