One of the valley’s favorite bands from back in Aspen’s musical heyday will be getting together again on Wednesday evening, Aug. 14, when Starwood takes the stage in Lions Park as part of Basalt’s free summer concert series. Though just three of the band’s original seven members will be present for the reunion, they’ll be joined by an extended family of six semi-regulars who should be quite familiar to folks in the Mid-Valley.
Originally formed in 1975 as Homebrew, the band changed its name to Starwood in 1976 after signing with Columbia records and released a self-titled 1977 album featuring a lineup of Bobby Mason on guitar, Bob Carpenter on piano, Michael Buono on drums, Haden Gregg on guitar, David James Holster on guitar, Bernie Mysior on bass and Bryan Savage playing flute and saxophone.
Mason, an Aspen Hall of Fame inductee, had to move away from the mountains in 2018 due to a lung ailment that requires him to stay at lower altitudes. Carpenter keeps busy as the keyboardist for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and couldn’t make the concert. Buono currently lives in Hawaii, making it difficult for him to get back to the valley, and Holster passed away in 2017.
That leaves Gregg, Savage and Mysior as holdovers from the original band. They’ll be joined on stage by Hap Harriman on guitar, Larry Thompson on drums, Jimmy Dykann on guitar, JD Martin on keyboards and Suzzanne Paris (who was married to Holster) and Jan Garrett (who is married to Martin) on background vocals.
“I love our new lineup,” said Gregg. “We’re all a family from back in the day when Starwood was together. Next week is going to be awesome.”
It’s the third summer in a row that the current version of Starwood will be doing a reunion concert in Basalt (Harriman is the lone newcomer), and if the last two shows are any indication, Lions Park can expect to be overflowing with longtime fans and newbies coming to hear what all the fuss is about.
“The Basalt Chamber told us last year’s show was the biggest crowd they’ve ever had by quite a bit,” said Savage. “I didn’t hear a number (estimates put the total at roughly 700 people), but it certainly looked quite full. So I’m sure if the weather’s good it’ll probably be a similar turnout – maybe a little more. It seems like there’s a little more buzz about it this year.”
Fans who show up can expect to hear the kind of feel-good soft rock that first caught the ear of John Denver, who originally signed Homebrew to his Windsong Records label, and inspired covers by the likes of Denver (“Cowboy’s Delight,” written by Carpenter and Holster), Three Dog Night (“Dance the Night Away,” also by Carpenter and Holster) and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (“Jamaica Lady,” by Holster). The band also plans to play some songs by Martin and Garrett, who have released more than a dozen albums of inspirational music between the two of them, as well as Dykann’s hit song “Tortuga.”
Though the Starwood reunions happen just once a year, the current members get plenty of time jamming together in other configurations. Gregg, Savage, Martin and Harriman play every other Thursday (including Aug. 15) at Heather’s Savory Pies & Tapas Bar in Basalt; Gregg and Paris do regular gigs at Aspen’s Limelight Hotel; and Gregg and Dykann just released a new album in June called “Night Plane” that features Savage, Mysior and Thompson.
“It’s all original songs that we wrote here in the valley,” said Gregg. “We’re going to have hundreds of the CDs here for the concert.”
With so much time together in various permutations, it’s essentially a reunion in name only for the band members. But for the audience, many of whom flocked to Starwood shows back in the day, it’s the one chance each year to see old friends and listen to songs they know and love.
“We see a bunch of them that lived in Aspen in the Starwood days,” said Savage. “It’s always a lot of fun to relive those times.”
“It’s awesome. I mean, it’s amazing,” said Gregg. “These people have seen us play and supported us for so long. What’s so great is they stand up there in front of the stage, and they look at us, and they’re singing along with the lyrics. They know the songs so well, and it makes you really feel good. That’s one of the best parts of it for me, seeing the old friends that come see us.”
The concert starts at 6 p.m., and Carbondale radio station KDNK will broadcast the show live for those who can’t make it to Lions Park. There will not be a bar at the concert, so the Basalt Chamber is encouraging attendees to visit downtown establishments before and after the show for libations and food.