The story of how Steve “Elkie” Chambers came to Steamboat Springs is a familiar one. He first arrived on a college ski trip, loved it, and then came back to become a horse wrangler. That’s where it veers: He left to become a roadie for the Rolling Stones, dated one of their daughters, toured with AC/DC and U2, surfed with Eddie Vedder and finally married one of Tina Turner’s dancers and settled back down in Steamboat to live happily ever after.
Fresh off working as a rigger for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Super Bowl show in February, Chambers assumed his new role as production director for Strings Music Festival. He calls it the perfect fit for him in a town he has loved for decades.
“This is absolutely it,” he says. “I feel very, very fortunate.”
Chambers’ job includes handling the technical aspects of Strings performances as well as booking the non-classical performers. His contacts in the industry are helping and he’s already working with Los Angeles talent booker Jeff Apregan for 2015 shows. After a dozen years touring with Tina Turner, Chamberss wife, Solange Guenier Chambers, meanwhile, is teaching ballet and hip-hop at Elevation Dance Studio.
Chambers grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio, where he raised 4-H animals and rode horseback. During a break from college at the University of Cincinnati, he came to Steamboat and signed on with legendary cowboy Pat Mantle leading horse trips. “For a time, I took my baths in the Yampa River,” he says.
He later helped Mantle with his elk hunting trips and stuck around skiing for a while before heading back to Cincinnati for school. There, he started rock climbing, a skill that eventually landed him with the Stones. After returning to Colorado to work at Pyramid Ranch with Doug McIntyre, the phone rang.
“They’d just put their first phone line in, and the first time it rang it was Jake Berry, production manager of the Rolling Stones,” Chambers says. They needed a “climber” (a roadie who rigs lighting and backdrops above the stage). “When I got back from packing out an elk, they told me that Berry wanted to know, ‘What do I have to do to get this elk boy on a plane to Miami?’”
The Stones’ South American VooDoo Lounge Tour was just starting and Chambers was launched on a career he could never have imagined. “My first day, I was in charge of deconstructing this giant cobra snake,” he says. “I thought it was going to be one trip around the world, but it went on for 20 years,” he adds.
Chambers toured with The Who, the Eagles, became a surfing companion of Eddie Vedder’s and rescued Alicia Keys from a complicated made-for-TV show on the Great Wall of China. The stories are never ending, and yes, he really did date Stones guitarist Ron Woods’ daughter, which led to hanging out with the band.
Now, Chambers is hanging out at Strings in Steamboat and making the most of his music industry connections to lure not-quite-as-famous artists our way.