Friday, March 23, 2012

SolFest spring break is here

Pull out the beer-drinking dance pants

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo by Tyler Kohlhoff. The Blitzen Trapper band will play in Ketchum Saturday.

Organizers of this weekend's SolFest 2012 hope that spring breakers heed the call of the wild and flock to Main Street in Ketchum for a weekend of gelande quaffing and Blitzen Trapper.

Say what?

Since the quaffing is first, commencing at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24, after 2 p.m. signups on Main Street, the explanation starts there.

According to Jackson Hole historians at the Village Café, which used to be the Bear Claw Café, the après-ski competition being introduced for the first time in Sun Valley began back in 1986 with "the infamous underground crew of the Jackson Hole Air Force," which was going stir crazy waiting for the mountain to open for the season.

In those days, the legend continues, the bartender would send a freshly filled beer mug sliding down the bar to the patron who ordered it.

According to the Village Café website: "One fateful night a beer mug slid off the end of the bar, took air, was caught seconds before a glass-shattering catastrophe, and promptly pounded. Gelande quaffing was born."

And died, but was revived in 2008 at its birthplace.

So that's that.

Blitzen Trapper is the band for which the city is closing its main drag for a free concert Saturday at 5 p.m.

Blitzen Trapper's Marty Marquis, a songwriter widely recognized in music circles for his multi-instrument talent, emailed from the road away from SXSW, bringing the band closer to their Idaho appearance.

Origin of the name Blitzen Trapper?

Meant to connote the wandering half-crazed mountain men who explored and exploited the American frontier, but modernized and made cosmopolitan, in search now of lightning, power, rock'n'roll rather than beaver.

Better noodles—northwest or South?

Northwest no question, we win by virtue of our proximity to the Pacific Rim.

Experience at SXSW in three words.

Absolute crushing victory.

What people should know about the new album, starting with, the name.

It's called "American Goldwing," is full of great tunes, poetry, and guitar shredding and/or sweet harmonica. Continues in the Blitzen Trapper tradition of skewed Americana but with an emphasis this time on simplicity, directness, and the road/home dialectic.

What people should know about the kind of show they should expect. This is the first time EVER that Ketchum has agreed to close Main Street, no pressure or anything.

We are known for our ragged/rugged good looks and subversive wit onstage, but the important thing is the fact that we've played together for over a decade and have indulged in a wide variety of different styles of music. So our sets are far-ranging affairs featuring everything from hushed folk music to deconstructed funk to howling guitar expositions. Expect to be entertained.

Why you feel it important to make and post your "home" videos?

Because we like to leaven the excellence of the music we make with the yeast of humor, so as to remind everyone that this is just music after all and demonstrate that we don't take ourselves too seriously. Also, our fans appreciate the insider's perspective.

How can people best prepare themselves for your arrival?

As one would for a severe storm--gather with loved ones and plenty of provisions and warm clothing. Take deep breaths. Look out for beauty.

For a complete list of events for the weekend, visit the Calendar online at or see the story in Wednesday, March 21, Arts section.

Visit for the rules and scoring.


1. Four-person teams, no subs.

2. One minute for first three rounds, finals are two minutes.

3. Quaffer must be 2 feet from the edge of the bar.

4. Must rotate pitcher and quaff every pitch.

5. Quaffer cannot pitch until beer is down and mug touches the bar again.

6. Beer must be quaffed, not worn.

7. No puking. Puking results in immediate team disqualification.

8. In the event of a tie, each team will choose one quaffer and one pitcher, and the team with the fastest gelande quaff wins.


Round 1: One point regular catch, two points handle catch.

Round 2: The quaffer must do a 360 between leaving the pitcher's hand and the quaffer's catch.  One point regular catch, two points handle catch.

Round 3: The quaffer must do a 360 or under-the-leg catch. One point regular catch, two points handle catch.

Finals: (two minutes) One catch of each—handle catch, 360 catch and under-the-leg catch. After the three required catches: zero points, regular catch, one point handle catch, two points, 360 handle catch or under the leg, zero to five points freestyle (at judge's discretion).

Rules and scoring provided by the Village Café in Jackson, Wyo.

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