Peak music

Granite Peak has ramped up its music game to appeal to townies and the out-of-town ski crowd too.


Country singer Dawn Marie opened for Wheelhouse at one of Granite Peak’s Party at the Peak concerts.

Margaret Butler knows how to work the crowd. As the lead singer of Milwaukee band GGOOLLDD, she takes a wild approach to her front woman role, rolling on the floor with audience members, singing with her arm around a concertgoer, and putting on that big show experience.

This particular show wasn’t at a venue in the band’s home base of Milwaukee, or on the North American tour the band is currently on to support its latest EP, Teeth. This happened the day after Christmas in Wausau, at a ski chalet.

The show was part of Granite Peak’s big new surge in music offerings, including its Party at the Peak series with a full slate of shows this season.

Once you see a show at the large, ballroom-sized Sundance Lodge, it makes sense. Of course there would be a concert series at this long and spacious hall. Add a stage, some professional sound and lighting and the space very quickly turns into a real concert hall, adding to Wausau’s growing live music scene.

Having bands at Granite Peak isn’t really anything new, but the Party at the Peak series is a big step up from scheduling a few local bands playing in the background during the day. The bands Granite Peak booked this season—including GGOOLLDD, based in Milwaukee and making a huge splash on the national scene—are big draws. Genre wise, the shows have run the gamut: Dead Horses drew a bluegrass, flannel shirt and fancy mustache crowd; DJs such as DJ Deville brought a younger dance crowd. And crooner Dawn Marie drew a country-loving crowd. While the “Party” series is done for the year, it’s just one portion of the entire concert lineup that has brought big music to the hill several times a week. The reggae-rock band Unity is coming in March, and they turn every show into a party. Not to mention Big Wu and Kind Country.

It’s part of enhancing the whole experience, says Granite Peak Operations Manager Vicki Baumann. “It’s something they do at Lutsen Mountain (the hill in Minnesota owned by the same company) and it has been very successful,” she says. “We wanted to bring it to Granite Peak and try it here.”

People don’t want to just ski all day and then sit in their hotel room at night, Baumann explains. So they wanted to give visitors something else to do on site to make the trip to Wausau worth it. The concerts also expose Granite Peak to people who don’t ski. When they come for the music and see the mountain, it might inspire them to try skiing, Baumann says.

“These are big headliners,” says Lisa Zilinsky, Granite Peak’s director of marketing “They’ve been bringing in good crowds.”