Al Schnier is one fifth of the band moe. and he took some time
to talk to The Mountain Times about the snoe.down festival this
weekend. Al was a founding member of the band over 20 years ago in
Buffalo, NY and his signature vocals and guitar playing help shape
moe.'s unique sound. The band has amassed a loyal following of fans
that enjoy one of the most symbiotic artist-fan relationships in
Schnier explains it best when he says, "There was never a moment
when we decided 'Hey, people really like us - we need to capitalize
on this!' It's been a very organic relationship that's grown like a
friendship. None of it was manufactured because of a contest or
someone told us that we needed to capture email addresses…and we're
not counting on our next single to maintain it." Summer festivals
like moe.down have tripled attendance since the first one in 2000
and accolades, awards and successes have been well-earned.
Mountain Time: Why did moe. decide to do a winter music
Al Schnier: We host several music festivals already. We do
"Summer Camp," "moe.down," we've done several Caribbean destination
events and even cruises. It just occurred to us that we should do
something in the winter time, something based on skiing. We've done
a lot of "ski tours" where we play ski towns or play a place like
Tahoe for several days. We thought maybe we could combine these two
worlds together and have a festival that brings our passion for
music and skiing and snow sports together.
MT: Have the fans been receptive to the idea?
AL: The fans love it. It's different than a
typical summer festival. We get a good deal of our fans out on the
slopes skiing with us. It's a great way to interact with our fans.
Ever since the inception of snoe.down it's been one of my favorite
things to do, to ski with the fans. A lot of people don't ski and
they can enjoy this great part of the country, beautiful Vermont,
music all day, restaurants and hanging out.
MT: The first snoe.down was in Maine and then a few years at
Lake Placid. How is the festival different at its new home in
AL: Once we got to Killington, we realized
there was a different vibe there. Killington is more of a ski town.
Lake Placid has their village, but the mountain is miles from
there, Lake Placid has so much other stuff going on in town. In
Killington we had the option of putting a stage on the mountain and
doing shows in the different lodges. The thing we enjoy doing is
having music in other venues like The Pickle Barrel and The Wobbly
Barn. The VIP brunch where we play an acoustic show on Sunday is
one of my favorite things that we do. We've figure out these little
tweaks along the way.
MT: Why does the snoe.down fit in Killington?
AL: It's the ski town vibe. I think everyone has a
Killington story. I've been going to Killington since I was
13-years-old. At one time or another, everyone has taken a ski trip
there and it's one of the most epic destination mountains in the
northeast and there is a reason for that. There is awesome skiing
and there is a nice vibe there. Great restaurants, too, and it's
just a great place to hang out. In the northeast, it's hard to find
a better spot.
MT: How do you choose the bands that will join you at your
AL: It's like 52 card pickup. We throw out a bunch
of invitations to a lot of our favorite bands that we have recently
played with. Strangefolk is an example of guys we have known for 20
years and were so excited to have. They were at the top of our
list. Then there are the bands that will play the base lodges...
regional bands that are some gems we discover along the way.
Eastbound Jesus is a good example; a band that Vinnie and I met at
a bluegrass festival. Most of these bands are bands that have come
across our radar somehow or somewhere since the last festival. Then
it's just a matter of working out schedules.
MT: One of your side projects is a bluegrass band called
Floodwood. Does Floodwood scratch a 'creative itch?'
AL: Absolutely. It's something that I've always
gravitated towards and finally just had to make the time to do it.
The players in the band are just ridiculous, they are so good! The
timing was just right. The three other players in the group were
all ready, willing and able at the right time. As soon as we pulled
the trigger in this thing we came out of the gate with a bunch of
originals. We are trying to squeeze in as many shows as possible
and we are working on an album which we might release at moe.down
Photo courtesy of Dave Barnum