Mountain News: Rock/pop stars hit the high notes at 8,300 feet 

NEDERLAND, Colo. – Caribou Ranch was a storied place in its time. From country rocker Joe Walsh in 1972 to Christian singer Amy Grant in 1985, dozens of well-known musicians recorded at the studio.

Chicago, Elton John, and Carol King recorded there, as did Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Rod Stewart, among several dozen others.

The studio’s popularity was owing to its soothing mountain scenery but also its remoteness. It was located just east of the Continental Divide, halfway between the college town of Boulder and the ski town of Winter Park. Musicians tended to hunker down with their work, free of distractions.

But there was also something else – the thin air at 8,300 feet. “You could sing an octave higher,” says Jim Guercio, who founded and operated the recording studio. Rod Stewart, who recorded “Tonight’s the Night,” recorded at Caribou for that very reason. “Could never hit the notes (at sea level),” Guercio told the Rocky Mountain News, a Denver newspaper.

Bass player Kenny Passarelli, who recorded with Elton John and Joe Walsh (“Rocky Mountain Way”), said that after a few recordings, other musicians came to associate Caribou with a particular sound they had not heard before.

“I was showing the band and everybody the control room, and you know what Elton said? He goes, ‘Is this where (Rick Derringer’s) ‘All American Boy was done?’’ I said yes. He said, ‘That’s the sound I want.’”

Thin air wasn’t a high note for everybody. Freddie King, the bluesman, who weighed 300 pounds, needed an oxygen mask. And John Lennon, who spent four days at the ranch serving backup on an Elton John recording, also wanted hits of oxygen.

 

H2B visa cap has employers worried

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Winter is a slower time in the economy of Jackson Hole than is summer. That’s why it’s all the more concerning to employers there that they can’t find enough hired hands to clean the sheets, wash the dishes and do all the other tasks in a service-oriented tourism economy.

Sharpening the tension, reports that Jackson Hole News and Guide, is the fact that the federal cap on H2B temporary worker visas was reached on Jan. 3, well in advance of Jackson’s high season. That leaves some employers considering recruitment from Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, where visas are unnecessary. Others may use J1 student visas, although they tend to draw more transient and less loyal workers.

The wages are relatively high, about $14 for many jobs as housekeepers, which is too low to interest U.S. citizens, but high enough to draw dozens of Mexicans. A business owner, who spoke to the newspaper only on the condition of anonymity, said he takes whatever document prospective workers give him.

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