The Yukon circus |

The Yukon circus

Charlie Owen
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Yukon Kornelius

Vail, Colorado – When Yukon Kornelius plays a show, they don’t show up alone. They bring their friends, most notably Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Jason Biggs of “American Pie” fame.

“We can’t really do a Yukon show without (Snider),” said Stefan Lessard, bass player for Yukon Kornelius and Dave Matthews Band. We talked to Lessard on the phone after he spent the day snowboarding Vail Mountain. “He’s just invested himself so much in all our shows. It’s still surprising even when you know (he’ll be there) when you finally see Dee come out.”

The band’s shows really leave an impression on the audience.

Former Vail resident John O’Neil saw Yukon Kornelius play two years ago at Snow Daze.

“It’s always cool to see people who play with different bands and different styles of music come together and do their thing in different ways and play together,” O’Neil said. “It was really high-energy. It was almost like being at a party with all your best friends.”

O’Neil was so impressed with their performance that he’s driving up from Denver, where he lives now, to see them perform.

“It was all the great sing-along songs from any kind of party or wedding reception ever, with Dee Snider thrown in,” O’Neil said.

“The show they put on at Dobson Arena two years ago is still resonating with people, it was so good,” said Adam Sutner, director of sales and marketing for Vail Mountain.

Possibly the best part about a Yukon Kornelius show is that you never know who will pop in for a visit when they take the stage. This year Mike McCready of Pearl Jam will play with the band for the first time and Brad Corrigan of Dispatch will be there, too. Rashawn Ross, trumpet player for the Dave Matthews Band, and Marc Roberge, guitarist and singer for O.A.R., also will be on stage.

“There is no agenda. The agenda is to get together and have fun,” said Adam Gardner, vocalist and guitar player for Yukon Kornelius and Guster. “There’s a lot of jackassery and it’s really random because it’s a funny collection of people.”

And they love playing Vail.

“Vail is a great venue for Yukon,” Lessard said.

All the members of the band (Lessard, Gardner, Ed Robertson, who sings and plays guitar for Yukon and Barenaked Ladies, and Eric Fawcett, who plays drums for Yukon and Spymob) love spending time on the slopes when not playing. Their love of winter sports and playing together actually brought them together to perform for the Warren Miller movie “Children of Winter” in 2008.

And even though they haven’t played many shows together, Lessard said, “This show will be bigger than all the others.”

He said they’ll have more guest stars than at any other Yukon show in the past, and they’ve been working on some new songs, as well as some Yukon standards.

Lessard described a Yukon show as being close to a circus in that the band members each contribute their own unique skill sets and musical backgrounds to the mix, while choosing songs to play that they each really want to play – covers, originals and everything in between.

“We’re trying to shake it up this year as far as the songs and the people that are coming to play, so there’s a lot to learn this year. There’s a little bit of pressure there,” Gardner said.

As opposed to playing in a very structured band like Dave Matthews Band with long, detailed set lists and certain audience expectations, Lessard said the joy of playing in Yukon Kornelius comes from a looser format and the excitement of the unknown.

“It’s a show of musical moments,” Lessard continued. “At a Yukon show you don’t really know what to expect … . It’s that moment when we as musicians really get to be musicians, so we’re just making moments and we’re just hoping those moments come across the stage for the audience and so far it seems to have.”

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