Music like fresh mountain air in Gypsum |

Music like fresh mountain air in Gypsum

Randy Wyrickrwyrick@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Randy Wyrick | rwyrick@vaildaily.comBilly & the Mountainair's play silver screen cowboy music, along with some western classics and a little rock and roll. They are, from left, Bennett Pollack, Billy Parker and Scott Loss. They're playing Sunday night at Manto's in Gypsum, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Billy & the Mountainair’s play music you know the words to, no matter what music you know.”Music is moving forward, and the Mountainair’s are bringing along the music of the past,” said Bennett Pollack, who’s obviously not Billy so he must be one of the Mountainair’s.The band is a trio; the two Mountainair’s are Pollack and Scott Loss, and, of course, Billy Parker.Parker plays guitar and sings lead in a deep, resonant baritone. Parker was the house band at Cassidy’s in Avon for five years, on and off, so you’ve probably heard him. Finnegan’s Wake is there now.Pollack plays accordion, harmonica, percussion and sings. Pollack is the most hyperactive drug-free grown-up on earth.Loss plays fiddle, mandolin, Dobro and sings. The trio does western cowboy music, not to be confused with country and western music.”It’s music from the silver screen,” Parker said. “We do some Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Sons of the Pioneers – almost anything you can think of. We’ll stick it in the blender and see what comes out.”They’re doing some original music while covering all the classics, along with a little rock and a little roll.”We can play unplugged. We can play at parties indoors, barbecues or campfires unplugged, and not be overpowering,” Parker said. “Most other acts cannot do that.”They can also play night clubs and bars and crank up the volume with some rock music, a little Springsteen, some Rolling Stones.”You haven’t heard the Stones or Springsteen the way we do it,” Parker said.Billy budsBilly has known Bennett for 20 years and Loss for about that long.Parker lived here for 20 years, wandered away for a while to Montana then to upstate New York. He got “lonesome” for the valley and wandered back.He was looking up old friends and found Pollack’s name in the phone book. The number was no longer good, but he noticed the address was eight houses up the street.So he walked up to the front door, rang the bell and it was like walking back into a room with, “Now, as I was saying …”They talked about where they’d been and where they were going. They listened to music and asked each other, “Why don’t we do that?”They couldn’t come up with a reason, so that’s what they’re doing. The Mountainair’s moniker comes from the name of Elvis Presley’s first backup band, The Jordainair’s.”The good ol’ days were a lot of fun and that’s what the Mountainair’s are all about,” Pollack said.”I’m having fun instead of just going to work,” Parker said.Parker has been playing and singing pretty much since the earth began to cool. His grandmother bought him a Johnny Cash album when he was about 10 years old. He bought a guitar and learned by playing along.Tomato Wars and other talesParker wrote the “Song of the Black Wolf,” which became the anthem of the annual Colorado/Texas Tomato Wars held at the Inn of the Black Wolf up by Twin Lakes. It was epic. You should’ve been there.People from Texas and Colorado threw tons of tomatoes at each other for two days, and no one was quite sure whose side the beer was on.A group of pastors came up from Denver every year, wearing white clothes and army helmets with T-shirts that said, “Make Sauce, Don’t Toss,” then ignored their own admonition and opened fire.One year the Texans rented a helicopter and bought gallons of tomato juice to bomb the Coloradans positions. They won that year. The next year the bylaws prohibited aerial warfare.The Texans also fared well the year they built a hay bale fort, dubbed the TomAlamo.Alas, the wars died because they got a letters from the Department of the Interior telling them they could not have a war on government land. They might be allowed to continue if they changed the name to something like Tomato Skirmish. They decided they’d rather not fight than switch.We tell you that story because it’s amusing, because every song is a story and because Billy & the Mountainair’s sing the “Song of the Black Wolf,” along with a whole bunch of other wonderful stuff.They’re playing 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Manto’s in Gypsum. It’s Italian food and pizza, located next to Columbine Market.”What it breaks down to is that Billy & the Mountainair’s are unique and quite simply a darn good time,” Pollack said.

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