Dala Delights

On Thursday night, a large, appreciative audience at the Sun Valley Opera House was treated to a night of beautiful music, courtesy of the award-winning Canadian duo Dala. Comprised of best friends Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, and armed only with guitars and a piano, Dala wowed with intricate harmonies and angelic melodies.

Dala during the sound check

Dala during the sound check

Dala came to the Wood River Valley courtesy of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ performing arts series. The Center’s Kristine Bretall, Director of Marketing and Performing Arts, said their artists really enjoy playing the historic Opera House. “The acoustics are very good and the room has a lot of personality,” she explained.

The sound for the concert was rich and round, so much so that when Amanda and Sheila started to play during their sound check, I literally held my breath. Their gorgeous voices and authentic lyrics go straight to your core.

For sound worthy of the musicians’ talent, thank members of Sun Valley’s Entertainment division. Jay Cutler and his team spent three days getting ready for Dala’s performance. “The Opera House is a multi-use theater,” explained Jay. “But the sound systems are entirely separate for films and for live performances. For concerts, the acoustics are outstanding and the room is tuned for low frequency. It really is state-of-the-art.”

Jay Cutler manning the sound check

The view from the sound booth

The Opera House, built in 1937, is a 340-seat venue, offering an intimate, unique experience.  From the high ceilings to the one-of-a-kind waterfall curtain, the theater is anything but a cookie-cutter auditorium.

Dala talking to a group of high school students

Dala talking to a group of high school admirers

When it is only two voices on stage and storytelling is of utmost importance, as was the case with Dala, sound matters – a lot. Their music is very intimate and they use what they call “every tool in their arsenal” to create it.  This includes a lot of dynamics, eye contact with the audience and plenty of collaboration. The young women shared their process prior to last night’s concert with a vocal class at Wood River High School during a workshop that was a part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ education and outreach programs. Students were treated to a private performance of numerous songs and asked the singer/songwriters many questions.  The overriding message to the class was “take risks.” The artists used their song Levi Blues to illustrate the discussion.

Friendship, family and heritage featured heavily into the evening performance and the audience hung on Amanda and Sheila’s every word — words made crystal clear by the hard work of the behind-the-scenes Entertainment team.

Opera House facade

The historic Sun Valley Opera House

If you have never been to a concert at the Opera House, put one on your schedule.  Sit back, close your eyes, appreciate the great acoustics and the wonderful old-school ambience.

Sun Valley Center for the Arts will present Matt Andersen, blues man extraordinaire, at the Opera House on January 23, 2013.  He is sure to rock the house.




It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing

Opening night of the 2012 Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree was a high-energy cacophony of color, smiles and the sweet sounds of jazz. From the Inn to the Lodge to the Indoor Ice Rink, converted into a vast performance hall for the weekend, the Resort was crowded with folks poised for a great time. Every chair was occupied in the cozy Duchin Lounge during a show featuring Jerry and Gary, battling banjo players. The rink was filled to capacity while 12 world-class performers, under the banner of Little Big Band N’Awlins Style, bebop’d and blew, improvised and grooved. Though early in the evening, many began to venture to the floating dance floor, one of the most appreciated and talked about features of this Jamboree.

Banjos battle in the Duchin Room

“People love the floating dance floor,” explained Scott Irvine who manages the Sun Valley Ice Rinks and is responsible for converting the indoor rink into a nightclub for the Jamboree. “The floor is sprung, almost like a tumbling floor in gymnastics, and people can dance for four hours and feel like it’s been one hour. It’s really fun – try it!” We bounced a bit among the dancers. It is fun.

Big Band fun

Back in the Lodge, the warmly lit lobby was full of festival-goers, on their way to or from of the dozens of evening events around the Resort. A helpful volunteer from Wood River High School, a musician herself, answered questions with a smile. The famous men’s singing group from Yale University, the Whiffenpoofs, congregated in the lobby, taking in the scene following their performance. Many grabbed a bite at the bar in the Duchin Room (myself included – I highly recommend the vegetable quesadilla) surrounded by hep cats of all varieties, including some of the weekend’s talented and smartly dressed musicians.

One of the helpful volunteers at the Jamboree


This was my first foray into the Jazz Jamboree and I plan to go back for more this weekend. It was terrific to see the Resort so crowded during shoulder season and it was terrific to see all the participants having such a tremendous time. People travel from all over (some I spoke with were from Kansas, Oregon, British Columbia) to be entertained, spend time with old friends and make new ones.

Things are in full swing in Sun Valley. Break out the boas, lace up those dancing shoes and get in on the fun. In addition to music and dancing, there is great food to eat and room specials if you want to relax through the last acts (that run until 1 a.m.) and then just roll into a comfortable bed, ready to start again the next morning.

The Jazz Jamboree runs through Sunday, October 21. Click here for a full schedule and get your jazz on!


Dressing the part

Dancing is a huge part of the festival

The Reopening of Whiskey Jacques and the Countdown to Christmas Continues!

Christmas is only a week away and things around town are definitely starting to pick up. The mountain is busier. Drinks at the Duchin Room and at Averell’s Bar are flowing in a traditional holiday style. Dollar’s new terrain park and tubing park are opening this Saturday. The SuperPipe on Lower Warm Springs is set to open Saturday as well. Snow guns are running all over the mountain in hopes to open more terrain as soon as possible. Christmas trees are decorated, candles are lit, and everyone is preparing to eat at least one piece of Grandma’s fruitcake.

But in downtown Ketchum there is another event locals and tourists have been hotly anticipating… the reopening of the legendary Whiskey Jacques. After a fire raised the building over a year ago construction crews have been working hard on the bar’s rebuild and everyone in town, of any age and any dancing ability, has been chomping at the bit to get their favorite bar back. A staple in the Sun Valley nightlife for over 25 years, Whiskey’s is a classic wild western saloon right on Main Street in the classic ski town of Ketchum. Whiskey Jacques is reopening with a bang this Friday, December 18. They will be showcasing local band, The Bobo’s, on Friday and more live music will continue throughout the winter with acts like the Gourds, Mickey and the Motorcars, and New Year’s Eve guests, Marmalade Hill.

Other things happening this week around town, new bar and restaurant, Sego, is opening on Washington Street (928-7878 for reservations), at Dollar’s new terrain park on Friday morning some of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Freestyle and Snowboard teams will be testing the new features, and the nexStage and Laughing Stock Theatres are presenting "A Christmas Carol" on Friday and Saturday nights (726-4857 for more info). Also happening is Sun Valley’s Christmas Tree Lighting Festival will take place in the Sun Valley Village on Saturday at 5:00 with performances by the Sun Valley Carolers and live music and drinks at the Boiler Room to follow.

So whether you are tearing it up on the slopes, strapping on your dancing shoes, or helping the community get ready for the Holidays, we’ll see you around town as the countdown to Christmas continues.