Phish was big part of Breck trio’s lives |

Phish was big part of Breck trio’s lives

Special to the dailyLike Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead from venue to venue in the 1960s and 1970s, Lindsay Malkiewcz, Sean Travis and Michael Winepol lived to see the jam-band Phish.

BRECKENRIDGE – Like Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead from venue to venue in the 1960s and 1970s, Lindsay Malkiewcz, Sean Travis and Michael Winepol lived to see the jam-band Phish.The three died in a head-on collision while en route to see the band in Coventry, Vt., Friday – a tragic event that rocked the world of those who travel to see each show, and the worlds of those who knew them in Breckenridge, more than 1,760 miles away.”It’s one of those typical things: Why do bad things happen to good people?” said Richard Snider, owner of Daylight Donuts in Breckenridge, where Malkiewcz, 25, worked for the past two months. “She was definitely a great person, really smiley, really happy, very generous. Everyone who knows her likes her.”Malkiewcz also worked at the Salt Creek Saloon a block away, an establishment that took a double hit Friday. Malkiewcz was traveling with fellow Salt Creek employee Travis, who was also killed in the head-on collision. Vermont State Patrol troopers said Sunday there is no new news regarding the incident.The band’s farewell concert was scheduled for Sunday night, although the band is now considering hosting one last show. Seventy-thousand tickets were sold for the event. Malkiewcz, Travis and Winepol were to be among the 23,000 who gathered Friday night in a muddy field in northwestern Vermont. An additional 38,000 were stuck in traffic on local roads, and cars were backed up 25 miles on nearby Interstate 91, Vermont State Patrol troopers said. More than 6,000 fans abandoned their cars and walked to the site after officers tried to turn them back.Malkiewcz’s would have been one of those.

“We always teased her about it,” Snider said of her love of the band. “None of us like that music.”Scores, if not hundreds, of Summit Countians are among the ranks of those who travel far and wide to see their favorite bands.Loaded up into cars, trucks, buses, vans – or in recent years, piling into planes to fly out to their destinations – the fans often center their lives around the next big show.”I think a lot of it has to do with when Jerry (Garcia of the Grateful Dead) passed away,” said Gary Koenig, owner of Affordable Music in Dillon. “Phish and Widespread (Panic) picked up a lot of the stragglers.”A former employee of his – along with about 20 other Summit Countians he knows – attended what was supposed to be Phish’s final show in Vermont this weekend. Koenig said he’d heard that between the accident and the torrential rainfall there, she was stuck in traffic for 20 hours.”It’s a sad thing,” he said of the three who died. “They went out there for a good time and didn’t make it.”Vincent Monarca of Frisco got his start following the Grateful Dead, from the early 1990s until Garcia died this month in 1995.

Dead tour attracted thousands of hard-core fans – Deadheads – to the psychedelic tunes, the twirling dancing, the sense of belonging. On tour, no one went without. On tour, everyone was family.”It’s kind of the same thing,” Monarca said of the jam-band crowd. “But more people have it dialed. In Keystone, they were kind of surprised everyone was buying top-shelf liquor and kicking down for condos.”Monarca, who’s seen more than 100 Widespread Panic shows, said he’s at the end of his run, primarily because he’s tired of going to concerts to listen to the music and being inundated with others socializing.Mike Slavin, manager of the Salt Creek and Travis’ roommate, wanted to go to the weekend Phish show, but that would have left the restaurant a bartender short.Instead, because the two were moving into different homes, he helped the 31-year-old pack up his 7,000 CDs – of which almost 1,000 of them were Phish.”They were going to the thing they loved the most,” he said. “It was one last party for Phish. This was going to be the last hurrah for them, too.”Saturday night, Slavin and about a dozen friends climbed to the top of Baldy Mountain and yelled at the gods for the fate handed to their friends.

Sunday, he and others traveled to Denver to watch the Coventry shows that were taped and syndicated.”We’re going to go watch that Phish show in their memory,” Slavin said. “That’s what they’d want us to do. Sean bought me tickets to go do it. I know him well enough; I know he’d kick my ass if I didn’t.”Services for Winepol are tentatively set to take place Monday in Greensboro, N.C. Private services are being planned for Travis in Augusta, Ga., next week. Local services are pending for Malkiewcz.Slavin is trying to arrange an event at Carter Park to celebrate the lives of those three and two others – Jason Claywell, 29, a former Salt Creek employee who died in a car wreck in Little Rock, Ark., July 23 and Benjamin Oberholtzer, 23, who died in a cliff-jumping accident at Green Mountain Reservoir July 25.”The whole town’s kind of been hurting the past couple weeks,” he said.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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