Music goes with mountains like singing nuns go with surly widows. Like gin goes with tonic, beer with patios, and ice cream with sticky fingers. It’s a sweet, but simple, Summer equation when the days get long, the grass gets greener, and shoulders and feet go bare.
Here in B.C., the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is wrapping up a four-day gig playing alfresco concerts, and the locals are tuning up their cruiser bikes and stockpiling groceries and ginger ale for the arrival of 20,000+ Pemberton Music Festival goers next weekend. It’s no wonder why my thoughts are turning to music.
So, what would be the official song, or singer, to soundtrack my favorite mountain towns?
Back when I worked at Whistler’s season-ending World Ski and Snowboard Festival, the general consensus was that anything you could book for the Main Stage that smacked of reggae was a win. But that was a Spring thing.
The sounds of Summer have their own flavor altogether.
Jamming in Jay Peak
Jay Peak is about to host its 10th annual August West Festival, a celebration of twirling, tie-dye, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and—you guessed it—The Grateful Dead. Now that they have an indoor venue in the Foegar Ballroom, they are starting to secure more contemporary acts (like Lyle Lovett, JJ Grey and Mofro, and the North Mississipi Allstars).
The Jeezum Crow Festival also happens on the weekend of July 25-26. Meaning “Oh my god” (according to Urban Dictionary), it might be the coolest music festival name ever. With the Dark Star Orchestra (a band that boasts of “recreating the Grateful Dead experience in the best possible way”) as the headliner on both nights, it’s fair to say the sound of Summer in Jay Peak is anything reminiscent of Jerry Garcia.
Twangy Tunes at Telluride
If you want bluegrass, Telluride is the place to be. After 41 years of welcoming the Summer Solstice with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, they can definitely lay claim to that.
Sacred Sounds At Wanderlust (Squaw, Whistler, & Tremblant)
The Wanderlust Festivals are rolling out with their weekend-long, “all-out ecstatic celebrations” – Think prayer bead bracelets, green smoothies in mason jars, SUP yoga sessions, and live music interspersed with celebrity yogi sightings and sessions.
Wanderlust will be in Squaw Valley on July 17-20; Whistler on July 31-August 4; and in Tremblant on August 21-24.
So, who’s the voice of the Wanderlust Festivals? MC Yogi, of course—a beat-happy, Krishna-crazed love machine who will be playing at all locations.
Fresh Melodies at Whistler
Now that I have a kid, I’m less a seeker of ecstatic experiences, and more about the practicalities. It’s something that I appreciate about the Whistler Presents Summer series of outdoor concerts—they’re free.
The stage is awesome; you can bring your own picnic; you can customize a nest on the grass of blankets, chairs and other personal miscellany; and the line-up is eclectic. (Corb Lund, here I come!)
But the fact that it’s free means that if my kid has a meltdown and we have to leave before the show is over, I’m not ruing the dashed investment. I can just fold up the chair, put the lid on the to-go dinner, and bundle everyone out of there. With the sound of music fading gently in the distance, I know that there’s always tomorrow. Or next weekend. Or the weekend after that. And the bonus? I didn’t have to go all the way to Alberta, which is where Lund’s cow-punk roots sound most at home.
If you like Radical Face and are a mountain biker, then put the Top of the World trail at the top of your must-ride list. The airy, rhythmic sounds always put me in mind of Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s jaw-dropping alpine singletrack.
Still, if I were to nominate an official songstress of Whistler, I’d go, hands down, with Ali Milner. Seasoned, sophisticated and fresh. It’s a perfect match.
Every mountain has its own unique vibes, especially when it comes to music. I’d go so far as to say if you like Ali Milner, you’d like Whistler. If you like the Grateful Dead, you’d love Jay Peak. And if Corb Lund floats your boat, then the heartland of the Canadian Rockies or the nearby Kootenays is for you.
So, do you believe that music can save your immortal soul? Or at least, give you a clue to where you’d feel at home? If so, what does your favorite ski town sound like?