The High Life
Whiskey, skis & music: Steamboat rocks as wild Texans take over the Coloradoresort town
Now in its 26th year, MusicFest brings Texas country/Americana music and Texas fans to the Steamboat Ski Resort for a six-day marathon of music, skiing and madness. When notoriously wild Texans meet the high altitude, things get crazy. And people get inebriated.
That beverage cart fiasco really set the tone for the entire long weekend: A Bloody Mary for breakfast (of which I am guilty), a pitcher of Molson at the T Bar between each run (guilty), a travel-sized bottle of Wild Turkey American Honey shared with seatmates on the chair lift (also guilty).
Though it may sound like just a relay of drinking, the fest is really, truly all about the music.
Live music begins around 1:30 p.m. daily, and it's impossible to enjoy those tunes without an ice cold Shiner Bock — because the hangover is starting to set in, as is the muscle soreness from a full morning of skiing (albeit mostly green runs).
Though it may so far sound like just a relay of drinking, the fest is really, truly all about the music.
The schedule is jam-packed from the afternoon late into the night, and multiple stages offer plenty of venues for viewing and listening, whether your personal preference is a rowdy tent, a contemplative "theatre show" and jam-session at Bear River, a moonlit show at top-of-the-mountain Thunderhead, a big and brightly lit stage in the Grand Ballroom or snowy, après-ski listening at the outdoor amphitheater (which also, conveniently, offers the perfect opportunity for watching skiers teeter and stagger to the beat in those impossible and uncomfortable boots).
One must arrive early everywhere for a seat or a spot to stand. At many of the venues, the crowd is one in, one out. Musicians are scattered throughout the crowd, so you never know who will appear on stage to put on an impromptu, once-in-a-lifetime show.
More than 40 bands were on this year's lineup, but standout acts included the Turnpike Troubadours (taxidermy animal heads lining the walls at Bear River rivaled the amount of bearded men on stage), the Band of Heathens (who are deceptively well-groomed), the Almost Trishas & Their "So-Called" Friends (one was busy having a baby, but the other three harmonized with a rotating cast of musical guests), Elizabeth Cook (adorable, sassy and irreverent) and Jamie Wilson (from Sealy) with Keith Gattis.
(Personal highlights from the weekend included a dinner of scallops at Café Diva and skiing down a slope with a full box of pizza in one hand and a pole in the other. But that's neither here nor there.)
The weekend was long. The skiing was good. And there was plenty of whiskey to go around on the flight back to Houston.