Who, What, Where, Now!
Marley in the Mountains Festival: Summer 2012
Reggae Music and “Niceness” Come to Sun Valley
Probably the most universal name known to music, Bob Marley is celebrated in 140 countries around the world every February. Since 2008, Sun Valley has officially joined the party. The now semiannual Marley in the Mountains Festival, which put Idaho on the festival map, had its first summer concert on Thursday, July 12th where legendary ska/reggae band, Toots and the Maytals, “lit up” Atkinson’s Park.
What started as a free block party in downtown Ketchum was a peaceful and mellow-mooded tribute to the iconic “Tuff Gong.” The show started at 5pm and continued under the flapping banners of red, yellow and green, with Bald Mountain as the backdrop, and the good vibrations of the Maytals until after dark. The lawn was strewn with colorful picnic blankets and happy people, and there was no shortage of barefoot children, hula-hoopers and people swaying arms in the air to world-renown reggae music, with plenty of Ketchum Grill pizza for munching, beer and cocktails for drinking, and of course, lots of good energy. Paragliders descended from the top of Bald Mountain and circled overhead, swooping over the stage to the delighted squeals of the children and raised beers—everyone squinting at the sky while it turned purple in the west.
Danny Walton, creator and owner of Mountain Niceness Productions, built the festival from the ground up in 2008 because, as he said, he wanted to bring more music to Ketchum: “There aren’t very many places to listen to live music in this town. So I started Marley in the Mountains and the response was so great, we’ve kept it going,” he said. He also admits, he did it because he was hoping Sun Valley would give him a ski pass…
In his spare time, he’s a pro skier for Mammut, Smith and K2 (yes, I’m plugging). Or maybe, in his spare time he puts on awesome concerts… It’s hard to pinpoint which time is “spare” when it’s all fun. But it’s most likely been a sizeable amount of work as well, getting Grammy-award winning bands to come from Jamaica all the way to the middle of Idaho (not Iowa?). But he’s got just the right connections and network of “Rasta family” to pull it off. And thankfully, the festival has been met with growing enthusiasm—up to almost 1200 people this year and all “niceness.”
“I think we draw a big crowd from all the surrounding mountain states,” said Danny. “That’s what Mountain Niceness Productions is all about—all the beauty and things we love about living in the mountains.” If that’s the case, then rugged peaks combined with world-class reggae is just the way to bring us all together.
Keep an eye on Sun Valley Magazine’s calendar this February for the next Marley in the Mountains Festival. Also, be sure to find the beer booth when you go—all proceeds will be donated to the Idaho Social Learning Center scholarship for kids with special needs.