Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Jack Ingram, wearing a pair of ski goggles, sang the following words in concert Friday afternoon amid a thick snowstorm at Steamboat Ski Area:
"Some things ain't meant to be
Sometimes the best things in life are free
And tomorrow is another day
Funny how the truth sounds so cliche."
It may be a cliche about the best things being free, but the timing was right Friday for a free concert. Do you know anyone in Steamboat who can't use a little emotional lift?
Because I knew that many of you were stuck at your jobs Friday, I pried myself away from the laptop long enough to act as your proxy and caught part of the show that featured Micky and the Motorcars opening for Ingram and his band - all part of the MusicFest at Steamboat.
With all of the grim economic news lately, I found myself reflecting on all of the swell things we enjoy for free in Steamboat.
Free concerts are at the top of my list. I'm assuming Ingram and the boys got paid for performing, and I also observed that the musicians got to drink Bud Light for free. What a life.
Audience members paid for bottles of Shiner Bock (that's a German beer from Texas - go figure) but at least they got to haul them around in free beer coozies.
At first, it struck me as odd that all of these folks needed a beer coozie to keep their suds chilled during a free January snowstorm in the 'Boat. Then, it dawned on me: "They aren't keeping their beers cold! They're insulating their hands from their cold drinks! Duh!"
I've learned that music lovers from Texas are very clever people.
What the musicians may or may not have realized is that they were giving perfectly good guitar lessons for free! It's really easy to slide your way toward the front row during the concerts in Gondola Square, and I hope I stole a couple of licks from Ingram's lead guitarist, but I won't know for sure until I get home and practice. The dude was smokin'.
Music and lots of snow aren't the only free things in Steamboat.
If you're into free food, mark Feb. 6 on your calendar. That's when all of the art galleries in Steamboat will get together and host the First Friday Art Walk. Most of them put out a nice little spread with cheese and crackers, summer sausage, veggies and cookies. You can hit four or five galleries and make a meal of it without ever appearing to pig out. Talk about a cheap date!
But that's not all.
The starving gallery artists who laid out the buffet are selling their work, and you most definitely should support them. But until you save up enough cash to buy an original painting, here's a little tip:
All of the galleries have beautifully reproduced postcards of the featured artist's paintings, ceramics and sculpture. They're nice enough to frame, and they want you to pick up half a dozen before you leave.
If you want to go all out, swing by the dollar store on your way home and check out their ready-made frames. You can score several for the price of a convenience store hot dog.
Slap an artist's card in a gold frame, and you've got a classy Valentine's gift for your sweetheart.
Speaking of Valentine's Day, have you noticed that many of Steamboat's liquor stores now are scheduling free wine tastings?
Well, you don't think they're pouring the cheap stuff, do ya?
Always consume the fruit of the vine in moderation, and don't drink and drive. And be sure to leave the ambience of the liquor store in time to catch the free city bus and ride it to the Bud Werner Memorial Library before it closes.
You're going to want to rent a free DVD and check out a free volume of love poems to put the final touches on your free date.
Hey, the economy might stink, but Steamboat residents are blessed with a lot of free stuff.
Jack Ingram also wrote the lyric:
"Love you - Love this town
Love this mother-lovin' truck
That keeps breakin' lovin' down
There's only one four-letter word that'll do
Say, Jack, got any free advice for wannabe alt-country stars?
- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org