Christine has served this community since 1985 as a musician playing in bands across the valley including the Shelley & Kelly Band, the Cow Patsy’s, an all-female led band who performed twice for Hilary and Bill Clinton, and of course the famed Stagecoach Band. Christine grew up with two sisters, as a daughter of a miner in Pocatello, ID. She moved to Jackson when she was 28 years old. People would ask her “Don’t you want to have a baby?!” She’d say “I don’t want a baby, I want a band!”
Christine’s younger sister moved to Jackson Hole in 1983 to work as a clerk at the Post Office. Six months later, on Christmas Day, Christine also moved to Jackson from Aspen, CO. She had majored in vocal music at Utah State with the intention of teaching, but set her sights on becoming a professional musician after hearing bluegrass and country musicians in Aspen. At that time, Jackson was still a quiet town on Christmas Day – no restaurants or grocery stores were open which meant Christmas dinner was from the only open convenience store.
“The main things that drew me to Jackson are the beauty of this place, the outdoor activities, and the music opportunities. I’ve played many different Jackson Hole venues, from the Cowboy Bar, The Wort Hotel, the Stagecoach Bar to private parties, weddings, and dude ranches. What I love about the community is that we’re a fairly small town with so many cultural opportunities – whether that’s great restaurants, art galleries, and events at the center for the arts - it’s the amenities of a larger town in a small town.”
Christine participates in the community through her talents as a musician, playing Old West Days on the Town Square, programming with Dancer’s Workshop and the Senior Center, and fundraisers for various local organizations, to name a few.
Christine met her late husband, John Hess – love at first sight – while skiing at Targhee. At the time, John owned a music store and worked summers as a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska. The music store was located in one of two historic buildings on North Glenwood Street that had once been housing for St. John’s Hospital nurses. A years-long saga regarding the fate of the property ended with one building being moved to a West Bank property and the other being demolished. The eight units in the nurses’ quarters had been home for many locals. Luckily, Christine and John were selected for a home in the first Community Housing development, Mountain View Meadows, and became home owners in 1994.
Besides the music store, Christine’s husband had worked as a driver for START bus for 13 years, a guide for Dick Barker Scenic Floats, as a landscaper, and as a carpenter, before his passing.
While things have changed as a result of a multitude of factors since Christine moved here in the 80’s, she believes that if the housing crisis is left solely up to the open market, the situation would be much worse.
“The people who are in Affordable homes are contributing to the community in a meaningful way and provide the diversity – ethnicity and wealth – that every town needs. I recently visited Aspen to visit a friend I knew from when I used to live there years ago and I was shocked to see that there’s no nightlife anymore. It’s turned into a shell community where everyone comes into work but then goes back to the community where they live. It’s killed the vibrant scene that used to have music, hopping restaurants & bars, and art galleries. We can't afford to have that happen to Jackson otherwise we wouldn’t have the interesting things we love going on in town.”