The B Spot is the sweet spot of music and outdoor adventures
Musicians always talk about wanting to set a good vibe before they play and record music.
Couture vacation company Eleven Experience has taken “good vibes” to a whole new level, somewhere around 11,000 feet with a fresh two feet of snow level.
In a partnership with backcountry mountain guides Irwin Guides, Eleven Experience has developed a new music series Cat Tracks, one that combines the best Crested Butte, Colorado has to offer – mountains, skiing, music – into one incredible experience for musicians. They take snow-loving musicians up the mountain in a snow cat and take them backcountry skiing for a day, with a carefree, stripped-down music performance inside the cat when stoke level is at the highest.
Wade Koeman is the project manager and audio engineer tasked with capturing these sweet backcountry performances. While the musicians are skiing in the morning, Koeman and a small crew convert the cat snow cat (which has surprisingly good sound for a metal box with windows) into a mobile studio complete with a couple mics and cameras.
After some lunch and maybe a beer, amped on the good vibes, the musicians sing some tunes and earn their turns for the day. They then head back out for some more fun in the snow as the snow cat gets ready to take them back to the lodge.
It’s the only place in town – maybe this country – where you can lay down some tracks on snow and wax from the same place. Now that’s a vibe.
The idea was brewed up by Eleven Experience colleagues at a birthday celebration in Moab, Utah in 2020. With the pandemic evaporating business and goodwill within the hospitality and entertainment business sectors the group wanted to do something creatively out of the box.
This “Jam in the Van in a snowcat” idea was developed through the winter and Cat Tracks’ first session included The New Mastersounds’ guitarist and Color Red label head Eddie Roberts leading a trio that also included keyboardist Chris Spies and drummer Jeff Franca. Alas, the snow wasn’t there for solid skiing on that day, but the trio ripped it up in the cat track anyway and kept the fun going late into the evening at a private event.
“We want to provide a really cool experience for musicians so, ultimately, they can create something special,” said Koeman.
It’s hard to imagine a better way for powerhound musicians to really lean into their love of both music and mountains. Cat Tracks is banking on this dynamic naturally translating to more fun performances. On a most recent video, G. Love is jovial and easy, picking his way though “Shine On Moon” from his Grammy-nominated album The Juice like a snow fox bluesman. Lead man of The California Honeydrops, Lech Wierzyński, had a blast recording a medley of acoustic covers in the track, though he would’ve been fine just skiing all day.
“Lech came out and loves to ski, is a good skier. We probably got a foot of snow the night before, and it dumped another foot that day. He was pumped and it was hard to get him to record because he just wanted to keep skiing. But he was so stoked about skiing that a very special performance came out,” said Koeman.
In Crested Butte, Eleven Experience has found a uniquely fun area that embraces the joys of music and the outdoors alike. When everyone in town can ski and a lot of them can jam (Koeman plays guitar around town himself), it creates a lot of beautiful moments of continuing a great day skiing into a great night of playing.
Cat Tracks is meant to only enhance this mountain to music equation and attract high-caliber talent (who love skiing before the show) to Crested Butte, playing at intimate venues like Public House, where Koeman manages the venue. “Public House is a great small intimate club that sounds incredible. We’ve been able to get some stellar bands because they hear we got a great thing going here. There’s the professionalism of the venue even though it’s a basement venue in a ski town. The building itself is historic and we lifted it up and built a space with a venue in mind. It’s been fun to get these big bands to do nice, intimate shows,” said Koeman.
In the next few weeks it’ll host Dirtwire and a hive of funk musicians like Eddie Roberts, Nikki Glaspie, MonoNeon and Nate Werth for AlpenPhunk 2022.
Additionally, Eleven Experience has been busy creating one-of-a-kind experiences for musicians in the northern expanse of Iceland. There near the Deplar Farm, a vacation property managed by the company, is the new Floki Studios, a world class studio that builds upon Iceland’s mythic beauty with top-tier hospitality and cutting edge amenities.
They’ve already had The New Mastersounds record its newest album there and hosted a recording session with Roberts, Nikki Glaspie and George Porter Jr. in the last couple weeks. The company’s hope is that the only thing musicians have to worry about when they come to Iceland to record at Floki Studios is making music.
Ultimately, Eleven Experience wants to create intimate adventures in marvelous landscapes for musicians that inspire cool, genuine performances. In capturing those moments in the mountains with Cat Tracks and on record at Floki Studios in Iceland, they showcase world-class musicians at their most fun and relaxed.
It’s a vibe musicians and their fans can all get behind.