You know when you walk into a venue and there’s a sign taped to every door saying, warning of lasers, flashing lights, and pyrotechnics, that you’re in store for quite an experience. And what an experience it was! Trans-Siberian Orchestra brought are celebrating their twentieth anniversary, but from the looks of things, there are no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Justin is a singer songwriter from Aptos, California. He has been performing in bands for years, but it’s only within the last decade that he’s taken to writing/ recording his own music and performing solo shows or with his band The Heavy Hand along the west coast. I’ve known Justin for over twenty years. These are questions and stories that I have wondered about and am now so happy to have answers to. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I had conducting it!
Utah Concert Review: As long as I’ve known you, you’ve been involved with music, whether it be with your former band Moz Eizley, or your current band The Heavy Hand and of course your solo work as well. I guess I’ve never known where you got started with music. I know your dad plays a little guitar and is in a band right now. Is that how you got your start?
If I had to describe Friday night at The Commonwealth Room in three words, I’d have to say, Passionate, Energetic, and Emotional. The Alarm pulled no punches in their return to Salt Lake City. I was exhausted after the show, and I didn’t even perform! I don’t know how Mike Peters and the gang perform at that high a level night in and night out.
The Alarm opened their set with one of their many hit songs, “Rain in the Summertime”. It may as well have been the encore the way the crowd was roaring. They didn’t miss a beat with “Beautiful”, a song off of their latest album Equals, followed by “Strength”. I was impressed at just how well their new song fit with a couple of their classic favorites.
By: Justin Hicken w/ contributions by Hannah SpencerPhoto By: Kevin Rolfe
While they easily could have played to a much larger sold-out venue, The Goo Goo Dolls chose to keep things intimate Thursday night November 1st at The Depot in Salt Lake City. The 1,200 person-capacity room was the choice for The Goo Goo Dolls and it was extremely cozy. The Depot was jam packed! Chillier temperatures have hit Utah, and while it was tricky to stay warm in line outside The Depot, things really warmed up once you got inside the venue, and especially when the band took the stage.
If you were to write a screenplay using only actual events from the life of Mike Peters, a Hollywood exec would turn it down and say that it was too unbelievable. The man has had an amazing career with his band The Alarm, fought through the challenges of an aging band in a youth driven music industry, and most importantly, overcome cancer three times. Mike has co-founded the Love Hope Strength Foundation, the worlds leading rock and roll cancer foundation. They host bone marrow screening drives at concerts across the world hoping to “Save Lives, once concert at a time!”. Along with Jules, his wife/ bandmate and fellow cancer survivor, Mike joins forces with Robin Wilson of Gin Blossoms, and Billy Duffy of The Cult to climb to some of the highest peaks in the world to perform the world’s highest concerts on land. They are now taking their treks to the great canyons of the world. This past week they took part in Love Hope Strength Foundation’s Rock The Canyons fundraising event where they hiked through Sedona’s Red Rock State Park, along the famous Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail then continuing to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I was able to catch up with Mike just after this event. We speak about his adventure in Southern Utah, and he shares many career spanning stories. Enjoy!
The last time Noah Kahan was in Utah he opened for George Ezra. Just five months later, Noah played his own headlining, sold out show at The State Room. Things are really starting to happen for Noah and you could feel it in the crowd, and in his performance on Tuesday night.
The room went dark, and above the stage “Noah Kahan” appeared in neon lights. The audience roared and got louder still when Noah appeared from backstage. It seemed difficult for Noah to hide how much he enjoyed the applause. He might not have been trying. Can’t say I blame him. I would be smiling ear to ear if a sold out venue was cheering for me like that.
Noah Kahan is an up and coming singer songwriter. He actually might be past the “up and coming stage” since his show here in Utah is a sellout. I had the chance to speak with Noah leading up to his show at The State Room. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed speaking with Noah.
UCR: Where are you currently?
Noah Kahan: Today we are out in Canada in Toronto.
UCR: Nice! How’s the tour going so far?
NK: It’s been amazing. Not really like any other tour I’ve done since I’m headlining the states and a lot of the shows have been sold out. It’s been super surreal and really really rewarding.
UCR: I bet! The show here in Salt Lake City, at The State Room, is sold out. Now, I’ll never know what that feels like. Many people reading this interview will never know what it feels like to have a sold out show. It’s something I’d say most music fans can only fantasize about, but you’re actually having that experience. What does it feel like?
What would you say is the best way to stay warm as the temperatures here in Utah begin to drop? Bundle up? Throw a log into the fireplace? Hot cocoa? Those are all great ideas. I submit that the best way to get warm on a cool fall night is to see Jimmy Buffett in concert.
Buffett made his much-anticipated return to Salt Lake City and he made Vivint Smart Home Arena feel like a tropical paradise. ( Was going to say he turned Vivint Arena into Margaritaville, but seriously, how many times has that line been used when discussing his concerts?) Jimmy Buffett had been away from Utah for 27 years. The guy knows when to make his stops in Utah. He came to what was then the Delta Center when it was brand new and then returns to what is now Vivint Smart Home Arena after it’s completely renovated.
Is there anything better in live music than being blown away by a performance? I would venture to say, No. We all attend concerts because we’re going to see a band or musical artist that we like. But even when we’re expecting a good show, and to love the songs, there are those amazing times where things just go way beyond our expectations. That was my experience on Monday night with Jessie J. I’ve always loved her voice, and the few times I’ve seen her interviewed I’ve enjoyed her personality, but I never thought her concert would be this entertaining. On every level, I was entertained! I laughed, I was moved, I was excited, and overall I was impressed with the show.
Kiana Ledé was one of the support acts for Jessie J at The Depot on Monday night. In fact, she was first on the bill. When I heard this I was a little nervous for her because one, it’s never easy opening a show, and two, I was concerned that no one would be there yet. I then learned that her set would only be 15 minutes. I thought to myself ‘How can anyone make impact a show or make an impression in only 15 minutes?’ Well, as it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.
There was a small hiccup in getting me my press and photo passes. Because of this I was delayed and wasn’t in the performance area of The Depot when Kiana started her show. So I had no idea how many people were there. But I could hear them. If you’ve been to The Depot then you know that actual concert hall is up two flights of stairs. I was on the ground level, and I could hear the crowd. Fortunately, there was a monitor, so I could see Ms. Ledé on stage. She appeared from out of the dark in blue jeans, and what appeared to be a sheer robe. Her hair was long curly, and those locks were flowing!