Music is back at Jimmy Buffett and Glenn Frey’s former retirement

Jimmy Buffett and Glenn Frey’s former retreat to Snowmass. Image courtesy of Mad Dog Ranch and Studios


The new owner of Mad Dog Ranch has completely renovated the multi-story property, adding two state-of-the-art recording studios meant to inspire the next generation of musicians.

On a rainy Wednesday night earlier this summer, a handful of people crowded into a cozy, cabin-like recording studio at Mad Dog Ranch and Studios in Snowmass. They watched and listened from a plush navy blue sofa as, a few feet away, local Roaring Fork Valley musicians Adam McCabe and Larry Good strummed their acoustic guitars and launched into a clever and catchy song called “My Five-Beer Plan “. “

McCabe and Good performed their intimate concert, as part of a series of summer events hosted by Mad Dog and the Little Nell Hotel in Aspen, set against the backdrop of framed album covers by Glenn Frey, Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles. Nearby, a small teddy bear perched atop a rich, dark brown wooden grand piano with a sign that read: “Glenn Frey’s piano for sale, inquire inside.” With its vaulted ceilings, exposed blond wood beams, plush rugs, and cozy window nook for sound equipment, Studio B looks more like a welcoming living room than a recording studio.

After being silent for almost a decade, the music returned to Mad Dog. The wooded Rocky Mountain creek resort was once owned by Buffett and later Frey, both of whom traveled regularly to Aspen to rest and draw inspiration from the art from the late years. 1970. Mad Dog’s new owner Julie Garside completed an ambitious renovation of the property’s main house (where she lives), a small guest cabin and two outbuildings that Buffett and Frey used as recording studios. private.

She has preserved the charm and history of the multi-story ranch while simultaneously modernizing the recording studios with state-of-the-art equipment that she hopes will help launch the next generation of legendary musicians. “I really want to share it with everyone because it’s such a great place,” says Garside. “I would like it to be a creative, inspiring and safe space for artists who come here to create and find unique inspiration, moments of collaboration.

Buffett bought the property in 1976, then sold it to his good friend Frey in 1990. Frey converted two log outbuildings into small recording studios, where he recorded his album Strange Weather and mixed the album’s live music. Eagles Hell Freezes Over. Buffett has also produced creative works here, writing the songs “Son of a Sailor’s Son,” “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes,” “Gypsies in the Palace” and two children’s books. According to Garside, the ranch also had loud, celebrity-filled parties in its (naturally) heyday.

Mad dog ranch
Image courtesy of Mad Dog Ranch and Studios

Garside, who owns a property management company and is a retired ski instructor, was recovering from knee surgery in 2015 and was looking for a home improvement project to pursue when she first came across the property in a real estate ad in a newspaper. Puzzled, she reached out and programmed a screening. When she arrived there, she immediately felt a personal connection to the lush green property, which is surrounded by tall trees and accessible via a covered bridge that crosses Snowmass Creek. “When I set foot on the property, I felt this instant creative energy,” she says. “I just felt like it was in the ground. I feel like the property chose me.

The ranch needed a lot of work. Although Garside did a few smaller-scale renovations on her own, the Mad Dog renovation was by far her biggest project to date. “Something inside me felt, I needed a change. I have to do it. This is how I need to express myself, ”she says.

Garside, who has been a Buffett, Frey, and Eagles fan since childhood, began negotiating with Frey’s team. Although she was not the highest bidder, she believes she closed the deal because she was planning to bring the property back to life. The two sides signed a contract in January 2016, just two days before Frey died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis.

While renovating the guest cabin and main house in 2017 and 2018, Garside also installed older equipment in the two empty on-site recording studios. In 2019, she started organizing a few private events, songwriter retreats and recording sessions. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Garside has seen a significant increase in requests for private events and one-on-one parties, but it has also used the pandemic as an opportunity to upgrade recording studio equipment and to hire Marc Meeker, a sound and recording engineer. the 17-year-old recording who has worked with people like Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban.

Meeker, who was living in Nashville at the time, moved to Colorado permanently in June to become a Mad Dog engineer. He too felt an instant connection to the ranch.

“There is really magic in the studio and in the property itself,” Meeker says. “Creative types are inherently very sensitive to their surroundings. When you come to try to reveal your most sensitive feelings or to create this moment, the environment and the atmosphere mean everything to them. Because if they don’t feel like it’s a safe place for them to be comfortable and create, the magic doesn’t happen.

Since reopening this summer, Mad Dog has recorded audiobook, voiceovers for commercials and movies, full bands, solo artists, prominent celebrities, and more. Decades later, there’s music and creativity to Mad Dog again, and this time around, it’s open to everyone, not just rock stars. “I hope people find it as sacred a space as I do,” says Garside. “It is a bit like sacred ground.”

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