If you don’t like to ski, music venues abound

Posted Dec. 10, 2009, at 6:01 p.m.

It seems appropriate that the day after the first big snowstorm of the season I’m going to talk about skiing in my column. Well, to be fair, I’m going to talk about my lack of ability to ski. Especially in comparison with my friends.

It was not until just about one year ago that I, a born-and-bred Mainer, had ever tried to ski or snowboard. For 26 years I avoided it. Turns out, that was the correct path for me. I should have gone with that, instead of thinking that I would be any good at strapping my feet to two fiberglass boards and hurling myself down a mountain. I mean, seriously. When I go roller-skating, I’m the one pulling herself around the rink by the handlebar on the side. These are not ideal circumstances.

My fiance convinced me to give it a shot, though. Last January, we checked into our bungalow at Sugarloaf. I put on my new ski pants. I got fitted into a pair of skis. I met with my instructor, a funny, laid-back, incredibly patient woman named Linda. She took me out to the bunny slopes just outside the lodge. It was here that the problems began.

While I struggled with staying upright and getting on and off the ski lift, my fiance, my roommate and many of my good buddies were zooming down much harder trails, kicking up imposing-looking sprays of snow and looking incredibly cool while they did it. Me, I felt like I’d accomplished something when I made it a grand total of 25 feet without falling. I got totally wasted by a 12-year-old flying past me as I fell on my butt for the 30th time. Experiment failed.

I learned one important thing: You never know unless you try. I also learned another important thing: I suck at skiing. So this year, when my friends all go to Sugarloaf to ski, snowboard and be all talented and coordinated and whatever, my fellow non-skier friend Tony and I will go with them. But we’ll go snow-shoeing, a sport that requires less physical grace but still is a whole lot of fun.

And after I do that, I’ll enjoy my other favorite winter activity: going to see bands. Actually, that’s an activity I like year-round.

For starters, Sugarloaf of course has lots of music throughout the winter season. Of special note are two shows this January. Musician and virtuoso beatboxer Rahzel will perform in the Widowmaker Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 7. Tickets are $10, and the show is 18-plus. On Saturday, Jan. 16, southern rock legends Little Feat will perform in the King Pine Room, in a show that’s $25 and open to those 21 and older. For more info, visit www.sugarloaf.com.

Down Portland ways, those interested in getting their groove on this winter should first hit up the Asylum, for a show from Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon on Monday, Dec. 18. At Port City Music Hall, check out a New Year’s Eve show from Rustic Overtones, and on Jan. 20 jam masters the New Deal will perform. For info, visit www.portlandasylum.com and www.portcitymusichall.com.

For a more chilled-out musical venture, One Longfellow Square in Portland hosts folk heroes year-round. On Jan. 8, Greg Brown will perform, followed by jazz-folkie Eilen Jewell on Jan. 16 and New England songwriting legend Dar Williams on Jan. 12. For ticket info, visit www.onelongfellowsquare.com.

Modern rock fans have much to be excited about this winter. On Jan. 30 at the Central Maine Civic Center in Lewiston, a triple bill featuring Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd and Skillet will be offered. And on Feb. 14, take your sweetie to see Breaking Benjamin at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Finally, the Strand Theatre in Rockland has back-to-back shows in January featuring two bona fide legends. Ani DiFranco will perform on Saturday, Jan. 23, while on Sunday, Jan. 24, one of the originators of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley, will play with his Clinch Mountain Boys. It’s a rare chance to see one of the greats of American music, and it’s not to be missed. For info, visit www.rocklandstrand.com.

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