VAIL — After getting tipped $33,000 from a woman in a single month, apres entertainer Steve Meyer was feeling pretty darn lucky. It was 2001 and at the time, he was singing at The Club, the bar at the end of Bridge Street now called Shakedown Bar.
“I thought that was pretty impressive — until she bought one doorman a turbo Audi and the other one an Escalade,” Meyer said. “Yep, I thought I was special until she did that.”
The same woman ran up a $24,000 bar tab in one night, Meyer remembered.
“That was a good year for us,” he said. “Later, she came out to Hawaii with her ski instructor boyfriend and spent $300,000 in 14 days.”
Last season, a guy bought a $1,000 worth of Patron tequila shots for everyone at Shakedown Bar; the year before that, another gentleman bought the bar $6,000 in drinks.”
After 28 winter seasons performing at bars in Vail, Meyer could tell stories for days.
“Oh yeah, there’s a lot of good stories like that,” he said.
‘Have a real good time’
A California native from a musical family, Meyer’s music career began during college at San Diego State. With the plan to be a ski bum for a year before pursuing a teaching and coaching career, he took a gig performing during the winter season in Mammoth.
“That first year I played there, I made three times the money a school teacher makes, with three times the time off,” Meyer said.
He figured he’d do it “one more season,” but after making even more money the next year, Meyer was hooked. After a drought left Mammoth struggling, Meyer came to Vail. It was 1986. He played seven nights a week at The Red Lion, plus an apres gig in Lionshead.
“I was doing eight gigs a week,” Meyer said. “I’d be dead if I tried that now.”
By then, Meyer could make enough money in a ski season to take the rest of the year off, he said.
Back then, he thought about going back to school for awhile, and he did in 1988, mostly because he was dating a girl who didn’t like him being an entertainer, he said, and wanted him to get a “real job.”
“We broke up and I went back to singing,” he said.
Starting in 1989, Meyer held down the stage at The Club for 25 years. It was in the late ’80s when somebody yelled out “good times man” a few times from the crowd. The moniker stuck.
“I said, ‘yep, that’s a good title,’” Meyer said. “And then it ended up in the newspaper ad. It started out there and stuck there. And it usually is a good time at the show; people who like my show have a real good time, and have a lot of fun.”
‘He’s the whole show’
This year, Meyer is playing on a new stage. He’s at Vail Underground, formerly known as Whiskey Jack’s. When Sid Towle, the owner of the bar, found out Meyer was looking for a stage to sing from, he nabbed him.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and I know what a staple he’s been here in Vail,” Towle said. “I was excited to have the opportunity to grab him. When I first moved here in 1999, we’d go see him. I even bought all of his CDs.”
To date, Meyer has 10 albums out, filled with original rock, ballads and comedy, he said.
“He was just entertaining and engaged the crowd,” Towle said. “He wasn’t just a singer going through his playlist. He’s funny and he’s the whole show.”
Pat Gregory, now a part-time Edwards resident, agrees. Gregory started coming to Vail with her husband and son more than 17 years ago from Cambridgeshire, England. It was originally Europe’s poor snow that brought them to Colorado to ski, but then Vail’s Back Bowls lured them from Breckenridge over the pass. While staying at the Christie Lodge, in a two-week timeshare they bought sight unseen, Gregory and her husband saw an ad for The Club, featuring Steve Meyer. That was a dozen or so years ago, and each year the couple visited, they made it to two or three of his shows.
“We always had a good laugh, a dance, a sing-a-long and even though we tried other apres ski entertainers, we came to the conclusion that he was a far better singer-songwriter-entertainer for the over 21’s than anyone else in the valley,” Gregory said.
‘Keep shocking them’
Eventually the couple talked to Meyer and “found out what a nice guy he was, so unlike his stage show, which is quite naughty at times.”
And indeed it can be. But so far, no one has complained to Towle about that — at least “not yet,” he said. In fact, during the years, it’s the naughty factor that’s kept people coming back, Meyer said. But the whole show isn’t necessarily dirty.
“If they were ever to sit down and figure how much music I’m playing, it’s 80 percent music, a handful of comedy songs I wrote, a handful of one liners and some risque jokes,” Meyer said. “I blend that in with the show. It keeps them interested. People’s attention spans are like 25 seconds anymore, so I have to keep shocking them so I don’t lose them.”
These days when Meyer’s not in Vail, he splits his time between homes in the Philippines and Hawaii with his wife and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Summer, who was “born on the fourth of July,” he said. He loves to scuba dive, boat, fish, ocean kayak and golf.
As for how much longer he’ll be singing in a bar on Bridge Street, it’s anyone’s guess. This could be his last season, he said.
“There’s a chance it might be,” he said, citing big changes he’s seen in the demographics visiting Vail these days.
“It’s not what it used to be,” Meyer said. “The baby boomers with the money are on more fixed incomes and they’re not spending money skiing and going to bars. They go to Florida and spend less money. And I don’t see the corporate groups coming in yet. We used to have huge groups of stockbrokers and corporate people and they’re kind of disappearing,” being replaced with families and international visitors, he said.
“I’ve had a long career,” he said. “And if it’s my last year, I sure had a lot of fun.”