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John Oates, opera house team up for Apen’s first songwriters festival

Singer and songwriter John Oates (Hall & Oates) will host the city’s first annual songwriters festival. 7908′ The Aspen Songwriters Festival will take place September 16-19 at the Wheeler Opera House, as well as the Belly Up Aspen club and other local venues in the historic artists’ haven of Aspen, Colorado. 7,908 feet is Aspen’s altitude.

The event will be produced by the City of Aspen with Oates aboard as executive producer and will feature world renowned headlining artists, alongside famous and emerging new songwriters from all musical styles to perform their favorite works for the city’s residents and visiting music lovers.

As half the legendary duo Hall & Oates and member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Oates contributes both stature and insight to the Festival.

“I’m inviting songwriters from all genres and asking them, ‘Who have you always wanted to play with but haven’t?’” he said. “Then we’ll see what happens. There has been a tremendous response to that question. I think it will result in some really spectacular collaborations and performances. We’re also at a significant inflection point in the world of songwriting where there are these exciting cross-currents taking place between generations. We want to encourage and nurture this aspect and provide a destination where this evolution can flourish.”

Last year, Oates and the Wheeler staged a three-part singer-songwriter series called “The Stories Behind The Songs” at the Wheeler House, whose management is working with the singer to organize the festival.

“That was a great first collaboration,” said Wheeler Executive Director Gram Slaton, “and John had a lot of ideas after wards that he wanted to explore for something bigger and better. So this festival concept seems like a logical expansion of that original songwriter series.”

A long-time resident of Aspen, Oates determined from the outset that the 2010 event wouldn’t be just another music festival.

“The City of Aspen has a great tradition of bringing together the best and the brightest minds and souls in the world to be inspired, share their idea and create in one of the most beautiful places on earth,” Oates explained. “My thought was to expand that vision, to create a festival that would celebrate songwriting in its purest form—the writers, their words and their music. This is not about bands and big productions but rather an opportunity for the public to see and hear these amazingly talented songwriters in an intimate setting with high quality acoustics. It all starts with a song and we will celebrate that.”

Founded as a mining town in the late 1870s, Aspen has long been known for nourishing the arts. Starting with the Aspen Music Festival in 1949, the city has become a gathering place for musicians who have an abiding respect for nature and a sincere appreciation of each other’s talents. Musician-writers from John Denver to Burt Bacharach have staked out turf there, as have various members of The Eagles, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Joe Cocker, and many others.

For more information on 7908’ The Aspen Songwriters Festival call Wheeler Opera House Executive Director Gram Slaton at 970-920-5790 or email him at

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