As a musician and director of marketing for the ski resort, Becca Deschênes has a unique perspective to be back on stage for live après-ski performances after the long hiatus caused by the pandemic.
“Going three to four times a week not playing at all in the spring of 2020 and last winter season was a reality check on not enjoying something you love to do,” a- she emailed.
Apres-ski, a vibrant part of the valley’s ski culture that also generates a food and drink revenue stream for the resorts, bounces back with local musicians. COVID safety guidelines vary, so pack a face mask just in case.
Although many establishments in the valley offer afternoon entertainment, many skiers and snowboarders end their day on the snow with a brewski a few steps from the slopes.
Jackson’s Black Mountain has held up well against the challenges of the season in its Lostbo Pub. Even when the mountain reduced its offerings to stripping and towing tickets during opening week and the Christmas holidays, skiers and non-skiers alike turned to Mahogany Ridge, the bar.
“It has made me so ecstatic to see the Lostbo Pub filling up without a chair lift running during this time,” Jessie Victoria from Black emailed.
She says the musicians are excited to play again.
“A lot of them are looking for feedback on the show as they shake off the rust of not playing for over a year,” she noted.
It also means a return to the social scene.
“That could be said for last year as well, but it’s the musicians who keep skiers and snowboarders staying and hanging out. It’s how people make friends, bonds and ski memories for life,” she said.
Black’s Afternoon Live is Friday and Saturday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and daily during the holiday week.
Afternoon Live returned to King Pine’s Trails End Tavern on January 1 with Jonathan Sarty and Ray Ryan. Saturday features live music with varying start times mid-afternoon.
King Pine Marketing Manager Thomas Prindle said live music “can definitely enhance and add to a memorable experience of visiting a ski resort, having a great day and having fun on the slopes, then enjoying a afternoon drink and live music while you think about some of the day’s errands, relax and enjoy some good times with family and friends.”
At Cranmore’s Zip’s Pub, Deschênes of the resort says there’s an energy that live music brings to the afternoon scene that was definitely missing last season.
“The skiing and riding lifestyle is just as important as the sport itself,” said Deschênes, a member of the Rek’lis group.
Cranmore has music on Saturdays from 4-7 p.m. and daily during holidays and vacations, as well as Mountain Meister Wednesdays.
“We’re also starting to bring back smaller groups, sticking to solo and duo acts,” Deschênes said.
Afternoon with live music returned to Ptarmigan’s at Attitash, Bear Peak’s The Den and Wildcat Pub. At Attiash (Saturday), the Scott Baer Trio performed on December 18 while Ryan St. Onge took the stage on December 10 at The Cat (Friday and Saturday).
“It’s a big part of the après-ski culture at both resorts,” said Melissa Hampton, marketing manager for Attitash and Wildcat. “People will decide where they go next based on who plays where. You can ski all day at Wildcat, but if a band you like plays Attitash, you’ll go there for the afternoon.
According to Hampton, they’ve seen bigger and more enthusiastic crowds this season when there’s live music, especially in Attitash.
“Because the bands don’t wear masks, we can’t allow dancing, so it’s like the (1984) movie ‘Footloose,'” she said. “It’s hard when there’s great live music not to get up and dance, but obviously it’s more important that everyone stays safe from COVID.”
A few resorts are keeping the scene dark for now, like Shawnee’s Blizzard’s Pub.
“We do not currently offer live music,” marketing manager Rachael Wilkinson emailed. “We will look to bring it back when COVID is under control.”
The Slopeside Pub in Bretton Wood also keeps live music on hold. Marketing Director Craig Clemmer says they’re still evaluating.
“The Bretton Woods crowd is a bit different,” Clemmer said. “The whole experience is more about the ski and less about the after. Our audience would prefer a glass of premium wine and a conversation.