For the next few months, musician Shawn Eiferman is trading sand for snow and the what-happens-in-Vegas crowd at Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo for the ski-boot-clad crowd at The Red Lion on Bridge Street in Vail.
After 25 years, apres music staple Phil Long is now performing next door, at Shakedown Street, and Vegas singer and songwriter Eiferman is entertaining the Lion’s masses for the winter season.
“People are anxious to see the new guy,” Eiferman said. “I’ve never been under this big of a microscope before.”
And while he doesn’t know if he’s necessarily any better or any worse than Long, he can promise you this: “I’m different.”
“I’m acutely aware of the size of the shoes I’m filling at the exact same time that I’m ignoring it,” Eiferman said. “ I understand it — I totally get it — and if I focus on it for a second, it’ll change what I do and how I do it.”
After 25 years of performing at The Red Lion, Long, who is still part owner of the Red Lion, needed a change, said his former wife, Red Lion managing partner Jennifer Long.
He basically played at same place for long enough and wanted to change the view for a year and decide what he’s going to do next,” she said. “He’s still an owner, still involved and you’ll still see him in there, enjoying his place.”
When it came time to book an apres musician for the winter season, Jennifer reached out to friends in the music industry for recommendations, she said, and was pointed towards Eiferman.
“I called him, started the dialogue and then we booked him,” she said, referring to the restaurant’s other partner, Rod Linafelter. “Rod went out to Vegas to see him and went to catch his show at Cabo Wabo. He called me and said ‘Oh my God, we did the best thing by hiring him.’”
For Eiferman, who has been offered gigs in the past to go to Singapore, play on cruise ships and perform at Club Med locations but turned them all down, the timing couldn’t have been better.
“It was time for a change,” he said. “The timing was never right or the location wasn’t ideal before. This time it all made sense — my kids are old enough to take care of themselves; my wife is a world-class ballroom dancer with Arthur Murray and spends 15 hours a day in the studio and will love coming out here once or twice a month for a break.
“Plus, Edwin McCain is a friend of mine who recommended me to the owners and he told me if I didn’t take the gig, he’d pimp slap me,” Eiferman said.
Eiferman came to Vail to perform a few sneak peek shows in mid October.
“He was very comfortable,” Jennifer said. “It was great to see people come out and support something new; people are excited for fresh change there. I think we’ll draw many of same people, but a new crowd for sure. He had a lot of positive feedback, played a lot of covers, but people wanted to hear his own stuff, too.”
Jennifer calls him a “consummate entertainer. “
“He knows how to play to the crowd and be part of the experience,” she said.
Vail resident Stephanie Boyd saw Eiferman play at one of those offseason shows in October, she said. He played a mix of popular covers and some of his own songs.
“I was impressed,” Boyd said. “The crowd was into it and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I think people were excited to see someone new.”
‘Let me sing you a song’
So far, Eiferman has encountered people from opposite sides of the spectrum: “Some people love change and are jumping up and down about the change,” he said. “And some people don’t — they love the same bartender, want to sit in the same seat and order the same drink every time and hear the same songs.”
Eiferman just has one request: Give him a chance.
“Before you tell me I suck, let me sing you a song,” he said.
There’s no telling what the song might be, either. Eiferman plays a little bit of everything, he said, including rock, country, reggae and some original stuff — “a little something for everyone.”
“I don’t want to pigeonhole what I do,” he said. “People ask what kind of music I play and I shrug my shoulders and say ‘what do you want to hear? What do you want to sing with me?’”
By and large, Eiferman has felt super welcomed. Case in point, Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards in Lionshead, took him skiing on Tuesday.
It was Eiferman’s first time skiing Vail Mountain.
“I ski, but by the time I leave, I will be a skier — there’s a big difference,” Eiferman said.
Eiferman was taking photos of Schleper, documenting the experience.
“He’s a legend,” Eiferman said about Schleper.
“The support up here, the excitement and hospitality has been second to none,” he said.
And for that, Eiferman is grateful.
“All I really do is have fun,” he said. “I don’t have the type of voice that will get me on some reality show. I have fun so the people who are there are having fun. That’s what I bring to the table. “