The youngest apres musician on Vail’s block fell in love for the first time when he was in fifth grade.
Colin McAfee, 25, grew up in a musical home. His dad, who played the piano, often accompanied his mom, a professional opera singer and private singing coach, in their home’s “piano room.” When McAfee was 11 years old, his mom took him to a Southern Baptist gospel music convention, which is where true love struck.
“Most of the music was classic gospel stuff and very familiar to me as I grew up in the church,” McAfee said. “But I remember the guitar player walking out to the front of the stage with a bright red, hollow-body Gibson and taking a solo. It was as simple as love at first sight.
“I loved the look of the guitar, the sound of it, the way it made me feel when I heard it, everything,” he said.
That Christmas McAfee got a guitar, and today he spends nearly every day playing the guitar, which as morphed from hobby into career. McAfee plays at four local establishments, including Pepi’s on Bridge Street, The Lodge at Vail, Vail Cascade Resort and, starting in January, at Bearfish in West Vail.
He’s also in a new band called The Dot, “a soulful and funky blues rock band,” according to McAfee, which debuts at Montana’s Smokehouse in Avon on Dec. 27.
‘The value of eclectic’
New-to-the-scene apres performer Shawn Eiferman first saw McAfee play back in October at Pepi’s, he said.
“He was supposed to be playing inside, but the weather was so nice he picked up his guitar and came outside,” said Eiferman, who plays at The Red Lion. “I was sitting on the patio with some people I’d met the night before and he plopped down on a stool with an acoustic guitar and started playing, no sound system, no mic or anything. I was impressed by that and introduced myself.”
Eiferman, who performs in Las Vegas the rest of the year, helped McAfee set up Vegas shows for half of November and the two have become friends since.
“His wife has made me pot roast, we’ve hit the slopes, watched football. I think it falls under the category of fate,” Eiferman said.
As far as McAfee’s music goes, Eiferman is impressed by his repertoire.
“Talented is a definite word I’d like to use for Colin,” Eiferman said. “He’ll go from playing a song on the radio right now to a newer country tune to a Hendrix tune; he understands the value of an eclectic set.”
McAfee took some time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
Vail Daily: How did you find yourself in Vail? What brought you here?
Colin McAfee: I came up just like most people: to chase the snow. I had been gigging in St. Louis and decided to put music on hold and come up here and enjoy the mountains. Little did I know there is a great music scene in our valley.
VD: How long have you been in town? Where all have you played and where do you play currently?
CM: I moved up here in 2007 and have been playing all over. Primarily at The Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons in town. I also stay pretty busy with private parties and weddings throughout the summer.
VD: How did your love of performing come to be?
CM: I’ve always played guitar for bands and didn’t really have the confidence to be the front guy for a long while. Sometimes the right girl can give you all the confidence in the world and push you to do things you didn’t know you were capable of. Thanks to Aimee, I quit my day job in 2012 and have been happily living as a full time musician ever since. So my love of music definitely stemmed from my parents, but I’m not sure I’d be the performer I am if Aimee hadn’t started that spark.
VD: I love that you might play a song by Dolly Parton and one by Jay-Z in the same night. It sounds like you have a very eclectic taste in music. Tell me about that.
CM: I love all kinds of music. My mom listened to a lot of classical music as well as classic country like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash, but she had a rocker side to her too that I’m still not sure she is willing to embrace, being a retired opera singer and all ... diva on the surface, rocker at heart. My dad loved the Doobie Brothers and still loves that disco, so I heard it all growing up. He turned me on to a lot of the music that shaped me into the musician I am today. Not so much with the disco, but with artists like B.B. King, Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton and the Doobie Brothers. I was born in 1988, and the ’90s/2000s have been a hip-hop-dominated couple of generations. Gotta love some good rap. So every chance I get, I love to sneak in an acoustic Snoop Dog or Jay-Z song, ideally right after a Dolly Parton song, just to mess with people’s minds.
VD: Are you the youngest apres singer on the Vail scene? What’s that like?
CM: I’m 25, so I guess that does make me the youngest apres singer in Vail this season. I moved up here when I was 19, so I’m used to being the young guy. Even before that, I remember ditching class as a senior in high school to make a rehearsal with this group called Jodie K. Or my friend Jesse having to sneak me in through the kitchen to play a show at some venue that wouldn’t let me in. So although it is a bit intimidating that most of the entertainers up here have 20 years or more experience performing than I do, I feel like I’m used to it, and I can still hang.
VD: Tell me about how you like to interact with the crowd at apres? What can people expect from a Colin McAfee show?
CM: I just like to have fun. Honestly it can be completely different night to night. Sometimes people want to request everything under the sun, and other nights you have to mess with people and get them involved to have the full experience. The entertainment scene has been top notch up here, so I’m just trying to keep it going and make sure everyone is still having fun.