Back in the day, once the ski season had wrapped-up, annual rituals ensued. One of these the one my particular tribe always partook of was known in the vernacular as the LMI, the "Lift Maintenance Invitational."
Flaunting itself as a "golfing event," it actually tested one’s liver as much as one’s ability to wield a pitching-wedge. Coolers under the influence of centrifugal force were known to eject themselves from golf carts negotiating par-5 doglegs. Lift mechanic "duffers" and their recreational cohorts were known to follow suit.
Although this traditional rite-of-spring often unfolded amid wind, rain, and hail, the fact that the participants were well-bolstered against the elements kept the vibe warm. There were no antelope at play, but deer, wild turkey, and the sly red fox have always cavorted over in Midway at the Wasatch Mountain Golf Course.
Somewhere along the line these double and triple-bogey shenanigans proved insufficient as far as satisfying the social appetite of a few of the usual suspects. Another tradition was soon born whereby, following the golf, it became custom for some to traipse downtown to the urban squalor of Heber itself for two additional events.
The first took place at a now-gone Heber Valley temple of sorts named "Clyde’s Billiards." Known affectionately among the local cognoscenti as "Tink’s," after Tink Clyde, the original proprietor, the competition thereabouts took place upon felt-covered slate pool tables while mugs of ice-cold beer were passed around to wash down the legendary pickled eggs.
Below a somewhat wide-variety of stuffed ungulate trophy antler heads there sat one of those classic old-school jukeboxes from which such fare as Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Hank Williams, and Merle Haggard held forth. In other words, the joint had an ambiance to die for.
From Tink’s, the moveable feast would mosey on down the street to the Holiday Lanes bowling alley for additional demonstrations by the generally unskilled and uncoordinated. Burgers and beers, of course, would embellish the affair and the pins at the end of the alleys would have very little to worry about, as they were seldom bruised.
These three particular celebrations of the passing of winter became known among the participants as, first, "the triathlon," and, then, due to the ultimate worthiness of the top-shelf endeavors themselves, as "the Ironman." They came to mind again last Friday evening when three distinct live-music encounters put their stamp on the day.
Early in the evening, the Park City Museum and Mountain Town Music finished off their exceptional series of Friday American roots-music concerts in support of the traveling "New Harmonies" exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution with a truly inspiring presentation by the Calvary Baptist Choir which had been pared down to a "Chorale" due to room-size constraints at the Museum.
Demonstrating the evolution of sacred music in the black church from slavery through the call-and-response of spirituals and on to hymns and gospels, the vocal ensemble completely captivated the ever-so-eager music buffs that overflowed the space.
From the deep intensity of the spirituals to the gospel that resulted from the collision of the black church with blues and jazz, the resultant harmonies were powerful enough to even overcome a roomful of white people clapping most everywhere but on the beat. I, of course, was the poster child for the more rhythmically and vocally challenged.
Then it was off and down the canyon to the Salt Lake City and County Building grounds where the 25th anniversary of the "Living Traditions Festival" bloomed once again majestically in the drizzle and rain.
The multi-ethnic musical forms on display at this event are only part of the story. The equally captivating cross-cultural foods available for on-site "festivarians" made arriving at a selection even in a semi-prompt fashion nearly impossible.
The musical highlight and the biggest reason for attending the festival on Friday night was a chance to experience the exciting Irish band Solas one more time. The virtuoso group who hasn’t stopped in Utah much in recent years is the same one that opened the "Eccles Center for the Performing Arts" in Park City back in 1999. If anything, they have even more passion than before.
To cap the evening, it was back to Hebertown for the final two sets with the Barflfy Wranglers at the Other End. What a great day of music! Rather than an "Ironman," this whirlwind tour embodied a "trifecta perfecta!"
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for the past 40 years.
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