The Hair Farmers

The only people who know how to party harder than Canadians are Australians.

Greetings from Whistler, Canada. Where your money goes far and the hills are long. And from the moment I got here, Andy has told me I need to see the Hair Farmers.


You know we insiders, we can go hear live music every night of the week. Name talent. Do we really want to see a cover band?

But I did. And it was the best music experience I’ve had in quite a while.

It’s been warm here. But you can still ski to the bottom. Freezing level is 1900 meters, i.e. two-thirds of the way up the hill. The glacier is still winter, but the rest of the mountain is spring.

The glacier… The Horstman t-bar has been closed all year because the glacier is shrinking and moving. They couldn’t open it if the footings hadn’t moved anyway, the top is now too steep. Climate change… Either you believe in it or you don’t. But we see evidence of it everywhere. Did you read about the record temperatures in Alaska? It was 70!

And Canada is a foreign country, but it’s kinda like the U.S., so it’s disorienting. You feel like you’re home and then they order Kohanee beer. Huh? I remember when it was cool to drink Olympia, the other water beer besides Coors. But Olympia and its white cans with yellow accents disappeared, kinda like Fudgetown cookies and everything else you used to love.

And Canadians have no airs. You feel it. No one’s boasting. Sure, there’s money in Whistler, but you just don’t see it the way you do in Aspen or Vail.

And it’s international. Not only visitors, but locals. Hard to imagine the racism we have in the U.S. existing in Canada. Supposedly Toronto has more ethnicities than any other city in the world. And Asian and South Asian people are de rigueur. If you’re racist, Canada is not the place for you.

And Andy and I spent the day skiing with Marcel and his family. Marcel is 77. But he’s a ski instructor and can beat just about anybody down the mountain.

And he loves music! He was testifying about J Lo at the Grammys, how he recorded the performance to watch over and over again. I don’t think J Lo can sing, but it turned out Marcel was enamored of the dancers! He’s a fan of Lady Gaga. They showed me video of him dancing at her show in Vancouver that he went to for his 75th. He pops, he locks, but he doesn’t moonwalk since “Leaving Neverland.”

But I didn’t know all this when we were skiing. At light speed.

We hiked up to the glacier, it’s eerie.

But the best run of the day was Springboard, under the new gondola, it was long with a consistent pitch and the snow was like Cream of Wheat, it was delectable.

And then Marcel said we had to get down to Merlin’s, to get a seat, to see the Hair Farmers!

So we raced down, and it being Canada, they sell cans of beer at the entrance. And we couldn’t get a seat anyway, because everybody was there to see the Hair Farmers!

Now what you get is a bearded husky guy with a high voice playing conga drums and a bearded lanky guy strumming a Takamine who does the harmonies, but it sounded like a full band.

And when we got there, they were playing “Crazy On You.” You know, the Heart song.

And every song I knew by heart, and seemingly everybody else did too.

They led us in a singalong of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” And Canadians are not shy, everybody was standing, with their arms in the air, testifying.

And then Marcel got up on stage and started popping and locking and posing and…he was the only one up there, and everybody was paying attention, and he LOVED IT!

He ended up singling out young women in the audience to dance with. He’d stride up to their stool, dance in front of them, and they’d get up and join him.

And they’re playing “Night Moves.” And “Tiny Dancer.” And the only song they played from the last thirty years was “Shallow.” Oh, that’s right, they played a version of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever…,” but it seemed more parody than truth.

And then they said they were gonna play “Highway To Hell,” but they didn’t. But they did play “Heartbreaker.”

And they had the name that tune section of the program. Someone called “Back In Black” in one chord.

And I’m standing there thinking this is the last music all of us knew, before the world fractured. Classic rock is all that’s classic, other than Motown. They played the riff of “Day Tripper” and everybody knew it.

And they even went a bit deeper, playing a non-bar track, “Sultans of Swing.” And you’re standing there, singing along with every line, and you feel part of the group, which is rare in this splintered internet world.

And then to the background of “Iko Iko,” they had a limbo contest. I haven’t seen that since the sixties. And this really tall girl almost won, I don’t know how she did it.

And all nationalities participated and nothing was famous but the songs. The Hair Farmers were having more fun performing them than those who wrote them.

They did an amped-up version of Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa.”

And of course they played “Don’t Stop Believin'”… And I’m thinking “The Sopranos” ended in 2009, can you believe it?

But the music remains.

And people are grooving in ski boots. Old and young. No one was boasting about their billions, there was no pecking order, you were either inside or you weren’t, the music was leveling the room, it was the great equalizer.

And it’s so strange. What happened to today’s music? The youth like it, the media tells us it matters, but classic rock still rules.

And then, as if we were in Fenway Park, the duo went into “Sweet Caroline.”

And we’re all standing, with our arms in the air, singing along with the chorus and I’m wondering, are they gonna do the refrain?

And then, on cue, a great segment of the assembled multitude sang with all their might, for emphasis…


And it was.

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