Leaner, Lunker and Betsy make return


— When Leaner, Lunker and Betsy where playing cover songs during aprÃs ski in the Thunderhead Lodge back in the 1970s, the group never dreamed the gig and the crowd would be around for another 30 years.

So when the trio played its millennium concert for the 2000 Strings in the Mountains series, they said it was their last one.

Just like the rock 'n' roll legends they cover -- The Rolling Stones, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Steely Dan -- they find the gigs and the crowds keep coming.

On Aug. 2, Mary MacGregor, Rick Bear and Joe Ghiglia will reunite once again to perform a benefit concert for Horizons. And this time, no one is taking the chance of calling the concert the last one.

"Every time, we think it is the last time, so we just give it our all," Bear said.

The band, which takes its name from the band members' dogs, the group started playing in Steamboat bars in 1973. They could be found most weeks at Thunderhead Lodge, where they competed with two or three other bands in town to get the biggest crowd.

They sang harmony songs. Bear played the guitar and banjo, Ghiglia played the guitar, and with a voice that could compete with the divas of the day, Mary sang.

"Mary had a strong following back then. Her voice was phenomenal," Bear said. "There are maybe half a dozen voices, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, that could just stop you dead. Mary had that kind of quality to her voice."

Leaner, Lunker and Betsy were only together for three years. MacGregor went onto record the 1977 hit single "Torn Between Two Lovers," and Bear and Ghiglia formed a country/blue grass band.

Although MacGregor moved to California after her music career took off and Ghiglia left for California in 1985, the three find themselves coming together every couple of years for reunion concerts.

The concerts are more than a stage reunion, Ghiglia said. It's also a chance for those who were around when the group played at aprÃs ski to catch up.

"You see all these people you haven't seen since the '70s. You want to go down there and talk to them. You are watching them have fun with everybody else laughing and carrying on. You want to be a part of that," Ghiglia said.

Kay Borvansky was part of the crowd for the 2000 concert. With her husband, she came to Steamboat via Winnebago in the early '70s. Having just 15 square-feet of living space, Borvansky said they went out a lot. She feels as if she and many of the other 20somethings at that time grew up with the group.

"There were a whole lot of us in town. It was the end of Woodstock, Vietnam was still going on. We were wondering what to do. We came up here for a winter of skiing and stayed 30 years," she said.

Now Horizons Development Coordinator, Borvansky asked the group to put on another show as a benefit for the nonprofit organization.

The group will hold two performances.

July 31, the group will hold a private acoustic performance at a home near Clark with tickets at $50. Bear called it an evening of entertainment and catching up. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Aug. 2, the group will perform at the Sheraton Grand Ballroom with tickets at $22. Tickets are sold at All That Jazz, Vino and Horizons.


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