To say Shannon McCormick is a fixture in the Teton Valley music scene — in both Wyoming and Idaho — is a profound understatement. Known for his trademark sombrero at summer festivals, Shannon is passionate about live music. He references Daniel Levitin’s book, This Is Your Brain on Music, as he describes getting goose bumps when the music is right. “Music triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy,” he says.
Fortunately for us, Shannon has shared his search for great music with the Jackson community since the mid-1980s.
In a classic follow-your-bliss fashion, Shannon moved here for the mountains. Bartending at the Mangy Moose Saloon segued into booking music for the storied Teton Village bar. Alongside Moose ownership, he began securing bigger shows, eventually booking up to three national acts per week. Music-loving locals learned not to miss lesser-known bands poised to become big names — like Widespread Panic. In his role, Shannon enjoyed a broad latitude of music choices; he booked reggae, blues, jazz, comedy, jam bands, and rock.
One of his goals during this time, was to establish Jackson as a tour stop in the West. Located near Salt Lake City, Bozeman, Boise, and Spokane, the Tetons proved to be a great place for a band to add a show and break up a long drive.
Developing events to draw more music and more fans accompanied this effort. Shannon started to work on projects like Music on Main and JacksonHoleLive. Music on Main, a free weekly concert series in Teton Valley, Idaho debuted in 2007 with The Wailin’ Jennys, Los Lobos, and the Clumsy Lovers. Subsequent artists have included The Subdudes, Trombone Shorty, The Band of Heathens, Bruce Cockburn, Honey Island Swamp Band, and the Young Dubliners. JacksonHole-Live, set at the base of Snow King Resort, followed in 2012, bringing groups like The Record Company, John Butler Trio, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Gov’t Mule to town.
In his current capacity as the program director for the Center for the Arts, Shannon has a state-of-the-art stage to fill. In many ways, he says, this “is my dream job. The facility has a huge capacity. We can consider everything, except for maybe the biggest stage shows.” His “curated” shows are a current passion project — using his vast list of music contacts, Shannon puts artists who have never played together on stage for a first-time-ever collaboration. In 2017, Anders Osborne, Jackie Greene, and Hayes Carll played together and the result was magic.
Shannon is quick to credit many people for creating Jackson’s robust music scene: Mangy Moose owners Pat Mahin and Jim Terry, Music on Main’s Cathy O’Connor, JacksonHole-Live’s Jeff Potter, and the entire Center for the Arts team. But as any local music lover knows, Jackson wouldn’t be the musical hot spot it is today without Shannon’s passion and hard work.
“I am humbled to be in a position to help shape the musical and cultural scenes in our community,” he says.
And we’re humbled to reap the benefits of his work.