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Patron saint of snowboard songs and all things Tahoe

Tim Parsons

Darin Talbot is following his father’s footsteps in the snow and sand.

When he was 5 years old, Talbot’s family vacationed at Lake Tahoe. His father asked, “Why don’t we just live here?” as the family sat on the beach gazing at the clear blue water. “We can’t make a living here,” his mother replied. “We’ll figure it out,” Dad answered.

That might have been the greatest day in Talbot’s life — which is quite a statement when you consider one of his mantras: There are no bad days in Tahoe.

Talbot, who has lived at Tahoe for 31 years, has made ends meet for the past 10 years solely as a musician. Like his father, Talbot figured it out.

He picked up the guitar at 17 so he could put his poetry to music. Less than 10 years later, he was playing professionally.

Talbot sings about Tahoe, describing and celebrating its beauty and romanticizing a lifestyle. His four albums, including the new “To Be Without You,” convey a message of love and passion.

Describing Talbot is easy: He’s true blue, a sincere advocate of the lake.

“Tahoe is unique in it is the most accessible natural wonder in the world,” he said. “I had this vision ever since I started writing songs about Tahoe that I wanted to be the entertainer of the lake. I feel like it’s getting very close to fruition.”

Some feel he’s already there.

“He’s probably already accomplished that,” said musician and KOZZ DJ Max Volume. “Darin’s one of the hardest-working men in show business. Every night of his life he is out playing somewhere. He’s a warrior.”

In December Talbot will perform all 31 days.

Talbot and Max Volume share a history of backcountry snowboarding and playing solo acoustic shows at ski resorts in exchange for lift tickets. Talbot calls the DJ the “Monster Truck of Acoustic Guitars,” and Volume says Talbot is the “Patron Saint of Snowboarding.”

Incline Village was a great place for a snowboarder to grow up who knew about the secret spots. The Mount Rose Highway, or “Apollo 431,” has plenty of switchbacks. A group of boarders would take turns as the shuttle driver.

“We would get out of the car and run and jump over the snowbank before people could see us,” Talbot said. “It was a top-secret, covert snowboarding operation.”

When a friend took a faceplant, Talbot said, “Dude, you are the Tweeker Shred Master.” Years later, he wrote a song with that title, winning a songwriting contest and led to a gig with Brian Setzer at the Playboy Mansion. The song was on the soundtrack of the Warren Miller film “Off The Grid.”

“I feel like I was involved in snowboarding in Tahoe at its best time ever,” Talbot said. “We still go to same old stomping grounds every year. The powder’s still there.”

He said a ski bum is happier than someone with wealth.

“I think there’s been a lot of rich guys who have seen ski bums and been envious,” he said. “They’re on cloud nine, and they didn’t need money or material things to get that way. Anybody can be a ski bum, but not everybody can be rich.”

Not all of Talbot’s messages are about having fun. “Angora,” a poignant song about the June fire that destroyed 254 South Shore homes, speaks of the fragility of the lake. He donated proceeds of the song to the Angora Fire Relief Fund.

In January, Talbot will record a narrative to be played aboard Tahoe’s sternwheeler boats, the M.S. Dixie II and Tahoe Queen.

“We wanted a historical narrative with a contemporary twist,” said Carol Chaplin, Lake Tahoe Cruises’ director of sales and marketing. He’s so enthusiastic and knowledgeable of the area. He’s more than authentic.”

Talbot said there is no stopping the amount of visitors to the lake. He said the more educated visitors are about Tahoe’s history and its fragility, the more they will respect it and take steps to preserve it.

“I think in the next 10 years with the convention center and everything, I think we will Lake Tahoe rise to a level of notoriety that we’ve never seen before,” he said. “I can’t believe it hasn’t happened already. You look at Aspen of Vail, and why are we taking a back seat to these places? It’s crazy to me.”

Chaplin said Talbot is an ideal voice for the lake.

“He just lives and breathes the stuff,” she said. “Not too many people are as passionate about what they do. I can’t imagine him doing anything else.”

Gigs

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 28-29: Embassy Suites (outside), 6-9 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 30: Full band at Heavenly Mountain Resort, California Bar, 2-5 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31: Embassy Suites (inside), 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.


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