Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan . . . and Mayor Dana Williams?
May 23, 2008
When Mountain Town Stages took over the free summer concert series at Deer Valley two years ago, the nonprofit music organization wanted to bring the venue back to its roots.
"We wanted to get back to giving local artists the chance to play on the same stage Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan have played on," said one of the series’ organizers, Brian Richards, who owns Orion Records in town.
Part of the venue’s tradition has to do with local lore. Motherlode, a rock ‘n roll cover band featuring Park City Mayor Dana Williams, has been the opening band on the bill in years past. They didn’t kick off the series last year because of a rule prohibiting bands from playing two years in a row.
But this year, they’re back.
Williams plays guitar, mandolin and sings for the group. Motherlode covers songs from No Doubt, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Van Morrison and the Indigo Girls, among others.
The band will be the first Wednesday concert of nine starting June 25, and running until the end of August. Concerts start at 6 p.m.
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"You know those family reunions in the south?" asked Richards. "That’s what the concert series is like. It’s a Park City reunion where people see their friends and neighbors. It has a real down-home feel."
Because of its popularity, officials moved the free local concerts a few years ago from City Park to the much larger Snow Park outdoor amphitheater at Deer Valley. The venue holds thousands and has picked up corporate sponsors (the official name of the series is The Frontier Bank Local Summer Concert Series).
But the concerts maintain a local feel, said the venue’s head of music selection, Karri Hays-Walzer. "It’s a total blast," she said. "And it’s free. You can bring your kids. Bring your picnic lunch. It’s what Park City is all about."
In addition to helping organize the event, Hays-Walzer plays in one of the featured bands, John Boy’s Mule, a roots/Americana acoustic group playing in August. She said the concert series gives locals a chance to see bands they might otherwise miss. "I think we have a lot of great local talent and people enjoy hearing them play," she said. "[But] a lot of those bands don’t have a venue to play besides the bars and they don’t start until 9:30."
Hays-Walzer said bringing free local music to Park City is one of Mountain Town Stages’ missions. "You’re not paying $35 so you’re not stressed out because you’re not trying to get your money’s worth."
You won’t find many artists on the bill trying to nab big record deals or make a lot of cash. Joy Tlou of the Joy and Eric band didn’t even start singing until he was in his mid-30s. A public relations director for Salt Lake Community College by day, the vocalist said he started his career as most singers do: in the shower and car. His band will play in front of about 4,000 on July 2.
"I’m so grateful to folks in this community. They’ve put up with every musical experiment we’ve tried. I couldn’t imagine trying to do it anywhere else."
The Local Summer Concert Series is held in the Snow Park Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort and features nine local bands. Concerts are free and go from 6 to 8 p.m.
Joy & Eric Band
Blues, folk, rock
Rock, funk, soul
The Pat Carnahan Band
funk, jazz, and hip-hop
Junior and Transportation
Blues, Rock, Solo Guitar, Other
Blues, rock, country
John Boy’s Mule
Roots music, folk