BOND — Almost the entire crew of the progressive electronic rock group Eminence Ensemble share the same origin — growing up and attending middle and high school in Summit County. When the group officially formed as college students at the University of Colorado Boulder, many of their first fans were friends from the mountains. One of them was Tony Seibert, the grandson of one of the founders of Vail, who tragically lost his life in an avalanche in January.
“I actually grew up ski racing with him in my days in Summit County. He was Vail and I was Summit, so I’ve known him forever and we all went to college together,” said Tanner Bardin, drummer and vocalist for Eminence Ensemble. “He was one of the first couple fans we had that would regularly come to the shows. Just a good buddy.”
In memory of his friend, Bardin helped organize the PardeePalooza, a two-day music festival and camping event today and Saturday at State Bridge Amphitheater featuring Eminence Ensemble and a handful of other bands.
On Jan. 7, Tony and three other experienced skiers went into the backcountry. Making turns down the East Vail Chutes, they triggered an avalanche, which injured the other three skiers and cost Tony his life.
Tony’s death sent shockwaves through the mountain and skiing community. Thousands showed up for his memorial service.
“He was one of the best skiers in Colorado, easily,” Bardin said. “I grew up ski racing with him. Great dude, super outgoing; everyone loved the kid.”
The last music festival Bardin attended with Tony was at State Bridge Amphitheater in Bond, a venue about 40 miles away from Vail, and where the PardeePalooza will take place this weekend.
Tony’s older brother, Pete Seibert, reminisced about attending music shows with him.
“I remember when I was younger, when I was in college, I used to take him to Red Rocks quite a bit. I think he was 16 or 17 when I took him to his first show,” he said. “Every chance I got when I was up in Vail — because I lived in Durango for quite a while — I’d take him to a show. And if it wasn’t me, it was friends in Boulder, they would take him along.”
Even if Tony didn’t particularly care for the music, “as long as he had his friends around him, he had a good time,” Pete said.
Bardin remembers Tony for his adventure-seeking spirit.
“He was, more than anything, an outdoors guy,” he said. “He was always backpacking to Alaska, skiing here and there, jumping out of helicopters; doing wild stuff.”
The name of the event comes from Tony’s middle name, Pardee. When Bardin first got the idea to do the festival, he contacted Teri Seibert, Tony’s mother. Through her involvement, a portion of the proceeds from the event will go toward an avalanche safety awareness scholarship. The scholarship can be applied to avalanche awareness classes — important for those planning on spending any time in the backcountry, whether professionally or recreationally. Attending such a class can be cost prohibitive for some people. The purpose of the scholarship is to give anyone the chance to attend and learn more about staying safe in the backcountry.
“What happened to my brother, I don’t want to happen to anybody else,” Pete said. “That is someone’s kid, someone’s best friend. Any chance there is an opportunity to educate someone on the backcountry and keep them alive is a good thing.”
The event itself will include camping, vendors and, of course, music. Eminence Ensemble will play both nights, and among the many songs they’re performing is a very special one.
“We wrote it after Tony passed away, called ‘Tony’s Song,’ and it’s probably one of our most powerful, technical tunes,” Bardin said. “So that’s another way we will be celebrating Tony this weekend.”
The festival is open to anyone and everyone, whether they knew Tony or not. That said, there will be plenty in the crowd who knew Tony, or had connections to him and his family.
“All my brother’s friends are dropping what they’re doing, taking work off, coming up to celebrate his life,” Pete said. And celebration was nothing foreign to Tony. “He was the life of the party. If you were having a crappy day or were down in the dumps, he’d make sure you’d have a great time whether it’s going to the bars, going to a show or hanging around the house playing video games. He made us laugh quite a bit.”
Bardin feels that gathering people together for a celebration is one of the best ways to honor his friend. He hopes the festival will continue.
“That’s kind of the way that Tony can live on, as a giant gathering music festival,” he said.
To start off the festival, Pete and his sister Lizzie will take the stage to say a few words about their brother.
“It’s just cool to see the love that all my brother’s friends and my friends have been giving,” Pete said. “It meant a lot for them to ask us to say something.”
He’s also looking forward to hanging back with his camera to “watch the shenanigans go down.”
“I can’t wait,” Pete said. “It’s going to be a blast.”