Tag: Salt Lake City

I went to The Church of Rock and Roll and got saved by Foxy Shazam

What happens when you cram 200 people into a room the size of a living room and invite Foxy Shazam and friends over? I’ll tell you. I had the pleasure of going to one of Utah’s smallest venues, Kilby Court on 04/12/12 to check out a “revival”. Foxy Shazam, the biggest little band you’ll ever see, rolled through my town. They brought along support acts Cadaver Dogs and Maniac.

Cadaver Dogs…..this band is gritty, loud, and a lot of fun to watch. Frontman Mat, well, let’s just say he made it more than clear that he was there to “please” the crowd haha. He brought serious energy. One of my favorite moments was when guitarist Cole wrapped the mic around the stand and held it over into the crowd for the crowd to sing along. I was getting a kick out of this baby-faced crowd(it’s an all ages venue) smiling politely at Mat’s sexual references and drummer Alex’s coughcough “gestures”. I enjoyed their performance and would definitely see Cadaver Dogs play in Utah if they decide to come back.


Next up was Maniac. I had heard that this was an 80’s band. I would not necessarily classify them this way. While they very enthusiastically crammed 6 people onto the tiny stage and sang for us, I got a Grouplove-meets-Men At Work-meets-ABBA vibe off of them.


The songs were positive, warm, and you could tell that this band has a tightly knit unit. The front men had a very candid and brotherly repoire. I was able to get some shots of them while they performed songs including hit,” Pride of Lion”. They left me feeling happy and I got my fill of la la la’s no doubt.


Lastly, before Foxy Shazam came out, there seemed to be about 50 extra people that smashed into the already surging crowd. The excitement was thick, and I was really pleased at the turn out. I didn’t know that so many Utahns were into Foxy. As the ensemble made the walk onto the stage, the crowd was cheering and screaming. By this time, I’d lost a lot of ground and been forced to the side of the tiny stage. I had the pleasure of standing right behind trumpet madman Alex. I was kindly warned by Mat of Cadaver Dogs that Alex kicks, and to beware. He was right. I spent a lot of time admiring his legs and horn work. Foxy Shazam delighted us with several songs, including “Holy Touch”, “I Like It” and the awesome “Church” intro.

The head of Foxy, Eric Nally, is incredibly flexible. This man basically did the worm from a standing position. For a very small stage he surely explored the space, and being that I was relegated to side stage I was very happy he faced my way quite a bit. I was groin-level a lot of the time kneeling on the ground to shoot through people’s legs trying to get this spectacle on camera for you. And I succeeded. Eric is a born performer. He would be fun to watch without anyone else on stage. At one point he requested the lights be dimmed. We’re at a place that has basically a string of colored bulbs and two clamp lights for lighting. As the lights could not be dimmed, Eric simply unscrewed the bulbs and gave us mood lighting.  I was also delighted to see SO many fans screaming along every lyric with the band. It impressed me that there were so many true fans, and of such a young age. There is hope afterall.

If you don’t go and see Foxy Shazam on this tour, in these small clubs, you’re missing an opportunity to be part of a rock legend in the making. This band is big already, but they will be selling out venues and booking larger gigs. Go, now. See the Church of Rock and Roll, say a prayer and prepare your testimony, because YOU are the apostles that will spread the word. Please enjoy the photos below. Amen.


Tumbledown and Mike Herrera Make Utahns Happy

It’s been a while since I’ve done a review. I am happy that I got to review Tumbledown and Mike Herrera as they came to Tony’s Bar in Salt Lake City on 02/22/12. For old punkers, Mike Herrera is no stranger to you. He is the dark-haired, tattooed frontman of MxPx. You’d have to be living under a rock not to know one MxPx song. I remember seeing them several times on tour as a teenager, and they actually have a new album on the way. The band that Mike’s been with lately is Tumbledown. I’d say they’re rockabilly-punk fusion. The neat part about this particular show is that a friend of mine convinced Mike and the band to come to Utah for this performance instead of another state. She’s been in love with MxPx since I’ve known her, now about 13years or so. Through the magic of social networking, she spoke with Mike and he decided to roll his band and his rickety van(they had some vehicle trouble) on down to Utah.

As a result, Utah got a special night, that’s for sure. Mike opened for Tumbledown. He played audience requests of MXPX songs acoustically, much to the delight of the crowd. The crowd was about 50-60 people packed into a dimly-lit bar on the east side. We were able to stand about 2 feet from the stage, and sing along with all of the angsty songs of our youth. One of the audience members yelled out for Mike to play “Tomorrow is Another Day”. During this time, I had “a moment”. I stood there with my camera, listening to the words of this song. I thought long and hard about where I was in my life, and what the time I have left actually means. For me, this was a very revealing moment, and I was really emotional there for a second. Mike’s voice is amazing. Aside from being just a really nice man, he is quite the guitarist and vocalist. I think that there were others there having personal epiphanies while he took our requests and let us relive parts of our youth. And no, no one shouted out “Chick Magnet” in case you’re wondering.

After about 10 or so songs, a shot or two(courtesy of some happy fans) Mike and Tumbledown took the stage. The thing that got my attention first was the blurring arms of drummer  Harley Trotland. The man is a monster behind the drum set. And he has to be as I stated before that this is some fast-paced music. Tumbledown did play some slower country-type ballads, remniscient of Johnny Cash. One of my favorites of the night was She’s in Texas, and I did enjoy the “Arrested in El Paso Blues” a lot. I liked this music because first off, it isn’t anything you’ve heard before. Secondly, you’re comfortable with it because you can move to it, dance, and sing a long. But most importantly, it is quality music. The upright bass player, Marshall Trotland thumps away on that bass like a heartbeat during a race. He also manages to dance while he plays. A shout out here to my pal Jesse as well for letting the band borrow his bass amp and head, thanks man!

There is a mellow, smooth dynamic in this band that leads you to believe they’ve been together 20 or so years, like an nice aged scotch. The guitarist, Jack Parker, lays down awesome, bluesy leads that just mesh well with Mike. I was very, very impressed by this band. Honestly, this was one of the best performances I’ve been to this year, and for a concert photographer that’s saying a lot. The band is technically skilled, well honed and something special to watch. If they come to a venue near you, check them out. I remember being in a sea of screaming teenage girls and boys just trying to get to the front of the stage of an MxPx show, even having my hair ripped out. The opportunity to behold Mike Herrera and Tumbledown in a small place, on a small stage, on a Wednesday night in Utah was fantastic.  Check out some photos below. MxPx is hitting the road on a tour tomorrow as well. Also, here is Tumbledown’s site if you want to take a look.



Minus The Bear:Has It Been 10 Years Already?



Minus The Bear 10/05/11

In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by Meredith

Beards. I love them, you love them, and let’s face it: they rocked us all while attached to prog-rockers Minus The Bear this Wednesday in Utah. I had the privilege of finding a good spot on the rail early on, before the openers Velveteen took the stage. I think that the choice in opener complimented MTB well. While Velveteen crooned away on stage, they reminded me of The Mars Volta, a little better version of Muse, and some hints of Coldplay(without the whining). Velveteen incorporated the keyboard with heavy and lengthy tunes interjected with soft and powerful vocals. I was pleased to see the singer sit down and sing a gentle, airy tune after the overwhelming jams they’d been busting out previously. I honestly lost track of how many songs they played, but I would go see them again. I had a great time watching the guitarist rock his socks off and really giving his all to each song. If I had to guess, I’d say they had the stage for about 45 minutes or so, and it was really good stuff.

After clearing the stage, we thought that we would get some Minus The Bear rather quickly. However, there was what appeared to be some technical difficulties, and Alex Rose made an early walk-on to take a look at his keyboards. Shortly after, MTB walked out to a crowd that couldn’t have been happier to see them. Being that this was the 10th Anniversary Tour, the album Highly Refined Pirates was played in its entirety(along with other surprises). MTB is a band that I can honestly say sounds better live than most bands I’ve seen. Considering in the last 18 months I’ve heard about 70 different acts performing live, you can take my word on the subject. They are true professionals, growing in their sound and creating something that is undoubtedly their own. I can’t name any other bands that sound like MTB, and frankly, I don’t need to. If you want to hear songs about adult things, in adult ways, here you go.

I personally enjoyed hearing this album because while it is older, it still captivates it’s listeners. While standing in the crowd, I’d watch the concert-goers’s faces light up when a song would start, and they’d turn to me and say “this is my favorite!”.  There were plenty of people there on a “school night”. I was impressed with the diversity of the crowd as well. It was nice to put faces to the people who like me, turn on MTB for a drive, a day of relaxing, or searching the fiber of our beings.

A word of advice: if you have not seen this band, go. Don’t wait another ten years to soak in the wonder of what these guys do. Pick up any of their fine albums, Omni(yeah I have on double vinyl), Menos El Oso, Planet of Ice….and so on. You won’t be sorry. For your visual enjoyment, a photo gallery by me, below.

Bison b.c. Hit The Road In Support of Dark Ages

Bison b.c. Hit The Road In Support of Dark Ages

Last fall we caught a band called Bison b.c. open for the mighty Helmet in Redondo Beach, CA. The boys from Bison b.c. plan to spend fall 2011 on the road in North America supporting their phenomenal 2010 release Dark Ages (one of Reverend Justito’s Top 10 records of 2010). In addition to their current dates with Weedeater, Saviours and Fight Amp, the Vancouver natives plan a headline trek across their native land. Dates for the tour are below and make sure to stop by Indiemerchstore.com for all your Bison b.c. goods. A complete list of tour dates are below.

BISON b.c.

Tour w/ Weedeater, Saviours, Fight Amp

09/15   Columbus, OH              Outland Live

09/16   Grand Rapids, MI          The Pyramid Scheme

09/17   Chicago, IL                   Reggies

09/18   Marquette, MI               Upfront and Co.

09/19   Minneapolis, MN           Triple Rock Social Club

09/20   Rock Island, IL              Rock Island Brewing Co.

09/23   Denver, CO                   Larimer Lounge

09/24   Salt Lake City, UT         Burt’s Tiki Lounge

09/26   Seattle, WA                  The Highline

09/27   Vancouver, BC              The Rickshaw Theatre

09/28   Portland, OR                 Branx

09/29   San Francisco, CA         The Independent

10/01   San Diego, CA               Soda Bar

10/02   Los Angeles, CA                        The Key Club

10/03   Tempe, AZ                    TBA

10/04   Albuquerque, NM          The Launchpad

10/06   Austin, TX                    Emo’s

10/07   Houston, TX                 Fitzgerald’s

10/08   New Orleans, LA           Siberia

10/09   Atlanta, GA                   The Earl

10/10   Athens, GA                   New Earth Music Hall

10/11   Tallahassee, FL             The Engine Room

10/12   Tampa, FL                    The Orpheum

10/14   Savannah, GA               The Jinx

End Tour

Canadian Headlining Tour

10/19   Ottawa, ON                  Café De Kcuf

10/20   Kingston, ON                The Mansion

10/21   London, ON                  Call The Office

10/22   Toronto, ON                  Bovine Sex Club w/ C’mon (final show), Burning Love, Miesha and the Spanks

10/24   Thunder Bay, ON          Jack’s

10/26   Winnipeg, MB               The Zoo

10/27   Regina, SK                    The Exchange

10/28   Saskatoon, SK              Amigos

10/29   Edmonton, AB               Starlite Room

10/31   Calgary, AB                   Commonwealth

11/01   Fernie, BC                     The Northern

11/02   Kamloops, BC                Pogue Mahone

Mastodon Announce 2011 North American Tour Dates

Mastodon Announce 2011 North American Tour Dates

With their new album The Hunter due to hit shelves at the end of this month, Mastodon have announced dates for a North American Headline tour. In addition to an appearance at the Voodoo Music Experneice in New Orleans on Saturday October 29th the band will be performing in most major markets during the five week run. Coming along for the tour will be Red Fang and Dillinger Escape Plan. You can check out the first single from Mastodon’s new album here. Dates for the trek can be found below.

Mastodon 2011 Tour Dates:
10/25 – Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
10/27 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgeralds
11/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre
11/02 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
11/03 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
11/05 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre
11/06 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
11/07 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
11/08 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
11/09 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
11/11 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
11/12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Rave Ballroom
11/13 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
11/14 – Kansas City, MO @ The Beaumont
11/16 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
11/17 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room
11/19 – New York City, NY @ Terminal 5
11/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
11/21 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
11/23 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
11/25 – Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
11/26 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
11/27 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
11/28 – Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
11/29 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
12/01 – Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues

311 and Sublime with Rome @ USANA SLC UT 08/17/11

Here we are again from the great state of Utah, often overlooked for its live music scene and great venues. This time I get to share with you a review of my most favorite band, and some of my best ever photos. It’s my favorite tour of the summer, Unity Tour, which means one thing, and only one thing: 311 has come back to play for ME!

311 has this awesome habit of coming to Utah at least once a year, sometimes we’re lucky and get a spring tour stop as well. The boys have just come off the the first-ever Pow Wow Festival which was held in early August in Florida. The festival featured guests Sublime with Rome. Those of us who couldn’t make it were glad to know that Sublime and Rome were on the books for Unity Tour. On a very hot Wednesday evening on 08/17/11, Sublime opened for 311. I must say, I am most impressed with the shoes that Rome is filling. He has taken the role of front man for Sublime and made a seamless transition. I don’t get the feeling at all that he is trying to be Bradley, better than Bradley, or any of that crap. Rome is his own man, and he sings a hell of a song. The band serenaded us with good ol’ favorites like “Date Rape”, “What I Got” and even the new single “Panic”. There were plenty of people singing along with ALL of the songs, and what a great way to kick off this show.

Now that the crowd was sufficiently ready, willing, and able, my boys took the stage. I was down in the photo pit. I’ve shot for 311 before, but I have to say that this was honestly my most favorite time. The crowd was amped. People were holding signs up for songs “Cali Soca” and “Juan Bond”, while others did the standard “311, 3-3-11” chant. I joined in because hey, just because I’m in the photo pit doesn’t me I can’t have fun. When Nick Hexum came out and the song “Hive” commenced, the crowd instantly compacted. SA Martinez, the other half of the vocals, nailed every word and danced his ass off. This opening song brought so much energy, and the crowd of about 18,000 came alive.

The band continued playing an array of songs, including some off of the newly released “Universal Pulse”, as well as what I would call rarities like “Electricity” off of Transistor. Salt Lake was lucky enough to get “Who’s Got the Herb” which usually is initiated with a chant of the title(followed by aromas and clouds of smoke, duh).  Other highlights were “Come Original”, “Jupiter”, “All Mixed Up” and even “Six”. 311 kept the songs flowing with a fabulous drum solo by Chad Sexton, a bass solo that was the best I’ve heard from P-nut, and a group drum session including Tim Mahoney that has become a crowd favorite. We also were indulged with a 3-song encore featuring “Jackpot”, “Rock On” and “Creatures”.

As you can tell, I enjoyed the show. I enjoy it every year. 311 is a very fan-oriented band. They have events just for us. Upcoming awesome things: 311 Day 2012 in Las Vegas(a two-night show that usually covers 60 or more songs) and a 2012 311 cruise. Check out www.311.com for all details. Also, please enjoy some(well, 34 or so) photos below.


A Perfect Circle, A Perfect Place 08/01/11 Salt Lake City

When rock legends like Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel stop in your town, you get your ass to that show. The band A Perfect Circle hasn’t released new tunes for about 6 years, and let’s face it, fans are getting anxious. The venue of choice for their tour stop on 08/01/11 in Salt Lake City was Kingsbury Hall. This is an opera-style theater. While waiting to get in to the theater, the surroundings and demeanor of the venue didn’t really seem to wear off on it’s attendees. I had a great time people watching, and was not bored at all. There were girls in shredded shirts, Madonna-esque neon dresses, and a few couples who dressed in outstanding taste complete with suit coat and wingtip shoes. Don’t worry, there were plenty of black tees and ripped pants. The venue was extremely strict about phone usage. They actually confiscated people’s cell phones if they took them out inside the hall. I knew with all the extra security and beefed up recording policies, that Maynard wasn’t messing around.

When I was allowed into the hall finally, I was told there was no standing and I’d get to crawl on the floor for two songs to shoot this band. I can honestly say, this was the most difficult, exciting, and nerve-racking shoot I’ve ever done. The stage was set up with fake explosives and bombs, complete with flowers “sprouting” from the casings. It reminded me of an old-west town prop. I happened to pick a spot in front of a mini-piano(I know there is a term for it but hey, I don’t know it). When the lights went out, my hands started to shake and the crowd cheered. Because of my spot, I was a mere 2 feet from Billy Howerdel as he played the mini-piano to opening song “Annihilation”. At this time, the lights were almost completely out, and Maynard was but a silhouette. In fact, the brightest it ever got while we were allowed to photograph was some purple lights, and a light burst, but that was it.

For the second song, the famous John Lennon tune, “Imagine”, the purple lights were going and I was a little more confident that my photos may turn out. Now at this point we could see that Maynard had on his sunglasses, and was rocking shoulder-length black hair, but that was about it. James Iha had a place at the keyboard, and Matt McJunkins was rocking out to my right. Billy picked up his guitar, and haunting notes and lyrics from the past rang out in Kingsbury Hall.

Before I knew it, my photo time was up and I was being kindly escorted out by staff. As I walked out, “Weak and Powerless” started, along with a beautiful ghostly yellow lighting scheme. This was my second time seeing this band, and this was a very intimate, almost holy experience. I was honored that I was allowed to be there and take photos, and I don’t think anyone could walk out of that show feeling like their $75.00 wasn’t well spent.  If you don’t have the cash for this tour, find a way. Pawn that old guitar, mow lawns, walk dogs. Hell, make it happen. If you don’t go, you can’t possibly understand what you’ll be missing. Please enjoy the photos below.

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals 07/16/11 SLC UT


Potter. No, not Harry, not this time. This time it’s all about Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The group and accompanying artist Rayland Baxter made their way back to Utah to treat us with a set list that the fans themselves requested. A large crowd packed into downtown Salt Lake’s newly remodeled outdoor venue, The Gallivan Center on a very hot Saturday evening(07/16/11). For some reason, the venue kept looping one song, over and over until Rayland Baxter took the stage and ended the madness. I met up with him before the show at his merch booth. He was kind enough to chat and drew me a little picture. Rayland is a “country boy”. He plays his guitar. He plays it with soul. The most charming thing about Rayland’s performances is the simplicity that runs through each song. He often prefaces the song with a story of its meaning, then strums away. He has a clean, soulful sound, and I enjoy that he whistles during the songs. Rayland was kind enough to throw out a couple of his hand-wrapped cds into the crowd. His voice reminds me of both Simon and Garfunkel. Rayland Baxter makes for a great opener, that’s for sure.  Included is a flickr.com link to photos of Rayland from this set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52457275@N05/sets/72157627087877141/


After warming up with Rayland, the crowd was ready for Grace Potter to take the stage. When the group walked on, it was noticeable that one member was not in attendance; Catherine Popper. But, the show went on. Grace. What can one say about her? Knockout beauty, the pipes and talent to match. If you’re able to take your eyes off of her as she struts on stage with her tambourine and dangerously short outfits, you’ll notice that there are other incredibly talented people in the band. I’ve seen them twice now, and I really got into this show and watching how the drummer and guitarists just bury themselves in the performance.

Grace danced, sang, strummed and awed. She happened to be wearing a large costume jewelry type ring. As a concert photographer, I usually am in the front of the stage. This time, I got to be in the crowd. Grace threw that monstrous ring into the crowd for a lucky fan. Well, I got nailed in the head with it, but avoided the feisty scramble for the ring when it hit the ground. A nice guy came up with it and handed it off to his girlfriend. I had a great time at this show, and I’m pretty sure everyone else did. Grace and her band impress. Always.

As for the set list, check this out!

  1. Goodbye Kiss  
  2. Joey 
  3. One Short Night 
  4. Muzzle of Bees
  5. You and Tequila( Kenny Chesney cover) (Scott & Grace duet)
  6. Money
  7. That Phone
  8. Apologies  
  9. Treat Me Right
  10. Ah mary
  11. Pain in my Heart(Otis Redding cover)
  12. Stop the Bus
  13. Nothing but the Water I
  14. White Rabbit(Jefferson Airplane cover)
  15. Paris(Ooh la la)
  16. Encore:
  17. Sweet Hands
  18. Medicine


So, as you can see, this was a very giving set. Grace took requests on-line for what the Salt Lake gang wanted to see, and she delivered. Please enjoy photos I took of the good times, below.









The Civil Wars @The State Room in Salt Lake City UT 06/28/11

On 06/28/11, The Civil Wars returned to Utah. They brought along a young man named Rayland Baxter as the opening act. He is a quiet, humble man who simply plays his guitars and sings songs that you know are his own stories. Rayland has a very simple and sweet manner about him. He made jokes and told tales about each song. Rayland makes his music mold to you, and as a singing storyteller he teaches you that the best things in life are often the most simple and overlooked. Rayland is definately worth listening to. On a side note, he just opened for Grace Potter and is on his way to California.  After Rayland’s enchanting songs, The Civil Wars took the stage.

For those of you who don’t know this band, it is a haunting duo made up of notable Christian artist Joy Williams and soulful John Paul  White. The two began just a little over two years ago, and since this “holy union” had its debut, they’ve been capturing the attention of fans all over the world. I first had the opportunity to see the duo sing here in Salt Lake in January of this year. To say the least, they were stunning.

Joy Williams is your quintessential vocalist. She has a range that is just unexplainable. Throughout each song, she takes risks with harmonies that I’ve never heard any other artist do. Her counterpart, John Paul(who happens to look like Johnny Depp by the way) is right there with her. Watching these two perform is like being on a date with the two. They are both married to other people, which often shocks people, as they seem “made for each other”. The two have been perfectly machined for this act that they take on the road.

While on stage, The Civil Wars appear simple. Joy has a piano and a constantina that she occasionally plays, and John Paul a guitar or two. However, during songs like, “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “Falling”, you hardly notice that there is a crowd. It is the way that these two sing to you that really captures me. I was standing at the front of the stage, singing along to the songs while taking photos, and I felt like I was the only one in the room in a crowd of 300.

The gentile vocals of Joy and John Paul are not to be taken lightly. They often place a dark twist on familiar tunes, such as their performance of “You Are My Sunshine” in January. This current set included a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Disarm”. This was a very clean and melodic version of the song, and it really got to some in the crowd. The two also covered “I Want You Back”, the Jackson-5 tune of yesteryear. This is a pleasant and very “cute” song. Another highlight was “Billie Jean”. Not only does this song get the crowd to lively up, but it allows the lovely Joy to take on a “flirty” and slightly devious personality.

The on-stage chemistry between these two only adds to the aura of the show. The folky,dark, and sometimes nostalgic songs that come out of this relationship are sure to captivate  fans of punk and rock music. This is music for every one. The Civil Wars stressed that they are independent artists, and that the fans are the ones that make this possible. Joy mentioned that “this is not a fact that we forget or take lightly”, and that impresses me. I hear a lot of acts say that, and I believe that The Civil Wars are sincere in this. If you have the chance to go to a show, pay the small ticket price of around $20.00, grab a loved one, and head to a night you won’t forget.

This show included a complete set, nearly covering every tune that the two have to offer.  Please enjoy the photos I took:

Matt and Kim @ In the Venue 06/20/11 Salt Lake City, UT

Matt and Kim 06/20/11

In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by Meredith

My oh my, I had no idea what a ride I was in for when I herded into In the Venue for Matt and Kim with The Thermals. I’d decided to check this show out after a good friend of mine told me that her boyfriend wouldn’t go with her again. I thought, they couldn’t be that bad, could they?

Well, much to my delight, Matt and Kim brought it. For a duo, they have this monstrous presence. You’d swear that there were five or six members on stage, but the couple outshines larger acts. With the opening band, The Thermals, setting up the crowd with their powerful and skilled rock sounds, the venue was bursting at the seams for Matt and Kim to take the stage. It was a Monday night here in Salt Lake. Someone told me that “Salt Lake City doesn’t have a strong or popular enough market for concerts”. Nuts to that; just ask Matt and Kim. I’m going to guess and say that the crowd that was gathered for this show put some of the bigger names to shame. I’d venture to say that they may have beat out Taking Back Sunday’s crowd from last week.

First off, Kim is a monster on the drums. I think she must have specially made sticks to withstand the force that she’s subjecting them to. She stands on the drums, wails on them, directs the crowd like an orchestra, all while keeping the beat. She is one of the most animated and enjoyable performers I’ve yet seen. She seems to honestly enjoy what she is doing. Many times throughout the show, she stopped along with Matt to tell Salt Lake City not only how amazed they were with the turn out, but how the fans enable them to continue to do what they love.

Matt has his own thing going on too.  He jumps up on to the seat at his keyboard, rallies the crowd, tells stories, and overall, gushes to fans how much he loves his job of pleasing them by making music. This act comes off as purely genuine. Matt and Kim played songs from their new album “Sidewalks”. They covered classics, including “Silver Tiles”, their very first song written together. We heard “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare” and “Yea Yeah”, which was just outstanding. I personally enjoyed it while in the middle of a song they busted into Biz Markie’s “You Got What I Need” . The crowd sang along and bounced like hyped-up kids to every song, shouting every word and danced the entire time.  I met people at this show who were the ultimate superfans, using the songs of Matt and Kim at their recent wedding and holding out to meet them(with success I might add).

If you like Indie tunes, even if you don’t, if your girlfriend “drags” you along to this, the rules are simple: sit back, have a drink, dance, and enjoy.

Face To Face 06/14/11: The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT

Face To Face (w/ The Darlings, Blitzkid & Strung Out) 06/14/11

The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by Meredith

About two months ago, I found myself looking at the schedule of events coming to Salt Lake City. I saw Face to Face and Strung Out were heading this way. I was excited about this show because not only was it the first time Face to Face has toured in a while, but also I got to see Strung Out. This band has a large following here in Utah. I went to high school with a lot of people who love this band, even some who have the logo tattooed on them. When we got into The Complex(an all-ages venue), I was confused at the railing that was erected, because there were no crowd surfers the whole time, and press was not allowed into the photo area at all. Usually there isn’t a railing and we get to be right up to the stage.  At least I got to stand side-stage.

I need to mention that there were two other acts that started off this night. First up, The Darlings. They were an intense punk act that seemed to keep true to the old style of punk, not the pop-confused genre that we hear now. The Darlings were impressive, and there were people in the crowd singing along as well. The Darlings had a song with guest performers from Strung Out, who joined them on stage for a Social Distortion cover of “So Far Away”. This was a delight for everyone. They were fresh for the show and did a great job, despite lumping into a one-bedroom apartment with a full crew the night they arrived in Salt Lake.

The next band up was Blitzkid. I was hooked by these guys. The front man, Goolsby, rocked his bass in ways I’ve never seen. He played it about 85 different ways, over the shoulder, under his leg, with his mouth; all while keeping perfect time and singing. The crowd was energetic and intrigued by the band’s performance. I snapped a few photos of both bands.

Next, Strung Out took the stage. By the time they started, the crowd had nearly doubled in size. It was a Tuesday night here in The Beehive State, but you’d never know it. The bar in the venue, separated from the all-ages area (of course), was full. The band was upbeat, vibrant, and for guys who’ve been rocking since 1992, they really into the show. The bassist, Chris Aiken and guitarist Jake Kiley, did several simultaneous jumps from ground level. To put it in the parlance of our times, they’ve got “mad hops”.  The guys continued to amp up the crowd as they performed songs like “Matchbook”, “Support Your Troops”, “Cemetery”, and “Mind of My Own”.  I was thoroughly impressed with the tenacity in which the songs were delivered, again and again. I thought I was at a Strung Out concert, not waiting for another band to play when the show finally came to an end after 14 or so songs.

After being delighted by Strung Out, Face to Face took the stage to play for the excited crowd.  By this time, there was the dreaded open hole in the crowd, waiting to claim bodies from a good moshing session. The band played songs from the new album, “Laugh Now, Laugh Later”. They also regaled us with classics from their long list of tunes including “Blind” and “Bombs Away”. In my mind, no Face to Face concert would be complete without hearing “Disconnected” of course, and we were all very glad to hear it being jammed out near the end of the set of about 20 songs. By this time, I’d wandered into the bar area, and happened to end up hanging out with Jake Kiley from Strung Out. My man friend, a longtime and obsessive fan, even bought him a beer. It was his personal quest to meet each member of SO that led us to a drink and nice chat with Mr. Kiley and his photos with everyone but Jason Cruz (oh well).  If you’re looking for a summer night with original punk rockers, sing-along songs, and a damn good time, hit up this tour. Complete sets of all show photos can be viewed here:






Taking Back Sunday with Thursday, 06/15/11 Salt Lake City UT

Taking Back Sunday (w/ Thursday) 06/15/11

In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by Meredith

Here we are again at In the Venue. This place varies for me, sometimes it is outstanding, and other times it is way too crowded, smelly, and has poor lighting. This was one of the good times. I was lucky enough to get press access to snap photos of Taking Back Sunday and guests Thursday this Wednesday. Confused yet? Yeah me too. This was my first time seeing both of these bands. In addition to the headliners, two other bands performed. They were The New Regime, and Colour Revolt. It is rare that I go to a show and enjoy the openers this much. Both of these bands brought heavy, crunchy yet melodic tunes. I kind of felt like I was watching little Led Zeppelins being born. Both bands were being watched intently by lead singer Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday. I appreciated that because I haven’t seen many bands that do that. He watched, studied, and applauded very sincerely. I didn’t snap any photos of these two, but I would venture to guess that they will be big, soon. Good stuff and worth a listen, especially live.

When it was time for Thursday to start, I had to skinny into a photo pit that was maybe four feet deep. I’m not kidding. It was still light outside, and insanely hot inside. It was 94 during the day, add about 500 sweaty folks, and you’ve got yourself a crowd. Thursday front man Geoff Rickly wasted no time in getting started. The band opened with “Fast to the End”. I was lucky enough to snag a photo of the set list, which I heard from fans was accurate. There were lasers, screams, jumps, and all around energy during this performance.

This is a list from the pic I took of what was played:

1. Fast to the End 2. Counting(5-4-3-2-1) 3. Magnets(Caught in a Metal Heart) 4. Understanding (A Car Crash) 5. No Answers 6. Cross(Out the Eyes) 7. Sparks(Against the Sun) 8. Jet Black 9. Turnpike(Divides). Thursday has a new album out called “No Devoulcion” available now.

Moving on to the main act now, Taking Back Sunday…..I had no idea what I was in store for. I got to attend sound check with a few winners of two contests here locally. That was a treat. The band was cordial, and sounded really good. I have to say that I was nervous about getting crushed by some crowd surfers during the actual show though. The venue was busting at the seams, and surging with energy as they chanted “TBS! TBS!TBS!” . When the band took the stage, they opened with “El Paso(again, per a picture I snapped of the list). That was followed by “Make Damn Sure”, which had the crown, teens and hipsters alike, crooning along with the song. The lighting for this set was amazing. Lasers always make for a impressive addition, and that was certainly the case. Other songs from the list include “Bike Scene”, “Liar”, “180″, “Error” and “Faith”. Front man Adam Lazzara had some special moments, reaching out and holding hands with a fan.  There were more, see photos below. All in all, I’d say that this band has done well for themselves. They’ve got a huge fan base, a great stage presence, and were awesome to watch. There was not a song I didn’t enjoy. As they continue this tour, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to this show. A new album is due out in the next few weeks as well.


Unwritten Law and Authority Zero @ The Complex, Salt Lake City UT 04/19/11

Unwritten Law w/ Authority Zero 04/19/11

The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by Meredeth


Well, I must say, being new here, this is one hell of a show to start off with. Authority Zero and Unwritten Law just came through Salt Lake City this week, and needless to say, they got our attention.

Authority Zero is an Arizona-based band, and this was my first encounter with them. The front man, Jason DeVore should charge for the clinic he put on in “bringing it”. He kept the same vibrant and engaging energy throughout the entire set. The crowd fed off the energy he put off and then some. Bassist Jeremy Wood thumped out the notes with authority(get it?!) and never missed a beat. I’m not going to tell you that I knew the songs, but I will say that I plan on knowing them from now on. As a first-timer for these boys, they have definitely captured a new fan, or 100. Drummer Jim Wilcox was hard for me to see, as he was mostly a blur of arms driving the rhythm into our happy heads. Guitarist Brandon Landelius quipped that he was “the new guy” and said he didn’t know the songs yet. Hey Brandon, well done sir. Please enjoy some photos from the set below.

Moving on to Unwritten Law……not only did I have the fortune of talking with singer Scott Russo and drummer Dylan Howard, the crowd was delighted to see Scott’s son Tre hanging around. Scott was kind enough to tell me that Tre would perform with him during Seeing Red. As soon as Tre came on stage, even the most seasoned punkers let out an “awwww”. Tre sang with his dad, and melted our hearts. The band covered a lot of years at this show, as well as a few new songs from the latest album, Swan. A personal highlight for me was “Cailin”(because I serenade my best friend of the same name with this song since we were 15). Feel free to take a look at the pictures, and go see this tour if you have the chance!

Unwritten Law


Authority Zero:




Eluveitie … Where Celtic Meets Heavy Metal

A blatu blande bitos biuon!
A, m’ atriia, a, ma helvetia!

Oh dulcet blossom of the living world!
Oh my fatherland, oh my Helvetia!

— Eluveitie (“Slania’s Song”)

Celtic. Heavy. Metal.  Mind blowing.  Eluveitie unleashed a ninety minute infusion of Celtic heavy metal to enthusiastic fans at Salt Lake City’s Club Sound on Saturday night.  Google top Folk metal bands, and you’ll always find Eluveitie near the top of the list.  Their visit to Salt Lake City is but another notch on the band’s list of achievements: three full length albums, over 250 shows in 30 countries, all since their foundations in 2002.

Folk metal — folk songs layered with heavy or death metal — is relatively young as a genre: it was developed in the 1990s.  And Celtic metal is younger still, but like folk metal, its roots reach to the distant past.  Eluveitie means “I am Helvetian” and refers to a Gaulish inscription attributed to the Helvetii tribe of Switzerland, near Winterthur, where the eight member band is based. Many of the band’s lyrics are written in Gaul, an extinct language spoken by Celtic peoples of Europe who lived from the 6th to the 3rd century BC.

The band’s instruments and in fact, portions of their songs, had a medieval flavor.  While most metal bands consist primarily of guitars and drums, Eluveitie layers in traditional instruments such as fiddles, flutes, whistles, bagpipes, and a hurdy gurdy.  “What is that?” I pointed to the strange instrument and asked my friend, who didn’t know either.  A hurdy gurdy, or wheel fiddle, produces sound by a wheel rubbing against strings as the musician turns a crank.

The band raced to the stage and put fists in the air for their entrance.  The crowd went wild, but not just for first few numbers, “Otherword,” “Nil,” and “Bloodstained Ground.”  For the entire 18 song set, fists pounded the air and long haired heads swung frantically.  What a rush to be chanting and roaring with Eluveitie in the ancient language of Gaul!  I could get lost in the morphology and syntax of the Gaulish language, given my lifelong love affair with words.

A few translations from the band’s lineup of their hits delivered on Saturday:

“Inis Mona” – a Welsh island now called the Isle of Anglesey

“Tegernako” – a folk of cheeriness and strength

“Uis Elveti” – so beautiful you are formed my beloved Helvetia, referring to a place or plot of land

Lyrics are based on Gaulish prayers, invocations of spirits and gods.  The band’s song “Omnos” is sung in Gaul and translated into English on You Tube. The song is a synthesis between “Little Red Riding Hood” and a love story gone askew.

Club Sound is not a 21+ club so younger fans were interspersed with the usual mix of concert goers.  “Are we the oldest ones here?” asked my friend.  I just smiled.  We met a mom who was there with her eight-year-old daughter. The two were huge fans and listened often to the band’s You Tube videos.  The little girl zeroed in Eluveitie through their three song encore.

Midway through the show, the band’s lead singer, Chrigel Glanzmann, parted the crowd to make room for a mosh pit and those in the center were encouraged to participate.  As the band Celtic metal melodies thundered through the building, the pit evolved into a dervish of spinning, running, and bumping.

Also called In the Venue, Club Sound offers no backstage or “green room” and the building itself is limited in space, but that didn’t impair anything on Saturday.  I had an ideal spot from which to shoot photos and listen to the concert … just inside the “pit” where the band entered and exited the stage, so I saw the quiet anticipation before the concert and the sense of relief after their stellar performance.

Eluveitie has a worldwide following and in the past couple of months, the band has played at clubs in Chicago, Toronto, Sao Paulo, and Bologne.  And Saturday, Salt Lake City made the list.  Another notch in the band’s belt? Maybe.  But Eluveitie’s fans who sang along with them Saturday were nothing short of exuberant to have made it on the band’s tour, including their newest fan, me.

Hear Eluveitie




Päde Kistler – Tin and Low Whistles, Bagpipes

Meri Tadic – Vocals, Violin, Electric Violin

Kay Brem – Bass, Strings

Chrigel Glanzmann – Vocals, Mandola, Mandolin, Tin and Low Whistles, Bagpipes, Acoustic Guitar, Bodhràn

Merlin Sutter – Drums, Cymbals

Sime Koch – Guitar

Anna Murphy – Hurdy Gurdy, Vocals, Flute

Ivo Henzi – Guitar

Disclosure: I received a photo pass to this concert.  I did NOT receive compensation for this review.

The Civil Wars … Serenading the State Room In Stunning Style

The Civil Wars

On their first visit to Utah, John Paul White and Joy Williams — The Civil Wars — promised the crowd at The State Room in Salt Lake City on Thursday they’d hear “folk.”  Never a million years did I think I’d hear Michael Jackson’s trademark “Billie Jean” rendered in folk and that I’d absolutely love it.

Besides “Billie Jean” and “You Are My Sunshine” sung “darkly,” the duo sang a host of original material … “The Tip of My Tongue” and “Dance Me To The End of Love,” among others.  Williams’ dulcet voice is intoxicating when layered with White’s whispery vocals and gentle guitar. Together they led the audience on a aural yin and yang of romantic love in “Poison and Wine.”

Williams is a brunette sprite with a darling tease of a smile.   You’d never hear her California roots when she sings “Barton Hollow.”  White, who’s actually from Alabama, looks the refined mountain boy-man.  They both wore wedding rings — or at the least third finger left hand — yet aren’t married to each other.  The stage chemistry between them is completely charming.  Even the chit chat between songs, which typically appeals to me as much as nails on a chalk board, was genuinely likable.
The success that has landed The Civil Wars on the Jay Leno show, the Sundance Film Festival’s Music Cafe, and on tour throughout the US despite their short history is easily explained.  The Civil Wars are every music couple’s music couple.  Warm, silly, spontaneous, happy, and musically stunning.  Yet their show was minimalist in so many ways: it wasn’t long, it wasn’t wide ranging in genres, and there wasn’t a huge back up band or props.  And besides the acoustical excellence, every minute was exquisitely well orchestrated.
The audience left energized and wanting more.  It was nearly impossible to navigate in the lobby outside The State Room, as crowds waited for their photo opportunities and demo CD signings with the two.  The Civil Wars has a new album coming out on February 1st and based on the crowd response at The State Room, they’ll have a sellout.
If you missed seeing The Civil Wars at The State Room, you may be able to catch them in Park City at the Sundance Music Cafe during the coming week.  Check their website for details.
Disclosure: Admission $12 + fees of $3.50.  I did NOT receive payment for this review.

Heartroot: Coming Full Circle In Spite of the Snow

Heartroot concerts and snow in Utah are highly correlated.  The Heartroot duo, featuring Mindy Dillard and Eric McEuen, was on my follow up list from the first time I saw them back in November.  The first two attempts were thwarted by severe snow and snow packed (not plowed) roads.  The third time was the charm.

Heartroot’s concert at the Holladay United Church of Christ began with the exquisite “Teach Me to Love You,” sung a capella.  Thereafter, the “typical” configuration was Mindy on banjo, Eric on guitar, but they traded for a few numbers and also reached to their array of instruments on the stage, which was expansive and easily viewed from any seat in the house.

Gnomie is the couple’s mascot of sorts and he’s been blogging their adventures during their cross country tour, which began in their adoptive hometown of Portland and culminated in Utah with this final concert.  Mindy’s appreciation of the childlike was notable throughout the performance.  While in Utah, incidentally, she performed “Snow White and the Submarines,” an original operetta created for children of all ages.  Last Saturday evening included learning how to make snail eyes and a few sing alongs.

The duo’s strikingly beautiful harmony, theatrical quality, and dramatic lyrics combined for a final charming tour performance in Mindy’s hometown of Salt Lake City.  Playing from their extensive song list, tunes as “It’s a Tiny Fish In a Big Ocean,” “Break Me Open,”  and the mellow and ponderous “Can I?” made the lineup.

The second half opened with a gorgeous capella number “Oh Sisters Let’s Go Down In the Valley to Pray” and continued with “Love Is a Tanglewood Tree,” “There From Here,” and “Little Bird,” which I have heard and written about previously.  Both Mindy and Eric had written songs about their grandfathers, which they performed.  “Hidden Water” painted a picture of a water dowser while “Grandpa” described a domino-playing grandpa who liked raisin pie.

The show – which ran well past 90 minutes past the 9 pm published ending time – finished strong with “There From Here,” “You’ve Gotta Move When the Lord Gets Ready,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow, “Angels All Alone,” and my favorite, “Guess We Made It Afterall.”

I quickly exited as I was late for a social engagement with friends.  As I walked outside to my car, it was snowing fiercely.  Imagine.

TR Ritchie and Cosy Sheridan: Fireplace Cozy on a Cold Winter’s Evening

“Happiness is waiting.  Hang your laundry on the line.”
— Cosy Sheridan

Imagine a poetess, singer, muse, and guitar goddess all in one petite package – and she makes it all look oh so easy.  Last Friday’s Intermountain Acoustic Music Association concert brought a potpourri of treats, among them award winning acoustic guitarist Cosy Sheridan and her equally talented partner, TR Ritchie.  As her name would suggest, Cosy’s music warmed up the audience in a hurry, in spite of the frigid northern Utah weather.

TR Ritchie, an award winning musician in his own right, started off the evening with a few solo numbers.  Ritchie played guitar and harmonica and sang “All My Troubles Seem Small.”

All my troubles seem small
When I see these people with their backs against the wall
When I see what they go through
And see how far they fall
Compared to them, I’ve got no troubles at all

He continued his set with “An Ireland Left Behind,” about immigrants leaving their homeland for new adventures in Seattle. Ritchie’s voice is deep and comforting, almost as if he is a modern day philosopher weaving authentic stories of people’s lives into musical verse.

Ritchie’s musical journey began back at Pike Market in Seattle where he was a “busker,” in other words, playing for tips.  He has produced five CDs and won or placed at music and songwriting festivals including the 2008 Susanne Millsaps Songwriter Showcase in Utah, Jubilee Folk Festival, and Napa Valley Folk Festival, among many others. With Cosy, he co-founded the Moab Folk Camp.

Cosy joined Ritchie on stage for the remainder of the performance.  The two are harmonic soul mates of the highest order: their voices are so different yet blend together seamlessly as one. They opened with “Wild Horses:”

How long was I fooling myself?
How long was I living a lie?
Telling myself that it doesn’t matter
I let all those chances go by
If it were mine to do over
I’d blow off the doors to begin
The lion would roar
The eagle would soar
And wild horses would come charging in.

The song continues about precious time being squandered and questions is it ever too late to begin? These words thunderously resonated with me. I have known for years, probably decades, that writing was my soul’s desire, and yet I suppressed my “calling” for sometimes unreasonable reasons.  I am glad to have finally found my voice in this blog and am looking forward to wherever it leads me next.  Cosy’s performance was flush with tantalizing, thought-provoking messages about embracing one’s life passions, or in contrast, failing to do so:  Stare too long at the wrapping and never get to the gift inside.

Cosy’s past performances have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Jerry Lewis Telethon, and Philadelphia Folk Festival.  Her songs have appeared in Robert Fulghum’s book “Third Wish” and “Lines Across The Sand.”
Cosy studied voice at Berklee and 1992 began to enter songwriting contests and win. She’s completed seven CDs and is co-founder of Moab Folk Camp with Ritchie as well as a teacher at music camps throughout the U.S. But Friday night she played to a packed house at the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society building, which, by the way, is a welcoming and much-loved concert venue here in Salt Lake City.

Brilliant and bluntly honest tunes such as “The Weekend Workshop,” “Don’t Trust Your Pension to Someone Younger Than You,” and “In the Land of 10,000 Mothers” rounded out the lineup.  Toward the end, Cosy played “Do You Love the Life You’ve Made?”

We all know too well the energy-sapping, conflicting consequences of being anything but authentic.   As one of my favorite authors, Sarah Ban Breathnach noted, “The authentic self is the soul made visible.”  And the quest for authenticity is what Cosy and Ritchie bring to life in their insightful musical message.  A message delivered so smoothly we didn’t know we were in a workshop that night.

Swaggering Through the Piper Down On a Saturday Night

Maybe it’s in my shanty lace curtain Irish DNA.  I can’t get enough. Utah’s Irish Rock Band, Swagger, lured me away from other events last night.  Seeing the Temptations in Wendover was tempting til I heard the concert was sold out. A jazz pianist was playing at Sun and Moon Cafe.  Contra dancing at the Ladies Literary Society building in downtown Salt Lake City made the tentative schedule, but I decided to save my feet for Swaggering at Piper Down. Yes, even though I’d just seen the band a mere two weeks ago.

So what is Swagger? Most would say swagger is a way of walking, perhaps when tipsy, or a superciliously arrogant air as one walks in the room.  Utah’s Swagger is the collision of boisterous Irish drinking songs and jigs with non-stop rock ‘n roll. And … oh yes, the band’s wearing kilts.
Piper Down was where it all started for Swagger in 2007. The Celtic rock genre wasn’t an original idea, per se. Bands like Flogging Molly and the Young Dubliners were already touring internationally.  Now leading a busy schedule that includes touring with the Young Dubliners and a multitude of headliner shows in Salt Lake City and Park City, Swagger is rock-i-fying Irish and Scottish traditional music for a growing number of fans in Utah and beyond.

So about last night.  The “traditional” kilt (with plaid probably designed in China) I bought at the now defunct Mervyn’s got me free cover.  The friends were already gathered and seated at a long table in the center of Piper Down.  It was so great to see a couple of gal pals that I’d not seen in months! But the minute Swagger opened with their first number, a few fearless souls including me headed for the postage stamp sized dance floor at the foot of the stage.

I kept spying the band’s set list, a strategy to conserve energy if an especially lively song was on deck.  Seeing Swagger as the lead band is a whole different experience than seeing them as the “warm up” band.  This was a 34 song lineup … as opposed to 11 songs played at the recent Park City Harry O’s concert with the Young Dubliners.  Keeping in mind, again, Swagger is scarcely four years old.  Yes Flogging Molly has four CD’s out, but they started fourteen years ago.  In time, in time.

The Crawford School of Irish Dance ladies were there, in the thick of what was eventually a dancing mob, leading the jigging and reeling.  We tried our best to imitate their finely crafted footwork and infectious enthusiasm for Irish dancing.  And I only ran into the fiddler twice when I was looking down at my feet, which further reinforces how tiny the dance floor was and how close we were to the stage.  Or … perhaps I should watch where I’m going. Or all of the above.

Photo courtesy of Amy O’Neill Photography

Four hours later … we were done.  But not before “Morrison’s Jig” was heard twice, and songs like Fisherman Blues,” “Foggy Dew,” and “Cesh Jig” won new fans for Swagger.  Four songs about whiskey … “Whiskey Before the Break,” “Whiskey the Devil,” “Whiskey on the Floor,” and “Whiskey in the Jar” … made the lineup. It’s a known fact that I don’t make the bars here much money as far as my bar tab … water is free.

So you missed seeing Swagger?  Not to worry.  Upcoming shows a plenty await (click here for their schedule).  One newly minted Swagger fan thought perhaps the band could bump off his favorite local group.  I suppose if he buys a kilt, we’ll know for sure. {smile}

Photo courtesy of Amy O’Neill Photography
Disclosure: Admission was FREE with wearing of my kilt. I was NOT compensated for this review.

Flute Nirvana: Stonecircle’s Winter Solstice Concert

It was plenty chilly outside, but inside, it was a warm and captivating evening.  The Jeanne Wagner Theater in downtown Salt Lake City showcased Nina Cooley and Tiffany Draper, the Celtic flutists of Stonecircle.  Yes, there were fiddles, vocalists, mandolins, keyboards, accordions, bodhrans, whistles, and guitars, but the flutes rocked my world for about two or so hours Saturday night.

Before I go an inch further down this post, I must confess, I have played (Western concert) flute since the age of 10.  I have a smallish collection of flutes and flute music from other countries.  If I love to play – and I do – I love hearing flute even more.  And if I had to pick a genre for a day’s worth of listening, nine days out of ten, it’d be some form of Celtic.  So don’t expect partiality here.

Stonecircle’s Seventh Annual Winter Soltice concert was a holiday tradition for many Salt Lake locals.  In the darkness of winter, we found light and hope in the Celtic melodies of old.  I was in an especially effervescent mood, as I looked with anticipation to a wine and chocolate party later in the evening and my family’s arrival for Christmas festivities later in the week. (Side note: the wine and chocolate party I so anticipated turned out to be the following week. A story for the AARP moment files.)

The rolling melodies of “Maid on the Shore” transported me to another world of consciousness.  The first thing I noticed was that both flutists were miked.  I once played my flute in a group where I was not miked and grew weary of friends and family who came to see me telling me they couldn’t hear me.  Better to play in my dining room and be heard.

Songs such as “Blackbirds and Thrushes,” “Annabelle’s Bones,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “American Stranger,” were set to a colourful, changing backdrop of clouds and light shapes.  The music speaks to the listener, or not.  In my case, Irish music always does.  Maybe it’s all those Irish great-grandmothers of mine.  Interspersed amongst the Western concert flute and the Irish flute were a cache of high and low Irish whistles.

Towards the end of the first half of the concert, string issues sent the guitar player off-stage to tune and led to vocalist Mary Johnston-Coursey’s enchanting impromptu a cappella rendition of the Gaelic tune, “Nach Jassen.”

Nach jassen ball ai banishoon

Nach jassen ball ai weerese
Nach jassen ball ail hullel walla
Hunya Loss na weerie
Yan wa han a veteren
Yan wa han breignen yech
Yan wa han a veteren
His spoats a cook ku faiden may

“The Butcher Boy” was a sad love tale: boy-loves-and-leaves-girl.  And the audience learned simple lyrics “Hey!” for “The Pilgrim.”  The Irish high whistle solo was especially amazing – no time to breathe!

All of the musicians were craftsmen extraordinaire. Bronwen Beecher, who I have reviewed in solo performance previously this year, delivered her fiddling finesse.  Guitarist George Shoemaker charmed the audience not only with his playing but also his new baby daughter. Special guests Steve Keene, Brian Dobson, and Mark Cantor shared their love of all things Celtic with the addition of accordion, keyboard, whistles, and mandolin.

At the commencement of the second half, narrator Mark Cantor asked that applause be held until the end of a long series of songs which comprised the Winter Solstice Suite.  “Gaudete” was a four-part harmony sung in a cappella. The depth of submelodies entranced me and I was sitting on my hands to avoid clapping.  Just the same, I could have stayed and listened all night.  The tunes flowed from the lullaby-like “Sussex Carol” to jiggy “Lilting Banshee,” and ponderous “Bring the Peace.”  “The Snows” bled into “A Health to the Company:”

Here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again

“The Huron Carol” meter reminded me of “Good King Wenceslas.”  The final number, “Cantus,” hinted of Enya and Taize.  Then the stage went dark.  Could it really be over?  Surely there would be a standing O!  This is Salt Lake City.  Ah yes.  Everyone gets a standing ovation, in this case, deservedly so.

So taken was I by the encore “The Blacksmith,” that it guided my CD purchase after the concert.  This culmination of fiddling, drums, and flutes was spellbinding.  I could get lost in Stonecircle’s whirling melodies, and I did that night.  Auditory heaven.  Flute nirvana.  What more can I say?

Bronwen Beecher, Fiddle and Violin
Nina Cooley, Flute, Percussion, Vocals
Tiffany Draper, Irish Flute, High and Low Whistles and Bodhran
Mary Johnston-Coursey, Vocals and Percussion
George Schoemaker, 6 and 12 String Guitars and Vocals

Special Guests
Steve Keene, Accordions and Keyboards
Brian Dobson, High and Low Whistles and Bodhran
Mark Cantor, Narrator and Octave Mandolin

Many thanks to WaveLight Studio

Michael Lucarelli: The Most Romantic Guitarist In Town

The perfect “make out” music.  That’s how I described Michael Lucarelli‘s acoustic guitar finesse to a friend who was thinking of attending this concert last Friday.  I’d seen him at the Cathedral earlier this year.  Though no one was dancing in the aisles as with other concerts I’ve attended this year, Lucarelli clearly finessed the capacity crowd at the Unitarian Church for December’s monthly local concert series of the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association.

The opening numbers “Ave Maria” and the tango “Verano Porteno” gave way to “Moonlight Sonata,” and “Pendulum,” a tune he acquired through having his recordings on You Tube.  Lucarelli’s style is layered with baroque and Spanish melodies and chords of varying intensities.  He played with exceptional fingerstyle execution and was not tentative.  Lucarelli’s guitar leanings came from Led Zepplin and his learnings from Peruvian guitarist Ricardo Linares as well as formal education at the University of Utah (Bachelor of Music) and University of Arizona (Master of Music in Guitar performance).

As with so many concerts, my mental wanderings carried my thoughts well outside the building.  My very close friend told me she was getting engaged that weekend.  How does a woman over the age of 40 find such a situation?  Answer:

  • She wasn’t looking
  • She wasn’t looking
  • She wasn’t looking

Did I mention she wasn’t looking?  My friend is so deeply and madly in love and I couldn’t be happier for her.  I found myself wishing Lucarelli had been serenading her at the next table when her man popped the question.  But alas, Lucarelli was us in Utah and she was on the east coast.

The crowd was awestruck at Lucarelli’s meanderings through such songs as “Classical Gas,” the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” and Scott Jopin’s “Entertainer.”  Those who hadn’t seen him before were impressed and those of us who’d seen him before were even more impressed the second time around.

Lab Dogs’ Ancient Places: The Bad Dogs of Bluegrass on CD, Finally

And if you’ve got pollution, we’ve got the solution
Just ship it to Utah, we’ll keep it for you
We’ll take plutonium,depleted uranium
It’s a no-brainium, we’ll keep it for you
–The Lab Dogs (“We’ll Keep It For You”)

The date had been marked on my calendar for months: The Lab Dogs in concert.  Likewise other fans: this was a record turn out for the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association’s monthly local concert series at the Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City.  I didn’t fathom how the Lab Dogs’ “summertime BBQ” music would blend with Michael Lucarelli’s scintillating acoustic guitar on the first week of December when the airwaves were flush with tunes of snowflakes and candy canes.  But it worked.  Michael’s mellow acoustic guitar was first in the lineup, then the colorful canines took to the stage to play a lineup featuring songs from their new CD, “Ancient Places.”

The show opened with a moment of silence and then a spirited rendition of “Salty Dog,” a tribute to Tony Polychronis, long-time host of the Bluegrass Express show on KRCL.  Since I have been to several Lab Dogs concerts in the last year, I was one of those who recognized all their tunes and could sing along.  The title track song of “Ancient Places,” lead canine Kevin Jones’ song about the benefits of getting out of town, perhaps to southern Utah or the four corners area, to clear one’s head:

The ancient places I go
They help me find the road
They show me where we’ve been before
And they help me to see
The way to be free
And to find the path to the place I want to be

Like I have said previously, the Lab Dogs seem to gravitate toward meat-based lyrics so vegetarians beware.  The CD, produced by Howing Good Records, is chock full of songs like “Pat’s BBQ,” named for the local restaurant in Salt Lake City where the Lab Dogs have oft played, “Pig Meat,” “Meat for Minersville,” and “Butterball,” a song written while waiting for the red turkey timer to pop.

My friend Cindy is a Lab Dogs groupie: her husband Bill is in the band.  There has been some highly comical debate regarding what to call the Lab Dogs’ wives … imagine.   The Lab Dogs are Kevin Jones (mandolin), Erik Brunvand (bass), Peter Netka (resophonic guitar), Bill Thomas (guitar), and DJ Frederick (banjo). Kevin, the State Archeologist, was in the original group, and Bill is on the Mount Making Team at the University of Utah Natural History Museum. And the other Lab Dogs are not scientists. Pete is a retired business man, Eric is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah, and DJ is a retired judge.

Bass player Erik’s pants were the hit of the night.  “Where did you buy those?” I inquired after the concert.  “I made them,” he retorted proudly.  Upon closer examination, I saw that his pants were a pair of retro’ed black khaki pants: complete with red satin bell bottom inserts and rhinestone appliques. I guess if the day job and the band don’t work out, Erik may find his calling in creating flashy pants.

The Lab Dogs mixed up their set with some Johnny Cash, “Swine Flu is What I’ve Got,” and “I’m a Lockdown for Your Love” in addition to song from the CD such as “The Road Home” and “Pitiful Losers.”  And like all Lab Dogs concerts, the good humored banter and the interaction with each other and the audience is always a boisterous, rollicking doggone great time. {woof}

Dark Star Orchestra 12/10/10: The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT

Dark Star Orchestra 12/10/10
The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT
Words/Photos by Feliciaevita
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.
— The Grateful Dead (“The Wheel”)

On a hot August day in 1995 when my daughter was skating at the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center, one of the coaches blasted onto the ice wearing jeans and a tie dyed t-shirt.  Uncharacteristic skating coach-wear, her outfit was a tribute to Jerry Garcia, the voice of the Grateful Dead, who had died that day.  And with Garcia’s death came the disbanding of the group named #55 in the top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, by Rolling Stone magazine.

Dark Star Orchestra‘s psychedelic-rock-folk-R and B-jazz incarnation of the Dead came alive in Salt Lake City at The Depot on Friday.  I broke all sorts of speed records on I-15 getting from my daughter’s ice skating performance in Bountiful.  Fortunately, my parking visualization conveniently kicked in and I got a (legal) spot three cars from the front door.

Utah Deadheads were milling about on two layered vantage points for the concert.  Kodak Perfect Picture Spots were hard to find because The Depot was so crowded, and I found myself hanging off of various balconies to get a few (camera) shots.   Congratulations to The Depot and United Concerts: a great turnout for an event-packed Friday night so close to Christmas.

Clearly, love of the Dead is a multi-generational feeling.  The ageless hippy, bearded, long-haired, tie dye set was in full force.  One group of half a dozen 40- or 50-something guys were behaving like fraternity brothers and toasting to … well, I wasn’t close enough to hear but it looked like a poignant if not spontaneous moment.  Plenty of 20- and 30-somethings, who may have gleaned an appreciation for Garcia-isms from their Deadhead parents, were chatting up a storm.  Sorry I can’t be more specific – I’m a bad judge of people’s ages and it’s not one of those questions you ask.

Dark Star broke into the second set with “China Cat Sunflower” and had the crowd singing along to “I Know You Rider.” Utah’s contingent of Deadheads sang and undulated non-stop for the balance of the evening.  At times, Dark Star took on a garage jam session posture, and rightly so – the Dead were known for such.

The August 20, 1987 set list for the Grateful Dead’s performance at Park West Ski Resort (now The Canyons Ski Resort) was the show’s template. Without the limitation of a lights and/or video show, the “set list” concept was not nearly so well developed during the Dead’s heyday as it is today.  The Dead planned their sets on-stage, literally, and Dark Star Orchestra revives them from Dead concerts and a collection of over 100 Dead hit songs from the Dead’s 30+ year history.

Sandwiched in the middle of the set was “Drums,” a primal percussion drum and electronic marimba duo. Steady dancing turned to jubilation when the band played “Truckin’,” a song about the Dead’s 1970 arrest for possession of various drugs in New Orleans.  And the momentum grew even stronger when the band broke out with “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

Though Dark Star didn’t even play the Dead’s “Dark Star,” the group resurrected the Dead with impeccable authenticity.

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.
Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.
Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of goodbye.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Dark Star capped off the happening shortly before midnight with the carefree summer love song “Sugar Magnolia” and “The Mighty Quinn.”  An evening spent channeling Jerry Garcia?  Dead-on.

Dark Star Orchestra
Rob Eaton, rhythm guitar and vocals
Dino English, drums
Rob Koritz, drums
Lisa Mackey, vocals
Kevin Rosen, bass guitar and vocals
Rob Barraco, keyboard and vocals
Jeff Mattson, lead guitar

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Def Leppard Meets Beethoven for Christmas Caroling

Trans-Siberian Orchestra 11/18/10

EnergySolutions Arena – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/photos by feliciaevita


Did anybody see the Trib’s assessment of last Thursday’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s concert in Salt Lake City?  David Burger opined that the almost three-hour TSO show was exhaustingly long and with questionable content at times, most notably with the addition of the Beatles tune “Help.”  Burger appeared surprised that a band with the longevity, talent, and reputation of the TSO wouldn’t get their show right.  While I share a few of his sentiments, the TSO concert was far from a train wreck.

As a first-time TSO concert-goer, I was wowed by the chromatic laser lights – which were at times as bright as going for an eye exam – synchronized with the thunderous music that vibrated through every seat in the ESA.  And yet, the musicians didn’t play second fiddle to the stage effects.  One of my first notes was that everyone should see this concert.  The energy of millions of lights and talented TSO electric guitarists and violinistas made this fall’s Aussie Pink Floyd concert seem comparatively lifeless.  After hearing “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” near the opening, my friend and I listened for and heard trademark rock-i-fied Christmas carols early in the program … “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “A Mad Russian Christmas,” and “Christmas in Sarajevo.”

TSO is really two performing companies, TSO East and TSO West.  Like every major band I have seen this year, TSO’s program is choreographed (“rock-by-the-numbers” as Burger said) because of the light show designed to maximize the impact of the musical lineup.  And in reality, even country cowboy singers Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley have stage productions choreographed to accommodate video, a strategy which downplays the crowd interaction and spontaneity.

Besides the lights-music-video combination, consider that stage pyrotechnics just might mandate a little choreography. Just ask Metallica’s James Hetfield, who got second and third degree burns on his hand, arm, and face, when he and his guitar collided with fireworks on the stage during a concert. Ouch.

TSO West’s musicians, including the Salt Lake Strings, were superb.  Beethoven could have scarcely dreamed of an electric guitar playing beside his beloved violin.  The racing keyboardists kept every tempo and volume alive during the show.  And the vocalists, for the most part, had Broadway-quality voices.  (Yes, I have been to Broadway, in fact as recently as this year, fyi.)

Besides the fireworks, lasers, flames, fog, and simulated snow, the show featured two cat walks suspended over the VIP seats.  Violinists and electric guitar players dashed to the edge of the walks and played to the mid-section crowds.  The heat of the flames on stage permeated the arena.  For once, I was glad not to be amongst those under the suspension action or near the made-for-stage blow torches, and yet I was equally pleased that I hadn’t opted for the cheap seats.

The endurance drill in the middle of the program sapped those next to us and a legion of others who hiked up the stairs to the exits about two hours into the show.   As Burger mentioned, the Christmas-angel-in-the-bar diatribes from the narrator and the songs that didn’t fit to the theme of the program were, in a word, annoying. “Can you believe how many people are leaving?” my friend commented.  We were determined to stay in our lower bowl seats to the bitter end, even though she was very ill with a cold.

I’d printed out the set list before the concert and knew that in staying we’d be rewarded by hearing “Christmas Canon Rock,” “Siberian Sleigh Ride,” and “The Nutcracker.”  And rewarded we were, for the music and winter scenes were exceptional.  We walked out of the ESA well after 11 pm, over-tired but glad for the experience, sort of like Christmas itself.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is no small operation.  We saw six buses and 11 semi trucks parked outside.  After the concert, I found myself wondering what their dry ice bill was and what they’re going to do if Christmas ever goes out of style.

And a little footnote to the ESA: when I entered the arena and took my seat, I thought perhaps my eyes were going bad.  In reality, it was smoky haze left from the 4 pm show.  Maybe a little look-see and re-work on the ventilation is in order???

Concert date – 11/18/2010

Shaney McCoy: Breaking Her Guitar On a Monday Night

Shaney McCoy 11/15/10

Unitarian Church – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by feliciaevita


Shaney McCoy shared with me during the break at her CD release party that she’d dropped her guitar backstage before making her grand entrance for her first set.  Substitute “break a guitar?” for “break a leg.”  Why not?  It worked.

The stars aligned perfectly for her Salt Lake City CD release party at the Unitarian Church downtown, on a Monday no less.  Playing to a packed house, Shaney delivered her lineup from the CD Bridges I Can’t Burn in exquisite form.

Shaney’s style reminds me of Mary Chapin Carpenter, who I listened to almost without ceasing during the 1990s.  Contemplative at times, but with an undeniable sassy side, she says on her website that her early influences were Carole King and James Taylor.  I listened to Shaney’s new CD oh maybe ten times yesterday and can attest, her lyrics provide for pleasant pondering and the tunes make the housework go quickly.

1. Right as Rain
2. Bridges I Can’t Burn
3. Scars
4. Stop it Some More
5. Headed Home
6. Waterfall
7. I Won
8. Tragic Figure
9. In Your Eyes
10. I Feel Good
11. Little Things
12. It’s Alright to Dance

I’d already heard “Right as Rain,” “Scars,” and the feisty “Stop It Some More.”  The words to “Tragic Figure” echoed my sentiments over a breakup and the unfortunate series of events that dragged on well after our last kiss.

But I won’t be your tragic figure, I won’t be a pawn in your game
I’ve stood by the lake of fire and I will never be the same
I won’t let you take my spirit, I won’t let you have my mind
One of us may crumble but it won’t be me this time

It is true that sometimes you have to decide to be over it. And when that happens, “It’s Alright to Dance.”

It’s alright to dance, it’s alright to dance
You’ve done your share of cryin’, honey, now it’s alright to dance

Shaney’s new CD is a celebration of life’s joyful, melancholy, and ordinary moments.  There isn’t a song on it that makes me want to hit the “skip” button.  The CD is available on Shaney’s website or directly from her at one of her many upcoming performances.  And for $10, just think “Black Friday’s” coming. {hmmmmm}

Concert date – 11/15/2010

Double Header: Jen Hajj and Utah Slim with Heartroot

Jen Hajj and Utah Slim w/ Heartroot 11/13/10

Mestizo Coffee House – Salt Lake City, UT

Words/Photos by feliciaevita




Last Saturday in the concert room at Mestizo Coffee House in Salt Lake City was the place to be, in case you didn’t hear.  And granted, many of you didn’t get the message, but next time you’ll know that a song-packed evening with Jen Hajj and Utah Slim and Heartroot, is not to be missed.

Jen Hajj and Utah Slim are the quintessential merger of classically trained folksinger songstress Jen and cowboy poet and storyteller Slim. And, incidentally, she graduated from McClintock HS, the rival to my Marcos de Niza HS in Tempe, Arizona.  When I heard Jen and Slim at the recent Songwriters in the Round, I first heard their desert poetry, which almost sings itself.  Several times, during the past week, I found myself humming one of their signature songs “Where You Take Me.”

I’d chatted with Slim between sets at the Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett concert last Friday and he mentioned that he had spent a lot of time down in southern Utah and had grown to love the majestic desert.  And of course, now he’s trying to reconcile his passion for miles of red rocks, hawks, and endless blue skies, with living in Salt Lake City.

The aura of Jen and Slim’s playing has an American Old West quality reminiscent of “Flora,” a song from Peter, Paul and Mary’s Moving album. The fair young maiden captured the heart of more than one cowboy in what became yet another tale of the Wild West. Jen and Slim bring the desertscape of South Central Utah alive with songs like “On the Colorado Plateau” and “Call of the Wild.”  At one point during the concert, the audience yodeled along with our “yo la hee hee” to Joe West’s “Human Cannonball” and Jen did a spectacular solo yodel in “Canyon Lullaby.” And their rendition of “Own Heart’s Desire” evoked that feeling of getting back to dancing and romancing.

It’s been so long since we twirled around the dance floor
I’ve almost forgotten how
So gas up the pick-up
I’ll bring the babies
They’ll stay with the neighbors tonight
If the band at the bar
Can play waltzes and shuffles
I’m gonna dance with my own heart’s delight

In between Jen and Slim’s sets, we heard Heartroot: Eric McEuen and Mindy Dillard.  As I was listening to their amusing songs and diverse instrumentation of guitars, mandolin, percussion, and a striking turquoise ukelele, I noticed that Mindy’s voice sounded like she should be in musical theater.  And indeed, she acknowledged having a theater background.

On tour from Portland, Oregon, Mindy has Salt Lake City roots and the couple have taken their beloved gnome to each concert event.  And Gnomie has blogged about their adventures.

Both sets were packed with songs that were funny, inspirational, and touching.  “If A Song Could Be President” captured my fancy.  I wish Emmy Lou could be an ambassador!  The warm and poetic relationship melody “There From Here,” which we learned was written at 3 am, is an honest admission that the two of you don’t know the way, but you’re on the journey.  Mindy’s beautiful voice and Heartroot’s harmonies stay in your music cell memory for a long time.  “Little Bird Jump” is a catchy song which captured the courage to leave the proverbial nest and take flight:

Bird won’t you fly
Why don’t you fly
Why don’t you
Bird won’t you fly
Why don’t you fly
Why don’t you

Eric’s song “Hidden Water” about his dowser “water witch” grandpa finding water in the desert brought tears.  Their show ended with another original that “wrote itself.”  The song required audience participation, with verbs such as working, thinking, and planning.  We threw out suggestions such as swimming, reading, blogging, breeding, loving, singing, and smiling, as we sang along.  Such spunk!

Last night, I was scheduled to go see Heartroot again, but a steep, snowy hill coupled with a heavy snow downpour forced me to turn back.  They’ll be in Salt Lake City through mid-December, so there’s still time.  Check their website for upcoming concerts including two next weekend.

Concert date – 11/13/2010

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