Come join us for the 17th annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival at the Sun Valley Inn from May 22nd-26th. The Festival will include presentations and workshops addressing various modalities of body, mind, and spirit wellness. Leading off the long list of impressive, nationally-renowned speakers is Diana Nyad, who will talk about the power of the human spirit. Kris Carr, the author of the bestseller Crazy Sexy Cancer, will address how diet and self-care can help you thrive. Among the many speakers who will share their knowledge during the weekend are Panache Desai, Arielle Ford, Eric Saperston, yoga expert Tommy Rosen, parenting guru Kim John Payne, and over 20 other speakers addressing body, mind, and spiritual wellness. In addition, the festival will offer a variety of yoga and fitness classes. The Wellness Expo features vendors selling wonderful products from beautiful clothing to jewelry and health products. In the Hands-On-Hall, visitors can get a massage, reflexology, have a reading, or try a henna tattoo.
Come Join New York Tenor Cody Austin as he performs Bocelli and Groban’s greatest hits, Saturday, December 28th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $35 dollars and the show takes place at Our Lady of the Snows Church in Ketchum. For information please call 208-726-0991.
This week, Ketchum’s Board Bin celebrates its 25th birthday and you are invited to the party! On Saturday, October 26, from 1 to 8 p.m., the crossroads of Fourth Street and Washington will host a block party with food, bands, games and fun for the whole family.
Ketchum's Board Bin celebrates 25 years of bringing snowboarding and skateboarding to the community
“It’s supposed to be a beautiful day and we would love everyone to come out,” said Board Bin owner, Karin Reichow. “There will be a skateboard slalom race course, four ping pong tables hosting a tournament for every level player, a bouncy house and much more. Our neighbors are all participating and it will be a great community event.”
The owners of Board Bin helped show Sun Valley a new way to play on the snow
There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to in the coming winter sports season according to Karin and her husband Jim Slanetz. “We are obviously hoping for tons of snow to enjoy,” Jim said. “And Sun Valley is always getting better and better for this sport. With new Adventure Trails and other runs being cut, there will be even more terrain to explore on Baldy. For boarders, Dollar and the park and pipe are awesome, too.We are expecting a great season.”
And Karin and Jim would know, as they have been in Sun Valley since 1988 with front-row seats to the development and evolution of the sport of snowboarding in the winter and skateboarding in the warmer months.
“We started with two snowboards, five skateboards, some accessories and stickers in a little garage in Ketchum,” Karin laughed. Business was mostly word of mouth at that point as people interested in this new way to play in the snow sought out the Board Bin. That year, the young couple had the weather gods on their side, with one of the best snow seasons on record. The combination of powder and the fact that the new store carried the best snowboards available at the time got many people hooked.
That was then, Karin Reichow and Jim Slanetz in 1991...
But it was definitely an uphill go. “We were open from maybe noon to six that first year,” Karin recalled. “We were typical young people in a resort town, working all these jobs.” Jim added, laughing, “I drove a taxi, worked as a prep cook, everything.” But the Board Bin grew, moving two more times before settling on Fourth Street in 1993 where they have been selling hard goods, accessories and hip clothing for boys and girls, men and women ever since. They also lease children’s snowboarding equipment for the season and offer limited free leases to kids with a passion for the sport but who could not afford it otherwise.
Head out to downtown Ketchum on Saturday to celebrate and socialize. Three bands, Jimmy Robb, El Stash and StoneSeed with provide a soundtrack to what is sure to be a fun-filled, beautiful autumn day. Congratulations Board Bin on 25 great years.
The new gear is in and everyone is looking forward to the opening of the mountain in about a month
The valiant efforts of 1,500 firefighters saved our beautiful Valley. Come say thank you Sunday night at River Run
With the monstrous Beaver Creek Fire now 70 percent contained and clear, sunny skies prevailing over Sun Valley, it is time to show our appreciation for the firefighters who protected our Valley and the way of life we so value.
Just a week ago, the outcome of this fire was very uncertain as crews worked around-the-clock to contain it from Hailey to north of Ketchum (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)
Sun Valley Resort is throwing a picnic on the River Run lawn this Sunday, August 25, to do just that. Everyone is invited to bring a blanket or chairs down to the mountain beginning at 6 p.m. for an evening of celebration and entertainment featuring the popular bands Old Death Whisper and Up A Creek.
There will be a complete western barbecue with chicken and ribs, beer, refreshments and ice cream available for purchase. You are also welcome to bring a picnic.
The brave men and women who walked into the flames of the Beaver Creek Fire have earned a standing ovation from all of us. Come down Sunday night to honor them, reconnect with friends and neighbors and take in the beauty of everything that was saved. Many firefighters are expected to be in attendance so you can express your appreciation personally.
Please check back to the blog for updates on this event.
Two of Ketchum Fire Department's finest work Wednedsay to ensure the danger has passed
The Trishas were born in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and perform in Sun Valley, Idaho Friday, September 6.
If you’re a hard-working musician whose been pounding the tarmac for decades you’d have every right to be a bit miffed with The Trishas, who play the Sun Valley Pavilion on Friday, September 6. The four raven-haired beauties, Jamie Wilson, Kelley Mickwee, Liz Foster and Savannah Welch, who comprise the Austin-based band had no intention of becoming a successful all-girl country music band. But one impromptu gig in Colorado changed their fate.
The quartet first shared a stage in January 2009. The plan was just to perform a couple of songs as a tribute to Savannah’s father, singer-songwriter Kevin Welch. Despite each having impressive musical chops - Memphis-reared Mickwee honed her talents in that town before becoming half of the duo Jed & Kelley; Wilson was a member of renowned Austin band The Gougers; and Foster performed on the Texas Opry circuit, spending seven years touring with a Motown revue before forming the duo Liz & Lincoln - a joint musical future wasn’t in the cards. They didn’t even have a name.
That night in Steamboat Springs, the girls so transfixed the audience with their close, four-part harmony that show offers quickly flooded in. Soon, they were talking about testing the waters with a real band. The name came about accidentally, it had popped into their head’s backstage at Steamboat Springs because they were covering a Welch-authored Trisha Yearwood hit.
A sneak peek at the treats The Trishas have in store for you when they open for local boys Reckless Kelly on September 6 at the Sun Valley Pavilion. (Video not displaying? Click here.)
It wasn’t long before the four-part harmonies and rootsy, bluesy, gospel- and bluegrass-inflected sound produced from the unique combination of the girls’ voices, Mickwee’s mandolin, Wilson’s guitar, Foster’s harmonica and Welch’s guitar, mandolin and percussion began nabbing the group opening-act gigs with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Raul Malo, Rodney Crowell, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Todd Snider.
Four years later and today The Trishas are being hailed by SavingCountryMusic.com as one of the 9 Women Who Could Immediately Make Country Better: “The Trishas score high on every one of the major music food groups. Class, character, creativity, four-part harmonies, fully-developed songwriting, and maybe most importantly, the fun atmosphere that can develop when you toss four talented ladies into a tight knit group. They are The Dixie Chicks for the new century, and the Pistol Annies for the rest of us.”
Since forming The Trishas, two band members have had another significant life change; both Wilson and Welch have reproduced. The band took the increase in size in its stride however, and the lucky tykes get to tour with The Trishas. “It’s not much different than any other women who’s having a career or working a job,” Welch said on the band’s website thetrishas.com. “The difference is actually that we get to bring them to work with us. We want to help each other be able to play music for a living and still have families. We’ll do what it takes.”
http://youtu.be/AcHcMKA6ccg Watch the official music video for Drive, The Trishas’ first single. “We’re not as lonely, sad and as bitter as our songs make us seem,” Kelley Mickwee said in an interview with Uncommon Music last year. “We’re actually all very happy and in good relationships. We just like sad songs and drawing from negative experiences, what can we say! Sad songs say so much.” (Video not displaying? Click here.)
The Trishas, with tots in tow, open for fellow Austin, Texas-based band Reckless Kelly on Friday, September 6 at the Sun Valley Pavilion as part of The Governor’s Cup celebrations. Doors are 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets here.
For The Valley Sun’s interview with The Governor’s Cup headliners Reckless Kelly click here.
Cody and Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly, Idaho’s homegrown country music stars, play with their musical father and brothers on The Tonight show in 1993. The boys started their careers playing with the family band. Reckless Kelly come home to Sun Valley for one night only at the Sun Valley Pavilion, Friday, September 6. (Rewind the video to watch the whole interview). Video not displaying? Click here.
Cody Braun’s lonely harmonica introduces the strains of the final track on Reckless Kelly’s newest album, Long Night Moon. “There’s a river tumbling down the mountainside,” sings Willy Braun, the band’s lead singer/songwriter. “I can feel the north wind blow, through the trees and over to the other side, carrying me down to the valley below, when I’m on the road, bound for home, back to what I know, back to Idaho.”
Described by Willy as an “accidental traveling album,” Long Night Moon leads the listener through the band’s 17-year journey as a successful country rock band. That journey started in the mountains of Idaho under the “snow-capped peaks where I was born,” and, if the lyrics of the new album are anything to go by, is one that will end in the mountains they call home.
“About halfway through writing this record, I noticed that almost all of the songs I was writing, whether they were songs about the road, life, or love, had something to do with traveling,” said Willy. “It started as an accident and I decided to just go with it. Before we knew it, there was a definite theme.”
Despite living full-time in Austin, Texas, Willy wrote a large part of the album on his property in Mackay, just north of Sun Valley. Consequently Idaho permeates the lyrics, sometimes to the detriment of their adopted city. “Sleepless nights where the stars above are drowned out by the city lights,” Willy sings in the album’s title track (catch a preview here.). “And I wonder why I keep torturing my soul beneath this urban sky. But in my mind I’ll be home soon, surrounded by the winter, beneath the long night moon.”
Reckless Kelly’s music has always stood out for its honesty and real connection to the lives of its artists. Willy writes what he knows, he writes from his experiences. These are not songs by committee, intricately designed to please an increasingly fickle mass-audience, this is Red Dirt country, distinctly different from the polished, commercialized sounds coming out of Nashville today. While this may explain why the band hasn’t hit it truly big – yet; it also explains why Reckless Kelly fans are so passionate about the music – it’s authentic.
Reckless Kelly play in Sun Valley next month. Cody Braun, far left, and brother Willy Braun, front, were born in the Moritz hospital, a few feet away from the Sun Valley Pavilion where they'll be performing.
In anticipation of Reckless Kelly’s gig at the Sun Valley Pavilion on September 6, I got a chance to chat with big brother and vocals/fiddle/mandolin/harmonica man, Cody Braun, about the new record, set for release September 3. The band’s 10th studio album, Long Night Moon was recorded at Cedar Creek Studios in Austin. An old farmhouse situated on 10 acres smack in the middle of South Austin, Cedar Creek provided the perfect setting for these country-boys turned city-dwellers to reflect on life, love, the open road and Facebook.
So there’s a song called Idaho on the album, there’s no hidden meaning in that one. It sounds like you are little homesick. Is there anything to that or does it just make for good lyrics? “No, I think definitely we miss it – we talk about it all the time. Even though we’ve been in Texas for 17 years now we’ve always called Idaho home. We visit a lot. All of my brothers have places up there now, I’m the last one to break, but I figure if they all have places why do I need one?”
As a whole, the album has a more mellow country feel than some of your previous efforts, the traveling theme Willy talks about particularly lends to that atmosphere. “This record really is a concept record, in that sense it’s about leaving home and getting out there a bit and then getting back home. It’s about the journey and everything in between. We spend so much time on the road – that’s our life – so that tends to take center stage in a lot of our music. It’s Willy writing about what he know and what’s going on in our lives at the time.”
Willy and Cody Braun, were both born in Sun Valley, along with their younger brothers Gary and Mickey, who have achieved considerable success with their own alt-county band Mickey and the Motorcars. The family grew up between Challis and Stanley in Custer County, spending much of their youth playing gigs with dad Muzzie Braun of Braun Brothers Fame, out at Sun Valley’s Trail Creek Cabin.
As soon as they were old enough, the two eldest brothers, Cody and Willy, took off to Oregon to start a band. After nine months in Bend they shifted paths, arriving in Austin in 1996 as a trio named Reckless Kelly. “We stole the name from Ned Kelly, an Australian bank robber,” Cody said. “‘They called him Reckless Kelly.’ We were in Oregon trying to figure out a name for the band and we were going to use that one for a couple shows and then find a really cool one. But it stuck.” Now known as an Oregon band they took the burgeoning Austin music scene by storm and today are considered a ‘true local success story’ in the city. But indisputably it’s Sun Valley that lays claim to the boys, after all they were born a few hundred feet away from where they will play next month, in the old Moritz Hospital, now staff housing for Sun Valley Resort.
Are you excited to be playing in the Sun Valley Pavilion? “It’ll be the first time I’ve been to the Pavilion. I’ve seen it from the road, the first time I saw it I thought ‘Wow, what a neat venue.’ We’re really excited, it’s always fun to come home and play anywhere, but to get to play such a beautiful venue is going to be really fun. We’ve got a cool show worked up for this summer, with nine records to choose from we’ve got a ton of material.”
No question it will be a great show, Reckless Kelly’s reputation as the Real McCoy when it comes to performing on stage is well-earned and with this gig coming just 3 days after the release of the new album, the boys will be excited to show off the new tunes to a real hometown audience. “We’re really exited about the new album, it was a really fun record to make, a lot of fun songs on it. It’s a little bit more mellow than some of the other records we’ve done in the past, but it’s got a lot of really cool vibes. I get to play some different stuff on it, including a tenor guitar – that was a lot of fun.”
Reckless Kelly has always been known for the honesty of its music, you clearly pour a lot of meaning and connection to your lives into your work. But with 2008′s Bulletproof, in particular American Blood, you dived head-first into the whole political/country music mele. It was a bit of a shock to some of your fans. How’d that go down? “Yeah – we got a little bit of backlash from American Blood. But we got a lot more positive than negative. Pennsylvania Avenue [a get-the-vote-out single released in September 2012] was a real-middle of the road kind of thing, it wasn’t one side or the other. But we’ve never really been afraid to go out there and talk about it. I’m personally not super political, none of the guys are, but Willy gets to a point sometimes when he’s sick and tried of writing about love gone wrong and wants to write about what’s happening around us. With the war overseas going on for 15 or so years now it’s hard not to be influenced by that.”
Reckless Kelly’s 2012 Pennsylvania Avenue Music Video. (Video not displaying? Click here.)
2011 saw Reckless Kelly’s first Grammy nomination, for Album Art. That must’ve been really exciting for you guys. “Yeah, that was awesome, and this record also has some really exciting art work. We got a bunch of surprises in store. A lot of stuff that ties the songs together with the art work. It’ll be fun to see people’s reactions to that.”
Can you give us some insight into what’s in store? “Well, certain parts of the record artwork will be glow in the dark, you’ll get a little LED black light that comes with the packaging so you can see all of the different stuff that’s hidden in glow-in-the-dark ink. There are also some hidden messages throughout the packaging. We’ll be giving fans clues as to how to find those on our website.”
Does this inventiveness with the CD packaging come from an impetus to get people to buy the physical media rather than download the music? Reckless Kelly has been through the heart of the digital music revolution, is this part of how you’re navigating that monumental shift? “Yeah, we’ve definitely embraced the digital thing, we’ve noticed that the digital sales have been up considerably. Every time we put out a record they go up 20 to 30%. Last year it was closer to 50%, so it’s definitely the new way people are getting music; you have to embrace it. But at the same time we’ve always really enjoyed making records that are a whole piece of art, art work included. It’s fun putting a whole record together and having it be interactive. We’re definitely kinda going crazy with this one, it’s going be really cool and I think people are going to like it.”
Another giant shift during your tenure in the ‘biz’ has been the advent of social media. As a brand, Reckless Kelly seems to have fully embraced social media, but as a songwriter it sounds like maybe Willy is not so keen. One track on Long Night Mooon is called Be My Friend (In Real Life), and takes a direct hit at the current Facebook and smartphone obsession. Do you all have iPhones? Is Willy always telling you to put them down? “We don’t leave home without them, we’re just as stuck as everybody else! That’s definitely my favorite song on the record, I think it’s a fun message, more of a reminder to people to just put it down. If you’re having dinner with your friends just have a conversation instead of checking whatever it is every 5 minutes. Again, it’s just what’s going on around us right now, it’s a fun tongue-in-cheek little song.”
Are you personally on social media? Do you do the whole Twitter and Facebook thing? “I do Facebook and Instagram, those are my two main deals. I have a Twitter account but I can never remember the password, and then when I do get on it’s like, I just had a cheeseburger, big deal. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to follow me through my daily routine.”
You’d be surprised… It’s amazing what people will gobble up. But social media has had a positive impact for the band? “Absolutely. It’s been wonderful. It’s a full-time job just updating and keeping up with everything. But we started our own label a couple years ago and as far as promoting the band you can do so much on your own now. You can get the word out that you have a new album or tour without spending any money. That was impossible years ago, we used to collect addresses from people and mail postcards. It’s a bummer that Facebook changed the way they’re doing stuff though, now they charge to reach all your fans so it’s not as effective as it used to be for us. We’ve got 160,000 followers, so for us to pay for an entire blast would be $10,000 or something stupid, it’s really crazy.”
The 2011 album Good Luck & True Love was the first release on your new label, No Big Deal Records, and you’re now self-managed. What was the impetus for such a big change? “This last record is our 10th and we just got to a point where we were at the end of a record deal. Instead of re-signing we sat down and talked about starting our own label; what it would entail, how much extra work it would be – it’s been quite a lot. The last record was a real learning curve, this one was easier on a lot of different fronts. It’s great, we’ve loved every second of it. We’ve learned a lot and we have total control, we don’t have to run anything by anybody or talk anybody into what we want to do. If you were to try and talk a label into the packaging we want to do on this record it would have been like pulling teeth. On the cover it says Reckless Kelly, but it doesn’t have the title of the record until you shine the light on it. No way would a record company have let us do that. And then when you have management that’s three other people you have to email and include and get their opinion. At the end of the day we’re going to do what we want to do anyway.”
It sounds like the move was less about reinvention and more about sticking to your roots. But there’s been a huge shift in the country genre since you first broke onto the scene, and mainstream country music is enjoying an unprecedented heyday. Where do you see Reckless Kelly fitting into today’s music scene? “I think we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, keep trying to build our fan base, doing the shows, touring the country, making records that we’re happy with, that we’re proud of and that hopefully people like. I don’t really see us trying to fit in with the Jason Aldeans and the Taylor Swifts at this point, we’re still quite a ways off from what they’re doing. We’ve done quite a few shows with country artists and the crowd just kind of looks at us and says ‘What’s going on? This ‘aint country music?!’ The country fans tend to not get it most of the time. But there are a lot of people out there that really like this music and the Americana genre. Another great thing about social media is that people looking for our style of music can find it a lot easier; find it, check it out and download it.”
Clearly, Reckless Kelly are more than comfortable in their own skin, happy being real artists rather than commercially manufactured superstars. But in today’s music industry where the fans quickly ferret out any whiff of inauthenticity and have a real voice in the conversation, it’s no stretch to predict that maybe, just maybe, there’s superstardom in their future. “We just carry on and enjoy what we’re doing, we’re really luck to get to play exactly what we want to play and set our own schedule. There’s not a lot of people that get to do what they love to do and do it totally on their own terms. If we can just keep building up a fan base and making a living doing what we’re doing then we’re going to be pretty happy.”
Details: Reckless Kelly take to the stage at the Sun Valley Pavilion on Friday, September 6. Doors open at 6.30 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. The band will be supported by The Trishas. Buy tickets here, priced $35 to $55.
The Ketchum Arts Festival is a fun, free, community event
Each July, the vast green Festival Meadow in Sun Valley transforms into an outdoor art bazaar where creative people raise their tents, bring in their wares and open for business during the Ketchum Arts Festival. Featuring nearly 150 artists who work in mediums from oil paint to antlers, this colorful event displays local talent, live music and good food.
This year, the Ketchum Arts Festival took place on July 12, 13, and 14. Under bluebird skies hundreds of patrons meandered up and down the grassy aisles, browsing, buying, chatting with vendors and reconnecting with people from throughout the community.
My family's home for the weekend -- booth 42
My family spent the long sunny weekend inside booth #42. My daughter, a painter and digital artist, has exhibited and sold her work at the Festival for four years. For us, setting up our white tent and mesh walls is always a reunion of sorts. As the communal ‘barn’ of the show is raised, the Art Festival family catches up on the year that was. For us, this long weekend is the only time of year we see many of the vendors, despite the fact that the vast majority are local.
And you never know who you will meet at the Festival. This year, our neighbors in the next booth turned out to be neighbors in real life – neighbors we had never met. We packed up Sunday night with firm plans with the Abbotts to enjoy a glass of wine or some lemonade in their backyard that is about three over from ours.
The art is a individual as the imagination at this something-for-everyone event
Many of the shoppers who step into our booth are also familiar faces. Lovely people from Dallas, Marin County, Seattle, San Diego and lots of locals are all repeat customers, stopping by to look at the work; to talk art and to talk life. Many have offered college advice, business advice and encouragement to my daughter who is 14. Like-minded teens and young adults find shade beneath our tent to compare notes about the Japanese-inspired styles of Anime and Manga that inform my daughter’s work.
It is a weekend enjoyed by all – artists and patrons. From the tasty tacos, burgers, ice cream and smoothies, to the wide variety of live music, the Art Festival is a mellow, and free, way to embrace part of what makes Sun Valley so special.
A variety of live music and good food options bring provide a perfect break from browsing
Whether you’re in the market for handmade jewelry, ceramics, prints, wooden furniture, fiber art, hammocks, or even a tutu, there is something, in every price range, for everyone. It’s a wonderful way to while away a few lazy, hazy summer hours. If you plan to be in Sun Valley the second weekend in July, be sure to mark your calendar and come on by.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that for a woman of almost any age, the piano riff at the beginning of Dancing Queen brings on an irresistible urge to become just that. And on Sunday, July 7, the Sun Valley Pavillion will be packed with dancing queens, jiving along to the timeless tunes of ABBA.
A night with The Music of ABBA: Arrival From Sweden is the closest any woman will ever get to an authentic ABBA concert; the original band dissolved in 1982, and only toured the USA once. But the infectious beats of the fab foursome are deeply embedded into the country’s pop culture, and this authentic tribute band are helping keep the music alive.
Creators of such enduring hits as Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Winner Takes It All, Mama Mia and Waterloo, ABBA was made up of two couples from Sweden, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Formed in 1972, the group is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 370 million albums and singles worldwide. In the mid-nineties their music saw a resurgence, thanks to hit movies such as Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and combined with the debut of Mama Mia the Musical (today the 10th longest running broadway show in history), a slew of ABBA tribute bands were born.
In 1995, Vicky Zetterberg saw one of those bands in her hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. “They were from Australia” she said. “They were awful.” Having seen the real thing herself, 5 times, she determined to start her own tribute band and do it right. “I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is crazy. You can’t do ABBA like that, with fake Swedish accents,” she said in her thick, authentic Swedish accent. “And I decided to do a proper ABBA show.”
A professional singer, Zetterberg reached out to original band members Bjorn and Benny, as well as working with ABBA’s costumier Owe Sandstrom, to create the perfect tribute band. Eighteen years later, ARRIVAL has become a world-famous musical act, touring in over 35 countries to consistently sold out crowds.
ARRIVAL arrive in Sun Valley on Sunday, July 7. Get your dancing shoes on!
Zetterberg, with her mane of brown hair, assumes the role of “Anni-Frid” and Jeanette Norlander is “Agnetha,” while Fredik Bjorns is “Bjorn” and Leif Olsson is “Benny.” The group also regularly tours with several of ABBA’s original musicians and wears ABBA costumes specially created by Sandstrom for ARRIVAL.
Had you always been a hardcore ABBA fan or was this more of an opportunity that you decided to seize? Vicky Zetterberg: I’d admired the way they did the music and I admired the way they sung. I’m a singer, my mother was an opera singer, and I’ve always admired ABBA. It’s a special technique they use, one which is really hard to do.
Was your mother an inspiration for your career as a singer? VZ: She wanted me to sing opera, but I wasn’t really interested in it. Actually, I wanted to be a hard rock singer. I went to show school in Gothenburg and my teacher said ‘No, no. You will never be a hard rock singer. You’re a typical ABBA singer. He was right.
What can the Sun Valley audience expect from the concert? VZ: We don’t go on and think that we are ABBA. We talk about ABBA, but when we’re doing the songs we try to recreate ABBA. We have the same look, the clothes we have are exact copies of the original outfits ABBA wore. ABBA was 50 percent music, but it was also the show and the clothes, it was the whole package. We also tell the story of ABBA, so they get a real ABBA injection. We want to show the new generation how ABBA was. You know everything about The Beatles, you know everything about Elvis, but people don’t know really that much about ABBA. That’s what we try to do. A lot of people don’t know that ABBA stands for the first letters in their name. So we tell the story, how they met, they were two married couples who just wanted to see if they could write some good music together. They couldn’t dream that ABBA could be this big. I think today even they’re still shocked by it – “Yea, we wrote a couple pop songs, there’s nothing special about that.” They’re typically Swedish, they don’t realize how big they are.
ARRIVAL is billed as the only authentic ABBA tribute band, and the fact that you have some of the original ABBA musicians playing with you really helps support that claim. VZ: Yeah, sometimes we have original musicians that worked with ABBA, they’re 65 years old today, so sometimes they can’t go on tour with us, but as often as we can, we have them with us.
Do they have some great stories to tell about ABBA’s heydey? VZ: I know a lot of stuff but it’s private. I know Bjorn and Benny and they don’t want us to talk about the private things. Benny supports us and said as long as you do it with respect and don’t talk about our private lives and that stuff. So it’s really important to me to respect that. If I knew anything I would never say it.
So the members of ABBA actually worked with you on creating ARRIVAL? VZ: Yes, I talk to Bjorn and Benny. I never met the girls. But I always check out everything with them, and they know everything about the show. It’s really important to them that we do it with respect. They were two married couples, they were together for 10 years, and ABBA cost them their marriages. I think they deserve some respect. I mean they were one of the biggest pop groups ever.
What do you think it is about the music of ABBA that has had such resonance with modern audiences. What is it about the music that just keeps on playing? VZ: It’s the way they wrote the songs. It’s happy music, people recognize themselves in the songs. Everyone has a favorite. Some people love Fernando, some people love Dancing Queen. They have done so many hit songs, almost 10 albums. It’s the music and it’s the quality, the same with The Beatles and Elvis, good songs. And people really get crazy at the concerts, dancing and screaming and going wild. ABBA’s music affects people.
It’s so true, everyone has their favorite ABBA song, even people who don’t know who ABBA are have a favorite ABBA song! So, what is yours? VZ: It’s really hard. I have so many favorites! Of course Dancing Queen is a fantastic song. I also have a lot of the more songs that are not famous. Kisses of Fire, Angel Eyes, I have like maybe 20 favorites. All the songs are so different. But Dancing Queen is of course is a masterpiece, it is really, really one of the best songs. I Wonder is one I really like to sing, most people don’t know it. It’s so fun because I tell the audience about the story of the song. It’s important to me to educate the audience about ABBA. I want people to know that ABBA was four people from Sweden and I want them to know their names.
After all the success you’ve had with ARRIVAL, have you ever thought about tracking down that that original Australian tribute band and thanking them for starting your career? VZ: Yes, really, I should thank them!
Details: The Music of ABBA: Arrival From Sweden arrives in Sun Valley at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 7 at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Buy tickets here. This event is suitable for all ages, prices range from $25 to $65. Additionally, Intermezzo preferred seating tickets ($75) and Diva Tickets ($150, include a party on July 6th and valet parking) are available through the Sun Valley Opera or 208.726.0991.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited rocked the Sun Valley Pavilion last night
Something strange happened last night. It was as if the Pavilion was caught in a time warp. It started out in 2012, with the regular crowd of Sun Valley visitors and residents sitting sedately in their seats at the pavillion, seemingly ready for the symphony to perform or for a San Francisco ballet reprise. Instead, however, they were waiting for the debut of Creedence Clearwater Revisited in Sun Valley. As Roger the roadie surveyed the crowds with an expression of amused disbelief across his wide, friendly face. I asked him if this was a different type of crowd for the band. He replied, “Not different. Just more so.”
Roger, a member of the CCR sound crew, surveys the somewhat sedate Sun Valley Pavilion crowd prior to CCR's performance last night.
As the band comprised of American Rock icons Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford took the stage, the crowd politely clapped, emitting the occasional cheer. After a couple songs the cheering grew louder, and by the time lead singer John Tristao belted out Susie Q the Pavilion was transported back to 1970s. The crowd was out of their seats, dancing wildly in the aisles, and not a single muttering along the lines of “That young chap needs to sit down as its awfully rude,” was heard. This was a rock concert.
The band takes the stage.
Out of nowhere, dusted-off leather jackets and tight trousers accessorized with studded belts appeared, legs clad in cut off jean-shorts and more denim than you could shake a stick at were suddenly up and bopping along to the music. Sun Valley was rocking.
But it didn't take long for CCR to get the Sun Valley crowd going...
As CCR rolled out hit after hit after hit, the crowd couldn’t take it anymore and by Bad Moon Rising there was barely a bottom on a seat and an honest-to-goodness mosh pit had formed up front. Now that is not something you see at the symphony. When Stu Cook belted out “Are you ready to rock Sun Valley, Idaho?!” we really were.
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 Rising, Lodi, 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.
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 , 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.
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.