The Salon celebrates its fifth year in the Roaring Fork Valley |

The Salon celebrates its fifth year in the Roaring Fork Valley

If you go

Fifth Anniversary Salon

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. in Carbondale; Friday, 6 p.m. in Aspen The fifth-anniversary event includes music from Andrea Clearfield, Bittersweet Highway, Averill Lovely, Tania Stavreva and Janet Harriman; poetry by Beverely Patton, Elissa Rodman and Alya Howe; and stand-up comedy from A.J. Finney.

The Launchpad, 76 S. Fourth St., Carbondale and Wheeler Opera House, 320 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen | $25 | 309-2582 | or

A.J. Finney says he became a comedian because therapy was expensive and open mics were free.

“But the sound of laughter and that magical moment when everyone’s so engulfed in the performance that it relieves us from our daily worries, that’s why I keep doing it,” Finney writes in his artist bio.

The Midwestern-raised, Denver-based stand-up comedian, along with an eclectic group of artists from the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond, will star on local stages this weekend as part of the fifth-annual local Salon production.

Modeled after the 19th-century European salons, The Salon is an award-winning performance that started in Philadelphia more than 30 years ago.

Andrea Clearfield, a renowned composer and Aspen Music Festival and School alumna, founded the original Salon series in 1986.

Alongside local artist Alya Howe, she is co-curating the first Salon series to perform on stage at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen. It’s The Salon’s second Carbondale event. Howe hopes to eventually expand the series to a performing arts mountain circuit. The addition of Carbondale dates is a step in that direction.

“The mission is to bring people into the magic of an interesting performance, to feel it more like a conversation, to be invited to receive, to listen with an open heart and be open to all genres and all voices and let them touch you,” Howe said. “We try to meet everyone with what they love and then stretch their ears a little bit — or their minds, or their hearts.”

The curators each selected three artists to participate in the Salon, with Clearfield finding performers from all over and Howe dipping into a local pool of talent.

“We have incredible artists in the valley that I have been mining,” Howe said, noting the number of local musicians who are asked more often to play cover material than perform their own.

“The salon is an invitation to show your voice and share it and be bold,” Howe said.

At the Salon, each artist has 15 minutes of stage-time to discuss or perform his or her art. This weekend’s performances will feature singing, storytelling, stand-up comedy, poetry, the harp, piano and more.

The local Salon rendition started five years ago under the direction of Justice Snow’s proprietress Michele Kiley.

Howe, who helped curate the series alongside Kiley, said the idea was to offer the community a “more local, fringe-y and affordable arts programming.”

“It’s bringing something to the valley that doesn’t often occur,” said Snowmass native and poet Elissa Rodman, who will read her work at Sunday’s Salon. Rodman, a Carbondale resident, also heard her poetry incorporated in 2017’s Green is the New Black fashion show. “Having venue for a wide variety or artists to come together is really something I’m excited to be apart of.

“It’s a beautiful thing because it’s more vulnerable to be on the stage reading your work, rather than someone reading it on the page.”

After performing inside Justice Snow’s for more than four years, the Salon relocated to the Wheeler Opera House’s lobby bar, where its most recent show occurred.

But for the Salon’s fifth anniversary, Howe said, “We wanted to do something more special and put everyone on stage.”

“It’s hard to explain that there’s nothing like a Salon,” Howe said. “But there is just something so magical about it.”

Post Independent Features Editor Carla Jean Whitley contributed to this report.

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