WORDS DAN KASPER | FEATURED IMAGE MICHAEL GOLDBERG
Music and skiing go together like an ice-cold beer and hot wings. Whether youre bumpin beats through your earbuds on the mountain or sippin on a tallboy while a dude donning a trucker hat shreds Widespread Panic covers on his guitar at aprs, rockin tunes usually go hand in hand with a radical ski day. Some ski towns have elevated the music scene for locals and visitors with legendary venues that attract national touring acts each winter. Check out these five iconic music venues in world-class ski towns across North America this ski season.
Belly Up has had a ton of world-renowned artists grace its stage since opening in January 2005. With the storied ski towns proximity to Denver, acts often add an Aspen date to their Colorado tour, allowing them the chance to play a more intimate venue. The 450-person capacity room has played host to the likes of Odesza, LCD Soundsystem, Widespread Panic, Nas and more. Just a few steps underground from South Galena Street in the heart of downtown Aspen, this venue will transport you to a multilevel sonic sanctuary complete with a predominantly wood interior and acoustically treated ceilings for amazing sound.
When local entrepreneur Jack Giguere crashed his car through the front door of what was then known as the Showcase East Bar back in 1971, he unknowingly changed the music scene in central Vermont forever. Giguere subsequently acquired the bar, renovated it, renamed it the Pickle Barrel and began drawing live acts from across the globe. Locally known as The House That Rocked Killington, the Pickle Barrels stage has been graced by the likes of Matisyahu, Wu-Tang Clan, Ziggy Marley and Snoop Dogg, to name a few. The current owners have upgraded the Pickle Barrel with a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting to complement with the venues historic charm.
Near the top of Park Citys historic Main Street sits O.P. Rockwellan intimate music venue named after controversial Wild West lawman Orrin Porter Rockwell. The historic space was originally an icehouse and bar before becoming the Mrs. Fields Cookie College in the latter part of the 20th century. In only a few years as Park Citys premier music venue, O.P. Rockwell has played host to Zac Brown Band, Michael Franti, Karl Densons Tiny Universe and G. Love and Special Sauce. It was also the location of one of FREESKIERs 20th Anniversary RV Tour stops last winter, where Zepparella, the all-female Led Zeppelin cover band, brought the house down. The 350-person capacity venue features two bars and a high-class underground speakeasy vibe with exposed brick walls and tin ceilings to go along with a top-notch sound system.
In a town that loves to party, Garfinkels might just go harder than any other venue in Whistler. According to general manager Paul Stoker, Florida millionaire playboy Mitch Garfinkel opened Garfinkels outposts in Whistler, Vail and Telluride back in the day so he could have a place to party at each of his favorite ski resorts. Now owned and operated by Gibbons Whistler, the new Garfs has hosted acts like De La Soul, Skrillex, Ghostface Killah and Steve Aoki. On any given night, you can find Whistler locals like TJ Schiller, Kye Petersen and Sean Pettit letting loose at the club-style venue.
With its legendary summertime festivals paired with classic music clubs like the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, Telluride might just be the best destination for mountain-town music. However, its the historic Sheridan Opera House that stands out as the best spot to see live music in town, thanks to unmatched acoustics and a cozy vibe. Built in 1913, the Sheridan has a maximum capacity of 265 people between the standing-room-only floor and the seated balcony. Acts like Taj Mahal, Mumford and Sons, Leftover Salmon and Trombone Shorty have played this historic vaudeville-style opera house.