Edwin McCain’s Vail Village beginnings | VailDaily.com

Edwin McCain’s Vail Village beginnings

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/Zack Arias

VAIL, Colorado – Nearly 20 years ago, singer/songwriter Edwin McCain spent a cold winter in Vail, shuffling between Bridge Street bars with his guitar in hand, hoping for a break.”This guitar is kind of like a magic carpet; It’s taken me all over the place and I’m just incredibly grateful,” McCain said during a phone interview this week. “I consider Vail sort of a launching pad.”The soulful storyteller returns to his old stomping grounds today to open for Dwight Yoakam at tonight’s Vail Snow Daze concert in Ford Park. There’s a good chance he’ll stop in at some of his old haunts to visit friends from two decades ago, like Phil Long at the Red Lion and perhaps George Hilliard, who used to play over at The Club and now owns Bearfish Bar & Grill – some of the men he refers to as the “Kings of Bridge Street,” the same guys who let him play when they took the night off.”I’ll be doing the Bridge Street shuffle for sure,” McCain said. “I’ll say hello and talk about how much everything is exactly the same.”

McCain left Greenville, South Carolina for Vail in the early ’90s, hoping to land “a steady gig and a place to live as I practiced the way of the traveling troubadour,” he wrote in a column in the Vail Daily this past summer. The column was a tribute to Dana DelBosco, a much-loved Vail local who owned Resort Entertainment, who gave many musicians their start by booking them in bars and restaurants around town. She passed away in 2004. One night back then, McCain ran into DelBosco at Don Watson’s gig in Lionshead. “I was down to my last 50 bucks and I was desperate,” McCain wrote. “She led me outside and we sat at a picnic table. I told her with tears in my eyes that I couldn’t face the prospect of returning to Greenville with my tail between my legs. I had to find a gig and I was willing to do anything.”DelBosco drove him to Gold Peak bar, a local’s joint above the ski school that was torn down years ago. The Larkspur is there now. McCain climbed on stage, played a few songs and landed a regular gig. “She was really the first person to give me a shot,” he said. While McCain is in town (he’s playing a corporate event Saturday night too, he said) he’ll likely drive by the house on Alpine Drive where he rented a room in the basement. “It was an 8-by-8-foot room and I thought I was king of the world,” he said. “I froze my butt off in that little room.”Shortly after McCain left Vail to go back to South Carolina, he got signed by Atlantic Records. That took place in Vail, too. “We were playing at Gartons and Jason Flom from Atlantic Records was there. We’d come to Vail because Jason loved snowboarding … the next day on the slopes, right near Mid-Vail, on a nice sunny ski day we were sitting there and Jason said ‘Hey, I want to sign you to the label.’ That was my big moment.”McCain has since recorded 11 albums, has a wall of platinum and gold albums that have sold in the millions, and has reams of Top 10, 20 and 40 hits, but he still remembers his big break, courtesy of DelBosco. “Vail is kind of where it all happened for me,” he said. “I will say that I’ve never felt more accepted anywhere than I did that winter.” High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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