Park City’s Sundog Sky lights up the local music scene
Sundog Sky, a funk, rock and blues band composed of young local musicians, has been working the crowds in Park City and Summit County.
The band, led by keyboardist William Sangster, an 18-year-old senior at Park City High School, has performed at O’Shucks in Pinebrook, Whole Foods at Kimball Junction, and has landed a gig in Central Utah on Jan. 18 at Eagle Point Resort in Beaver.
Sangster cites local musical mentors like Badfeather’s Rick Gerber and the Velvetones’ band leader Tony Holiday. Muddpuddle’s Mike Rogers and Mountain Town Music’s Brian Richards for shining a light on Sundog Sky’s rising star.
“They have been so supportive and have helped us get gigs,” Sangster said. “They also have allowed me to sit in on some of their performances, and that has been great.”
Sundog Sky, whose current lineup is Sangster, bassist Miles Nagle, guitarist Jack Forester and drummer Luke Roberts, formed from the Utah Conservatory’s Rock School program.
“I found a couple of buddies and we started our own thing,” Sangster said.
The keyboardist started off playing classical piano when his mother signed him up tor lessons, before he discovered the likes of jazz pianists Otis Spann, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Art Tatum.
“Classical music was a good training platform for me, because it gave me technique,” Sangster said. “But once I got into the rock programs, it wasn’t just about practicing anymore, I found I wanted to do more.”
Sangster began working his vocal technique and cited classic rock singers Sir Van Morrison, The Doors’ Jim Morrison and Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green as his vocal influences.
Sangster said his primary influences include The Beatles, Jack White and Park City High School Director of Bands Chris Taylor.
“Although Mr. Taylor isn’t my teacher, he has taught me more about music and how my instrument fits in with a band,” Sangster said.
Also on that list are his current bandmates.“Miles’ main thing is jazz, and he implements funk and jazz into the band,” Sangster said. “Luke brings in the heavier stuff with his punk influences, and Jack does some shreddy stuff like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. So it’s nice to collaborate and feed off of each others’ styles. It makes me want to try new things.”
When Sundog Sky first got together, band members just wanted to play cover songs and play some gigs, according to Sangster.
“Then we started writing our own stuff, and began playing originals, which we made into recordings,” he said. “A few of those songs can be found on SoundCloud, and we’re looking to finish more and put them all out on Spotify.”
Sangster found the recording process is very different than preparing for a live show.
“When you’re practicing to play live, you’ll get the set going to where you can just jam through it, but with recording, you need to be perfect,” he said. “You have to grind away at a part over and over again.”
Still, Sangster said there is nothing like listening to a recording the band has put in hours to get right.
“It is definitely a reward once you create a decent mix and get to play it back,” he said.
The biggest challenge Sundog Sky faces is finding time to rehearse.
“We all have other musical projects and school to deal with,” he said. “But once we get a gig, we’ll start rehearsing songs and come up with a new set.”
Sangster, whose other project is a duo called Dust Creek with his friend Zach Bendarik that will perform at 2:30 p.m. at Deer Valley’s EBS Lounge on Dec. 21, feels at home when he’s on stage.
“There’s something about all of us playing together and getting people to come see us,” he said. “It’s great to have a good time and getting the audience into what we’re doing.”
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