Harry O’s plans to host free winter concerts
October 7, 2008
Park City residents are no strangers to free concerts in the summer, but the winter has been a different story.
In June July and August, Mountain Town Stages, Park City Concerts and other nonprofits put on hundreds of free shows at the Canyons and Deer Valley Resorts, Quarry Village and elsewhere. People pack picnics and ride bicycles to local venues to hear favorites Motherlode Canyon Band and Muddpuddle, among others.
Organizers are fond of saying that free outdoor music is hard to miss in the summer, even for those who don’t attend formal concerts. But after Labor Day, the music ends, says Toby Martin of Park City Concerts.
He plans to change that.
Martin’s Park City Concerts has partnered with Harry O’s to host one of the first winter concert venues that is free to the public. Shows start at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the Main Street night club that recent ski magazines named "Best Meat Market" and "Best Music Scene."
Harry O’s first free show, featuring Tim Wray & Fat Paw, is on Dec. 4.
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"It was really pretty simple," Martin said. "Both Mountain Town Stages and I work all summer on free shows and then it just kind of ends." He asked, "Why does it have to end?"
Martin thought locals and tourists would like to trade their ski boots for dancing shoes for evening performances and found two enthusiastic sponsors in The Canyons resort and Budweiser. Harry O’s was excited to be part of the operation.
"The goal for everyone is to give back to the community," said Konstantine Desilis, who books private events for the club.
The concerts are especially important in a time where people’s bottom lines are shrinking, he added. "Any time you have some of the issues we’re facing, people try to escape their problems."
Martin said starting a new series at Harry O’s has been a challenging prospect. "The tough thing here is just in terms of booking," he said. Bands know that if they play on one of the time-tested Main Street stages in the summer, they will attract a sizeable crowd. The turnout for free shows in the winter is less certain, but organizers have had some success attracting national and regional acts, including Coles Whalen from Nashville and Erin Berra from New York.
So far, most of the scheduled bands are local acts such as Junior & Transport and Jordon Booth.
"This is untested," Martin admitted. "We don’t know how many of the town’s people want free music. But if they do want free music, we encourage them to come out and support us."
Another hurtle the series has to overcome is that Harry O’s only allows people 21 and older inside. That means patrons with kids will have to hire babysitters. Although Harry O’s is a private club, patrons attending free Park City Concerts shows do not have to pay a membership fee at the door.
"We want people to enjoy top-notch music that is versatile and free," Desilis said.
The prospect of adding another winter attraction to Main Street has garnered the support, if not the excitement, of some businesses owners.
Sandy Geldhof, the executive director of the Historic Main Street Business Alliance, said in an email that she hadn’t talked to Martin directly about the Thursday concerts, but she voiced her support of the idea. "My position is that, especially in winter, Main Street benefits from many events like the one Toby is proposing," she wrote. "Concerts, gallery strolls, and other special events lend themselves to the cultural offerings that are attractive to locals and tourists alike."
She added that the concerts didn’t present a conflict to Main Street merchants because Harry O’s is one of its main night club offerings.
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE for Park City free winter concert series
12/4 Premier Concert Tim Wray & Fat Paw
12/18 Special Christmas Concert w/ Park City All-Stars including
Joy & Eric, Rich Wyman, Lisa Needham, Mister Sister
Motherlode Canyon Band
1/8 Mesa Drive (Salt Lake)
1/15 No Concert – Sundance
No Concert – Sundance
1/28 Erin Berra (New York)
Downright Blue (Salt Lake)
Coles Whalen (Nashville)
2/19 Junior & Transport
Clumsy Lovers (Vancover) – tentative