Snowmass head honchos find their groove
Andy Gunion, Brian Harrier team up on jam band
The band “Nearly Now” brings a jam-band sound to its performances in Base Village with Andy Gunion on lead guitar and vocals and Brian Harrier covering bass and rhythm.
Those names sound familiar? It’s not just a coincidence: Unlike most other musicians who take to the stage in Base Village, the leads of “Nearly Now” are also at the top of the ranks in shaping the look and feel of the commercial node in Snowmass.
Gunion is the Snowmass managing partner for East West Partners, the firm that oversees the ongoing $600 million development project in Base Village. Harrier is the director of operations at Viceroy Snowmass, one of the largest hotels in the town.
That kind of oversight in the business world doesn’t make a lick of difference when it comes to pre-performance nerves though, Gunion said.
“It’s always, like, nerve wracking, just playing publicly — but once you get going, it’s fun, exciting,” Gunion said. “I mean, we’re only doing it to the extent we think we have something that people want to hear. We don’t want to just get out there and play, so we would definitely put pressure on ourselves to make sure we’re playing well and trying to create an atmosphere and a sound that people are enjoying.”
The two have played together as a hobby for years, and both played classical music when they were younger (Gunion on guitar, Harrier on piano).
But bringing that music to the public is a relatively recent venture; their first show was at the end of this year’s ski season. They took an offseason performance hiatus and have logged around half a dozen shows so far. Harrier takes a “just do it” approach and encourages others to do the same.
“You know, it’s impossible to know what the audience’s reaction is going to be until you get out and actually play, and I think that’s the toughest part about having that kind of a quote-unquote ‘garage band’ is getting the nerve to put that in front of an audience and be comfortable doing that. … It’s a blast,” Harrier said. “Once you get down this road, it’s a lot of fun.”
Photos: Nearly Now performs in Snowmass
Titles also don’t have much sway before an audience looking for live music. To land Base Village gigs, Gunion and Harrier still had to prove their chops to Sarah Sanders, who works for East West managing events and operations at The Collective and the outdoor plaza.
“It’s not getting out there for any kind of ego purposes,” Gunion said. “It’s like, well, do we actually have something to offer here that the public wants to hear?”
Despite the pressure, there’s also a relaxing element to playing as “Nearly Now,” according to Gunion; the band’s name is inspired in part by the sense of presence he said he feels on stage.
“It’s almost like this meditative element of being able to forget about anything else you have going on,” Gunion said. “We both have very kind of high stress, pretty intense jobs, so to be able to have a disconnection from that — and it really puts you in the moment, and if you’re not focusing on what you’re doing right now, while you’re playing music, things can go off the rails quickly, so it kind of forces you into the moment which I think is very beneficial.”
Harrier added that it’s a “cathartic” experience that gives him a sense of accomplishment when the duo masters a new song.
There’s a fat chance that Gunion and Harrier will eschew their jobs in Base VIllage for a life on the road, though.
“I think for me at this point, it’s just kind of a fun hobby, but it’s a hobby that we’re taking seriously, and we’ll see where it goes — but I don’t have any intention to leave real estate anytime soon,” Gunion said.
“But if the invite came to play Red Rocks, we’d probably accept that,” Harrier joked.
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Shuttered since December of 2020, the Red Onion bar and restaurant will open by Thanksgiving, according to Mark Hunt, the building’s owner who is redeveloping the space.