Eclectic musician brings some variety to the Park City music scene
Tony Oros is, without a doubt, one of Park City’s more ubiquitous musicians. Playing at least two regular gigs a week even during the off-season it’s easy to find Oros, playing his solo set around town. With a voice that can morph on a dime and fingers that know dozens of songs, he plays the soundtrack to dozens of Park City nights. But at the same time, Oros also offers something completely different. Every Thursday at Liquid Joe’s in Salt Lake City, he plays the fully-costumed role of Nigel Thanes in Metal Gods, a 1980s hair metal show. Oros also does other similar shows, including his newest, Mullet Hatchet, a Southern rock tribute show that saw its debut on Halloween at Cisero’s. He said the productions are his chance to get on stage and act, to perform. The shows also point to the diversity of Oros’ skill. He can play solo in a quiet bar one night and rock out with a full band in a packed club the next. He can cover everything from the Beatles to Poison. In person, Oros is focused and articulate. His passion emerges as he draws distinctions between the various facets of his career. He switches his focus effortlessly, talking about his hopes for the future, his production shows, bar gigs, and his love for Park City. He’s sure to draw a line between his solo performances and his production shows he describes them as completely separate things. The production shows are, as their name intones, shows. "It is improvisational comedy, choreography, costumes and songs, that get people coming on a regular basis," said Oros. The shows, he said, are celebrations and playful jabs, all at the same time. "It’s nostalgia," he said, talking about Mullet Hatchet. "It’s comedy." In that group, Oros wears fake teeth, a mullet wig and a Confederate flag. But, he said the outfit is a costume, and the band isn’t simply a bunch of good old boys. "It’s a vehicle for me to vent some of the frustration I have with my country and my culture," said Oros. "There are little things I can throw into the show that call out the dumbing-down of America." Oros also says his solo sets are far more reflective of his personal music tastes. He plays songs from any number of bands in any given night, from Van Morrison to the Beatles, Radiohead and U2. The diversity, he said, comes from necessity people inevitably want to hear a wide range of songs but he did say that they all carry one common element. "There’s nothing in there I don’t enjoy listening to or I don’t respect," he said. "But that’s what keeps my show fun, because I enjoy doing it." "The solo show is me," he added. Aside from his different musical efforts, Oros said that lately he has been moving into booking and artist management. He recently opened up a production company, Park City Productions, to work with musicians and book shows, including Mullet Hatchet; Rattle and Hum, a U2 tribute show he helped create; and Fields of Gold, a Sting tribute band. While Park City might not be the first town that comes to mind when one thinks of tribute bands, Oros said the town serves him well. "There’s good players here," he noted. And, he said, the quality of life, a thriving music scene and a relatively open business environment both help attract other musicians to the area. An Illinois native and a 15-year resident of Los Angeles, Oros said he first moved to Utah two-and-a-half years ago after coming to Salt Lake City to play a show with Metal Gods. After living in the valley for about six months, he found himself playing a lot of Park City shows, so he decided to move to the area. He said that after forging an uncomfortable existence for years in L.A., Park City felt like home. "Even the topography and the ambiance in the Intermountain West and up here, it reminds me of the places I liked touring most," he said. "There’s just so many things that welcome me with open arms." The town seems to like what he does as well. For the off-season, Oros is playing Sunday nights at Cisero’s and Tuesday nights at the Bistro 412 Bar. This winter, he said he plans to add regular dates at The Spur and the newly-renovated Pig Pen. "The local people are awesome, coming to the shows every week," he said. Then, when the season rolls around, he noted, he gets bigger audiences with even higher expectations. Oros said he hopes to bring Mullet Hatchet to one of the Park City-area clubs this winter, to offer something a little bit different in town. Ultimately, Oros said he hopes the town can gain a reputation for offering that kind of entertainment, which, he said, might counteract the no-drinks-available, straight-laced view of Utah. "If that buzz can counteract some of the Utah stigma," he said, "that means dollars for everybody." In the meantime, though, Oros seems to be enjoying his music and the more immediate possibilities before him. He seems happy to be in Park City with some places to play his music, trying to make the most of his opportunities and seeing where they take him. "I’m having a blast just watching it all unfold," he said. "Some of the twists and turns I could have never predicted." Tony Oros’ solo CD is available at Orion’s Music. For more information, go to http://www.tonyoros.com.
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