Gugi will wrap up this season’s après ski concerts at Goldener Hirsch Inn
Elsbeth Gugi, known to her fans simply as Gugi, has performed her blend of cabaret, German, Austrian and Swiss music all around the world, including her home country of Switzerland, New Zealand and Virginia.
She began performing in Park City at the Goldener Hirsch Inn eight years ago.
"After the recession, they didn’t have any music, but we started it up again maybe four years ago," Gugi said during an interview with The Park Record. "I do this here in Park City because I don’t have to drive to Salt Lake City or Snowbird."
Gugi will perform her final three concerts of the season at the inn on March 13, 20 and 27. The music and singing runs from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
"It’s après ski when people are finishing up a day of skiing, which is traditional for Europeans, especially in Austria," Gugi explained. "In fact, aprés ski is just an important as skiing when you go on vacation. People are very lively and joyful and love music, dancing and singing."
Over the past few years, Gugi has established her own following, and some of her fans arrive early and stand in line to hear her sing, some late-comers are even turned away because of capacity issues.
"It’s a relatively small space," said Gugi, who had developed a similar fan base when she performed in Virginia. "It makes me very happy to have such a following here.
"A lot of locals come to see me, and that’s very flattering, because if people come back, they must like me," she said. "I’ve also had people who were here on vacation last year or the year before, return this year. They told me that they saw me and had to come back. It’s nice to see familiar faces."
Although Gugi sings in a tiny venue, she enjoys the setting so much because the Goldener Hirsh Inn is a duplicate of an Austrian hotel in Salzburg.
"It’s ideal because it really had a European feel and fits best with the kind of music that I do," she said. "There isn’t any other place that I can think of around here that would feel as good."
The first half of Gugi’s performances features the folk songs and yodeling.
"I didn’t do much yodeling when I was performing in Virginia, but I have done more here because of the alpine setting," she said. "It fits in with the skiing and all that."
Gugi likes yodeling because it’s happy music.
"You climb to the top of the mountain and you get such a beautiful feeling that you just want to go ‘yeehoo!’" she said, laughing. "It’s an expression of joy and there aren’t any words. You don’t need any words."
Although Gugi grew up in Switzerland, she started yodeling later than other singers.
"I had a voice teacher in Vienna, when I was studying classical music, who said I shouldn’t yodel because it would ruin my voice," Gugi said. "But I found that it’s just like practice, really. You go back and forth from the head voice to the chest voice.
Anybody that can sing can yodel, I think. And as of this date, and I’m not young anymore, it hasn’t ruined my voice."
The folk songs include tavern and pub songs.
"We do several drinking songs that people are familiar with and enjoy and we do some of my favorites," Gugi said. "I perform them while wearing a dirndl, which is a traditional Austrian dress that has a white blouse and colored apron."
The second half of the show focuses on cabaret tunes.
"I do a costume change into a black outfit and we do some of these songs," she said. "At the end of the show, we go back into yodeling and singing."
The singer’s goal is to get the audience to participate in her many sing-alongs.
"I don’t think I’m much of a lounge singer, so I like to get involved and interact with the audience," she said. "If they can participate, I get a sense that I am accomplishing something and that they are enjoying the performance."
Gugi usually performs on an accordion, but hasn’t for the past couple of weeks because of a broken wrist.
"Luckily, I have an accompanist who plays for me," she said with another laugh. "I still sing with my cast on, because the show must go on."
One of her main influences is the late cabaret singer Edith Piaf.
"I think it was the passion in her voice that got me," Gugi said. "She may not have had the most beautiful voice, but I can’t think of many who had that kind of passion.
"She also had a very tragic life, and I’m sure singing was a way for her to express her feelings and passions and, probably, to make her life a little easier," Gugi said. "That’s what got me. I would listen to her and I still listen to her today."
In addition to Piaf, Gugi listens to all sorts of music including classical violin concertos.
"Vocal music is my favorite, however," she said. "There is no other instrument that can be as expressive to me than the human voice, as long as it comes from the heart."
Gugi said she feels lucky to be able to perform for people in Park City.
"Every show we try to add a new song to our repertoire," she said. "Practice makes perfect. I shouldn’t brag about that, because I’m not known to be someone who practices."
Elsbeth Gugi will perform her last three après ski concerts of the 2014 ski season at the Goldener Hirsch Inn, 7570 Royal St., on March 13, 20 and 27 at 3 p.m. For more information, call 435-649-7770.
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