Scott MacCracken: A man of many songs (and jobs)
On his LinkedIn profile, Scott MacCracken self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a “grunt.” Aspen Chapel Rev. Nicholas Vesey has a more becoming, and apt, description — the “voice of Aspen.”
MacCracken’s baritone voice has been behind the national anthem at the past eight or nine World Cup ski events in Aspen and can be heard suggesting wines, beers and spirits to patrons of the Grog Shop, where MacCracken says, “I’m just a cashier and stock boy.”
“It’s not exactly a prestigious position, but it’s an important one with the store, of course,” he said.
Don’t let MacCracken’s self-effacing style fool you. He has sung before hundreds, and thousands, of people. The venues have been as small as churches, high school stages and dinner theaters as well as the former 76,273-seat Mile High Stadium, where in 1999 he belted out a solo performance — just his microphone and him — of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to a packed audience before a Broncos game. He also is a cantor at Christ Episcopal Church, is a member of a local Dickens Carolers quartet and has performed regularly at Aspen Community Theatre productions.
Making MacCracken’s voice even more ubiquitous locally has been its presence over the years introducing radio-station IDs and making public-service announcements, which he still does on occasion.
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A graduate of Capital University in Ohio, MacCracken, who grew up in the Detroit area, moved to Aspen in 1974. Armed with a degree in vocal performance, MacCracken previously had auditioned for a handful of opera companies, including the prestigious Lyric Opera of Chicago.
“During the process, I realized it wasn’t for me,” MacCracken, now 65, said.
A friend of his, who had ski-bummed in Aspen, enticed MacCracken to take a shot at the mountain life. MacCracken moved here in 1974, later unearthing an affinity for wine and a need for skiing.
“Skiing was a light interest, not the main thrust for coming here,” he said. “I was in the ski club in high school, and I had been here in 1968.”
MacCracken soon latched on to the Bell Mountain Buckaroos, a playful group of skilled skiers who are still at it today. (MacCracken said he would be with the gang Sunday for their 45th anniversary of the annual Buck Off, when they bombed down the Ridge of Bell for the last day of the season on Aspen Mountain.)
“One of my co-workers brought me into that circle of people, a really good group of quality skiers on Aspen Mountain,” he said. “It was a process of learning to get to that level of skiing so I could keep up with those guys.”
More than 30 years later, MacCracken laughed that he might finally fit in.
His prowess as a singer, however, helped pay the bills, or at least some of them. From 1974 to 1981, he was a member of the cast at the Crystal Palace dinner theater before taking his skills to the Columbine Dinner Playhouse in Aspen. The venture there didn’t last long, but he became acquainted with New Yorker Marisa Post, who was “my leading lady” in the cabaret at the Playhouse.
Post and MacCracken decided to test their talents in New York City.
“She said I could have success there,” he recalled. “I kind of liked the girl, and that’s where we went. We had some success, but as fate would have it, we ended up coming back to Aspen. And not necessarily by choice, I got into the wholesale wine business and continued singing.”
The New York experience, while short-lived, allowed MacCracken to take a role as Charles Dickens, one of his more satisfying character portrayals.
“He was such a social activist, very important,” MacCracken said.
MacCracken and Post, a theater director and development director for the Aspen Chapel, married in September 1983 at the City Clerk’s Office in Manhattan before their return to Aspen. Their son, Andy, is now 27 and runs the National Campus Leadership Council in Washington, D.C.
Andy has been politically involved since he was in Aspen High School — he once applied for a City Council vacancy — and his father also has some thoughts how Aspen is run.
Scott MacCracken said the entrance to Aspen — one of our favorite debates — could be fixed by converting one of the downvalley, or westbound, lanes at the S-curve during the morning commute to an upvalley lane and doing the opposite during the afternoon commutes.
“Why hasn’t this been tried?” he said.
MacCracken isn’t much of a car person, however. He said he rides his bike to and from work every day. He also has a bicycle-maintenance business, Spokespeople, which he operates from home.
MacCracken and Post also own a franchise business called Cruise Planners, a travel agency they recently launched.
He said he took his first cruise last year and found it immensely enjoyable. For those who can find full-time work in his first calling — stage performance — he encouraged them to capitalize on it.
“That’s the nature of theater,” he said. “If you can devote 40 hours a week to this job, it can be rewarding and really wonderful.”
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The Aspen Filmfest program, which opens Tuesday night with the Jessica Chastain-led drama “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” is a tribute to the founder, Ellen Kohner Hunt. The festival will also recognize the memory of Hunt with “Ellenfest” on Thursday.