Jay Meehan: Grassy slopes
May 19, 2015
So I washed out a cooler and took my trusty 3/8" socket wrench to my best low-rider lawn chair. So what? It didn’t have to be a manifestation of jumpin’ the gun on Park City’s outdoor concert season a month early, did it? Who’s obsessive? You lookin’ at me?
Couldn’t it just be that the bacterial culture within the Petri dish that is my cooler had achieved necessary maturity to enter hand-to-hand combat in the fight against Ebola. And that the trendy wooden chair that even Chris LeDoux couldn’t have stayed in the saddle of for eight seconds required a bit of behavior modification? Hmmm? Glad we got that settled!
But, as the subject of outdoor concerts has already been broached, we might as well see what’s on the docket this summer up in the friendly confines of that adult venue with the grassy slopes that is Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater.
I say adult venue due to the fact that you are encouraged to bring a cooler of your favorite beverages and picnic-style dining fare, but, being Deer Valley and all, it certainly isn’t necessary.
Actually, this isn’t the case for all promoters, but it most certainly is for all concerts held under the auspices of the Park City Institute’s Big Stars, Bright Nights and the Deer Valley Music Festival. And those, dear readers, are the two specific calendars we will be, partially, checking out.
I say "partially," due to the fact that I’m not the hippest cat on the block and don’t desire to visit those acts with which I’m not familiar. What we have here is an overview. Enough of the disclaimers! Let’s take a peek at a few of the acts performing under the banner of the Park City Institute and their "Big Stars, Bright Nights" summer series.
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Aficionados of the New Orleans sound get an early treat with what they’re calling a "Taste of Treme." Featuring the luscious Lucia Micarelli, who, if you didn’t catch her at the Eccles Center this past indoor-concert season, was part of that great ensemble-cast of the excellent, music-driven HBO series "Treme."
Also on the bill are the "Funky Meters" with Art Neville of the Neville Brothers and the raucous "Dirty Dozen Brass Band." Although this isn’t New Orleans "trad" jazz by any stretch, these acts not only have their finger on the pulse of the past half-century of the Crescent City sound, but, in many instances, are that pulse. There will be "Fire on the Bayou" on this night!
With the "Allman Brothers Band" no longer touring, "Gov’t Mule" with Warren Haynes will be coming to town to fill part of that Southern rock jam band void. "Mule," since their inception as an ABB side project back in the mid-’90s, has always been the real deal.
I must admit that finally getting a chance to check out the artistry of Esperanza Spalding in person is about as cool as it gets. This is magnetic stuff! Someone had best tie me to the mast before I get too up close and personal with security, if you catch my drift. Anna Wilson and Perla Batalla are also on the bill.
It’ll also be a gas to, once again, catch Grace Potter doing that fine thing she does so well. At home in almost every sub-genre of rock from blues to country to folk to roots, Grace’s outfit can jam with the best, not to mention totally rock out man!
Then there’s Chris Botti, who will have not only his trumpet in tow but, also, violinist Joshua Bell. I’ve been listening to their version of Gershwin’s "I Loves You Porgy" so much that I could probably sit in with them, handling the facial contortion chores.
The Gipsy Kings! What can I say?! Soaring! Powerful! If you’ve misplaced your rhythm, these dudes will locate it post haste. Don’t try to define the glories within! What, flamenco rhumba? Just close your eyes and pretend you’re among Gitanos bounding from rock to rock as you give the slip to Catalonia during the Spanish Civil war.
The house band for the Deer Valley Music Festival is, of course, the Utah Symphony. Same grassy slopes. I’ll just offer up for your consideration a half-dozen performing artists (out of eighteen total) whose music the symphony will embellish.
How ’bout Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Smokey Robinson, "Classical Mystery Tour," Sinatra Sings Sinatra, Ozomatli (East LA street party alert!), and, oh, will this stick to your ribs, ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Diana Krall! How ’bout them apples?!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.