There is so much good music to choose from at Deer Valley Resort in the summer that I managed to bookend a week with concerts by performers who had provided the soundtrack to my college years. With Bruce Hornsby on a Monday, then, The Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, I was set up for a great week of music. Add that to the fact that I hadn’t yet been to a Deer Valley Music Festival performance of the Utah Symphony this summer, and that I consider having a world-class symphony to be one of the great perks of living near Salt Lake City (we take in several performances each season at Abravanel Hall), and it seemed impossible that the week could be any better.
After all, I’d already scored a parenting lesson from Bruce Hornsby, so things were off to a good start. I knew the Indigo Girls’ soaring harmonies would sound fantastic live—and would only be enhanced by the awesome sounds of the Utah Symphony. Little did I know that the Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony would present me with a whole bunch of fun facts and lessons. Of course, there are the practical lessons (which I’m not counting in the tally) that I take with me to every Deer Valley Concert. For instance:
Make sure your chairs meet the published seat-height requirement (9- inches). When you arrive, use the ski valet area to drop off one or more members of your party, plus the gear, while one member of the party parks the car. Wear a hat (yes, I know, not everyone can have a hat as cool as my gold cowboy hat, but that should not deter you from having sun protection), pack extra blankets to wrap around you if you get chilled, and even if it’s 90 degrees in the shade all day, dress in jeans and a short-sleeved top, because the minute the sun goes down, you’ll regret wearing shorts. Pack a sweatshirt. Unless you have a rolling-cart style bag (like I do), don’t stuff your extra layers and blankets and picnic all in one bag—it’s easier to distribute the load among your group if you have several smaller bags. Plus, those bags can hold down the corners of your blanket, quite nicely.
But the first real lesson of the evening happened before the evening began. Jeff had to leave town for a conference that morning, so I had booked a sitter and rallied a group of girlfriends for an evening out. Over breakfast that morning, the kids had asked if Jeff would have attended the concert with me had he been in town, since concerts—and, in particular, symphony performances, generally account for better than 50 percent of our date nights.
“You know, I probably would have—I know it’s one of Mommy’s favorite groups, so it would have been fun to see the Indigo Girls with her,” he said. “But now that it worked out like this, I think it’s better that Mom is going with her friends. She doesn’t get to do that as often, and I think this is the way it should have been whether I was here or not.”
Unlike the Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers concert, for which we had reserved seats, my friends and I planned to enjoy the music of the Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony from the lawn, with a potluck picnic of appetizers and cocktails.
In the days leading up to our big night out, at least one friend (and, yes, I’m looking at you, Kathy) admonished me not to pack a six-course meal—“I know you, and you tend to go overboard. We don’t need a million choices of pie,” she chided. (Yes, she’s been at my house for Thanksgiving, and yes, I tend to over-order pie from the Deer Valley Bakery, and No, I don’t see a thing wrong with that practice. But I digress.)
As if to continue the friendtervention trend, yet another pal sought to save me from myself. I had in mind that we’d get there the moment the gates opened, so as to procure primo real estate on the lawn. If you are getting the sense that I can be a bit of an over-planner, your powers of inference are astute. If you are also getting the sense that my friends know me better than I know myself, well, then, you get bonus “astute points.” Ana, whose laid-back spirit I admire yet fail to emulate, suggested that three hours of baking in the pre-show sun was probably in no one’s best interest.
(Lesson 2: Friendterventions are a good thing.)
Of course, when we arrived, Ana began to fret that I’d be upset that we had to hike to the top of the lawn section to spread our blanket and set up our picnic and chairs. The fact that Ana had the foresight to bring chairs would have absolved her of any guilt, had there been any guilt to assign. (Here’s the thing about me: once I make a decision to go with the flow, I do exactly that. What’s that: Lesson 3: I can be laid-back?) And, once Kathy arrived, she brought (count them) three varieties of hummus with her, to share. I will point out that not one of us was disappointed by this turn of events—they were delicious. But I found it ironic and funny nevertheless. I had to smile as I unveiled three varieties of crackers.
Mel produced some grilled salmon filets (thank you Whole Foods deli counter) and Ana unveiled bacon-wrapped figs, plus a fun, new way to hydrate. “It’s like a non-sweet non-alcoholic mojito,” she explained. “I know, it doesn’t sound like fun.” Oh, but it is fun. See, she’s right (Lesson 4), hydrating with plain water gets boring. So, her mocktail of fresh lime juice and fresh mint cut with sparkling water was just the ticket. (That, and the fact that we were pouring it alongside Prosecco…). Our friend Lisa and her sister Aimee, who was visiting from Ohio, joined us a short while later, happily plunking down among us and sharing in our bounty.
Also, my golden cowboy hat (for which I received some flak via Facebook on Monday) came in handy as I needed something to wave from the top of the hill so that each friend could find us as they arrived.
During the concert, I remembered the wise words of Claire, a young friend of mine who is one of the kids’ favorite babysitters. “Sitting on the lawn is the best—you can just get up and dance whenever you want.” Claire, as usual, was absolutely right. Lisa and I spent a lot of time on our feet (dancing off the snacks, presumably), singing at the top of our lungs and swapping stories about where we’d been when we listened to these songs 20 years earlier. (Lesson 5: Deer Valley concerts rock, no matter where you sit, so don’t start freaking out about getting there at noon to be first in line when the gates open.).
We ate, we drank, we sang, we danced, and, perhaps most importantly, we laughed. And as we re-loaded our gear into the car, we vowed to do it again, soon.
Clouds gathered, lightning flashed, and a cool drizzle settled over the crowd as Teri Orr, exclaimed, “We live in the mountains! What’s a little rain?” Orr, who is the executive director of the Park City Arts Foundation has overseen a few damp concerts in her many years at the helm of the non-profit organization that rallies sponsors to bring headliners to Park City for the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series. On this mid-July Monday, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers would perform—rain or shine.
As far as Jeff and I were concerned, the evening was perfect—first, we had a babysitter for the kids. Second, since we’d seen Bruce Hornsby and his band a decade ago, we knew we were in for a treat—if the previous experience was any indication, there may or may not be a set list, and there would be tons of improvisation, riffing and otherwise killer jamming onstage. And, third, the droplets of rain were a refreshing change from the heat of the previous few weeks.
We planned the evening so that we’d be there with enough time to enjoy the views, soak up the atmosphere, and dine alfresco, so by the time the show started we were well-fed, relaxed and ready to enjoy the music. Upon arrival at Deer Valley, we’d found our seats in the ninth row of the reserved section, and then collected our delicious Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket. We took a leisurely approach to our concert dining—starting with the antipasto, then meandering our way to the main course (perfectly-cooked beef tenderloin), nibbling on other delicacies in the basket, followed by some lemon pound cake and then the cheese course (brie, baguettes, grapes). We sipped wine, we chatted with the couple in the seats next to ours and we visited with friends seated nearby. It felt, not surprisingly, like a vacation.
We weren’t familiar with Railroad Earth, the evening’s opening act, but plenty of concertgoers seemed to have come with the express purpose of hearing them play—and they may or may not have realized that they’d get to hear the band’s musicians throughout the headlining set. Bruce Hornsby invited them to join in on song after song. As if his band, the Noisemakers weren’t already stacked to the rafters with skilled musicians, the guys from Railroad Earth wowed the crowd with their own brand of excellence. Over the course of the evening, as Hornsby introduced various members of his band, he’d mention their tenure playing together. One had been in Hornsby’s band for 22 years, another for 18. I marveled at how much time they must spend together—probably more hours than most married couples spend together—and what a bond they must have.
Throughout the evening, I marveled at the unique experience of sitting in (surprisingly comfortable) lawn chairs on a ski run, watching a summer storm pass through, (and yes, there was a heavier rain during the opening act, but umbrellas came out, jackets were donned, and the evening marched on, unhampered), chatting with old friends and new alike, dining on a gourmet picnic all in the framework of seeing world class entertainment. It’s tempting to take it for granted, but I try not to do that. Interestingly, my Facebook friends keep me honest in that regard. As soon as I posted this photo of Jeff and myself in pre-concert mode, my far-flung pals began commenting on the setting, the exciting location, and the thrill of seeing Hornsby. (There were also a few comments about how relaxed we looked, which only added to the vacation-feel. And, for some reason, a couple of pals found it necessary to call us out for wearing hats. Um, hello? Sun protection anyone? It stays sunny until nearly 9 p.m. in July!)
By intermission, my smart, thoughtful husband had the good sense to pop over to the concession stand and surprise me with a hot pretzel, accompanied by fig mustard. (You should eat this. It’s very, very good.) I was chatting with some friends when he came back, holding his-and-her pretzels. Our friends began to tease us about not sharing—one couple, midlife newlyweds, explained how they’d had to sort out their food sharing policy early in their courtship—and I felt compelled to explain our modus operandi regarding Deer Valley concert snacks.
“When I am here with my kids, I can’t so much as look at a cookie without the boys laying claim on it,” I said. “So when we are here without them, Jeff knows that I—who possess otherwise stellar sharing skills—Will. Not. Share. So, if any of you would like some of my pretzel, I will happily buy you one of your own.”
Laughing, we returned to our seats for the second half of the show. Bruce and the guys spent time sharing new songs and old favorites, including “Mandolin Rain,” which he says most people tell them is their “make-out song.” All in all, the show had the feel of being asked to sit in on an all-night jam session. Even the old favorites had new arrangements.
As the show drew to a close the audience was begging for an encore. Bruce Hornsby came to the front of the stage and explained, almost plaintively, “We have a hard curfew at this venue, and we played right up to the last minute of it. Thank you for coming out to hear us.”
Who knew that Bruce Hornsby is an imparter of parental wisdom—I vowed to use that very same tone when discussing bedtime with my children the following night. After all, if it could placate a huge crowd at a concert, surely it could achieve a similar effect with a couple of grade-schoolers.
Summer brings longer and warmer days to the mountains and offers countless occasions to congregate at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater for a long season of outdoor concerts. If you happen to be around Park City at this time of the year, Deer Valley is the perfect venue to spend a late afternoon and early evening. You may want to make up for a long day at work, escape the valley heat, or just slow down a bit after hours of hiking, miles of mountain biking, a round of golf or following a fly-fishing outing…
The gradual slope that serves beginner skiers so well in winter provides the perfect, natural amphitheater, framed by Deer Valley’s trademark ski runs and its verdant slopes with meadows, aspens and fir trees. Last Friday was no exception with the return of the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival and a sold-out concert. This wasn’t the first outdoor performance of the summer, as the musical season began in earnest late June, with the local Grand Valley Bank community concert series, a large number of performances by the Utah Symphony and a few concerts from the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights series.
Of course there is still a long way to go until Labor Day and the end of the summer season, with plenty of wonderful opportunities to enjoy many cool, musical nights facing the Snow Park Lodge and its summer stage, while enjoying an al fresco dinner!
Fine food tradition and Deer Valley’s passion for excellence are so intertwined that is it’s almost impossible to think about one without the other. The synergy created by refined dining and superb skiing carries on the rest of the year and becomes the link that unites summer outdoor concerts and Deer Valley’s peerless hospitality. No matter the season, the scenery or the view points, these two elements cannot be dissociated.
Even though I can hardly call myself a “foodie,” summer concerts are much more than just music and company of all the friendly people that gather outdoors to hear it. Quite as importantly, it’s also about the food that accompanies this relaxed and festive atmosphere. Almost everyone eats dinner at these concerts and what a great opportunity to harmonize what’s on the plate with the surrounding sounds and sights.
One option is to bring a picnic, as many spectators do, but that always entails a lot of work, not just to prepare it but to carry it to the mountain, and then once there, somehow, there’s almost always something missing! Sure, it’s possible to run for the Deer Valley concession stand and find whatever was forgotten or plan on burgers, hot dogs and other great Deer Valley’s classic fares that are available for purchase.
Another option and by far my favorite – is to order a Deer Valley’s Gourmet Picnic Basket accompanied by a bottle of wine that will be waiting for me at the concert. All I have to do is place my order by 5 p.m. the day before and then pick it up when I get to the concert at Snow Park.
These wonderful baskets are filled with delectable goodies, but also come with plenty of options, like a choice of salmon or beef entree and new this year, an offering of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan entrees.
I personally go for the smoked salmon with cucumber and aioli sauce preceded by a generous platter of antipasto of artisan salami, arugula, tomatoes and olives. These fine little delicacies never fail to bring back memories of my Deer Valley ski lunches that will soon return in a few months!
I usually am a fast eater and don’t spend enough time at the dinner table; however, at the concert the tantalizing choices contained in that richly garnished basket slow me down, make me savor and appreciate every single bite.
Also included in the basket is a fresh baked baguette that goes hand-in-hand with a melting, French brie that is a rarity on this side of the Atlantic. Finally, at the very moment the sun sets over Success ski run, there is still some room left for a few grapes, perhaps a slice of lemon pound cake, but definitely enough for the truffle tartlets!
Now, time to get on my feet, the concert is almost over!
I won’t reveal what Ski Dad and I found when we reached into the pockets of our volunteer jackets, last worn when we helped out with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games…10 years ago. But I will tell you what we found when we put them on–-our Olympic Spirit. Yep, we geeked out, geared up, and got the kids psyched to check out the Olympic celebration on Main Street, before the Visa FIS Freestyle International opening night concert.
And I must have given off a very spirited vibe, because a very nice lady and her daughter asked for my autograph. Unwittingly, I gave them the impression that I was an athlete. Which cracked up Ski Dad to no end.
There were, however, plenty of athlete sightings—and lots of other former volunteers who were similarly geeked-out. Prizes were conferred upon the most spirited folks in the audience. And I was thrilled when my friend Stacey, a terrific teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary, won two lift tickets to Deer Valley for her head-to-toe Olympic ensemble. Heck, her purse had an American Flag on it, and she wore a cowbell—if she didn’t win, it would have been a crime. (And how psyched am I, Stacey, that we can get out and make some turns together?).
Another highlight, for me, was running into my friend, Missy—one of the first people I met when I moved to Utah, who worked for SLOC. My younger son knows her as “Adam’s mom,” and I think we both felt the time warp, realizing that the Games were practically a lifetime ago (B.K.E…Before the Kiddie Era…for both of us).
And in spite of the fact that they weren’t born when the Salt Lake games happened, our kids seemed to get a kick out of the whole scene—and given the fact that the festivities went on well past bedtime, I was impressed with their staying power. They even rallied for a quick stop at our favorite sushi place on Main Street. As if the snow that began to dump on us wasn’t gift enough!
I had the pleasure of seeing Wynonna perform this past Tuesday evening here at Deer Valley. As of now, it may have been the highlight of my summer. It was not the longest concert I have ever attended but between her vocals and personality it may be one of the best. She showcased her enormous voice that you expected but once she was done with a song she continued to engage the audience with her great personality. She called people out for their dancing, signed old tour shirts and even brought a few kids up on stage for a photo op. I am pretty sure she had not only herself but most the audience crying and laughing through out the evening.
Before the performance even began I decided that my guests and I needed to be treated to the Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket. I have not had one for a few years and am I ever so glad we decided to order them. We ordered two baskets a salmon and a beef and I am not sure which one I liked better. They were both delicious! The antipasto with the Creminelli truffled salami, steamed artichokes, olives, double cream brie and fresh baked French bread were enough to do you in. Then, if you can, finish with lemon pound cake and raspberry truffle tartlets. The whole thing was amazing and the best part was that I did not have to do anything but enjoy it!
I am now counting the days to my next concert which is the Utah Symphony’s performance to the 1812 Overture! I think I am going to have to order another basket!
With summer now in full swing in the mountains, you don’t want to miss seeing the wild flowers at Deer Valley. They are amazing this year and the colors are incredible. I am always up for a hike to check them out but the mountain biking trails are looking tempting these days.
I finally have my first concert, Wynonna, on the calendar for next Tuesday. Wynonna is coming as part of our Big Start Bright Nights series and it should be a great evening. I have already ordered my Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket and can not wait to brag about it in my next post.
Don’t forget about our free Wednesday night concert series which start at 6 p.m. at the Snow Park Amphitheater. We have Wisebird, Shaky Trade and my personal favorite Bryon Friedman coming up. My family and I always pack a picnic but I was to lazy last night so we will be off to the concession stand. I am looking forward to the chicken ceasar salad and an ice cream sandwich for dessert.
For those of you wanting to come up for a long weekend make sure to check out our website deervalley.com. We have some great summer packages and some even some specifically for the different concert series.
Hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather!
Our summers are so fun that it make them hard to manage. There’s so much going on that between gorgeous weather, vacation time, gardening, festivals of all kinds and an almost infinite array of outdoors activities, we often get too forgetful about what to do when the sun is about to set. That’s precisely when the other face of town begins to wake up with a cornucopia of entertainment options that can only be found during summer months and here, I am specifically thinking about Deer Valley outdoor concerts, in the unique and super-natural Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.
The best thing about Deer Valley summer concerts is that there’s always something for everyone. From the Wednesday evening free concerts, featuring local artists, to the new classic “St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series,” the always ultra-classic Utah Symphony, all the way to some
bigger-than-life artists brought to us by United Concerts, there’s absolutely no excuse for not getting out and enjoying a wonderful picnic while listening to music we enjoy. The last time I counted, I found at least thirty Deer Valley concerts waiting to entertain us!
If carrying your house and most of its contents on your back is your style, simply set up camp on Deer Valley’s green grass and take full advantage of the lawn-sitting option that allows you to spread all your belongings on a large blanket that will be your territory for the evening. If you have underestimated your appetite or if your significant other forgot to pack the sandwiches or add some dessert, there’s always the Deer Valley’s food and beverage concession stand that stays open during the entire concert and never fails to provide the extra something that you should have brought along.
If you enjoy outdoor music as much as you crave for great food, there’s another quintessential experience, the famous Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket. Remember, this is Deer Valley, and a concert wouldn’t be the wonderful experience it can be without the resort’s epicurean food, its incredible variety and surprising twists. The baguette that sticks out of the wicker basket acts like a magnet on me, quite probably because I’m from France, but it’s only the tip of the… iceberg. If you adore nibbling on smoked salmon, chilled filet or on the contrary are set on a vegetarian fare, if you covet these delightful aioli-seasoned artichokes, can’t resist a salami that tastes as if it had been bootlegged from Italy or a piece Brie that could have been just purchased at a French country store, you may have a hard time paying attention to the performance, but whoever suggested that multitasking was easy!
If you drove a tiny-winy car like a Smart, rode a Vespa scooter, made it on your cruiser bike or better yet, arrived to Snow Park on-board the free city bus because you care so much about your carbon footprint, carrying lawn chairs around is never a convenient option; the best solution is to go for the
reserved seating that not only is comfortable but also provides you with the very best seats in the house. Now, that your only real hard work is to pick among these wonderful alternatives, and if you’re really serious about keeping your musical culture up where it belong, isn’t it time you got out and caught several of these great concerts while summer lasts?