How We Started
New CD from Lake Tahoe artist offers audio tour of history and sights
September 5, 2008
By Annie Flanzraich – Bonanza News Editor
Darin Talbot soaks up some Tahoe sunshine at the Mt. Rose lookout. Bonanza Photo -Jen Schmidt
Aside from being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Tahoe also has a unique and fascinating history. It is one that local musician and storyteller Darin Talbot hopes to share with visitors and locals in his latest production, “Around Tahoe.”
The two-disc album features 19 stories about the lake’s history, 22 original songs and eight tracks called “Cool Spots” that tell listeners about places to eat and shop, or things to see off the beaten path. Talbot said the album was inspired by his love and knowledge of the lake.
“It sort of happened by chance,” he said. “I didn’t really plan on making this, although it doesn’t surprise me that I thought of it because my love for Lake Tahoe is sort of an obsession,” he said.
The idea came while he was working on the Tahoe Queen six times a week, telling stories and singing songs for its patrons.
“Tahoe is the most beautiful lake in the world and so that means that the history is compelling because it’s so pretty, that it’s such a magnet and a draw, that we have these great stories,” he said.
Some of the more fascinating stories involve the eccentric and not so eccentric people who have made the lake a home, Talbot said.
“It’s unreal what a magnet the lake has been for famous people, people who became famous or infamous for the way they lived here,” he said.
Some of his favorite tales involve historical people like the Hermit of Emerald Bay — Captain Dick Barter. Barter is said to have been the first resident of Emerald bay. Barter, aka “Captain Dick,” was an Englishman who moved to Emerald Bay in 1863 and worked for the Overland Stage Company as an undertaker. He made his home on the shores of Emerald Bay and lived there for 10 years. Talbot said Captain Dick was known for his visits off Fannette Island for whiskey. He lived alone and died in 1873.
Another one of Talbot’s favorite stories involves Snowshoe Thompson — John A. Thompson — an early resident of the Sierra Nevada of Nevada and California. Between 1856 and 1876, he delivered mail between Placerville, Calif. and Genoa, Nev. and later Virginia City, Nev. He traveled with 10-foot skis, and a single sturdy pole generally held in both hands at once. Despite his 20 years of service, he was never paid for delivering the mail.
Talbot said there was plenty of material for the discs.
Talbot said to get the timing of the discs right, he drove around the lake about a dozen times. He continuously edited the disc to make sure the information fit in time with the drive.
Traffic and construction were two things that Talbot also took into consideration when timing the disc.
“They say that Tahoe has two seasons — winter and construction,” Talbot said. Talbot said he also tried to drive the lake as a visitor would. “I tried to drive the lake as a tourist would drive it,” he said.
“I tried to drive it slowly and I tried very hard to keep my average speed around 40 miles per hour.” He also wanted to make sure that the album was something people would keep with them after they listened to it the first time.
“Rather than it being just a guy saying ‘now you’re going to see this and now you’re going to see that,’ I wanted it to be something that would entertain and educate people,” Talbot said. “I wanted them to be really proud of the product.”
But even though Talbot kept visitors in mind when designing the album, he thinks that locals will also enjoy the many stories and songs it has to offer.
“I have no doubt that any local is going to learn something they didn’t know about the lake,” he said.
The driving tour guide is the first in a trilogy of history based tour guides.
Talbot said he is busy at work designing the second tour guide that focuses on the history of skiing in Tahoe as well as boating. The skiing tour guide will be out by the end of November and the boating is set for the summer of 2009. “Around Tahoe” can be purchased at many locations around the lake including: South Lake Tahoe’s Village Wear-Ski Run Marina, Montbleu Gift Shop, and True Value; Incline Village’s Seven-11, Chevron, Village Square Family, Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitors Center, Grog & Grist, and Harbor House at Sand Harbor; Zephyr Cove’s Zephyr Cove Gift Shop; Crystal Bay’s Made in Tahoe and Cal Neva Resort; and Tahoe Vista’s Captain Jon’s Restaurant. Talbot said the disc will be coming soon to Raley’s in Incline Village.
Back Country Darin Talbot
October 2, 2008
By Brad Bynum
Reno News and Review: Music
You think you love Tahoe? Not as much as this guy, Darin Talbot. Photo by Brad Bynum
I overheard something recently that explained a phenomenon that had heretofore been a complete mystery to me: the longstanding success of Jimmy Buffett, king of the parrot heads. Buffett has built his entire songwriting career—not to mention his books, restaurant chains and various other entrepreneurial endeavors—on a single ideal moment: sitting on a tropical beach, fruity cocktail in hand, watching the sunset. It’s been a great day and the night ahead promises to be even better.
It’s a moment that’s meant a lot to many people, and Buffett totally owns it. Now, some of us wouldn’t want to live in that moment forever, but few of us who have ever experienced it would deny that we enjoyed it. For a lot of folks, just the mention of the word “Margaritaville” stirs up happy memories of that moment—real or imagined.
Singer-songwriter Darin Talbot is sometimes referred to as “the Jimmy Buffett of Lake Tahoe.” This isn’t because of an overwhelming musical similarity—Talbot has more in common with acts like Dave Matthews or Jack Johnson. But, like Buffett, there’s a similar single moment he epitomizes:
“After a day snowboarding in the Tahoe back country, coming home, ready for a beer,” he says.
While Talbot doesn’t balk at the “Jimmy Buffett of Lake Tahoe” label, he wants to be known by his own name. He prefers the title “The Voice of Lake Tahoe.”
With sun-kissed hair and skin and a snowboarder’s demeanor that’s equal parts giddy and carefree, Talbot has been performing relentlessly around the area for the last 12 years or so, and has released about a half dozen albums. But his latest release, he says, “is really the culmination of 10 years’ work.”
Around Tahoe: The Ultimate Tour Guide for Driving around the World’s Most Beautiful Lake spans two CDs and nearly 50 tracks. The tracks alternate between songs, historical stories and insider scoop on restaurants, bars and shops. It’s Talbot’s comprehensive, multi-faceted portrait of the lake.
“It’s fulfilling a need,” he says, “without compromising artistically.”
The CDs are meant to work in real time as the listener drives around the lake. Talbot put a lot of effort in getting the timing to work as well as possible. You can start the audio journey at any point along the lake, and then drive clockwise, on the side of the road closer to the lake. The CD booklet folds out to a map that shows possible starting points along the lake and corresponding tracks on the CDs.
The historical stories, replete with sound effects, detail Tahoe-related subjects ranging from the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley to the Angora fire of 2007, from Mark Twain to Frank Sinatra, from Bonanza to The Godfather Part II.
“The songs are meant to provide a taste of Tahoe lifestyle,” says Talbot. They’re laidback, unobtrusive ski bum tunes with titles like “Lazy Days in Tahoe.”
“It’s everybody kind of music,” says Talbot. “It’s family friendly and tourism-driven.”
For many songwriters, providing songs for a tour guide album would feel like a sell-out. But not Talbot. His whole oeuvre is about the place. His fascination—obsession really—with Tahoe is authentic. He may be a lot of things, but he’s not a poseur.
“Tahoe is not on the pedestal that it belongs to be,” he says. “Its history is so dynamic … It’s the greatest lake in the world.”
When Talbot says Tahoe “is the greatest lake in the world,” he says it with casual conviction. It’s not just his opinion, but an indisputable fact. He considers it his role in life to sing praise for the lake and to live perpetually in that perfect Tahoe moment.
“Who’s going to write 18 songs about Tahoe again?” he says. “That would just be insane!”
For more information, or to purchase Around Tahoe: The Ultimate Tour Guide for Driving around the World’s Most Beautiful Lake, visit www.aroundtahoe.com
Read article on newsreview.com
Tahoe singer’s new direction: driving you around the lake
Living | Saturday, October 5, 2008 | Read Article on rgj.com
Darin Talbot’s latest project is narrated ride around Lake Tahoe
By Siobhan McAndrew
Darin Talbot has put out “Around Tahoe,” a two-disc driving tour of Lake Tahoe that features 19 different stories about the lake.
For 31 years, Darin Talbot has been scouting out the ins and outs of Lake Tahoe.
He eats and drinks at north, south, east and west shore restaurants and bars. He has hit the slopes at every ski resort. He spent summers on the Tahoe Queen telling stories about the lake, and with the rest of his time, he sings songs about the area.
“We take the lake for granted,” said Talbot, who is the man behind “Around Tahoe,” a two-disc album. The CDs are a driving tour that tourists and locals can listen to as they drive the 72 miles around Tahoe. The tour works in time and takes about three hours, but Talbot encourages listeners to stop and enjoy some of his favorite spots, including a place to get a great burrito, a great dinner and the place where you won’t be disappointed if you order drink called a Wet Woody. The CDs come with a map.
“Around Tahoe” includes more than two hours of history, legends and places to see and experience around what Talbot calls “the world’s most beautiful lake.”
s During the tour, Talbot tells 19 different stories about the lake including history and facts about Cave Rock, Thunderbird Lodge, Mark Twain, Frank Sinatra and the Cal-Neva Lodge. He tells some of the legends about Lake Tahoe’s monster, Tahoe Tessie, and how Tahoe got its name.
In one story about Tahoe’s West Shore, Talbot does a great job telling the story of Snowshoe Thompson, a “ski bum” who delivered the mail over the Sierras from Placer County to Carson Valley for 20 years in the 1800's.
“No matter what the conditions were, Thompson got the job done,” Talbot says. Talbot’s narration is accompanied by sound effects including heavy breathing to represent Thompson’s trek over the Summit and the howling of coyotes to represent obstacles he likely faced. This continues through the CD and you can hear the sound of a typewriter when Talbot talks about Mark Twain and the soundtrack music to “The Godfather” when he talks about movies filmed in the area. The ‘voice of Tahoe’
Talbot is a local fixture on the Tahoe scene and has been called the “voice of Tahoe,” by local publications.
It’s a title Talbot is more than happy to claim.
“I think anyone could have come in and done a tour, but because it’s something I have actually lived, you get something special from this CD.”
Listening to the CD reinforces Talbot’s, 37, love for the area. “It is no mystery as to why Tahoe has a magnetic hold on the human spirit, just one look at the fabled clear waters of Lake Tahoe is enough to make any person want to stay here forever,” he says on the CD.
It is easy to understand what Talbot is talking about if you have driven Highway 50 over Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe.
This is the first in three tours Talbot plans to release. He plans to do a similar tours of local ski and snowboard areas and a tour that is done from the water for boaters.
“There are people who have lived at the lake their entire lives and don’t know some of the stories,” Talbot said.
He said other destination spots such as Hawaii have driving tours, and Lake Tahoe has just as much history and many stories to keep listeners entertained.
“I’m not sure why Tahoe doesn’t get the same recognition as other places,” he said.
Stories about Tahoe alternate with 22 songs Talbot has written about the lake.
“I think if it was just two hours of me telling facts people would lose interest,” he said. “These are songs about the lifestyle.”
“Ski Bum,” “Old School Rider” and “Snow Day” are a few of the songs that tell stories of Tahoe’s lifestyle from Talbot’s perspective.
“Jimmy Buffett sang about Key West, John Denver sang about the Rockies and Don Ho sang about Hawaii, so I think it’s fitting that someone sing about Tahoe,” Talbot said.
What: “Around Tahoe,” a driving tour
Where: The tour can start anywhere around the lake’s 72 miles
About the creator: Darin Talbot crew up at Tahoe. He performs around the lake and will be singing Friday-Sunday at the Resort at Squaw Creek beginning Nov. 28.
Highlights: The CD includes Tahoe statistics, Angora Fire information, stories about Emerald Bay and the legend of Captain Dick, Snowshoe Thompson, Tahoe Tavern, Squaw Valley and the Olympics, the “Bonanza” TV show, Thunderbird Lodge and Cave Rock
Samples from the CD:
• The Cal Neva, From Track 6: “And then there was the most famous owner of all, Frank Sinatra. Ol’ Blue Eyes himself bought the property in 1960 … Hollywood simply could not get enough of the Rat Pack in those days.”
• “Bonanza” at Ponderosa Ranch, From Track 9: “The Cartwrights lived on the Ponderosa Ranch, located in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. While the Ranch was their home only a number of the outdoor scenes were actually filmed here, most notably the opening scene of the show with them all riding on horses.”
• Mark Twain talks about Tahoe, From Track 13: “We heard a world of talk of the marvelous beauty of Lake Tahoe. Lake Biglar we called it back then after the third governor of California. … “
• Cave Rock, From Track 17: “Cave Rock is actually not a rock at all it, but rather the stem of an ancient volcano, home to the spirits of the Washoe Indians. … One legend has it that the bottom of the rock is the home of Tahoe Tessie, the Lake Tahoe monster.”
• Emerald Bay, From Track 11: “How do you put in to words something that can’t be described? It is without question one of the most photogenic places in the world.”
Troubador Darin Talbot releases ‘Around Tahoe,’ a musical travelogue
Lake Tahoe Action | Thursday, November 6, 2008 | Read Article on tahoedailytribune.com
By Tim Parsons, Lake Tahoe Action
Magazine Cover - November 7-13, 2008
The voice of Lake Tahoe has become louder. Storytelling songwriter Darin Talbot narrates and sings tales of his home and his passion on “Around Tahoe,” a historical guide and double CD.
“I always tell people I am either completely insane or I’m truly onto something,” said Talbot, best-known for performing with his guitar aboard the Tahoe Queen and at ski resorts. “You need to have that unfettered, undying passion for the lake where you are so obsessed with it that you would actually do something like this. Nobody could ever question if I like Lake Tahoe or not.”
“Around Tahoe” is a labor of love for Talbot. He intended for motorists to play the CDs as they circle the lake. They include 19 stories about Tahoe, which educate visitors and tell tales that not even lifelong locals have heard, pointing out points of interest — or “Cool Spots” — places to eat, drink, walk dogs or sight-see. Twenty-two of Talbot’s greatest hits from his four albums — songs about Tahoe and its lifestyle — play in between the stories.
“It’s spoon-feeding,” Talbot said. “Let’s face it: Who wants to read a book when they are on vacation? And little Joey and Suzie in the back seat will have a better time, too. Now they have talking points and conversational pieces for the rest of the trip. This might make them care.”
Subtitled “The ultimate tour guide for driving around the world’s most beautiful lake,” the CD has been an instant success. The Aug. 28 is already available in 55 locations.
“What’s most interesting is not just Snowshoe’s stories, or just Captain Dick’s story, or just Mark Twain’s involvement, or Sam Giancana with the Cal-Neva,” Talbot said. “It’s really the whole of them together. That’s what proves the incredible magnet that Lake Tahoe is. I’ve been saying for years there’s very few places that has the magnetic pull that Lake Tahoe has. There’s something in the middle of that lake that tugs at people and makes them do things.”
Homespun stories abound about Tahoe notables, authors Mark Twain and John Steinbeck, the hermit of Emerald Bay Captain Dick Barter, and the Native Americans who gave “The Legend of the Big Water” its name. Tales about Snowshoe Thompson, the Sierra’s greatest mailman, are told, along with those of Frank Sinatra and Sam Giancana of the Cal-Neva casino. The disc also includes the story of the Donner Party and the unlikely success of the 1960 Winter Olympic games.
McAvoy Lane, the longtime Twain impressionist from Incline Village, narrates in the voice of Twain, who said Tahoe possesses “truly the fairest sight the earth affords.”
Capt. Dick Barter’s passion for the lake was remarkable. A former undertaker, he moved to Fannette Island in 1883. “When I think about the most quintessential local of Lake Tahoe I think Captain Dick has to be at the top of the list,” Talbot said. “Not only did he love living at Lake Tahoe, he cherished it so much that out of fear he never left his home out of fear of somebody taking it. But when it came down to it he had his weakness just like every other local.” Barter’s weakness was a desire for whiskey. So the few times he would leave the island, he would row 17 miles up to the bar at Tahoe House in Tahoe City. Foolhardy, a liquored-up Barter would row back to Lake Tahoe’s only island, fearing that he might lose his home. On one occasion his boat capsized, and he had to swim. Barter survived, but he had to cut off his frostbitten toes, which he saved in a jar.
“Beyond the stories and the history, the most compelling magnetism is how it effects the local, who says, ‘I’m gonna stay here now and just live here,’ ” Talbot said. “Those stories happened over and over and over here.” Talbot said Snowshoe Thompson and Squaw Valley ski resort founder Alex Cushing are two of Tahoe greatest heroes.
“In terms of merit and dignity, Snowshoe has to be on top,” he said. “He was the most dignified, most generous, most crazy, all at the same time. Captain Dick’s stories are as interesting as anybody’s for sure, (but) he was just trying to preserve his house. He wasn’t doing anything to better mankind. “Alex Cushing made the impossible happen. People don’t realize it was almost basically impossible. Go to any other place for the Olympics anywhere, and you couldn’t finds a more compelling place for the most improbable Olympics ever. There was nothing there. No town. Not even a ski resort, and he got it. It was an unbelievable, miracle type of thing.”
Some of the stories are oft-told legends that are possible to disprove. For example, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau did not explore the lake in search of “Tahoe Tessie,” its mythical sea monster.
“I don’t go to the length to say I am a fictional or nonfictional storyteller,” Talbot said. “My job is to tell the story as it is myth, as it is folklore, as is truth, published, unpublished. In any great place where you go, folklore is part of the history. It depends on how you present it. If you say this is the undeniable truth, you put yourself in a bad spot. If we get some criticism, if we get some feistiness — that’s good. We’ve got people talking. We’ve got people interested.”
Talbot will update “Around Tahoe” (Website: www.aroundtahoe.com) and changes and updates occur. For example, 2007’s Angora fire is a contemporary event as historic as any. Talbot calls the first edition a template. A 6-year-old Talbot was introduced to Lake Tahoe in 1978 on a family camping trip at Sugar Pine Point State Park. His mother asked his father, “Wouldn’t it be great if we lived here?”
The epiphanic patriarch decided to make quality of life a priority over a standard of living, and he moved the family from Southern California to the east shore of Lake Tahoe.
Darin Talbot is a second-generation Lake Tahoe romantic, and a backcountry snowboard pioneer who equally loves the beach lifestyle here. He’s not shy about wanting to be Lake Tahoe’s equivalent to Hawaii’s Don Ho, and it would be hard to argue that he wouldn’t be an ideal emissary for the “Jewel of the Sierra.”
“Around Tahoe” concludes with environmental efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe.
“It ends with a lasting impression to protect the lake, and people might take ownership in it,” Talbot said. “Tahoe has never been put on the pedestal it deserves. It’s up in the clouds. Maybe they won’t take it for granted, and maybe we’ll make much better tourists.”