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Doin’ that outdoor music thing

Jay Meehan, Park Record columnist

With the community-at-large still working its way through the recent loss of close friends and such, it’s good to see some good news coming down the pike in the form of the summertime live-music schedules that seem to be filling up both qualitatively and quantitatively in very short order.

Take the Park City Performing Arts Foundation lineup for its 10th anniversary season of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series at Deer Valley Resort, for instance. The kickoff show on the Fourth of July, with the return to Park City of Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys and Alejandro Escovedo, has got me salivating like Pavlov’s mutt. Alejandro’s duo gig with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos down at the Stateroom in Salt Lake City in early December had to be my favorite show of the year.

Although the three stellar Latino acts have never toured as part of the same bill previously, I’ve caught Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys together twice. Though they don’t draw from identical demographic pools, the younger Los Lonely Boys add to, rather than detract from, that longtime hardcore ethnic rock sound of Los Lobos.

And then there’s that beautiful soul, Alejandro Escovedo, who I first caught onstage in Utah at the wonderfully intimate Pat’s Barbeque in South Salt Lake. Alejandro’s an all-out rocker who can tug at a heartstring with some of the more poignant self-penned ballads you’ve ever heard.

And I’ve never known Bruce Hornsby to disappoint. With most of the audience usually ending up on stage, Bruce’s place in the pantheon of post-Jerry Garcia jam bands doesn’t look to be in jeopardy. Especially with Railroad Earth on the same bill! Any band that names itself after my favorite Jack Kerouac riff is all right with me.

And that brings us to a brilliant concert pairing that PCPAF Executive Director Teri Orr came up with after catching a couple of music-oriented documentaries this past January at the Sundance Film Festival. The film "Muscle Shoals" featured that classic studio rhythm section The Swampers that backed almost every recording artist of note back during its heyday. Meanwhile, "Twenty Feet From Stardom" paid tribute to the background vocalists who have provided the harmonies, the sound that gives depth to the hits in the American pop songbook.

Orr’s epiphany was to couple the behind-the-scenes instrumental virtuosity from the one and the fine vocal chops from the other into a live concert experience. And lo and behold, it looks like she has pulled it off with a show entitled "Muscle Shoals Live Featuring Darlene Love." Love, one of the legendary background vocalists from "Twenty Feet From Stardom," on stage with The Swampers from "Muscle Shoals" ought to be a hoot.

You could almost say Lyle Lovett got his start on stage at Deer Valley. Back when the Deer Valley Bluegrass Festival featured annual appearances of what you could only call the Telluride All-Stars, Lovett showed up with only his longtime cellist John Hagen in a somewhat-less-than-large-band. Not that the two of them had any trouble holding the crowd in the palm of their quirkiness.

What also put a stamp on that particular Lovett stop in Park City was a songwriting workshop he put on upstairs at the Snow Park Lodge with Pat Flynn, guitarist with the then monster bluegrass-hybrid "Newgrass Revival." Among other tales, Lovett took us back to when he and roommate Robert Earl Keen collaborated on writing "This Old Porch" from the stoop of their digs just off campus at Texas A&M. Cultural history is where you find it.

Lovett has been back many times since, of course, often with his Large Band, as he is once again this summer. I recall seeing wilder-than-most mandolin player Sam Bush as a member of Lovett’s not-small entourage dressed in, of all things, a tuxedo several years back. It’ll be fun to see whom Lyle brings with him this year.

I must say I was totally surprised, almost flabbergasted, by what a great show Jewel put on a few New Year’s Eves back at the Eccles Center. Let’s just say that she flew under my radar until I actually found myself at one of her concerts. That’s nothing new, however. I’ve long judged performing artists before I’ve actually witnessed their art. Let’s just say, Jewel showed me the error of my ways. Go figure!

I’m planning on taking a short jaunt from my way-too-small musical comfort zone when One Republic returns to DV this summer on a bill with Sara Bareilles and Churchill. I’ve been catching One Republic on the tube and I’m convinced it will do me good to stretch out a little and check out this show. I bet, collectively, it has a nice beat and I can dance to it.

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.

 


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