Wyman and Needham celebrate 25 years in Park City
A lot can happen in 25 years.
Just ask Rich Wyman and his wife Lisa Needham. The couple moved here from New York in 1991 and not only have they become part of the community’s music and yoga scene, but they’ve also become a big part of the town’s grassroots activist movement.
Singer, songwriter and pianist Wyman, who has performed with the likes of Van Halen as well as embarked on his own world tours, is known for his work with the Coalition of Resident Renters and Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, and as a member of the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, or THINC.
Singer and songwriter Needham, owner of the Park City Yoga Studio, is known for producing her one-woman show and creating the first Park City Divas show that showcased locally based professional and semi-professional women singers.
To celebrate their time in Park City, Wyman and Needham will perform a 25th anniversary concert at the Boneyard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., on Friday, July 22. The music will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and feature songs from Wyman’s 10 albums, as well as a new project the two are currently working on.
The two are looking forward to playing the Boneyard again.
“We did a show there last year for my album ‘Live from the Heart 2,’” Wyman said during a joint Park Record interview with Needham. “So, this is our second-annual show on the roof of that place.”
Looking at the past quarter of a century unearthed some great memories for the couple.
“We first came out here from New York City in 1990,” Needham said. “We had a friend who brought us out here on an all-expense trip for four to go skiing. Although I had grown up skiing, I never skied out West.”
The couple frequented a bar called the Depot (which is now Zoom), and Wyman went upstairs and started playing the piano.
“He had everyone from the downstairs area coming up to hear him play,” Needham said.
The manager asked Wyman to come back and play during the summer months.
“I rode my motorcycle out from New York to do those shows that ran for two months, every Thursday through Sunday,” Wyman said. “It was awesome. It fit me like a glove. I played four nights a week and could play anything I wanted — my stuff, other people’s stuff, classical stuff, jazz and rock.”
During that trip out, Wyman brought recordings with him and radio stations started playing his music. Then he got his first write up in the Park Record in 1990.
“It was nice going from obscurity in New York City to this,” he said.
The next year, the Depot doubled the gig money for the ski season.
“We decided to come out for a couple of months and sublet our apartment,” Needham said.
“We had a round-trip ticket and only used the first part of it to get to Utah,” Wyman said.
“Three months after that, we decided to stay for another couple of months, and we kept extending our stay in Park City for another three years,” Needham said. “We then gave it up and moved out here permanently.”
That’s when Wyman’s music career really took off.
He met Eddie Van Halen in the early 1990s at Pop Jenks, another Main Street venue that was in business at the time.
“I got a production deal with Van Halen for the next few years and started going back and forth from Park City to Los Angeles, which, let me tell you, is a lot easier than going back and forth to New York,” Wyman said.
During that time, Wyman and Needham officially became husband and wife.
“Many people ask if we met singing, but we didn’t,” she said. “We met at a bad party in New York.”
In 1995, after things in L.A. fizzled out, Wyman decided to work locally. And when their first son, Ian was born, Wyman got a gig in Salt Lake City at a bar called D.B. Cooper’s, and pulled together his second album, “Fatherless Child,” a few months later.
The CD, which featured some tracks recorded with Eddie Van Halen, developed a following in Ireland and Wyman began working with a promoter. From there, he began playing in England and Holland, where he tours every year, and got a record deal in Europe.
After the birth of their second son, Owen, the family made a decision.
“We didn’t want to have our children dragged all over the place, and we couldn’t really afford to travel with a family of four, so, Rich did the touring and I stayed here with the kids and opened up a yoga studio,” Needham said. “I would sing with him when he came home from the tour.”
“Lisa sings on all the albums that I have produced,” Wyman said. “Of course, she’s the first singer of my choice, and although she didn’t sing on the records I made in Europe, she sang with me when I worked with Van Halen, and he loved her.”
Today, the couple’s life has undergone another change. They are empty nesters.
“Two years ago, we decided that we would start touring together,” Needham said.
“Not only are we touring together, but we’re writing together and recording together,” Wyman said. “We are becoming a full-fledged package.”
The past six months have been extremely busy for the musical duo.
“As we prepared for Owen to go off to school, we began working more intensely on how we wanted to do the [music],” Needham said. “We’ve been working on some tours, although we don’t have a name for our project, yet.”
“I think Lisa 7 Rich has a nice ring to it,” Wyman interjected. “It’s like Sonny & Cher, Captain & Tennille, Seals & Crofts, Loggins & Messina.”
Earlier this month, Wyman and Needham performed some house concerts to get their musical ball rolling, although Wyman still tours the country doing dueling pianos show and is still scheduled for his European tour in the spring.
“This work with Lisa is what we’re going to pound out in the month of August,” Wyman said.
“While I don’t tour with the dueling pianos show, we’re trying to figure out the other touring right now,” Needham said.
The upcoming Boneyard concert is the couple’s tribute to Park City, which, they say, has welcomed them with open arms.
“When I came out here, I was amazed at how quickly and easy it was to get involved with the community,” Wyman said. “Even when it comes to being politically active.
“Living in New York, I tried to get involved with some issues like affordable housing, and it was like banging your head against a wall,” he said. “Here, I went to a city council meeting about renters rights and the next day, the radio was playing what I said at the meeting and the Park Record was quoting me.”
“That’s the sort of thing that makes you feel like you’re part of the fabric of the community,” Needham said. “You can voice your opinion and things begin moving in that direction.
“It’s easy to be grassroots here,” she continued. “I remember hearing Richard question our moving here. We didn’t know if this was the right move. But the quality of life here was so beautiful and that’s when things started to happen.”
Rich Wyman and Lisa Needham will perform a 25th anniversary concert at the Boneyard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., on Friday, July 22, at 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.richwyman.com.
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