Local musician to set sail – Don Watson | VailDaily.com

Local musician to set sail – Don Watson

Laura A. Ball
Special to the DailyDon Watson performs for the apres crowd at the Sonnenalp's King's Club one winter's evening.

Don Watson’s hoping to warm his way on to a guest spot on Live with Regis and Kelly.”At the very least I’d like to shake hands with Kelly Rippa. She’s just talented and funny, really a neat person,” Watson said.The Vail-based singer/guitarist, who has been entertaining apres skiers for 40-odd years, boards the Pride of America cruise ship next week for its inaugural voyage. The first brand-new U.S.-flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years has been designed to reflect America’s favorite places on board, and Watson has been chosen as the premier entertainer in the Gold Rush Saloon lounge where he’ll play classics such as “American Pie” and “Brown Eyed Girl.”

The vessel will host Live with Regis and Kelly when it harbors in New York Thursday, June 16-24, and Watson is determined to get his five minutes of fame. The same week the boat will host thousands of families gathering for various reunions.”It should just be one hell of a party,” Watson said. “It’s a beautiful ship, and the who’s who of New York is gonna be there.” For the past five years, Watson has been drawing crowds to the upscale King’s Club at the Sonnenalp in Vail Village.

“He’s fantastic,” said Annegret Kramer, who has been the bar manager at the King’s Club for 16 years. “He knows all the songs from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The guy must know 5,000 songs. The crowd loves it. They never leave until he quits playing. In the winter on a Friday night, you can’t even find a chair. People are dancing around the piano bar, and it’s just a lot of fun.”Watson travels the world entertaining. He just got back from London. However, he hasn’t done much work aboard cruise ships. The opportunity came about when the agent of friend and fellow valley apres performer Shannon Tanner approached him. Watson saw the opportunity as an adventure. The fact that the voyage is short made it even more appealing to Watson. That way he can get back to the Sonnenalp Watson classifies himself as a ski bum gone legit. When he’s not performing, he’s busy writing songs and musicals, and recording. The rest of the time, he works as the artist in residence at Vail Mountain School. Watson said it affords him to give his children the kind of education they deserve.

“Survival is a noble fight,” Watson said. “It’s great to be able to make a living performing. I’m really blessed to do what I’m doing.”Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.

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