An interview with Creedence Clearwater Revisited’s Stu Cook

Creedence Clearwater Revisited play Sun Valley Tuesday, August 28.

 

As I prepared to interview Stu Cook of Creedence Clearwater Revisited for this blog, I casually mentioned the prospect to my husband. His reaction was on par with what mine would have been had someone told me Jarvis Cocker was going to perform at my sweet sixteen. If you’re lost by that last reference, stick with me.

My musical influences reflect the soundtrack of a deeply uncool movie. However, my British father’s predilection towards all things American meant that, while I was raised in England, I was exposed to the tunes of the country I was born in at an early age. I remember spinning Venus in Blue Jeans on a portable record player as a tween, dancing to Don McClean’s American Pie everywhere from my living room to my wedding reception, and listening to every single one of Buddy Holly’s hits on any and all family road trips. So you can probably picture my then-future-husband’s horror when, while driving across America in a Ford pick-up truck, he pumped up the volume on Bad Moon Rising, proclaiming that this was one of his all-time favorite bands and I chirped up, “Who’s the band?”
Honestly, I’m surprised we made it to the altar.

In the intervening nine years of living in the Wild West I’ve been properly schooled in the musical history of my current homeland, and so was suitably excited myself to be talking to a member of one of the country’s legendary rock ‘n’ roll bands and Hall of Fame member, Stu Cook.

For the uninitiated, Credence Clearwater Revival was the biggest band in America as the ’60s gave way to the ’70s. At its peak the band’s popularity rivaled that of the Beatles, in four years they churned out a string of hits including the aforementioned Bad Moon RisingLodi, Proud Mary, Born on the Bayou, Fortunate Sun and Who’ll Stop the Rain (inspired by their performance at Woodstock.) But, as even a casual observer of rock history will have noticed, in order to have any credibility as a rock ‘n’ roll band, drama is a prerequisite, and Revival had it in spades. Like their contemporaries The Beatles, forerunners Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and the carcasses of countless other great bands that litter history, creative differences split the lead singer/songwriter from his rhythm section, resulting in the demise of Revival in 1972, just four short years after hitting the big time.

Today however, the rhythm still rules as best friends Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, bassist and drummer of the original band, have resurrected Revival’s distinctive Swamp Rock anthems under the moniker Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Former front man John Fogerty tours as a solo musician and his brother Tom, the band’s rhythm guitarist, passed away in 1990.

In anticipation of Revisited’s debut Sun Valley performance Tuesday, August 28, I caught up with Cook to talk Idaho, the music and how Revisited was born from a famous snub.

Have you ever been to Idaho?
Oh yeah, many times. In fact the second concert Revisted ever played was in Idaho, Sandpoint. As for Southern Idaho I’ve been there quite a few times but really just to perform, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to hang out and immerse myself.

But you’ve never performed in Sun Valley before?
No, I’ve snowboarded there but never performed. We came about 3 or 4 winters ago. I thought (the snowsports) were pretty good, there are some difficult areas, but it was pretty friendly. The bowls are beautiful, we stayed at the Lodge and it was pretty nice. We enjoyed it. I used to live up in Lake Tahoe and skiing was just outside the door, but when I moved to Texas my wife and I had to go on ski vacations and Sun Valley was the first  place we picked as we’d heard a lot about it, but of course had never been there because we were spoiled by where we were living. So that was our first place to check off the list. Since then we’ve been to Jackson Hole, Park City, Telluride, I think we’re going to Steamboat next winter.

So, four members of my family in four different corners of the world were very jealous that I was going to be talking with you this morning. I think that is a small insight into how far your music has reached. It’s pretty impressive.
I’ll say! We’ve toured the world – North America, South America, Central America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia. The enthusiasm of the fans is quite high everywhere and they’re trending much younger. We’re currently on our third generation of fans, hopefully we’ll soon have a fourth.

In other interviews I’ve read you’ve expressed surprise at the success of Revisited, that originally the idea was just to help a friend promote a couple of concerts. So what happened?
You know I’m still puzzling about the first career… I have to say I think we’ve successfully built on the best parts of the original band’s legend. It all really comes down to the music. Great songs, timeless music. Somehow the fan base has grown organically, people have taken the music in and passed it on, shared it with their peers and their families, generation to generation. So here we are almost 45 years later with an amazing network of people who know the music, enjoy it and want to come and experience the Creedence concert experience.

Because we’re the original rhythm section we can make the music’s sounds and feel, that part is easy. The hard part was to find people who could play the music along with us. [They did, and today tour with lead singer/rhythm guitar player John Tristao, who rose to prominence as lead singer for People, and guitarist Kurt Griffey, who has recorded and toured with members of the Eagles, Foreigner, Moody Blues, Wings, and Journey. Multi-instrumentalist Steve Gunner rounds out the group.] Back then (Revisited formed in 1995) we had no idea if our fans would embrace what we were doing but our fears were put to rest.

One of the key elements to the success of the band in its current form seems your commitment to honoring the legacy of Revival, by just performing the hits people want to hear.
The intention was never to add to the body of work in terms of song catalog we wanted that to remain undiluted and celebrated. We didn’t want to add any confusion and possibly degrade what was already there. It was never our intention to carry on from the old, the old still stands as the gold standard, we’re just out there playing the music live at concerts.

That music was described as Swamp Rock, and it sort of came out of left-field in an American music landscape just recovering from the British domination of the 60s. Here you guys came, four guys from San Francisco, playing pure southern rock and roll.
The San Francisco Bay area was a real melting pot of culture and ethnicity when we were growing up there. All these cultures, from Midwest hillbillies to the southern black population, brought their music and musical tastes with them when they moved out West. So up sprang all these radio stations directed at those audiences, and we preferred listening to them. [The music] felt better, it had more body, earthier and grittier. We were just coming of age at the right time where that music just spoke to us more than the stuff on the hit parade. It was a crazy time in music and that was the stuff we loved, so it was bound to be recycled in our own way.

A lot of those British bands were pure American blues enthusiast. When they started learning the catalog of artists who were pioneers of the musical genre of rural and urban blues they were purists – they didn’t want commercial success. But eventually it found its way back to the states in bands like The Yardbirds and Van Morrison. It was kind of shocking that it took the new crop of British musicians to reawaken America from its pop music stupor.

What would you say was the definitive Creedence track?
At the risk of being obvious, I would say Born on the Bayou. It was the song that started the swamp rock craze, it was sort of the title track of Bayou Country, the second album. That was our coming out album, while the first album had some success with Susie Q and I Put A Spell On You, but they weren’t original. Proud Mary was actually the flip side of Born on the Bayou, if my memory is not completely fractured. We were hoping Born would be the hit because we thought that song really says where we were coming from,  but it was Proud Mary really went on to become a standard. If we’d been left to our own devices to choose the single who knows what would have happened.

From the outside, the original band was definitely dominated by John Fogerty. Can you give some insight into the real roles you, Doug and Tom played in the creation of that sound. Fogerty was obviously the strong personality – but you guys were clearly integral to the sound, and it’s funny how history gets rewritten.
Well we all played our own instruments! But you’re right, history does get rewritten, and that’s what Doug and I are in the process of doing with this project. Proving to the world that there were more people involved than just one guy, and the fact that we have 18 years of success doing that says a lot.

We all learned to play our instruments together. We played for nine years together before we had any success at all, then we were working as one person. From downbeat to fade-out, we all understood our roles. You can’t make a rock ‘n’ roll record without a bass player and a drummer. It may sound like we were playing very simple stuff but hey, has anybody else been able to do it? Very few!

When Doug and I fire up the band today it feels like Revival. We understood what went into it. Although it’s expected that the lead singer, band leader and writer would get the focus—we played on every one of those records. Would they have happened without us? Who knows.

Having grown up as a huge Buddy Holly fan it’s hard for me not to draw comparisons with The Crickets, who continued well past the legend of Holly. They still tour today, not quite at the same level, but slowly and surely the drumming style of Jerry Allison is getting the credit it deserves in the band’s history. It seems like that’s what you’re doing with the Revisited, giving yourself and Clifford the recognition that the rhythm section should have in Revival’s history.
I completely agree. In fact, this project was sort of born out of the snub of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When the band was being inducted on its first year of eligibility [1993], we were snubbed by John Fogerty. He actually refused to perform with us at the event. On top of that the Hall of Fame organizers didn’t tell us until the day of the event that that was how it was going to go down. It was a big scene. Basically, after the band was inducted Fogerty and the house band and some of his all-star buddies, Springsteen, Robbie Robertson, took to the stage to play Creedence songs. Doug and I and our families just got up and walked out in protest. We made a scene out of it because we weren’t happy that our special day was going down in such a small and petty manner.

And that incident gave birth to Creedence Clearwater Revisited?
You know without us knowing it, yes it did. A couple years later, when we started laying the foundation for this project the idea was definitely that we could and we should do something like this to show the world that it wasn’t all about that one guy.

I’m guessing then, that the possibility of a full, surviving-members-of-Revival-reunion is not a strong one?
That’s right. I guess anything could happen but if the past is any indicator I’d say it’s not likely. Some 40 years later has there been any significant change of attitude towards something like that? Probably not. It kind of comes and goes every decade or something, but the older you get the harder it gets to walk back into the fire.
[Fogerty indicated he might be open to the possibility in this Rolling Stone interview last year.]

Just one more quick reference to the past, what exactly did you guys have against Lodi?
It’s my recollection that we never even played in Lodi, but we played in all the little towns around it. All those little towns up and down the California central valley is where we learned how to play together, when we were The Blue Velvets playing teen clubs and so on. I guess Lodi just sort of represented all of those gigs; the pizza places where they wanted you to tone it down, and they didn’t want to pay you because nobody showed up. It’s a sad song, it’s not really different from the story of people coming to Hollywood, very few make it, and the song was written from the perspective of a guy who didn’t. We were sort of at the bottom of our hopes at that point. It had been many, many years of failure, but if you’re smart you learn from it. We had some pretty good schooling.

Has anyone every approached you guys about doing a movie of the band’s story? It seems like you have all the ingredients for a great rock biopic.
Oh my god! Can you imagine sorting the egos out of that one?

Well, who would you like to play you?
Gene Hackman, I want a young Gene Hackman to play me.

Okay then, just one more world-of-make-believe question. If you could go back into the history of rock and roll and choose to be a part of one classic rock song, which would you choose?
I’d like to have played bass on Sympathy for the Devil.

Be sure to catch Creedence Clearwater Revisited in town for one night only – details below. It’s sure to be a big party.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Creedence Clearwater Revisited perform Tuesday, August 28, doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 to $79, don’t wait, they’re almost gone. Buy them here or call 208.622.2135. The lawn is open ($29), with the performance broadcast on the giant LED screen. Blankets and low-backed chairs welcome. Coming from out of town? Sun Valley Resort is offering a lodging package $138.50 per person, double occupancy, (single occupancy $223) for one night’s lodging and two show tickets. Call 800-786-8259.

 

Cowboys, buggys and Ridley Pearson – just another Saturday in Sun Valley

Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.

This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).

Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!

The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites.  “I love playing for the children,” he said.

The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...

Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.

Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.

Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.

For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.

Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”

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And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Bill here.

While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

A delightful sight - baby doll buggys parked outside the Sun Valley Pavilion.


Tonight, Tuesday August 14, is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s last 2012 performance. The season finale features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64 and begins at 6:30 p.m.

For more pictures from the parade visit The Toy Store’s Facebook page here.

Recipe from the Resort: Idahoan Strawberry Lemonade

It's summertime and the living is easy... and what better time to sit back and relax and enjoy a long, tall cocktail?

In a slight twist on our Resort Recipes series – where I scour Sun Valley’s restaurants to bring you the secrets behind the dishes on offer – I decided to get the skinny on some perfect summertime beverages. So, I headed back to my favorite creek-side diner, the historic Trail Creek Cabin and sampled its most popular summer cocktail: The Idahoan Strawberry Lemonade.

Here’s manger Matt Robinson with a step-by-step guide to this delicious summer cocktail, the ideal accompaniment to your end-of-summer parties:

Video not displaying? Click here.

Idahoan Strawberry Lemonade (hard)
Makes 1 pitcher/12 tall drinks

Ingredients
2 cups strawberry puree (made from fresh strawberries)
2 cups simple syrup (sugar and water mix)
2 cups lemon juice
18 ounces of Idaho Potato Vodka
Soda water
Garnish with fresh strawberries and lemon slices

Directions
Make the puree by placing the strawberries, syrup and lemon juice in a food processor (not a blender). Add that and the vodka to a pitcher full of ice. Top off with soda water. Pour into 12 tall glasses, garnish each with a  fresh strawberry and lemon slice. Serve with a straw. For a single serving take a tall glass filled with ice, add 2 ounces of the strawberry lemon puree and 1.5 ounces Idaho Potato Vodka, top with soda water and garnish as above.

While Matt was creating my Idahoan Strawberry Lemonade some thirsty hikers stopped in and were tempted into joining us!

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Trail Creek Cabin is located 1.5 miles east of the Sun Valley Lodge (half a mile past the Sun Valley Club), and is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. The Trail Creek Cabin Deck Bar is open 4 – 8 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday and features live music Wednesdays & Thursdays from 5 – 8 p.m.. For reservations call 208.622.2019 or email restaurantreservations@sunvalley.com

 

A picture perfect summer in Sun Valley

Having spent the best part of the summer running around enjoying and sharing the sights and sounds of my Sun Valley summer, I decided it was about time I discovered some of your experiences of our fabulous mountain town. So, I spent an entertaining afternoon with two of my favorite buddies, Twitter and Instagram, and dug up a treasure trove of stories and images people have shared with the online world about their time in Sun Valley.

Thanks to the magic of Storify, I’ve collected a handful of these for you here, and if you have more to share please tweet me @jp2e.

A Social Sun Valley Vacation

Mrs. Sun rummaged through the world of social media to bring you some snapshots of real #SunValley vacations.

http://storify.com/jp2e/a-social-sun-valley-vacation

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Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Room from the Resort: The President’s Cottage

Step back in time in the President's Cottage

Welcome to the third installment of Mrs. Sun’s Rooms from the Resort series, where I take a peek inside one of the many varied “rooms” on offer at Sun Valley Resort. The aim is to provide you with a traveller’s-eye-view; meaning totally spontaneous, no pre-prep or fancy lighting, just exactly what you’ll see as you open your door to your Sun Valley vacation.

In the shadow of the grand Sun Valley Lodge sits a quaint little cottage. Seemingly plucked out of a chocolate box scene depicting a mountaintop Austrian village, this two bedroom abode is one of the original Sun Valley Resort buildings. And if I had my choice of anywhere on the property to spend a little downtime (especially during Sun Valley Summer Symphony season), this would be my pick.

The two bedroom cottage is situated between the Harriman and Guest cottages, on the edge of the lawn that boasts the multi-million dollar Sun Valley Pavilion, making it an ideal getaway for a symphony-loving couple, imagine whipping up a simple meal in your fully-equipped kitchen and then relaxing on the delightful patio as the sounds of Bach waft over you.

Here’s a quick picture tour of the President’s Cottage:

The inside of the President's Cottage is deceptively spacious. An open floor plan connecting the sitting area, dining room and kitchen is enhanced by a giant picture window that welcomes in the famous Sun Valley sun.

This is the smallest of the cottages on offer at the resort, and, while it’s not exactly off-the-beaten path (being located right by the road that runs behind the Lodge, and come symphony-time you won’t have that large lawn all to yourself), it is one of the most historic. So step back in time (while still enjoying flat screen TVs and granite countertops), and imagine you’re an East Coast socialite, honeymooning with your hunky new Austrian ski-instructor husband… .

With two small, but well-appointed bedrooms, it's the view and spacious outdoor patio that make this historical hideaway my top pick of the Sun Valley Resort rooms.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Priced from $600 – $1,100 a night (price varies based on season and weekend versus weeknights), this two bedroom, two bath cottage includes a kitchen, living room, dining room and fireplace, plus, for two weeks a year, a free symphony! For more details click here or call 1.800.786.8259.

Warren Miller’s Flow State

Warren Miller’s Flow State

October 26 & 27, 2012

Sun Valley Opera House

Show Times:

October 26 at 7pm

October 27 at 5pm & 8pm

Introducing Warren Miller Entertainment’s 63rd film, Flow State. The Flow State is a place of such singular focus that, here, the faster you ride, the slower time passes. Join host Jonny Moseley and world-class skiers like Ted Ligety, Colby West and Jess McMillan as Flow State takes you on a tour of the world’s most striking mountains—including peaks in Japan, Switzerland, Norway and beyond. You won’t see ski or snowboard action of this magnitude anywhere else. So buckle up, because this Warren Miller film will take you into the Flow State…where the mountain meets the mind.Get tickets at warrenmiller.com.

He’s back! Johnny Weir discusses Olympics, Sun Valley and his return to international competition.

 

Newlywed Johnny Weir performs in Sun Valley on Ice this Saturday

After shocking the figure-skating world in August of 2010 by retiring from the sport, the truly fabulous Johnny Weir (now happily married to Victor Voronov) is setting his sights firmly on a medal in Sochi, the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. I caught up with the three-time U.S. National Champion and 2008 World Championship bronze medalist in advance of his appearance in Sun Valley on Ice tomorrow, to chat skating, Olympics and his love for Sun Valley.

This is your first year skating after a two year retirement. How is it going?
Johnny Weir: I announced my comeback to competitive figure skating in January, since then it’s been a very slippery slope to get back in shape, to learn a lot of the skills maybe I bypassed by not competing the last two years. It’s been a full-time job. But I’m really looking forward to coming to Sun Valley. It gives me an opportunity to do a show as opposed to all the training I’ve been doing to get ready for the judges. I’m looking forward to being able to just skate and be glittery—which is what I’m best at!—rather than focusing on the nuts and bolts. It will be nice to let my hair down.

What was it that prompted that decision to return to figure skating?
JW: It’s kind of being building. I saw this point in my life where I knew that I could do everything required of me to be a competitive figure skater again and I could also see 40 years down the road where I would regret not trying. I have so many fans who have been encouraging me to continue competing, and instead of really focusing on doing this for myself—as I’ve already achieved so many of my goals—I’m returning to support my fans, to show them that you can still achieve something great, no matter how old you are or how many people counted you out. I want to help inspire people and give people a moment of escape. I want to take people on my journey with me when I skate. That’s definitely something that pushed me to come back. Even if I get out there and try and fail, if I can inspire someone to try, it will have been worth it.

This is your eighth appearance in the Sun Valley ice shows. What do you like about Sun Valley? What keeps you coming back?
JW: I live just outside New York City and I’m constantly over-stimulated by lights and city action and craziness, so it’s really nice to get away and be in Idaho. It’s like a mini vacation. It’s wonderful to go to Sun Valley and work and perform for the guests at the lodge. But really it’s just nice for me to be peaceful and quiet and sleep well in the mountain air, keep my windows open in the hotel. It’s always a lovely experience.

What do you like to do while you’re in Sun Valley?
JW: I’m an avid lover of fur and wildlife so I like gently walking around and seeing what kind of creatures I can spot. One year I did a photo shoot out in the hills and then down by that little red barn, and I saw a wolf there. I really like trying to animal spot, and I love the swans outside the lodge. I don’t really own hiking boots or hunting boots, so usually I’m trying to trek around in a pair of Christian Louboutin loafers, which never ends up well!
I’ve also made a few friends there over the years. Suzy Hart at Déjà Vu, my absolute favorite shop, and every year Ditta Von Teese’s parents will come and support me at the show. I have the most fun at Sun Valley that’s why I come back.

It’s well known that shopping is one of your favorite things to do. Are there any shops or places in Sun Valley that you’re excited to come back to?
JW: Well, Deja Vu is my must-stop shop. Then there’s Davis, which carries a lot of the big New York designers, it’s a very fashionable, way too expensive store, and it’s always cool to see these clothes I’m so accustomed to seeing in the city in this sleek modern space in the middle of Idaho. There’s also that fantastic restaurant downtown with the cute little garden—Vintage—I like to have my pre-show meal there. Even though we stay at the lodge we like to go down into town and bring a little color.

Well, we can always use a little bit of color here.
JW: Yes! And that’s something I like to bring to the summer ice shows, my own color. I’m a very unapologetic person when it comes to my personality; I embrace every flaw that makes me up. I like coming to small towns, it never hurts a town to have a little crazy flavor.

Speaking of that flavor, can you give us a sneak peek into your performance this Saturday?
JW: I’ll be performing a show number to a beautiful rendition of Chopin as my first performance. It’s a very classical piece and I’ll show off what figure skating means to me; the artistic elegance, the beautiful side of figure skating.
And then, people have got very accustomed to seeing me skate to Lady Gaga and that pop element, so this year I’ll be skating to Fighter by Christina Aguilera. It’s a song that’s very indicative of what I’m going through in my life right now and everything I’m willing to give up and do for this season to make it a success. As for color at the show, I’m wearing a wrestling singlet.

What is that success you’re looking for this season?
JW: I’m absolutely looking forward to returning to international competition. The grand prix series this fall—6 countries in 6 weeks and every skater performs in two of them—I’ll be performing in Moscow and Paris. The skaters with the most points at the end compete in the final, which will be in the new Olympic arena in Sochi, Russia. Then next January is the U.S. Nationals, which I’ve won three times. If I do well there I can be selected for the American team for the World Championships, from there each country receives its allotted number of spots for the 2014 Winter Olympics. I’m definitely starting on the road to Sochi.

You are a two-time Olympian, watching the Olympics today and planning for your return in Sochi must bring up a lot of emotions.
JW: After the winter Olympics finished in Vancouver in 2010, I was so proud of myself and so proud of my career. I finished on the absolute two best performances of my life. It was that one moment of glory where everyone’s clapping for you and you feel that the World is really behind you. I really thought I would win a medal at that Olympics [he placed sixth]. So it was really a bittersweet experience.
To be honest for a few months after, it was more bitter. I didn’t want anything to do with figure skating. I didn’t compete or watch anything on TV. And those few months turned into a couple years. But I’ve really enjoyed it, being able to live the life of a famous person rather than of a figure skater. I’ve written a book, recorded a song [his memoir Welcome to My World, and single Dirty Love were both released in 2011], and have a TV show [Be Good Johnny Weirreturning next month]. It’s been fun, trying new things and also being able to try something and fail at something. But the time came when I realized I wanted to go back. I’m 28 now, I’m getting old!

Has watching the London Olympics spurred you on at all?
JW: Watching London has been really eye-opening for me. A lot of the feelings I had in Vancouver have come flooding back. Every night I watch some new record being broken, another American winning a medal, I see the stories of the Olympians from around the world and it re-enamors me with the Olympics. It’s given me the passion to want to compete in Sochi.

Make sure you catch this dazzling delight on ice Saturday night, it could be your last chance to see him in person before he wins an Olympic medal…

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Buy tickets for Sun Valley on Ice here, at the Sun Valley Recreation Office 208.622.2135 or toll free 888.622.2108, or at the gate prior to the show. 

Puppies, Sopranos & Picnics

 

Baby Sun prowls the pavilion lawn for puppies to pet at opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season this Monday.

Monday brought my favorite evening of a Sun Valley summer, the opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. The glamorous soprano Deborah Voigt  lent her spectacular skills to an evening of Wagner, Wolf and Strauss.

Nestled snugly in a sliver of shade between the Pavilion lawn, where the serious symphony goers lounged, and the free-for-all behind us where children frolicked, the Sun family joined good friends for an evening of pizza, wine and sensational music.

Baby Sun is a year older, and a lot faster than she was at her first symphony visit, so my ability to completely enjoy the sounds wafting from the awesome orchestra were slightly hampered by her extreme excitement. What was capturing her attention, you ask? Dogs. Baby Sun’s first word was dog, and every time she spies a furry four-legged friend she squeals and rushes off to pet it. As any regular symphony attendee will know, dogs are almost a required accessory on the symphony pavilion lawn, and we were surrounded. There was a gorgeous golden retriever on one side, who patiently let Rose clamber all over her, and, yes, an actual puppy on the other side, whose owners seemingly brought him along to be “socialized.” As they were trailed by a band of children wherever they ventured, I think they succeeded.

Besides the secondary entertainment, Baby Sun did enter into the spirit of the evening, stopping mid-puppy-pat to clap whenever the crowd did, and even attempting to match Ms. Voigt’s thrilling arias with her own high-pitched squeals (I’m not seeing an operatic career in my daughter’s future). And therein lies one of the many things that makes the symphony so special, it caters to all. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy world-class music for free, while relaxing on a lawn with a picnic and good friends, as your 4 year-old safely plays soccer a few feet away. It’s a unique Sun Valley experience.

For more from the first night of the season, the Symphony posted a slide-show on their Facebook page. And be sure to head there tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the second performance, featuring William VerMeulen on the horn. For a taste of the evening’s offerings, here are conductor Alasdair Neale’s video notes on the upcoming performance:

Video not displaying? Click here .

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun