Take 21 playing cards (or business cards) and make three rows of seven cards each in front of you with the faces up. Now pick a card, but don't say what it is ...
According to the ThinkQuest website, the first magic tricks began around 1700 B.C. In Snowmass, we had to wait until the '70s when the Tower Restaurant began its bar magic entertainment with Bob Sheets.
In 1977, two guys from California decided to ride motorcycles to the Rocky Mountains to see what fun they could find.
They landed in Snowmass Village, for a season. Jeffrey Jacobsen eventually went to work for the Post Office, where he still works, and the other guy became an apprentice for a magician. It changed his life.
Doc Eason has worked as a magician in Snowmass for nearly 40 years now, and during that time he has been honored with four awards by the Academy of Magical Arts from the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood. For magicians worldwide, it's the equivalent of winning four Oscars.
Doc learned bar magic at the Tower Restaurant from Sheets, and he performed there from 1977 until it closed in 2004. Since then he has performed at various venues around Snowmass Village including his current home this summer - the Artisan Restaurant at the Stonebridge Hotel on Thursday nights.
For Doc, bar magic lends itself to a multigenerational resort like Snowmass.
"I jokingly say that my tagline should be 'welcome to an evening that you may not remember, but you won't forget,'" said Doc. "That's because with bar magic, people don't remember what you did, they remember how you made them feel."
At Doc's shows, that feeling is usually fun. At his magic bar, about a dozen people sit facing him with others gathered behind standing.
"The thing about Snowmass is the resort aspect of it," Doc explained. "People are here to have a good time. The crowd turns over, so I always have a different audience. When they come next year, I can do the same trick. And I can help you reconnect with that feeling you had the last time you were here."
At once, you see that the magic tricks are only a small part of the show. When he says that "it's more than magic, it's Doc," he accurately captures the fact that the audience is an important part of the show and in addition to magic tricks and entertainment, what he's really doing is connecting people.
And it shouldn't be any surprise that Doc was a psychology major in California before he climbed on that bike and headed east to Snowmass.
Now, back to our three rows of cards ... take each long row and make three piles. Take the pile with your card in it and place that pile between the other two piles. Then spread the cards out again in front of you with the same pattern of three long rows of seven cards each. Pick your card again. And make three more piles from the long rows ...
"Bar magic is not so much about the trick," explained Doc. "It's about the people. Are you going to be able to sell it? Why are they going to come back? Ad-libbing and riffing is important because it adds spontaneity."
Forty years of performing magic have given Doc a large repertoire of material.
"I now have what Penn Gillette calls a lot of 'flight time' with some of these tricks," said Doc. "Every time you do a trick, you get more experience. I envision each trick as a cube. And each time I do the trick I shave off a little of the edge. With some tricks that I've been doing for 30 years, they are now a nice, concise round ball. And other tricks are not yet dialed in."
In one trick, Doc lets as many as 20 or 25 people pick a card from the deck and memorize it. Then in one long, roller-coaster riff Doc gets each person's name right and correctly names what their card is.
In another favorite, Doc takes a lemon, a dollar bill, a knife and a pair of tweezers and combines them together in a trick that I have seen 30 or 40 times and am still amazed and astounded by each and every time.
Doc will be at the Artisan Restaurant this summer each Thursday evening through August (with the exception of July 19), beginning at 6 p.m. You can reach Doc through his Facebook page.
And now with our three piles in front of us, put the pile with your card in the middle. Then count out the cards and stop on card No. 11. It should be your card.
If not, go see Doc. He's the entertainer.
Steve Alldredge is the former assistant editor/writer for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at email@example.com.