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Core Samples

by Jay Meehan, Record columnist

There are those who just don’t get it. "Get a life!" they say. And then there are the rest of us, the minority to be sure, who, through the somewhat obsessive process of ticket acquisition, cooler packing, and line waiting, couldn’t do life any other way.

How else could one better spend a summer evening in Utah than sprawled on a blanket or hunkered down in a lawn chair on the grass in front of a stage? Not only is it culturally fulfilling, it lends itself to quite satisfying communal activities.

How else you going to find yourself, a full 14 hours before the gates to the venue open, perusing the dimly lit aisles of your local all-night market in search of a sufficient amount of organic sustenance to get you through the day. Following a few of these visits, you’re on a first name basis with all manner of floor-buffer machine operators and shelf stockers.

Then there was the time when, after waiting for it to open, you actually assisted the clerks at a liquor store in the changing of a few fluorescent lamps above the high-end tequila display. Understanding your affinity for that particular corner of the world, they brought out ladder and lamps in an effort to keep you from pulling a squinting muscle.

Many non-believers, however, see your exuberance in these matters as being a bit over the top. They see it as much ado about nothing, as flat-out "foofaraw." How could you get in line before dawn and spend the entire day under a sweltering sun or in a monsoonal downpour just to gain entrée to a front-and-center location.

They wouldn’t have understood at all what it was like lounging almost underfoot of Emmylou Harris on that sultry Salt Lake evening a couple of weeks back as she once again paid homage to the American traditional songbook. Before long we had been transported to the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings. Foofaraw, indeed!

A couple of days later had you in the same line at the same time. Dawn stood in the wings awaiting its cue as an early breeze rustled the morn. Once again, time crept by on tiptoes with its finger to its lips. Peace hung in the air as the lights of the city and the setting moon took turns washing out what little of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower played across the sky.

This evening would feature the collective virtuosities of blues singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks. Touring together as the "Soul Stew Revival," their band has made Salt Lake a regular stop in recent years. Derek, arguably the greatest "bottleneck" guitarist of all time, also performs as part of the "Allman Brothers Band," and played a large role in a recent Eric Clapton tour.

Their music also has a tendency to get people on their feet and cause, as they used to say in the southwest a century and a half ago, a "fandango" to erupt. They get the joint jumpin’ as well as anyone.

If a couple of Mondays back is any example, one needn’t arrive anywhere near that early to secure a front spot in a weekday line at Deer Valley. At least that’s how it played out for the Lucinda Williams show. The crowd arrived for the most part during the opening act, not before the gates opened.

Line waiting at Deer Valley is much more moderate temperature-wise but that, it should be noted, translates into a much cooler evening. Where it can get rather stifling down in the valley before a show, at least an aloha shirt is plenty of cover as the night wears on. Not the case in Park City, however, where the layered look and long pants in the backpack might well prove to be the ticket.

Lucinda, by the way, flat-out put the Snow Park Amphitheater crowd on its collective ear. What a show and what a response from the usually sedate ensemble that homesteads the front and center acreage. For a singer-songwriter of the "poetic" persuasion, her work seemed to easily touch a "rock" sensibility that spawned a quite excitable "mosh-pit" up front.

Two-days later saw another pre-dawn pilgrimage up and over Parley’s Summit where an ever-so-fragile crescent moon hung in the windshield for much of the trip. Although the evening would be full of Chicano and Tejano musical artistry, Coltrane purred from the car speakers as the perfect lead-in to another subtle sunup.

Calling their joint venture together the "brotherhood tour," "Los Lobos" and "Los Lonely Boys," not surprisingly, proved to be like a fine salsa, a perfect blend of hot peppers and rich flavors. Much to the chagrin of many longtime Los Lobos fans, however, the East L.A. bunch opened the show.

Rather than a "dis" of tradition, though, it turned out that they were taking turns opening and closing, so we let it slide. Quite an opening act, nonetheless! And the "Boys" have grown up considerably from last time, both musically and otherwise, and proved quite capable of ending the affair on a high note. Get a life, indeed!

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and a free-lance writer with a background in commercial and community radio, among other pursuits. He has been a columnist and feature writer for various Park City publications going back to 1973.


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