The Koebnick family, including Dan, center, stepmom, Deanna, and father, Chris, have been an integral part of the Steamboat Springs music scene since Chris moved here in 1974. Chris and Deanna play in Sundog and attend weekly jazz nights at Bella’s Wine Bar. Dan, who also plays at jazz nights, plays guitar in the Bill Smith Band.
Steamboat Springs’ Koebnick family shares a musical passion
Deanna, Chris and Dan Koebnick show off their musical skills, performing "Can't Let Go," written by Randy Weeks.
Steamboat Springs Dan Koebnick wasn’t even 10 years old when he began hauling instruments and moving speakers for his father’s band, Sundog.
From a young age, the lifestyle of a live musician was ingrained in him.
“Them rehearsing around the house was normal,” Dan said. “My sister (Kadie) and I, we’d make fake instruments out of stuff and pretend we were playing.”
But he stuck to roadie duties until about age 15, when he finally made the decision to pick up a bass and then a guitar.
“I was addicted right off the bat,” he said.
Chris Koebnick thinks of his son’s musical path with pride, but he never assumed Dan would follow in his footsteps.
“For his whole life, I was always going out to play gigs,” Chris said. “The fact that he chose to be a musician, that’s pretty neat.”
In 1995, when Dan was 15, Chris married Deanna Webb, the blonde-haired, Southern-raised vocalist for Sundog, adding a folksy element to Chris’ jazz influences and Dan’s addiction to rock ’n’ roll.
Throughout the decades, the father, son and stepmother have played together and played apart, learned from one another’s styles and traveled across the United States playing with various bands.
Since Chris first moved to Steamboat in the 1970s, the Koebnick name has been an integral part of the Steamboat music culture — a culture that has had an equal impact on the family’s musical lives.
Today, Chris and Deanna still play together in Sundog at a long-running gig at Western Barbecue in Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the mountain. The band is about to open the season in December with its 1,474th show.
They’re also regulars at Bella’s Wine Bar on Friday and Saturday nights, which feature live jazz and Afro-Cuban jam sessions.
And every once in a while, Dan sits in and that musical passion so etched into the Koebnick family comes full circle.
“We never really had much of a chance to do that, so obviously I’m loving that,” Chris said about playing together. “It’s a joy ... to play music with Deanna and Dan.”
A ‘special time’
Neither Dan, his father nor his stepmother went to school to study music. But none of them could ever escape its hold on them.
Chris first touched a guitar at age 6. But it wasn’t until he played bass in a band in college that he realized it could become his livelihood.
“I didn’t think I wanted to be a musician until I started playing in a band,” he said. “It was just fun. It was me and my buddies, and yeah, we got a lot of attention for it, but we all enjoyed playing music together. That’s been the one constant feature of my career.”
Deanna loved performing music from a young age but went to college and graduate school while trying to find her calling.
“I kept trying to get away from it,” Deanna said. “I kept thinking music was going be something fun in my life, that I needed a real job.
“But it’s my joy, my heart. It’s where my soul is.”
Deanna and Chris first shared a stage together in 1989, the year Sundog played its first gig atop the gondola. The pair recall attending Dan’s early gigs in his teen years at a bar that used to be located above Cugino’s Restaurant. Even Dan said they weren’t making the greatest-sounding music in the world, but it just felt right to him. It was the only thing he wanted to do, and he worked in local kitchens to support his habit.
“We were proud of Dan. We thought, ‘He’s out there, and he’s playing music,’” Deanna said.
Now, Dan’s planning to relocate to Fort Collins to put more time into his rock project, the Bill Smith Band, which plays several times a year in Steamboat Springs.
But that move won’t spoil what Deanna calls a “special time” for the Koebnicks: a time when they can all get together and share in the music they love.
It’s a time that Chris is grateful for.
“It’s been great for me that Deanna and Dan are friends, and there’s mutual respect there. … They respect each other’s music. It’s a joy that they can share in that.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com