True fans will track you down. That's what local piano man Micky Poage quickly learned after he starting tickling the keys at Vista at Arrowhead after a 36-year run in Vail.
Poage played at Mickey's, a room in The Lodge at Vail, up until August 2011. The space was remodeled to make way for Elway's steakhouse. When he left, there were tears all around, but Poage and his Yamaha grand piano landed 15 or so miles west, at Vista at Arrowhead. We caught up with Poage to find out what his life looks like now.
1. VD: Have your old fans followed you?
MP: Oh, yes - and the young ones too. I am quite grateful to have a diverse, loyal following who truly love watching me rip into huge arrangements. Most love the new location as they can have a great dinner at a nice, comfortable, roomy table while I'm playing. Getting the Vail crowd to Arrowhead in the winter has been a challenge as many do not have cars. However, locals and those who stay in Beaver Creek, like the location and ambience a lot better and I see them more frequently.
2. VD: For years and years you played at the Lodge at Vail and only last year began playing in Edwards, at Vista, instead. How was the transition for you? What's your favorite thing about playing at Vista?
MP: Smooth and quick. I really wasn't planning on being at Vista for more than the summer. I had a few other options I was working on that were in town and a couple out of state. Within a month or so I realized that aside from opening my own place, I had stumbled on to the nearly perfect venue. I could play music like I enjoy playing with no restrictions. Those that wanted the typical "Micky concert" could sit close and those that wanted a little less "concert" could sit in the next room and still hear me just fine. Just like at "Mickey's" tables near my piano were being requested by number at the time of reservation, and they were hard to get. Much to my amazement the new venue was an immediate hit, which General Manager Pentti Tofferi predicted.
No doubt (my favorite thing) is the sincere support from the members of CCR (Country Club of the Rockies) and Vista staff, which is key to me being successful. They all seem to love the new energy and are receptive to new ideas. I still have a lot of friends that come in and sing with me. We featured one in a cabaret setting a couple weeks ago - sound system, lighting and all. I told Janine and Michael (owners of Vista) to expect 50 or 60 people. We ended up having 130 or so. The staff just adjusted and made it happen, which took a lot of cooperation. That's what I like about playing at Vista.
3. VD: Learn any new songs lately?
MP Sure, but nothing I would want to mention. Mostly songs that are personal to friends that come and hear me a lot. I'm hoping to expand my version of "Stairway to Heaven" by listening to it on the chairlift today. Our bartenders Shawn and Kevin are always asking me to play it and I want to keep them happy. Oh, last week I learned "Just A Friend" by Biz Markey for our manager Daryl. I'll only play it if he sings it.
4. VD: What's your most requested song or two?
MP: Right now my signature composition "The Last Run Of The Day" and my arrangement of Les Miserable - the long, intense version. Beatle's and Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue and anything Lloyd Weber of course. Lately I've been getting a lot of requests for "The Notre Dame Victory March" just because people are impressed I can play the song and text my imaginary girlfriend at the same time.
5. VD: Tell me something we don't know about Micky Poage?
MP: I've been married for 27 years, nearing a world record for someone in my business. My wife (Karen) sells real estate for Slifer, Smith and Frampton. She takes good care of me, works a lot and enjoys painting as a hobby. She skied while we were dating, but quit around 17 seconds after I said "I do." Our son, Parker, a junior at Vail Christian High School, was born on our 10th wedding anniversary. He does not play the piano as many assume. We have a ping pong table in our living room near the piano. He only uses the piano for trick shots. We have a dog, Lily, who likes to hike with me near our home at The Summit in Cordillera. Last year we hiked for weeks looking for an open golf course. We were not successful in finding one but enjoyed our time together.
6. VD: What do you like to do when you're not entertaining people?
MP: Sit and stare at the sunset. Compose, practice and write arrangements that challenge my technique. Have a nice dinner with my wife. Ski with my son, friends or even by myself while cranking a great play list in my helmet. Golf, even though I'm not very good at it. Travel and spend time with friends. Many other things that don't involve shopping.
7. VD: Anything I'm not asking I should know about?
MP: Well, maybe a couple things. Vista has valet parking making it a cinch to dine at the facility. Arrowhead is really easy to find and the guys at the gate will direct you to the restaurant. They are quite helpful, especially if you bring them doughnuts. One last thing ... Thanks to all who were concerned for me and my family a couple summers ago. Please know that life is pretty sweet at Country Club of the Rockies.