Skier finds a parallel rush in music
July 18, 2007
The consequences are much greater at the gate, but U.S. downhill skier Bryon Friedman found an adrenaline fix that comes close to ski racing when he began performing his songs in front of an audience.
Friedman’s debut album, "Road Sodas," made for his independent label, Untracked, was released in December. Three-fourths of the songs were written after 2005, he says, the year that began with fractures to his right leg and two broken bones in his left hand after a wreck in Chamonix, France. The injuries came at a time when he was having one of his better seasons. He had recently earned two top-10s at World Cup competitions.
This weekend, on Friday at Harry O’s and on Saturday at Celsius Lounge, Friedman will return to the safer thrill, on stage, to sing songs about being on the road, being in love and skiing.
The tracks on "Road Sodas" draw from his personal experiences traveling, in love and on the mountain songs he says he wrote to entertain teammates, his friends and himself as he rehabilitated in Santa Barbara, Calif. On his Web site, he locates his lyrics somewhere between "biography" and "gentle optimism."
"Couple of Friends," references the Park City patois he picked up since he moved to town in 1988, with terms like "blue-bird days" and "Champagne powder;" "ducking ropes" and "fat boys." Park City riders might also pick up on specific places, especially when Friedman sings, "Lets sneak off to the aspen trees, we can find a stash in Cadillac country/Take a mountain run down to the Cornerstore/Rest up there and head back out/when we’re ready for more/Just a couple of friends."
"I like to say it’s music you can groove to, fall asleep to and ignore if you want to, depending on the mood you’re in," Friedman explains. "It’s good driving music."
Recommended Stories For You
Ultimately, "Road Sodas" can be pegged as acoustic rock, cheerful and upbeat, despite a few melancholy lines or narratives.
Some might be tempted to lump Friedman with the likes of Ben Harper, Ryan Adams or professional surfer-rocker Jack Johnson but Friedman shies away from categorizing his music.
Trevor Nealon, on keyboards, and Damian Roomets on bass and Dobro, skilled musicians Friedman met as an undergrad at Dartmouth College, interject undertones of blues, bluegrass and funk that make his songs sound more eclectic than genre-specific, Friedman argues. "They’re two of the best musicians I’ve ever met," he says, "I have a very innocent perspective about music, and they push me."
Nealon and Roomets, members of the Salt Lake-Park City rock band "Wisebird," have played with Friedman as the opening act for the Doobie Brothers and the following year for the band Train, at an annual U.S. Ski Team benefit gala, The New York Ski and Snowboard Ball. Along with Matt Gordon, the drummer for fellow local band "Muddpuddle," the four musicians cut "Road Sodas" over one weekend last year at a studio in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Friedman’s college friends and band members were also the first to get him to perform on stage in Park City, introducing him to the rush he felt was missing when he couldn’t ski.
This weekend, Friedman and his band will introduce a few new songs, one tentatively named "Remedy" and another, which plays twice a day on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Coffee House channel, called "How Can I Get Back?"
Friedman’s first album topped the charts at Park City’s Orion’s Music this May (for a week his album trumped the store’s top-10 CD sales) and already he has designs for a new album.
There’s a good chance he will be returning to compete with the U.S. Ski Team this fall, but Friedman doesn’t want to lose the momentum he has going with his music. He credits his trainer for part of his recovery from the 2005 accident and strumming guitar strings for the rest. Through practice, he says he managed to heal his broken hand, and, in many ways, his spirit. Not unlike the optimism of his music, in the future, he aspires to do more on the stage and on the slopes.
Bryon Friedman is scheduled to play in Park City this Friday, July 20 at Harry O’s at 9 p.m. and again on Saturday, July 21 at Celsius Lounge, also at 9 p.m. Friedman will also play August 3 at the Town Lift Plaza and on Aug. 29 at Deer Valley Resort. For more information and to listen to tracks on "Road Sodas," visit http://www.bryonfriedmanmusic.com.