Music of Utah

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Utah music has long been influenced culturally by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The local music scene thrives. However, the musical history of Utah, and much of its current distinctiveness, is owed to secular artists.

Contemporary Utah music scene[edit]

Utah has produced some popular recording artists since 2000. It has a thriving local music scene some nationally recognized bands. Most are based in Provo and Salt Lake City, and perform at venues like Velour Live Music Gallery, Kilby Court, Urban Lounge, Muse Music Cafe, and Boothe Brothers Performing Arts Center. Notable bands include Neon Trees, Fictionist, Imagine Dragons, Kid Theodore, The New Electric Sound, The Moth & the Flame, King Niko, Goodnight Annabelle, and The Brobecks, whose frontman Dallon Weekes now performs with Panic! At The Disco. Many genres are represented, including rock, indie folk, emo, synthpop, singer-songwriter, death metal, blues, punk rock, goth, alternative rock, hip hop, jazz, country, Reggae, Ska and religious music.

Utah has had several notable bands and musicians for decades. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Salt Lake was a hub of the ska scene with well-known acts, such as Swim Herschel Swim and Insatiable. Other notable bands from that era are Stretch Armstrong, Big Fin, Catfische, Hoo Ray Who, Peter Breinholdt and the Big Parade, Sturgeon General, Honest Engine, the Feel, the Sun Masons (featuring now Bay Area bass phenom Sam Bevan), and King Tree.

Renown jazz siblings Greg (saxophone, Boston) and Emilee (piano, vocals, NYC) Floor, jazz guitarists Corey Christiansen, Mike Christiansen (professor at Utah State), Geoff Miller, Kevin Johansen (University of Utah), Brad Wright (Orjazm, Shaky Trade), and Kenji Aihara, guitarists Jeff Alleman, Rich Dixon, Kris Krompel, Jake White, Pianists Rich Wyman, Ryan Conger (Orjazm, Shaky Trade), and Alfred Betz (Eastour Island), bassists Tom Fowler (Frank Zappa, Jean Luc Ponty, Steve Hackett, many more), Jonni Lightfoot (Air Supply), Jeremy Niveson (Orjazm, session musician) and Denson Angulo, Trombonist Bruce Fowler (Zappa, Oingo Boingo, Eric Clapton, and more), and multi instrumentalist Walt Fowler. The Fowler brothers' father William was the director of the music department at Westminster College and all played in Frank Zappa's gang of mercenary musicians in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Notable drummers and percussionists include: Travis Taylor (Tanglewood, Orjazm), Mark Mottonen (Swagger, Sturgeon General, various jazz ensembles), Michael Wong (Shaky Trade), Mitch Lee, Sneez and Sherrie, Kendall White, Dr. Don Keipp, Chris Canada, and Jay Lawrence, Jay Tibbits, to name a few.

Many of the best local musicians play with popular event bands lead by band leaders like Michael Tobian of Utah Live Bands and Saxophonist Joe Muscolino, including several of the names above. Emilee and Greg Floor cut their teeth as performers with Joe and Kenji Aihara performs regularly with him.

Rock groups[edit]

Several popular bands have roots in Utah. Post-hardcore band The Used was formed in Orem in 2001. Currently signed to Warner Music Group-owned Reprise Records they have released two gold-certified albums in the United States.

The post-punk band Neon Trees is from Provo. In 2010, their single, "Animal," rose to number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Two of their singles have achieved multi-platinum status domestically. They occasionally make appearances at the venue where they first amassed a following, Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo They are currently signed to Mercury Records,

The increasingly popular indie rock performers, sisters Meg and Dia Frampton, formed their band Meg & Dia in Draper and until recently were signed to Warner Music Group-owned label, Doghouse Records.

Royal Bliss, from Salt Lake City signed with Capitol Records in 2007 and has enjoyed national recognition and touring success.

Fictionist, from Provo was signed with Atlantic Records between 2011-2014.

Imagine Dragons, a band that was initially formed in Provo in 2008, moved to Las Vegas after winning a BYU battle of the bands competition. They are currently signed to Interscope Records. Their debut album Night Visions has reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and is a multi-platinum-certified album in the United States. Single "Radioactive" earned a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.

Folk and pop[edit]

Folk music constituted some of the earliest white/euramerican music in modern Utah. These songs, simple and easy to remember, were usually sung without accompaniment because of the scarcity of musical instruments in territorial Utah. Although they often employed the same tunes as folk music elsewhere, Mormon folk is distinctively Utahn. The songs often include unique pioneer-era Mormon culture references such as crossing the plains, Mormon ecclesiastical leaders, and LDS religious convictions.

Newgrass artists Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand[1] had a country music hit single in 2005, "Dream Big." while they were signed to Capitol Records.

Provo based indie pop songwriter Mindy Gledhill's 2010 pop album Anchor became a hit abroad including seven songs charting on the South Korean charts and tours in SE Asia. The album sold more than 15,000 copies.

In 2007, David Archuleta rose to the national spotlight as a major contestant in the seventh season of American Idol. His debut pop album on Jive Records was certified gold by the RIAA.

Provo based folk singer/songwriter Joshua James had moderate success in 2007 when his album The Sun is Always Brighter reached number one on the iTunes Folk Album chart.

Provo songwriter Isaac Russell left his deal with Utah based Northplatte Records to sign with Columbia Records only to later return to Northplatte Records.

Neofolk rock group Parlor Hawk were featured by iTunes Indie Spotlight as one of the "Best of 2010 Singer/Songwriter Albums".

Metal[edit]

Salt Lake City has also been the home of several underground extreme metal music bands. One interesting act is Progressive act Katagory V who are still relatively unknown in their hometown of Salt Lake City but have had considerable success nationally. Katagory V has released four albums and signed with Nightmare Records in the U.S. and later with Burning Star Records in Europe. They appeared at some notable heavy metal festivals in the U.S. including the ProgPower USA festival in Atlanta, Georgia.

Another considerably big band to come out of Salt Lake City, Utah, is Chelsea Grin, who have 2 albums and 2 EPs.

A cappella[edit]

Utah has a flourishing a cappella music scene. Some groups include Voice Male, InsideOut, Octappella, Eclipse, The Standards, T Minus 5, 6th Gear, Moosebutter and BYU's Vocal Point.

Classical[edit]

Jenny Oaks Baker (Shadow Mountain Records) is a former National Symphony Orchestra violinist in Utah who received a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in 2011.

Lindsey Stirling (Bridgetone) is a violinist/dancer and YouTube sensation. Her debut album was certified Platinum in Germany and Austria. Single "Crystalize" was certified gold in the United States.

The Piano Guys (Sony) have released three consecutive No. 1 albums on the U.S. Classical albums charts. They are also a YouTube sensation.

Indie[edit]

Provo has recently gained momentum with the indie rock scene, fueled by supportive college students from nearby schools, Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. A large number of local bands from all parts of Utah come to play at Muse Music venue and Velour Live Music Gallery in downtown Provo. Bands that have roots in Provo/Salt Lake City include Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, The Used, The Brobecks, Fictionist, Mindy Gledhill, Meg and Dia, King Niko, Joshua James, Allred, Eyes Lips Eyes, Desert Noises, The New Electric Sound and The Opskamatrists.

Religious music[edit]

The state’s most famous musical group is The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Named after the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, the 300+ member choir is world-famous. The choir performs at least weekly at the Tabernacle for a radio program called "Music and the Spoken Word". The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was first recorded in 1910 has released more than 100 albums. Billboard Magazine declared that they were the year-end Top Charting Traditional Classical Albums artist of 2012. The choir has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, a GRAMMY Award, and even been inducted into the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

Utah music events[edit]

The Ogden Music Festival, 3-day outdoor festival featuring bluegrass, blues, folk & rockabilly is held the first weekend in June at Ogden's Fort Buenaventura with on-site camping. www.OFOAM.org The Park City & SLC Music Festival and Autumn Classics Music Festival,[2] formerly the Deer Valley Music Festival, the Park City International Music Festival and Autumn Classics Music Festival, is held in Park City and Salt Lake City. These are projects of the Park City Chamber Music Society (PCCMS). PCCMS founded the original Deer Valley Music Festival and the name was changed to Park City International Music Festival after a number of years.[3] After two years, Russell Harlow joined the Park City Festival as co-director. When the Utah Symphony started its own Deer Valley Festival in Park City, the Park City Chamber Music Society divided its Park City International Music Festival into two separate festivals and added concerts in the Salt Lake City area. Utah's oldest classical music festival, the Park City &SLC Music Festival is well known for its chamber music concerts.

The Park City Film Music Festival[4]

The Utah Symphony[5] was founded in 1940 by Maurice Abravanel and performs at Abravanel Hall, a modern concert hall in downtown Salt Lake City. The symphony merged in 2002 with the Utah Opera Company,[6] which was organized in 1978. These organizations were the largest arts organizations in the state. Some opera and orchestra aficionados claimed that combined production quality would decline. There were questions about the wishes of the symphony's late founder. However, critical response to the merger has been good.

Since 2005, every summer the Salt Lake City Arts Council hosts the Twilight Concert Series, consisting of a weekly concert and market at Pioneer Park. Bands span across the entire Indie genre, including some heavy-hitters like Modest Mouse, MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Kid Cudi, Bright Eyes, and others.

The Utah Valley Symphony is a community orchestra organized in Utah County, Utah in 1959.[7]

Notable musicians from Utah[edit]

Producers
  • Finn Bjarnson[8] - Grammy nominated
  • Nate Pyfer - Grammy nominated
Individuals
Groups

Record labels[edit]

Although no major record labels are based in Utah, there are several small independent labels, such as Northplatte Records, Differential,[12] ExUmbrella,[13] Lincoln Street Sound/Handsome Rob Records, Rest 30,[14] and Sound vs. Silence.[15] The End Records is an independent metal and rock label that has signed some avant-garde and experimental groups. It was formed in Pasadena, CA and relocated to Salt Lake City and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Nova Lotus [16] is an Electronic Dance Music record label that signs music producers from all over the world.

Venues[edit]

Northern Utah[edit]

Notable venues in the Salt Lake Area include:

  • Club Vegas - 445 S 400 W, Salt Lake City
  • The Dawg Pound - 3550 S State St., Salt Lake City
  • The Depot – 400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
  • The Complex – 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City
  • The Rail Event Center – 235 N. 500 West, Salt Lake City
  • The Great Saltair – 12408 W. Saltair Drive, Magna
  • In The Venue (formerly known as "Bricks") – 219 S. 600 West, Salt Lake City
  • Club Sound – 579 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
  • Kilby Court – 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), Salt Lake City
  • Murray Theater – 4961 S. State Street, Murray
  • Avalon Theater – 3605 S. State Street, Salt Lake City
  • Piper Down - 1492 S State Street, Salt Lake City
  • The State Room - 638 S State St., Salt Lake City

Notable venues in the Park City Area include:

  • Park City Live [17] - 427 Main St.
  • The Spur Bar and Grill - 447 Main St.
  • Downstairs - 625 Main St.
  • Cisero's - 306 Main St.
  • Deer Valley Resort (large outdoor venue)
  • Canyon's Resort (large outdoor venue)
  • Miner's Park Stage (small outdoor venue) Approx. 419 Main St.
  • The Egyptian Theater - 328 Main St

Notable venues in the Ogden Area include:

  • Brewski's - Brewskis, 244 E 25th St., Ogden
  • The Basement – 329 24th Street, Ogden
  • The Storm Cellar (inside Uncommon Grounds) – 136 25th Street, Ogden
  • Though other all-ages music venues in the Ogden Area do exist, they are not considered "notable".

Notable venues in the Provo Area include:

  • A. Beuford Giffords Libation Emporium - 190 W. Center St. Provo
  • Velour Music Gallery – 135 N. University Avenue, Provo
  • Muse Music Cafe – 151 N. University Avenue, Provo
  • The Grove Theatre - 20 S. Main Street, Pleasant Grove

Southern Utah[edit]

Because of a quickly growing population in Southern Utah,[18] local venues with regular performances are increasing. These include Sand Hollow Resort in Hurricane Utah, Jazzy's Bar and Grill, The Firehouse Bar, George's Corner, the St. George Elks Lodge, and the Avenna Center on the campus of Dixie State University in St. George, Kayenta in Ivins, Utah and The Grind Coffee House and Mike's Tavern in Cedar City.[19] The Southern Utah Songwriter's Association was founded recently and has released several CDs of local performers[20] as well as sponsoring open mic nights and songwriter competitions.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]