Words & Deeds

Michael Deeds: Step up, hot springs lovers, or get soaked by the feds

Michael Deeds
Michael Deeds

A hot springs controversy normally wouldn’t be fodder for an entertainment know-it-all, but I’m dipping my toe into the water, anyway. This is Idaho, where outdoors is entertainment. And I promise to wear swim trunks. (Yeah, right.)

It appears to me that the Bureau of Land Management simply doesn’t want to have to deal with Skinny Dipper Hot Springs, a popular series of soaking pools near Banks. So they’ve announced a decision to remove the soaking pools and close the area to all use for five years.

Not to go all Ruby Ridge, but Idahoans shouldn’t stand for this.

The official press release cites years of BLM and county law enforcement responding to “incidents associated with activities occurring at Skinny Dipper Hot Springs and the adjacent parking area.” (Um, yes, wildly disparate people do visit hot springs. Proceed at your own risk at night.) Citing “potential” environmental contamination, the release frets about “discarded hypodermic needles” and “human feces.” (Can we get some science? Has anyone actually tested any water? Somebody call “MythBusters.”)

By the way, is it really, truly impossible to transport some sort of bathroom to Skinny Dipper and service it? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to improve our state’s wondrous outdoor luxuries, not just shut them down?

Bottom line: Hot springs do occasionally attract idiots. Anything fun attracts idiots. It’s a sad fact of life. But we should never allow the sins of a few to give our government a reason to banish its citizens from Idaho’s wilderness. Look at the photos on the newly launched “Save Skinny Dipper” Facebook page, which already has netted more than 5,000 “likes.” Skinny Dipper sure looks like a cool place.

If a group of hot springs enthusiasts volunteers to maintain Skinny Dipper for the BLM, who apparently just can’t handle it, the feds definitely need to give it a chance.

It’s time to take action, Idaho — before another mountain-recreation opportunity dries up.

Outdoor concert season is off to an encouraging start. Dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling’s May 26 performance at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s 4,000-capacity Outlaw Field has sold out in advance.

Good for her. Outlaw Field sometimes seems to have that magical effect on attendance numbers. But not always. Exceptional rock band My Morning Jacket had its 2012 show relocated to the smaller Knitting Factory after it didn’t sell well. More disappointing, the concert wound up being a couple dozen fans short of even selling out the Knit. And it was a fantastic night. Frontman Jim James commanded the audience like a voodoo priest summoning spirits. I’ve seen My Morning Jacket twice. Both times, I was floored.

In other words, if you have even a passing interest, definitely go see My Morning Jacket on Oct. 6 at the Revolution Center. James has the “it” factor. He’s a rock star. It’s a spiritual experience. Tickets go on sale for $35 May 9 at Ticketfly.

Local EDM fans probably choked on their pacifiers this week when Canadian DJ-producer Deadmau5 mentioned Boise on Twitter. Um, he was being sarcastic. There’s no indication that Deadmau5 is coming to Boise.

In 1984, Andy Byron moved from Southern California to Nashville to see if he could make it as a songwriter. He lasted a year, but it was a great experience, he says.

Byron, who settled in Boise a decade later, even returned to Nashville in January to record his new CD, “The Journey.” He’ll celebrate the release with his seven-piece Lost River Band on May 8 at the Sapphire Room (8 p.m., 2900 W. Chinden Blvd., $20 and $28 general, Brown Paper Tickets).

The well-rounded album — the second he’s ever made — covers a 40-year span of songwriting. Produced by industry veteran Rick Chudacoff and featuring his friend Michael Martin Murphey singing backing vocals on a track, it’s purposely a commercial-sounding venture.

Byron has no illusions of busting onto country radio at this point in life. But why not keep the door open for pitching these songs to other artists? “Maybe I can get a song to George Strait or whatever,” Byron says, adding contentedly: “There’s no pressure.”

Sounds like a plan. It also makes for a standout “local” album. Pick one up at the show, country fans.

Michael Deeds’ entertainment column runs Fridays in Scene.