Sunday, January 6, 2008

One Cool Day

Caption for chairlift photo: (L to R) Adam Gardner, Jason Biggs, Stefan Lessard and Ed Robertson ride the Northstar Express to Okemo's summit on Friday, January 4, 2008.

Working at Okemo is pretty cool most days, but some days are definitely way cooler than others. Today was one of those days. I mean how often do you get to ride with Stefan Lessard, bass player for the Dave Matthews Band, Ed Robertson, singer, lead guitar for Barenaked Ladies, Adam Gardner, singer, songwriter, guitar for Guster, Eric Fawcett, drummer for N.E.R.D., Jason Biggs of American Pie movie fame, and Ross Powers, Olympic Gold Medalist in the Men’s Halfpipe… all at the same time? The answer is not very often. And wow! These friends were at Okemo over the past several days filming a segment for the 2008 Warren Miller project, all culminating with a concert under the band name Yukon Kornelius to benefit the Vermont and New Hampshire Food Banks. The set list will consist of various classic rock and pop covers that you’ll all know, and a few surprises are guaranteed. This is one show you won’t want to miss. (For tickets visit or call (802) 422-3035) Pretty cool, huh? All that and a bag of chips. Since I was helping to organize Okemo’s role in the project, it was all considered work too!

Stefan Lessard has been riding at Okemo just about every year for the past 5 and often snowboards here with his son Diego (shown left last February). Ed Robertson and his family of five just finished their fourth visit to Jackson Gore. Many times Ed will show up at The Sitting Bull Bar & Restaurant, plug in and entertain the audience along with the house band. Tonight he jumped in at the employee party, sang Pinch Me and If I Had A Million Dollars and thanked the staff for making his Okemo family vacations so great over the years. Adam Gardner spent a weekend at Okemo last March with his project the Reverb Eco-Village. Adam is not only a very strong skier, he is a passionate environmentalist that has greened several tours for music acts across the country. Eric Fawcett flew in from Minnesota to provide the beat for the band, and to learn to snowboard. At the urgings of the others, Jason Biggs was visiting Okemo for the first time with his girlfriend, actress Jenny Mollen. Jason has big plans to play cowbell with the band. Ross Powers is of course Okemo’s Ambassador of Snowboarding and still goes as big in the Okemo pipe as he did for his gold medal run.

These guys are all very relaxed, very approachable, and down-to-earth. And they’re fairly accomplished skiers and snowboarders in addition to their many musical and acting talents. They are so easy-going that they instantly shared a special chemistry on snow as well as on stage.

Having gotten to know these men over the past few days has been a very amazing and entertaining experience. We all share a certain zest for music and life in the mountains. My biggest thrill was being able to attend the private rehearsals in a secluded place up on the mountain. My fingers were still tingling from marathon sessions of Guitar Hero after Santa’s visit, and now I’m blogging in a room with some of the best in the music business. We’re all fortunate to have these fine musicians and friends enjoying the Okemo Valley.

One of the funniest moments was when Ed Robertson proclaimed that every band has one member that is the glue that holds everything together, then, gesturing toward Jason Biggs he added “And Jason put the “korn” in Yukon Kornelius.” It was a had-to-be-there moment for sure. And there were many, many more, but the good folks from Warren Miller wouldn’t be very happy if I stole their thunder. Like me, you’ll just have to wait for the movie.

Until then, keep enjoying music and the mountains.

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