Ann Wilson of Heart Sandy June 27, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

When someone from a well-established band heads out on a solo tour, two things can happen.  Seeing them solo is not the same and you wish the whole band was there, or you get to see a new side of this artist and it’s an entirely different experience altogether.  I found the latter to be the case with Ann Wilson of Heart.

I was able to catch Ann at her second Utah show in as many nights (Night one was in Layton), at the beautiful Sandy Amphitheater.  I must say, in recent years the Sandy Amphitheater has really become one of the better venues in the Salt Lake Valley.  There isn’t a bad seat in the venue, and they have continued to improve their summer lineup year after year while keeping a light and easy atmosphere.  The staff I engaged with were extremely friendly and kind as well.    

I will admit that it was a little weird at first to see Ann walk onstage without her sister and Heart counterpart Nancy Wilson beside her.  But that was really the only time I thought about it.  Ann sent the message loud and clear that this wasn’t a Heart concert.  Of course, Ann mixed some of our favorite Heart songs into the set. Songs like,  “Barracuda”, “Crazy on You”, and my personal favorite “Alone” to name a few.  I imagine the best part about touring solo is having the freedom to be creative with the set, and these songs.  Ann didn’t allow herself to be tied to the expectations that might come with a Heart show.  When fans see Heart in concert, they want to hear the song performed in a certain way.  But with this show, Ann was able to do some creative and interesting versions of the Heart songs she performed.  I thought it was refreshing to hear these songs in a new way.  

If there was any question on if Ann still has pipes, I am here to answer this question with a definitive YES!  People, Ann still sounds incredible.  It’s unbelievable that she can still sing that way after doing this for so long.  The power in her vocals is absolutely still there. There were a couple times I’d get nervous and think, “I don’t know if she can still hit this note.” and then BAM! She totally nails it.  Every time that happened the audience showed their approval.  I love her voice so much.  And hearing it live is something everyone should experience.  

Ann did impressive covers of Elvis, The Who, and Aretha. She surprised me though with a captivating cover of The Black Crowes hit “She Talks to Angels”.  I didn’t see that song coming and I was so glad to hear it.  It was as if that song was written for Ann and her voice.

Ann gave us two encores.  In the second encore and final song of the night, Ann treated us to a cover of Danger Zone by Ray Charles.  She talked about her father being in the Marine Corp and being gone a lot.  She shared that her mother would listen to this song often when he was away.  It was a beautiful button on a beautiful show, on a beautiful summer night.  

I wasn’t quite sure to expect from an Ann Wilson solo show.  But I left the Sandy Amphitheater more than satisfied.  Her band is great, and she puts so much variety into the show that it’s impossible to not be entertained.  Plus there was a marriage proposal from the stage during the intermission.  And she said Yes!  So, fun night all around.  

 

Setlist

The Real Me- The Who Cover
Barracuda
Crazy on You
What About Love
Fool No More
One Night- Elvis Cover
Anguish
Manic Depression- Jimmy Hendrix Cover

Intermission

A Million Times
I’ve Seen All Good People- Yes Cover
She Talks To Angels- The Black Crowes cover
Don’t Give Up- Peter Gabriel cover
We Gotta Get Out of This Place- The Animals Cover
Won’t Get Fooled Again- The Who Cover
Alone
Love, Reign O’er Me- The Who Cover

Encore
For What It’s Worth- Buffalo Springfield cover
Ain’t No Way- Aretha Franklin cover

Encore 2
I Put a Spell on You- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover
Danger Zone- Ray Charles cover

Neil Diamond April 9, 2017 Salt Lake City Vivint Smart Home Arena

There are two types of people in this world, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.”  This statement is as true today as it was back when Bill Murray said it as he was playing Bob Wiley in the early nineties classic What About Bob?  When I told people I was going to see Neil Diamond I was given one of two responses, “Why?”, or “Why aren’t you taking me?!”.  I don’t think there is another artist I’ve seen where people have such a strong opinion.  

To be clear, I’m one of those who likes Neil.  I was raised on Neil.  My mom is a big Neil Diamond fan so I’ve been listening to the guy for as long as I remember.  

Neil brought his 50th Anniversary tour to a packed Vivint Smart Home Arena.  I received word that Neil doesn’t have an opener, and he usually goes on right at eight so I made sure to get there early.  I took my seats that were to the side of the stage.  These are interesting seats because they’re right by the stage, so they’re close to the action, but they put me in a position to where I could see the entire arena.  

As I took my seats I saw a couple who I would guess was in their late 60’s.  I asked them if they had seen a Neil Diamond concert before.  By the look on their face, I could tell that they were lifelong fans even before they spoke.  I immediately noticed their New York accents.  They began recounting their experience with the Jewish Elvis having seen him multiple times beginning in the seventies and the last time being twenty years ago in 1997.  They were excited to see him again after such a long break.  

Just as they were finished sharing their experiences, as if on cue, the volume on the background music began to rise, and the band walked to the stage.  The band began playing “In My Lifetime” while pictures began to move across the diamond-shaped video screen.  The pictures showed Neil as a child, with his family, then to adolescence, and on to each stage of his career then finally the footage cut to the exact moment when the mighty Neil Diamond rose from below the stage with his black guitar as his first hit “Cherry Cherry” started to play.  He greeted the audience with a “Hello Salt Lake City!”.  The crowd went wild.  Many sprung to their feet, many eventually made it to their feet, and some stayed put in their chairs.  This seemed to be a battle with many audience members.  Some wanted to get up and dance, and others wanted to enjoy the show from their chairs.  But what those sitting didn’t realize was that eventually,  everybody rises at a Neil Diamond concert.  But we’ll get to that later.  

There are a couple of benefits in seeing someone who has been doing this for fifty years.  One is the endless amount of hit songs that are performed, and another is they know what works to put on a great concert.  Neil has so many hit songs that he can’t fit them all in one night. I don’t think it was until long after I was home that I thought, ‘Oh, he didn’t do this song or that song.’.  He did so many familiar songs that I can’t imagine anyone left feeling disappointed on the setlist.  

Neil knows just how to entertain a crowd.  I saw people of all ages at this concert.  I saw entire families singing along, college-aged friends, and of course couples like the one sitting next to me.  Each one of them, child to adult, had a smile on their face, singing every single word of every song right along with Neil.  He knows how to tell a joke, share a story, and deliver a song.  It’s impressive.  Those who enjoy being entertained,  die-hard Neil Diamond fan or not, I recommend seeing this show.  It really is impressive.  

I took great interest in this New York City born and raised couple seated next to me.  I wondered what they thought about the show as compared to the Diamond concerts of the past.  As the beginning notes of a fan favorite love song “Play Me” began, I looked at the lady and saw tears streaming down her cheeks.  She just looked at me and said “Beautiful”.  She then put her head on her husband’s shoulder for the rest of the song.  I quickly realized that I was imposing on a special moment between them.  Before I could turn away to let the moment be their own, the man looked at me and said, “He’s as good as he’s ever been.”  It truly is amazing the impact a song, a show, a singer can have on people.  

Neil blazed through his set singing sing-alongs like “Song Sung Blue”, “Forever in Blue Jeans”, and my personal favorite, “Holly Holy”.  He ended his main set with the poignant “I Am… I Said”.   The audience, all of them, were on their feet as Neil departed the stage.  And as he returned anyone who thought they might sit back down was sorely mistaken.  Right then organ played those all too familiar initial notes of “Sweet Caroline”.  The place went nuts and sang louder than they had all night.  The “Bum, Bum Bums” and “So Good, So Good, So Goods” could have been heard out in the street they were so loud.  And from my seat, I could see the lower and upper bowl swaying, and singing, and as silly as it sounds, the smiling.  Smiles that lit up Vivint Arena in a way I hadn’t ever seen before! And Neil really lets the crowd get their “Sweet Caroline” fix.  He finishes the song, the crowd goes nuts, and then he starts the chorus up again.  And again, and again, and again!  It really was special.  

The show really could have ended right there.  But what’s a Neil Diamond concert without hearing “America”?  In my opinion, it would be incomplete. So we shouted “Today!” a bunch of times and reached, of course, his traditional closer “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”.  The arena turned into a revival tent!  People were dancing that had been sitting the whole night.  People with oxygen tanks were on their feet singing and dancing.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.  Perhaps they were saving their legs and oxygen for this very moment.  

As Neil walked off the stage waving to the crowd I wondered if I’d get to see him again.  After all, this was his 50th Anniversary Tour.  And Neil while spry as ever, is 76 years old.  Even the greats can’t do it for forever.  Unfortunately.  But is this was my last time seeing Neil, (I had seen him 4 times previous to this show starting in 2002) this was a perfect show for me to say goodbye.  I was with my brother who, like me loves Neil, and I got to sit with lifelong fans who after a twenty-year break go to see their favorite singer sing their favorite songs.  It was a beautiful evening.  Come to think of it, I guess I could have saved everybody the time reading this by simply saying “Good times never seemed so good.”  Thanks, Neil!

Setlist

In My Lifetime
Cherry, Cherry
You Got to Me
September Morn
Longfellow Serenade
Love on the Rocks
Play Me
Beautiful Noise
Jungletime
If You Know What I Mean
Song Sung Blue
Forever in Blue Jeans
Solitary Man
I’m a Believer
Brooklyn Roads
Pretty Amazing Grace
Jazz Time (Band Intro)
Soolaimon
Crunchy Granola Suite
Done Too Soon
Holly Holly
I Am… I Said

Encore
Sweet Caroline
Cracklin’ Rosie
America
Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

Stevie Nicks with The Pretenders Salt Lake City February 25, 2017 Vivint Smart Home Arena

It’s not every week that one of the biggest icons in Rock n Roll visits Utah.  So I was excited when I saw that Stevie Nicks was coming to Vivint Smart Home Arena.  And to no surprise, she did not disappoint.  

First, Rock n Roll Hall of Famers, The Pretenders were Stevie’s support act.  Headliners in their own right, they flew through their almost hour long set, blending hit songs with some newer numbers.  Chrissie Hynde’s voice was in peak form as she belted out songs like, “I’ll Stand By You”, and “Brass in Pocket”.  They had the entire floor of the arena as well as many areas of the lower bowl on their feet, singing and clapping along.  There was actually a moment that I forgot that this was the opening band.  I totally felt like I was at a Pretenders concert.  But of course, this was just the beginning.  There was of course, Stevie.  

Now, this show was not like a typical concert.  The best way I can describe it is it was like that old VH-1 show “Storytellers”.  You know when VH-1 and MTV actually played music.  Stevie told us early on in the concert that she would be playing what she called “New, old songs” from her “Gothic trunk of lost songs”.  She mentioned that she’d be explaining how the songs came to be, why she released them when she did, and why she chose them for tonight’s show.  I thought it was a good idea to tell the audience up front that we were going to be hearing songs we probably didn’t know, but it should be fun anyway.  I think it put the crowd in the right frame of mind, and they reacted accordingly. The two-hour fifteen-minute show seemed to fly by for me.  

Stevie mentioned that she had actually lived in Salt Lake City while she was in 7-9th grade.  This was something I didn’t know, and something that of course delighted the local audience.  She mentioned that her friend from that time was in attendance and that she has always had fond memories of living here.  

Besides the two drunk dudes who were dragged to the concert by their girlfriends, the rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy the stories Stevie told. Later in the show, she jokingly recognized during one point in the show that she was telling a lot of stories.  She mentioned that by the end of the tour she might not even have a band, she’d just be up there telling stories.  A highlight for me was when she was starting her solo career she was offered a song by Tom Petty.  They ended up recording “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, and it became one of her biggest solo hits.  The crowd went crazy when she started this song and went even crazier when Chrissie Hynde walked back on stage to perform the duet with her.  

Of course, even with the crowd enjoying the stories, and the lost songs, Stevie Nicks understands that we were there to hear her hits.  Even when touring solo, she knew she’d have to play some of her biggest Fleetwood Mac hits.  After she finished singing “Rhiannon”, Stevie told us that she suggested maybe leaving that one of the setlist this tour.  She proceeded to tell us that her band gasped and said no way.  And of course, the crowd roared in approval of the band’s protest.  Along with giving us a string of hits, she brought back some of her classic shawls.  Then she iconically spun around in them, getting a cheer from the audience every time.  

She closed the show with her beautiful song “Landslide”. She mentioned that she was in Aspen Colorado when she wrote it, but she wished she had written it here in Salt Lake City because she actually lived her, and she was only visiting Aspen.  No matter where it was written, it’s a fantastic song, and a perfect way to end the evening.  

Stevie Nicks is an artist that has truly perfected her craft.  I was amazed how one minute she could make us feel like we were sitting in a small coffee house listening to a songwriter tell us how and why she wrote a song, and the next we’re back in a packed arena dancing to a proper rock song.  An artist like this transcends generations.  I saw mothers and daughters there together.  I saw groups of women who were most likely the same age as Stevie Nicks reliving some of their youth with these songs.  I saw groups of women who were much younger than me, enjoying their current youth with these songs.  It says a lot to me about Stevie and her repertoire.  I hope she brings that “Gothic Trunk” back around soon.  

Stevie Nicks Setlist
Gold and Braid
If Anyone Falls
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
Belle Fleur
Gypsy
Wild Heart
Bella Donna
Enchanted
New Orleans
Starshine
Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
Stand Back
Crying in the Night
If You Were My Love
Gold Dust Woman
Edge of Seventeen

Encore:
Rhiannon
Landslide

Midge Ure Salt Lake City January 16, 2017 The Complex

I have been wanting to see Midge Ure for most of my life.  Seriously for twenty-something years.  Whether with his band Ultravox, or solo, I have enjoyed his music, yet never really had an opportunity to see him.  Well last night at The Grand in The Complex, I finally had my chance.  

My anticipation for this show was magnified due to the opportunity I had to interview Midge about a month prior to the concert.  So, talking with him about the tour got me really excited for what was to come.  And he did not disappoint.  

Ure joked with the audience asking if anyone could understand him due to his Scottish accent.  He suggested maybe they thought he sounded like Shrek.  Throughout the night he was engaging, comical, and even a little self-deprecating.  When he introduced his song “If I Was”, he talked about how it was a number one hit in various countries, but not in America.  Following by saying, “But I’m not bitter.”  

Midge mentioned that he had been in Utah a couple of years ago as part of the Retro Futura tour.  A number of audience members cheered to let him know they were at that show.  He mentioned how surprised he was that people there were singing his songs.  He didn’t think anyone here would know him.  He jokingly stated that he made a special point of returning to Salt Lake City on this tour just to make sure.  

Midge joked that the type of tour he was on was called a “Scottish Tour.  Because it’s cheap.” He was joined on stage by only a drummer and a bass player who also played keyboard on various songs.  Both of them are very talented musicians and made it feel as if there was an entire band on stage.  I thought Ure did a solid job blending songs from his entire catalog  That can’t be an easy thing to do when you’ve had not only a successful solo career but been a part of hit-making bands such as Visage and of course Ultravox.  I was also really impressed with how well his voice has held up.  The man is in his 60’s and he sounds as good as he ever did.  If anything, there is an added richness to his voice that I really like.  

Admittedly I was most looking forward to hearing the Ultravox songs.  As much as the audience remembered and enjoyed the other songs, it was obvious that the Ultravox songs were the highlight.  Midge mentioned that he wasn’t sure about doing some Ultravox songs because he was in just a three piece band and Ultravox is so layered with synthesizers and other instruments he didn’t know if they could pull it off.  But he knew he wanted to do these songs, so they went for it, and pull it off they did.  I really liked the arrangements of these Ultravox songs. They had a stripped down feel without losing any of their fullness.  For example, one of my favorites was “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes”.  It felt like a proper rock song, heavy with guitar, bass, and drums.  I loved it!   

Ure closed the show with the great David Bowie classic “Starman”.  He mentioned how 2016 was such a hard year due to the loss of so many great people in the music world.  

The best way I can sum up seeing Midge Ure in concert is that it was like meeting up with an old friend. You’re so excited to reconnect.  You talk about the good ole days, share a new story or two, and upon departure you regret not going over a couple more old memories.  And of course, the time together is never long enough.  But ultimately you’re so happy to have seen each other, and a new memory has been made.  And the hope is always that you’ll see each other again sooner than later.  So it is with Midge.   

Setlist

Dear God
New Europeans (Ultravox song)
If I Was
Call of the Wild
Fade to Grey (Visage)
Beneath a Spielberg Sky
Become
Hymn (Ultravox)
The Voice (Ultravox)
Vienna (Ultravox)
All Stood Still (Ultravox)
Passing Strangers (Ultravox)
Dancing With Tears in My Eyes (Ultravox)
Reap the Wild Wind (Ultravox)
Starman (David Bowie cover)

UCR Interview- Midge Ure of Ultravox

Midge Ure of Ultravox is currently making his way across North America with his Live + Electric Tour.  Ure is coming to The Complex in Salt Lake City on Monday January 16, 2017.  Prior to his stop here in town, I had the opportunity to interview him. I believe our conversation will be of interest to any New Wave, New Romantic, or Electro music fan. I split my time during this interview between mustering as much journalistic integrity I possess and just totally geeking out.  I’m a huge Ultravox fan, so this was an absolute delight for me.  I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I had conducting it.  

Utah Concert Review: Hello Mr. Ure.  Where might you be calling in from tonight?

Midge Ure: I’m in deepest darkest Germany today.  

UCR: Wow, well how’s the tour going so far?

MU: It’s been going really well.  It’s a kind of a three piece, mainly acoustic stuff I’ve been doing.  It’s a tour called “Something from Everything”. I’m trying to play something from every album that I’ve done since 1978. So I’m choosing songs from Ultravox right through to now.  So it’s been going incredibly well because a lot of the songs I have never performed live before.

UCR: When you tour the states early next year, will you be continuing with this type of show, or will you be playing with a full band?  

MU: No, we’ve already done the first leg of the US tour back in October.  We did the East Coast and up into Canada.  So we’re picking that back up again starting in Vancouver and working our way across the West Coast through Salt Lake City, and down to Texas and finishing up in Nashville.  This tour we’ll be using two American multi-instrumentalist musicians.  One of whom I’ve worked with before. It’s basically a three piece power trio, but using synthesizers as well.  So we’re trying to incorporate a bit of everything.    

UCR:  I recently read a tweet from you where you were expressing frustration that someone in the front row was doing a lot of texting while you were performing.  I have to say that this is something that drives me nuts!  I think it’s so disrespectful.  

MU: (Laughing) Yeah.

UCR:  You’ve been touring for decades now, aside from people using their smart phone during concerts, whether to text or to record some of the performance, what else has changed over that time for you?

MU: Although I was tweeting about the annoyance of technology and the way people use it, it’s not about me and my ego.  It’s not, ‘How dare they not listen to me!’.  It’s the fact that people will sit in theaters and in cinemas and they’ll look at their phones.  Some will even make phone calls!  And you think, that’s just not the right thing to do.  So, although I was moaning about technology, I think the big change is technology.  The fact that an artist or a band can sit on the computer and book their own flights, book their own car hire, and they can liaise with venues on the road.  And you can do it on the phone while you’re touring as well.   You don’t need a massive office. You don’t need a huge road crew. You have to know what you’re doing of course, but the level I’m doing America right now, I could not have done this twenty years ago.  I could not have gone out without a road crew, or without a tour manager, you know, no one there to kind of back you up.  You’d need that kind of infrastructure.  Now you don’t need that.  You can kind of just do it yourself.  

UCR: That reminds me of when OMD reunited back in, I think around 2007.  After a successful European tour, they wanted to come here to the states and tour.  Concert promoters wouldn’t advance the money to put the tour together.  I guess they didn’t think they had the audience in America anymore.  So OMD decided to put the tour together on their own.  And it was a huge success, and they’ve been touring here ever since.  So to speak to your point, it seems it is possible now to tour without relying on others.  The advancements in technology allowed you to do it on your own.  It that pretty much what you’re saying?  

MU: Absolutely.  I have to look back over the years with me, or with Ultravox or whatever, and I find a twenty-year hole or a twenty-year gap where when I stopped being with major labels. I seemed to lose all connection with the US and Canada.  As I did with Australia and New Zealand and Japan. I seemed to have lost this flow.  So I had no way to get back in again.  So like you say with OMD, people ask you, “Well, how much do you go out for?”  and you tell them, and they say “No, we haven’t heard from you in twenty years. Why would we pay you that kind of money? Everyone has forgotten about you.”   If you’re determined to do it like OMD were, and like I am, I mean, I’ve toured the states maybe three or four times the last few years because I chose to do it. I don’t need to do it. But I chose to do it because maybe there’s a chip on my shoulder saying ‘Why did Ultravox never happen in America?’. Even though I know the answer, it still kind of grinds a little bit.  So I choose to come out to America and do it on a much lower level than I would in Europe or anywhere else really.  

UCR: Ok, so I have to know then, what are the reasons Ultravox didn’t happen in America?  

MU:  It’s probably a variety of answers.  This is a pick and mix. You can throw just the answers in a big pot and mix them up and that’s the reason.  Initially, only the coasts really got Ultravox, at least as far as we were concerned.  I’m not sure Ultravox ever played Salt Lake City, I don’t think we were ever in Utah. As far as we were concerned, it was College radio.  College radio got Ultravox. When we arrived first in New York, we were interviewed by a newspaper and this guy says, this is in around 1978, and the guy says “You guys speak really good English.”  And being British, we’re like “Yeah”.  He says, “I thought you were Germans.”  I think he had us mixed up with Kraftwerk.  And that was part of the problem.  The majority of America didn’t understand us.  They didn’t get what it was.  The record label was distraught that the Vienna album had an eight-minute instrumental as the opening track.  And they didn’t get it because radio played Styx, Boston, and Foreigner.  Corporate middle of the road rock.  So there was no space for something like us.  We were like the very point of the ship, and we got broken off.  And the bit that came behind us, got in. So we kind of helped to pave the way for the Depeche Mode’s, and the Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and whoever to follow through.  That’s part of the reason.  The other part is when we toured America, which we did a few times, we could work our way up to performing places like the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, where they wouldn’t let amplifiers in there, but they let Ultravox in there because they saw Ultravox as art.  And we would play two to three thousand capacity theaters.  And then beyond that, the next step, the obvious step was to open for a bigger band. But we insisted on playing absolutely everything live.  There was nothing pre-programmed.  This was a logistical and technical nightmare because we didn’t have time to do a proper sound check.  So we stalemated at 3,000 capacity venues and we just kind of fell back and disappeared.  

UCR:  It must have been so frustrating to not have the necessary support from the media and your label when you had such a huge fan base everywhere else.  

MU: Of course I can see exactly where it all collapsed and fell apart.  Our record label didn’t understand us.  We were having number one records in the UK, and not seeing anything reciprocated in America. I can’t begin to tell you how hideously frustrating that was.  Ultravox would step off the plane to come and do a tour to promote an album, and the record company would say “Never mind guys, we’ll get them next time.” And I would say ‘Well, hold on, the album’s just come out.  How could it be dead in the water before we ever played a note?  How could this possibly be?’ It was because we were a square peg, and they were trying to push us into a round hole.  It just wasn’t going to happen.  They knew how to do Billy Idol, Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis and the News, and all that, but they had no idea what to do with us.  

UCR: Sometimes it’s amazing that these people are in the music business.  It would seem they rarely know what they’re doing.  

Other than maybe the size of the venues you perform in, what would you say makes a concert in America different than a concert overseas?

MU: You know what, there’s really not a massive difference I have to say. Audiences react similarly all over the world. There are subtle changes between audiences but American audiences tend to be a bit louder than European audiences.  Although, these days I supposed European audiences emulate American audiences with the shouting and screaming, whoopin’ and hollerin’ so maybe the UK and Europe audiences have caught up with how audiences react in American.  But there’s not a huge difference anymore.  I’m quite surprised at the level of reaction I get in America when I play what I think is probably quite obscure material.  The audience knows the songs!  The last time I played Salt Lake City was with the Retro Futura tour with Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins), Howard Jones, China Crisis, and I’m thinking well I haven’t been in Salt Lake City in ages, so no one is going to know me at all.  But I walk on stage and the whole place stands up and sang all my songs.  I was completely and utterly blown away.  So in my mind, my perception is, no one knows me except for hardcore fans that really get into the music and know my place in the chain, my little link in the chain.  When I was in Salt Lake I spoke to the audience afterward and I was signing stuff, and they said there was one radio station there that was a New Wave station and they played Ultravox and that type of music all the time, so they all knew the songs!  

UCR: What was the first concert you attended?

MU: Now this is going to sound bizarre, but the first one I remember buying a ticket was for Black Sabbath, but they didn’t turn up.  On the bill was Family who were a 60’s and 70’s rock band and another band.  So I watched the other two bands. I went to see Black Sabbath because my brother bought their album and I was 15 and wanted to be cool.  

UCR: With touring a lot yourself I’m sure you don’t have time to see a lot of concerts, but is there any band that you would like to see or that you make a point to see.  

MU: I’d love to see Sigur Rós. They’re an Icelandic band well worth checking out.  Really interesting music.  But they don’t tour very often. The last person I saw that I deliberately went to see was Kate Bush.  But I was completing the circle because I saw her first shows she did in London back in 1978.  But yeah, if there is someone I really want to see I’ll make a concerted effort to go see them.  However,  I’m a bit over going to sticky carpeted clubs.  

UCR: Eliminating Live Aid from your options, because that I’m sure was its own incredible experience on its own, what is one of your concerts that stands out to this day?

MU: Yes, there was a very famous venue in Glasgow back in the 70’s and 80’s, called the Glasgow Apollo.  After the single Vienna was successful, therefore the album was successful, Ultravox played the Apollo for the first time.  I walked on to a roar I had never experienced before in my life!  There were 4,000 people screaming, just shouting their heads off because it was my home city. Walking on there and performing in the venue that I saw T-Rex and many other bands perform.  I saw them all on that stage, and to walk on that stage and receive that ovation, was an experience I’ll never ever forget.  And it never gets as good as that again.  It doesn’t matter where you play, how big the venue is, or how magnificent the event might be, that first time you feel that it’s the best time ever!  

UCR: Thank you, Mr. Ure.  I really appreciate you taking the time. It has truly been an honor.  I’m really looking forward to the show.  

MU: Hopefully you’ll hear a lot of things you’ll recognize.  I’ll be doing more Ultravox songs on this set than I ever have outside of Ultravox.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s good fun.  

 

Click here to purchase tickets to Midge’s Live + Electric show.  Keep in mind this is a 21+ show.  Hope to see you there! 

www.midgeure.co.uk 

The Lower Lights 7th Annual Christmas Concert December 5, 2016 Kinsgbury Hall Salt Lake City

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Last night I had the extraordinary experience of seeing The Lower Lights opening night of their 7th annual Christmas Concerts.  There are so many things I want to say about this Americana orchestra! However, because it was opening night, and they still have five shows remaining, I want to refrain from spoiling anything for those who will be attending future dates. So without specifics on the set list or particular highlights of the show, let me tell you just how great this show was, and if you don’t have a ticket yet, why you should get one.  

So let me first say that this show begins at 7PM.  Apparently, a lot of the audience thought the show began at 7:10, or 7:15, or even 7:20!  Come on people!  This band works hard.  On all the songs! So it’s not ok to miss the first 5 songs.  I understand that things happen and sometimes we’re just late to stuff.  But there was an alarming amount of people coming in late. There is so much more I could say about this, but the concert was so good, that I’d rather focus on that.

Kingsbury Hall is a beautiful venue.  If you haven’t been to a show there, I recommend it.  It’s the perfect venue for this kind of concert too.  The stage is large, yet the venue is intimate enough to where every you have a good view from any seat.  The only negative can be that parking is kind of a struggle.  What I would suggest is give up trying to park on the street, or anywhere right next to the venue itself.  Just drive south to the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot, and walk over.  It’s about a 5-minute walk, ten tops, and there is plenty of room.  Trust me it’s worth it.  For some shows, they even offer a free shuttle to Kingsbury Hall.  

Monday night concerts are always a little tricky.  The weekend is over, and the crowd tends to be a little more reserved.  Such was the case last night. I was in a good place in the audience to where I could see a lot of faces.  Despite the less vocal, or physically enthusiastic nature of this audience, their faces did show me that they were loving every minute of this concert.  

As I understand it, The Lower Lights have had up to 30 or more members performing with them.  There are 21 talented artists in this lineup, and I was expecting the show to begin with all of them walking on stage for a big first number.  But one lone man, with an acoustic guitar, walked on stage into a solo spotlight and sang us a song to start things off.  And that’s the beauty of concerts.  To be pleasantly surprised at any moment.  Now as I mentioned, there are 21 people in this band, so I apologize now for not mentioning all of their names.  Just know that every one of them is talented, and makes their own positive mark on this show.  

Following the opening song, the rest of the band did take the stage and blazed through a number of Christmas favorites.  While I’m not sharing the setlist in this review, I do want to say to those wondering if they’ll hear Christmas songs they like or know, that the answer is a resounding YES!  You will not come away with this concert feeling like you missed out on hearing a Christmas song you liked.  

The band entered and exited the stage with such fluidity.  I have been to many shows, with much smaller lineups that take forever to switch instruments, bring people on and off stage, and it really takes away from the show.  The Lower Lights seem to have perfected this art.  

The show began with one man and ended with the entire band, but throughout the night, the band shifted into ensembles of varying sizes.  I was impressed with the diverse talents that are within The Lower Lights.  They have an Americana or folk-country sound, and there were times where I felt like I was at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. There were other times that I felt like I was simply in someone’s back yard listening to some friends play music.  And some of my favorite moments were when I felt like I was at a tent revival meeting in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  I think it takes real talent to be so grand, yet bring such intimacy to an audience.

I really enjoyed the way they interacted with each other as well as those in attendance.  There is no front person in this band so different members would take turns addressing the audience.  It was fun to see the range in personalities when songs were presented.  Some of them presented a song with humor, some with sweetness, some with emotion, and some with a soft yet serious tone.  It’s obvious how much these band members care about each other.  It would seem that there is no ego within the band.  That they are there to play this cherished music and fill the hall with the Christmas spirit.  Which they did flawlessly.  

Ok, I lied.  I have to tell you about one song.  But just one, I promise!  Along with being pleasantly surprised at concerts, I also love when a band plays a song that I’m really hoping they’ll play.  With all the Christmas songs that exist, I did my best to prevent myself from getting my hopes up.  Because you can’t play them all.  But with this style of music and this particular song, it just made sense that they’d play it.  And they did.  One member of the band invited the audience to sing along.  They then played one of my all time favorite Christmas songs “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.  I was smiling from ear to ear.  My apologies to the older gentleman sitting next to me, because I was belting out that chorus as if I was on stage.  Their rendition of this song exceeded every expectation I had.  And, it wasn’t even the best song of the night!  So if that song was that amazing, just think about how great the rest of this concert is.  

The last thing I want to mention is what we think of when we hear the term “Local Artist”.  Many times, and I’m guilty of this too, we hear that and think that they’re not as good as the artists on the radio, or with a major record deal.  How wrong we are. The Lower Lights are a band made up of “Local Artists”.  I believe each member of the band, while not all of them are currently in Utah, do have Utah roots.  And yet, if they played at the Ryman in Nashville, or if they played at a tent revival in Virginia, honestly if they played the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, no one would think twice.  They would simply know that they are listening to a band with an exceedingly high level of talent that puts on a fantastic show.  So, be sure to pay more attention to “local artists”.  I know I will.   

Go see this show!  There are still tickets remaining, but let me assure you, they will be snatched up.  Some of them by me, because I’m going back at the end of the week.  Yes, it was that good.  If you need uplifting or help in getting into the Christmas spirit, then, by all means, get to this concert.  

 

For more information, and to purchase music albums and tickets to the show go to…

www.thelowerlights.com 

 

UCR Interview- Debra Fotheringham of The Lower Lights

debfoThis week I caught up with local solo artist, Debra Fotheringham. Along with her solo work, she sings with the Blue Heart Revue and The Lower Lights.  

Beginning December 5, the highly acclaimed The Lower Lights Christmas returns for the seventh year, with a six-show residency at Kingsbury Hall.  I really enjoyed speaking with Debra.  

Utah Concert Review: How did you get into Music?

Debra Fotheringham: I got into music when I was around 14. I had always loved music from a young age watching live shows, that it was something that I knew I wanted to do.  My dad was a musician at one point so I grew up listening to a lot of music. So it was part genetic, and part I just gravitated towards it at a young age.

UCR: How did The Lower Lights come together?  

DF: The central figure in the whole thing is Scott Wiley.  He owns June Audio recording studios.  And most of us know him from different projects and records he’s worked on. He was the central figure that called people and had people come in.  He and a few others had the idea to do a Hymns record with some of their friends.  And so they finally made it happen and Scott invited me to come and be a part of it, and then it
morphed into The Lower Lights.  It was supposed to just be an album we were recording, but then we started playing live shows and it turned into a thing.

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UCR: So was it a love of the holidays or holiday music that started these concerts?  Because it seems like this has become the real focal point of the band.  Am I off on saying that, or does this seem to be the case?  

DF: No, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.  I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I think we were releasing an album around Christmas time and we just decided to make it a Christmas show.  I can’t remember if that’s how it started but at some point, we decided we should do a Christmas show because we had people asking us if we were going to do one.  We had a surprising turnout at the first one, so we just started doing it every year because it was so enjoyable.

Another reason it became a thing with the band is due to the fact that there are so many people in the band that it can kind of be a logistical puzzle to get us all together and so when we have a set show like this, we’ll all be able to show up for it.  And the Christmas shows just happened to be what it turned into.

UCR: Did I hear that there were thirty or so members of this band?!

DF: (Laughs)  Yeah!  It changes depending on who shows up for each show.  It’s a pretty flexible lineup.  

UCR: So what is your role within this enormous band?  

DF: Within the band, I’m mostly just a singer.  I have arranged a couple tunes that we’ve done  but mostly it’s fun for me to just show up and sing, which is pressure off from doing my own stuff where I have to promote it all myself and write everything.  So it’s relaxing and fun to be part of a project where I just show up and sing and make music with friends.  

UCR:  So, what might people who have never see this show before, be in store for?

DF: Well, (laughing) there will be a lot of people on stage.  It’s a “get on your feet and clap” kind of thing.  There are parts of the show that are more rockin’ and parts of the show that are more contemplative.  We try to have something in it for everyone.  We make it non-denominational so everyone will feel welcome.  We just try to have a good time and celebrate the season.

UCR: This might be a difficult question, but, what is your favorite part of doing these concerts?  

DF: That is a hard question.  I think my favorite part is just being on stage with these people that I’m friends with who I love so much.  Getting to make music with them and sharing it with people that I’ve never met who are touched by it.  I’ve had some of the coolest experiences and heard some of the coolest experiences from people that share how they’ve been touched by the music.  That’s really made it special.  So that’s probably my favorite part, just the connection I get to make because of these shows.  

UCR:  Being a local artist, what is your favorite venue to play here in Utah?

DF:  That’s a difficult question.  I really liked playing the State Room.  I think my favorite venues are house concerts, to be honest.  Just playing at people’s houses for maybe fifty people.  I like it because they are there specifically to listen to you so it’s a special experience.  They’re not there to socialize but to listen to music.  Venues like that where that is the emphasis are my favorite.  Kingsbury Hall is like that.  People are there to come listen to music rather than socialize.  Of course, there is a place for that, but for me specifically, those are the venues are my favorite for me to play.    

UCR: What has been your favorite concert that you’ve attended?  

DF:  I just went to Americana Fest in Nashville.  I went to so many good concerts there that the whole experience was my favorite.  It was all day long, good show after good show.  It was sort of mind blowing.

UCR: Yeah I bet that was amazing.  Well, on a personal note, I’ve been wanting to see The Lower Lights Christmas shows for years and for one reason or another not been able to attend.  So I am very much looking forward to it this year.  

DF: Awesome.  I’m glad you can go. Hopefully, it’s a good time.

Debra is currently writing her next solo album that he anticipates being released sometime next year. You can find her previous solo work here www.debrafotheringham.com

You can also hear Debra with the band The Blue Heart Revue.  They recently released an album that Debra described as “Americana Covers”.  (Personal Note: Since this interview I have purchased this album, and have been listening to it on repeat.  I highly recommend it.)  To learn more about The Blue Heart Revue or to buy their album, click here.  

The  7th Annual Lower Lights Christmas concerts begin December 5th, with shows on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and two shows on Saturday.  Tickets are going fast and these shows are known to sell out, so be sure to get yours soon. Click here for tickets.  

Utah Concert Review will be attending the opening show on December 5th.  Look for our review of the show the following day.  

Maroon 5 Salt Lake City Vivint Smart Home Arena October 8, 2016

unnamed-19Tickets for Maroon 5 went on sale a year ago.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, the anticipation in Vivint Smart Home Arena was high on Saturday night.  I had no idea I was going to this show until the morning of the show, so it was fun for me to look around the arena and see the true Maroon 5 fans bubbling over with excitement. The crowd dynamic was much different than I expected.  To be honest, I expected a mostly female crowd.  While that may have been the case, the percentage of women to men was much more even that I had anticipated. There were also a lot of older couples at the show.  Didn’t see that coming.  Young and old, male or female, we were all in for a really fun night.  

The indie supergroup Phases opened the night with a really impressive thirty-minute set.  To be honest I had never heard them before.  But from song one I was hooked.  I highly recommend checking them out.  They were followed by Swedish singer Tove Lo.  She’s a successful songwriter now coming into her own as a performer and solo artist.  I thought these were great choices to open for Maroon 5.  And the audience seemed to really enjoy them as well.  It was noticeable to me that these support acts appreciated the involvement of the already jam-packed crowd.

Maroon 5 opened the show with mega-hit, “Moves Like Jagger”.  A song that could easily be used as an encore song made for a perfect opener.  The band had this crowd in the palm of their hands from the get-go.  I was really amazed at how little time it took for the show to get to an energy level this high.

There were a couple things I noticed from this show.  First off, Maroon 5 has a ton of hits! I know they have been around for awhile now, but I guess I didn’t realize just how many hit songs they have in their catalogue.  Before this show, I didn’t own one song from the band.  (Since the show I have definitely downloaded a couple albums.)  But besides one previously unheard new song, I knew every single song.  These guys are hit machines.  But not only are these hits, they are really good songs.

The other thing that really stood out was just how remarkable Adam Levine’s voice is.  If you have heard a Maroon 5 song, (and if you haven’t, you must have been living in a cave) you’ll notice that Adam sings really high.  I mean, really high!  I was actually nervous for him before the show.  Singing high night in and night out is not an easy thing to do.  But I had nothing to worry about.  As you can see in the video below, his vocals were perfect.

The Utah crowd was elated when they were introduced to lead Guitarist James Valentine, a current resident of this great state.  When Adam mentioned that James currently lives in Utah, the crowd went wild.  

The band left for an encore, and when they returned they came out to the far end of their catwalk to perform for the other end of the arena.  I love it when bands do that.  Adam did his best to give the crowd a special moment.  He asked the capacity crowd to put away their cell phones for just two minutes while he sang “She Will Be Loved”.  He mentioned that he wanted to have an experience where we were living in the moment and couldn’t take home with us.  Most of the audience did just that.  Their cell phones went into their pockets and they were able to be in the present.  However, there were some that couldn’t help themselves as they still took pictures and filmed the song.  He would call them out and make jokes which I thought was cool of him.  He could have easily flipped out and made things awkward.  But he kept things light and the people he called out laughed at being put on the spot while looking like idiots to everyone else in attendance.

The show finished strong with the band singing “Sugar” and paying tribute to Prince by closing with “Let’s Go Crazy”.  Now, many might not know this, but Adam Levine is an amazing guitarist.  When you are done reading this gem of a review, go to youtube and type in “Adam Levine Guitar”.  You’ll see plenty of examples of his skills.

I had a great time at this concert.  Maroon 5 gets those unfortunate labels of being “pretty boys” “too soft”, “too pop”, or my favorite “a band for girls”.  I don’t remember being liked by women ever being a negative thing.  Yes, they’re not a hard rock band, but they’re not trying to be.  None of these labels matter when you’re good.  And they’re really good. Their songs are well crafted, and their live show was great.  Much better than I expected it to be.  And I knew I was in for a good show.

 

Setlist:
Moves Like Jagger
This Love
Harder to Breathe
Locked Away (Rock City Cover)
One More Night
Misery
Love Somebody
Lucky Strike
Sunday Morning
Makes Me Wonder
Payphone
Daylight

Encore:
Don’t Want to Know
She Will Be Loved
Sugar
Let’s Go Crazy (Prince Cover)

Mumford & Sons USANA Amphitheater September 26, 2016

unnamed-15With summer coming to an end, and concerts beginning to make their way to indoor venues, I made my way out to USANA Amphitheater for what was probably my last concert there this season.  But what a way to bring this summer of great amphitheater shows to an end!  Mumford and Sons rolled into Utah for the first time in four years with their The Austin 5000 tour.  

When Mumford & Sons came here back in 2012, they were white hot off of the success of their second album Babel.  They played Saltair, which when they scheduled the venue was probably the right size.  But by the time they came to Salt Lake, Saltair was much too small for them. It was impossible to get a ticket, and I missed out on what all reports indicated was an incredible show.  So I’ve been waiting to see them since then.  And it was finally happening!

With this show being on a Monday evening, and the temperatures having cooled here in Utah, the audience seemed to get off to a slow start.  Mumford & Sons opened up with Snake Eyes, from the album “Wilder Mind”.  They then followed with Little Lion Man.  I could tell the crowd was really excited to hear this hit song from the guys, but they were certainly not giving their full energy.  But as the temperature dropped, Mumford & Sons heated up.  It was almost as if they knew they needed to give us a little extra to get us going.  Please don’t misunderstand me, the crowd was most certainly into the show.  It just took them a while to physically show what they were feeling inside.

One of the very first things I noticed was how great Mumford & Sons sounded live.  Of course, I didn’t expect them to sound bad in concert, but the quality of the sound and the talent of the band was just exceptional.  Marcus Mumford’s vocals were on point.  I don’t know how he can sing that powerfully and emotionally night in and night out.  I was really impressed.

As I looked around the amphitheater, I noticed that little by little there were varying pockets of people who were already totally fired up. Others were still coming along, but I recall thinking to myself, ‘This place will be going nuts by the end of the show.’.

This show went by as if it was only twenty minutes.  They perfectly blended songs from all of their albums.  Marcus Mumford moved from acoustic guitar to playing drums, to working with crowd, expressing how much they enjoyed Utah.

My favorite segment of the night was when they played my favorite song of theirs The Cave.  At this point, Mumford & Sons had the entire audience right along with them. The energy was high and the crowd was singing every word of this song.  I thought this would be the high point of the evening.  Wow, was I wrong.  On their very next song, Ditmas, Marcus Mumford jumped down off of the stage and appeared to be engaged with those in the front row.  But he didn’t stop there.  He made his way through the audience and all the way towards my section in the back of the seated part of the amphitheater.  Just then, he took a hard left and ran into the lawn section!  I’ve seen this happen a couple times with opening acts, but never with a headliner.  There were only a couple noticeable security guards around Marcus and running into the lawn which is of course general admission, they weren’t going to be able to do much if things got crazy.  This took a lot of trust on Mumford’s part.  But having that trust in his fans gave us the highlight of the evening.  He made his way down the other side of the amphitheater, then joining the general admission in the front of the amphitheater for the remainder of the song.  When the song was over, there was an extra level of applause in appreciation for this surprise visit into the venue.  Looking around, there were huge smiles and faces expressing awe of what just happened.  When you sit in the back of a venue, no one expects that the lead singer of the headlining band is going to come dance and sing with you.  Great move Marcus.

After a couple more songs, Mumford & Sons left the stage and the crowd, of course, roared for their encore.  One thing I hate with encores is when a band comes back out and only does one song.  So you would understand my elation at Mumford & Son’s four song encore.  I heard someone ask after their first encore song, “Do you think that’s the last song?”.  It wasn’t.  Then after their second encore song I heard someone say “Just play every song you have!”.  People who started out so slow on this cool Monday night now did not want this night to end.  They finished with a bang performing I Will Wait and The Wolf.

I waited for four years to see these guys, and they did not disappoint in any way.  I really hope they come back soon because I’ll see them anytime they make a stop here in Utah.  

Setlist

Snake Eyes
Little Lion Man
Holland Road
Wilder Mind
White Blank
Lover of the Light
Tompkins Square Park
Believe
Broken Crown
Ghosts That We Knew
Below My Feet
Awake My Soul
The Cave
Ditmas
Dust Bowl Dance
Cold Arms

Encore:

Hot Gates
Forever
I Will Wait
Wolf

Interview: Cary Judd of the Vacationist

CJ_TVACUtah Concert Review recently caught up with Cary Judd, frontman of the Boise-based band The Vacationist. We discussed what got him into songwriting, technology, and The Vacationist.

Kevin Rolfe (Editor in Chief):
You have a lot of exciting things going on right now. But first, let’s rewind a little. When did you first begin writing songs and why?

Cary Judd:
I don’t think I ever really completed a song on my own till I was 16-17, but I wrote with bands I was in in high school as a guitarist and occasionally lyricist, though I was terrified to sing in front of anyone. I have vague memories of melodies and lyrics I would string together when I was 5 or 6 years old, though.

I think hearing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” caused some sort of neural connection, however old I was when that came out, that really made me start to think about writing.

KR:
Do you remember your first time singing in front of an audience?

CJ:
Yeah, it was at a coffee shop with my band Moz Eizley. We were a trio at the time and I had been writing a lot of songs. Our plan was to find an actual singer to be the singer. My endearingly spaced-out drummer decided to book us a show before that happened. I had been singing in practices so I was the default singer.

KR:
Those familiar with your music know you primarily as a solo artist. How would you describe The Vacationist? How is it different from your solo work?

CJ:
I would say it’s an extension of my solo work. I’m at the center of the songwriting, or at least the lyrics.

I think after a certain amount of time though you become bored with yourself and you have to rattle your own cage. After the first three albums, I started drifting towards pleasing people rather than making music I would actually listen too (i.e. the Trillions EP) and I very quickly found that I wasn’t really pleasing anyone.

I had bounced ideas off myself for about 10 years and was ready to bounce ideas off of someone who knew and understood things differently than me. I wanted to put as much into every note and sound wave as I had always put into lyrics and amplify the live presentation as well as create a visual experience.

KR:
Tell me about the other members of The Vacationist, Conor, and Sunnie. What is their contribution to the band?

CJ:
The dynamic of the band is something like this. I write and demo new songs whenever I’m at the studio and have free time. I show them to Conor and Sunnie and know immediately by their reactions if they’re making the cut. Conor comes in and does a lot with sound design as well as arranging and rearranging my initial demos. He also comes in with pieces of music that are laid out into verses, choruses, or other sections and plays them for me. I’ll get excited about certain pieces and start maniacally typing lyrics in reaction to his compositions. Then of course, there’s the other way I described above. The two of us get on the desk and start what is essentially a modern sound design/producer’s jam session.

I’ve learned so much in my collaborations with Conor. There are a lot of points on the new record where I designed sounds and played parts that were based on things he had taught me, or me asking myself, “what would Conor do here?”.

I need to learn new things to keep it fresh and collaborating with someone like him who understands sound waves on an elemental level blew the creative doors wide open again.

The sonic magic happens when the two of us are in a room together. The sonic landscape is the dividing point between “Cary Judd” and The Vacationist. It really doesn’t matter who plays what or designs a certain sound because I think there’s a certain respect between the two of us that we have faith in the other to fill in any blanks.

Several of the songs I had written and demoed out on my own and then when Conor and I had time together, he put the last few pieces in the puzzle.

A few of the songs, we created in a very stream of conscious way where we were both at the desk, one of us turning knobs to dial in a sound while the other was searching for a melody, then I go and sit behind him on the couch filling pages with words. The opening track, “The Sound”, to me is the quintessential Vacationist song in that it was created this way.

Introducing Sunnie’s input makes for a really cool wildcard. Her main function is to produce the live show with light design, but she was present in a lot of the sessions and though she’s not a veteran musician, she would find these little melodic movements that had this really cool naivety to them which to me is another theme of The Vacationist, finding wonder in a sound or line of words the way I did when I was a little kid and wanted so badly to understand what a song was “about”.

I think there are moments where some people think of it as, “Conor’s band” or as “Sunnie’s band”, depending on how they came to discover us. But when we perform live, I don’t think anyone in the room thinks of it as anything other than “a band”.

KR:
What can someone expect from one of The Vacationist’s live shows?

CJ:
My hope is that they will expect to be in some way amused, surprised, and changed. With the first album and on into the new album, there’s a certain air of innocent thinking. A lot of the message in the music is a sort of joyful view of the world that I hope will untangle the complexities that we as humans weave into a giant mess over the course of our lives.

It’s not some hippie-new-age rant, but more of a spirit of zooming out and looking at our world and existence with awe of what we know and wonder for what we don’t. Like a magic show might be for a young child.

“whoa, how’d you do that?!”

“magic…”

“…and a lot of computers.”

KR:
I’m a huge fan of Electronics and Technology in music. However, there are those out there that claim that Electronic music is not really music. TVAC uses quite a bit of both. What do you have to say in regards to the use of technology in your music?

CJ:
I don’t think the role technology plays in this band can be overstated. I know it’s common for some people to think of technology as a “cheat”.

The Beatles took criticism for multitrack recording. They weren’t all in the same room playing their songs at the same time, but rather overdubbing and layering piece by piece.

This is now the standard.

Then in the last 20 years, you hear people that don’t really know what they’re talking about, criticize synthetic instruments or “auto tuning”. These are tools to create new layers in my opinion. For me, and I’ve talked at length with Conor and Sunnie about this, if it’s a sound, it’s music.

So much of what we do is definitely dependent on the technology we have access to. I don’t have the slightest bit of remorse or shame in saying that. I have made a lot of samples we use in TVAC by recording sounds I hear when I’m out & about with my iPhone. Conor and I have even set blocks of “recording time” aside to walk around with microphones or handheld recorders, just looking for a literal pattern in the chaos that we can manipulate and make a sound we’ve never heard. A lot of the synths we make from vocal samples of the three of us talking, humming, screaming etc and I think that gives us our sound.

I don’t think people realize that technology is the one thing that makes us human. To interpret our world around us, scramble it into something new, and then simulate a future in our imaginations is its own miracle.

Imagine if Mozart was born before the invention of the instruments he composed on and for, what amazing and wonderful things would humanity have never seen?
I guarantee you if he were alive now, he’d be composing on a seaboard surrounded by computers and modern instruments.

Human’s cheated the first time a cave man figured out he could eat better if he sharpened a rock and put it on the end of a stick he could hunt with. Imagine the first tribe that actually cooked the meat they hunted by making a spark and starting a fire, huge cheaters.

Technology is the most human thing we possess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_aNMjbieWk&feature=youtu.be

KR:
You’re about to release your 2nd album “Prime Colours/ Bright Numbers”. When do we get to hear it and what can you tell us about it?

CJ:
it’s a very happy album

KR:
So you’re not only in TVAC, you’re also running your own studio. I want to call it a recording studio, but it’s much more than that. Isn’t it?

CJ:
Anymore it’s a multimedia studio. We aren’t experts in everything, but we are fanatically curious, so we’re learning new ways to manipulate sight/sound/photography/video every day. We’ve all worked together on photo and video projects on our own and together and have learned a lot. We have at least 4 music videos in the works to coincide with songs on the new album, possibly more.

KR:
It is unknown to many outside the region, that there is a really strong music scene here along the Rocky Mountains. Why do you think that is?

CJ:
The part of the Rockies I’m familiar with is mostly Boise and Utah. I would attribute the growing scene in Boise to Eric Guilbert of Finn Riggins. He started up Treefort four or five years ago and I think that’s been the seedling that’s grown into a bustling scene here. As for Utah, I think Corry Fox, his venue, The Velour as well as events that have spun off from there. Both those guys are incredibly talented. In both cases you have an individual who saw a lack, set a goal and started taking steps that grew into amazing scenes in both places.

In Boise, there’s been a great scene for a long time. When I was living in Wyoming and would come through while on tour I always felt very welcomed, which is part of why I ended up here. Back then I was an outsider, so it’s hard to say where it was pre-Treefort (Music Festival in Boise), but every year Treefort seems to get better. I’m sure there was a learning curve the first year or two, but as a musician and observer, it seems to have this really beautiful combination of bringing in outside/national talent and weaving the local artists into the fabric of the festival. It’s exposed a lot of locals to great artists that live here.

My favorite thing that I’ve heard every time I’ve played Treefort in different bands is, “what, you guys are from Boise? I had no idea!”.

KR:
You have some very devoted fans in this state. Can the great people of Utah expect to see TVAC performing here live soon?

CJ:
Yes, we will come down to do a show when the album comes out. Utah Valley, specifically Velour has been my default home venue even though I’ve never lived there. I wouldn’t miss the chance to play these songs for the amazing people that have supported me for so long!

To hear music, see videos, and to receive updates on The Vacationist tour dates as well as the release of “Prime Colours/ Bright Numbers”, click here!