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Bring it on!

Organizers say Faith Hill concert could open the door to other big ticket events

Faith has left the mountain.

In fact she’s left Whistler altogether and is currently in the midst of a run of shows at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.

But the excitement around her concert last Saturday night at Base II on Blackcomb remains.

For fans, it was the invaluable experience of witnessing a live performance by a favourite musical act in an epic venue.

For non-fans it’s having the door opened to the possibility that other big name acts might now be brought up this way to perform under Whistler’s starry summer sky.

With the exception of showgoers’ dissatisfaction over a complete lack of seating in the beer gardens and a temperamental off-season Excalibur gondola stalling on the download, the event as a whole ran smoothly. Promotion company Shout Resort Concerts won the respect of the show’s co-producers Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb and have those organizations’ blessing toward future Whistler-based endeavours.

And it looks like they intend to follow through. According to Shout president Dennis MacDonald, Whistler could see another big name event from his company as early as September. Next summer is more certain.

"Shout has gained a lot of knowledge and experience through this," said Tourism Whistler spokesperson Michelle Comeau Thompson. "That has given them an edge. You learn a lot doing a major production like this and it makes it so much easier the second time around. They know all the players in town. They have the relationships established so it’ll make it twice as easy to execute the second time around, and obviously they seem to have the contacts with the talent. We certainly couldn’t have brought in Faith Hill on our own."

MacDonald is musing over Dolly Parton, Bette Midler with Jann Arden, Norah Jones. He’s not just about the ladies either: James Taylor. Michael Buble. Bill Cosby. Obviously, he likes the adult-contemporary gigs. After Faith Hill, he’s got in the area of 10,000 reasons to feel that way.

The big-ticket mainstream concert scene is a new direction for Whistler, due to the lack of a stadium or high-capacity concert hall. But Blackcomb Mountain is a whole new ballgame.

"I think there were benefits to bringing in that type of audience," Whistler Blackcomb Communications Manager Christina Moore noted. "It was a group of people who probably hadn’t been brought to Whistler for any other reason other than Faith Hill.

"Having said that, there wasn’t a huge local draw, so if we’re looking to draw more of the local community we’d probably look for something a little more contemporary."

More contemporary. Those are loaded words. Think the drawing power of Faith Hill, but let your mind wander through the genres: what about R.E.M.? What about Jack Johnson with Ben Harper? What about Metallica?

Dare to dream.

Shout may have an edge but that doesn’t make them the only gun in town.

"There’s no formal agreement that there would be any exclusivity," Comeau Thompson confirmed. "I’m sure that there will be other opportunities with Shout, but there easily could be opportunities with other concerts or other types of event producers coming to Whistler."

"Maybe Shout is pursuing a certain type of concert and what they did was super successful. Perhaps someone else does decide to pursue something similar but in a different music genre," she added, "but I think Whistler is the kind of place where you can have a lot of different things going on, so bring it on!"