Falcon Ridge is a little ski hill on the shores of Falcon Lake in the Whiteshell Provincial park. It has been around since the late 1950's and is the location where many a Manitoban learned to ski. The strong history of the establishment is quite apparent the moment you step through the door, you feel you've traveled back in time to a retro 50's ski destination; vintage equipment adorn the walls, and a roaring stone fireplace stands in the middle of the room. What is probably the best and most striking feature of Falcon Ridge is the amazing fun and relaxed atmosphere -- everyone is having a good time, particularly the staff...
I sit at my typewriter, writing out the stanzas to Britain Street by Alden Nowlan. I plan to play the song, put to music by my friend Ann Walton, at a Canadian songs workshop at Snowdance 2012 this weekend, a festival inspired by the dismal weather and attendance at Falcon Ridge Ski Hill so far this year. We thought, 'over half the staff at the hill are musicians, why don't we hold a music festival'. So... Snowdance. Cause we need some snow!
Jesse Matas working the ski rental shop (Emily Christie)
A ski hill is a perfect job for touring musicians, seasonal, intermittent and fun. The Crooked Brothers all currently work there. Matt runs the kitchen and is a whiz over a grill, making delicious food and delivering comedy over the intercom when orders are up. Darwin runs around doing odd jobs, helping the small mechanic team fix the T-bar, rope tows, snow machines and groomers, occasionally clearing x-country ski trails. I think he likes to stay outside so he can smoke. I tend to keep in my hole (the rental shop) fitting boots, skis, snowboards and fixing whatever comes my way. I can usually manage to McGyver just about any old thing back in to working order so someone can get back on the slopes. And I get to choose the music that plays in the chalet.
I was talking to Ismaila this morning about how these characteristics (of our day jobs) might permeate our personal musical styles. I suppose in most ways, Darwin is the most mechanically inclined, he certainly plays his instruments with the most confidence... and frankly, the best. Matt has all the bravado of a chef, and truly cooks at whatever he does. Myself... well... I dunno, maybe I'm stretching here a little. I like being alone in a small room, creating, fixing, arranging.
The hill is also run by other great musicians who will be performing on Sunday. All members of Red Moon Road
will be running between the gospel workshop and the lifts, as well as Ben from Bog River
who occasionally teaches snowboarding and works the lifts. Allison from Oh My Darling
worked as a liftee last season at Falcon Ridge. The owner's daughter, Brooke, is a great fiddle player, growing up in the Frontier Fiddler program. Even Taylor Ashton of Victoria/Winnipeg's Fish and Bird
worked the sales desk this holiday season. One problem we are foreseeing is how we will keep all the lifts going all day Sunday since all the staff are musicians (they'll be on stage!). We'll figure it out... Oh yes - there is a lot more snow out Falcon way than in the city, so bring skis or boards!This content is provided by Jesse Matas .
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