Image by Jacksonhole.com
Reaching the turnstile where a lovely lifty stands looking at my pass picture on an LED screen, the toe of my ski boot catches a miniscule break in the concrete and I stumble forward a few steps. She laughs, her eyes disguised by dark goggles.
And so it goes… after a couple Pabst tall boys, everyone is a gaper.
Today is the first day of spring—springy snow, sun, and beer—lots of beer. And with spring comes music– everyday at the bottom of the hill—either outside on some plywood stage or in some après bar with the doors open, circulating familiar reggae and rock ballads among crowds that fill slush filled parking lots or sun-drenched decks.
Right now I’m humming, “I got my skis, boots, poles, pass—I got my skis, boots, poles, pass” while I slowly make my way through the Gondola line.
And the author of this tune, the Peter “Chanman” Chandler from the Chanman Roots Band is performing the same song in front of the gondola. I see my buddy John Kidwell, who plays horns and he throws me a peace sign as I head towards the gondola. Chanman’s eyes are creased and his cheeks are leathery, revealing a soul that’s been shaped by mountain air and gravity. When Chanman sings, it’s usually a worn out tune—yet the song is so familiar it’s endearing. It’s routine for the Chanman to set up at the gondola at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (used to be the tram dock) to play reggae and rock for smiley faced, red-eyed gondola goers. Instinctively, I sing along “I got my Skis, boots, poles, pass” and I throw a peace sign back at John and pass a surly looking Gondi worker, who seems pissed at the routine.
Throwing my skis into the slots attached to the side of the gondola, I sit down and my buddy Adam opens the windows to hear Chanman singing in broken harmony “Roots, Rock, Reggae.” Adam in turn yells back “Itza Reggae Musek.” Beers crack open and for a moment we all love Ski Bum Music because the Chanman plays on for us—not me. So next time you’re on the hill, I dare you and your buddies to try and sing along with the DJ who is playing La Roux’s “I’m Going in for the Kill.” I DARE YOU.