Growing up in Northampton, Kurt learned to ski at Blue Mountain, back in 1979, when it was known as Little Gap. He started teaching at Blue in 1990, and at one point the mountain director required instructors to “stand at attention” during lineups. He was working in construction at the time and “forced his boss to lay him off” that cold winter. Rather than hammering in a few nails and having to break to defrost, Kurt wanted to teach skiing! He promised his boss he’d return with the warmer weather. There were not full time positions available in the regular ski school, so Kurt spent that winter working in Ski Wee from 9 am - 6:30 pm, teaching children and school groups. Kurt worked at Blue for five years, until 1995 and returned for a single season in 2004. He has been back since 2009.
Kurt has been involved with PSIA, off and on, for almost as long as he’s been at Blue. His original goal was to pursue the examiner track or the developmental team, and he passed the teaching portion of Level 3 in 1994, the same year his first son was born. He had planned to do the Level 3 teaching in 1995, but two more sons and a daughter followed, in 1996, 1997, and 2000, and PSIA plans were understandably put on hold. He dropped his membership and has recently picked it up again. Rather than pay back dues to reinstate his level, he’s going through the process all over again! This season, he passed the CS-1 exam, and just beat the melting snow to pass the skiing portion of level 2.
Along with skiing, Kurt’s drumming goes way back. He started a basement band in 8th grade and played the base drum for his school in 9th grade, which he hated. He wanted to play other drums, including the triple and quad. He recalls, “I was a brat. I was good and I knew it.” After graduating high school, he played with several different groups, including Poker Face, Hexen, Entity, Diamonds, Sorcerer and more. For a while, Poker Face was sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft, and Kurt had “a lot of fun with the Miller Genuine Draft girls.” When Kurt was first starting, he could play Friday night in Philadelphia or New York, work all day construction on Saturday, and play Saturday night in New York or Philly again. Being the drummer, Kurt had all sorts of gear to oversee as well as performing. That pace might be a little harder to maintain today. He recently joined some others to form the band Skrap Metall and they will be kicking off June 5th with Stereo Type at the Willow Street Pub. The gig is from 3-10 on the deck.
Every drummer must have a couple of Spinal Tap* stories, and Kurt does not disappoint! While playing with Entity — at the height of the “hair band” era — Kurt had hair extensions that were long and got in the way of his construction jobs. He switched to a synthetic wig, until one fateful night. They were playing in Philadelphia, where the venue cared “about the look, not the sound” and the drums were set on a platform in a low-ceilinged room, directly below some very bright lights. During the course of the evening, the wig melted and the hot plastic fibers burned Kurt’s bare shoulders. As soon as he could, he ripped off the wig and vowed to never wear one again.
Another time, the wing nut on Kurt’s cymbals failed and the disc flew off into the crowd. Luckily, no one was decapitated! During a hot outdoor gig at the Promenade shops, Kurt was in the middle of a drum solo when the guitarist lost control of the sweaty towel he was waving. It landed on Kurt’s head, but he barely missed a beat.
Kurt returns to Blue Mountain again and again because of the people, who “bring you back.” His favorite lessons are with teens and older, who want to have fun. His dad, “Two Run Larry,” is a fixture at Blue. He had a concussion recently, but is doing ok. Kurt met his girlfriend, the lovely and talented Susan Page (subject of a future instructor profile) at Blue. Their relationship started slowly and Sue questioned if Kurt would pick her up if she fell. Kurt responded, “I’ve been trying to pick you up for weeks,” and Sue retorted, “Maybe you should try harder!” They have been together for about five years.
That wig incident must still linger, as Kurt to this day doesn’t like wearing things on his head, including a helmet! Those who can keep up can see his distinctive blond curls as he’s tearing down the hill, having a great time and listening to the beat of his own drum.
* For those who do not know this movie, this “Rockumentary” shares the story of the rock band Spinal Tap, that is constantly replacing drummers. According to a question asked by a Newsweek interviewer of "Spinal Tap" member David St. Hubbins, a.k.a. Michael McKean [regarding the number of drummers]. “Well, we've lost count. It got spooky. We decided we were going to make an entire album with no live drumming at all--just a computer program. And you know what happened? The computer crashed. And we said, ‘Walk away. Walk away.’”
Sheri Miltenberger, June 2016
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