Day 2 Headliners for the Utah Arts Festival, once again, will cover music interests for all ages and types. The Amphitheater Stage becomes the destination for world-class electronic music, first with the enigmatic Slow Magic (8:30 p.m.), who is wholly focused and invested in creating and presenting music that is truly boundless and attuned to a global sense. But, by wearing the mask and by keeping his biography a mystery, Slow Magic seeks to make a significant statement about letting the music speak for itself on its own terms and merits. In the week previous to the appearance at the Utah Arts Festival, Slow Magic has performed in the Netherlands, Iceland and Ireland, and before the month is out will return to Europe.
The Festival Stage features the Utah Symphony in its first festival appearance in 15 years (see here for a feature about its program) and The Stars of Ballet West by Christopher Ruud which includes the premiere of Adrian Fry’s dance commission (see here for a feature about the upcoming performance).
Other headliners are standouts in their unique hybrid approaches to music, along with the bread-and-butter staples of blues rock and heavy metal. Some of them are featured below in interviews.
Beats Antique (9:45 p.m., Amphitheater Stage)
Approaching its 10th anniversary, Beats Antique’s exploratory experiment in multidisciplinary musical vocabularies continues to expand in many artistically gratifying directions, a true global fusion incorporating many electronic elements. The group’s latest tour in advance of the October release of its newest album Shadowbox includes new music which will be performed at the band’s festival appearance. Salt Lake City is at the front of the band’s schedule. The album includes collaborations with Alam Khan, Tatiana Kalmykova and TOO MANY ZOOZ as well as LaFa Taylor who is featured on Killer Bee, the song and video which was released earlier this month. The trio comprises David Satori (guitar, saz, viola, and percussion), Sidecar Tommy Cappel (keys, toy piano, drums, and percussion), and Zoë Jakes (belly dancer, composer, and arranger).
A bracing, clarifying and invigorating track, Killer Bee is a call to stand up against others’ prejudicial stereotypes with the individual deciding on what perceptions and impressions he or she should be defined. There are strong storytelling elements in their songs which stretch well beyond Western traditions and imbue Indo-Asian cultural elements.
“We’re taking all bits of music, sampling all sorts of records, just as the art of DJ culture has brought that into the mainstream,” Cappel, says in an interview with The Utah Review. “We’re combining sounds in many different ways. One track harkens to the Balkan region with an 808-style hip hop bassline.” Adding to the electronic sound is a live drum set which punches up the dance feel at the performance. “Shadowbox is showing us at a really interesting point of how we’re focusing on bringing so many different elements, which others might never have thought of using, to make a valid song,” he adds. An earlier release, The Rift features Alam Khan on the sarod, a stringed instrument which with the sitar is elemental to Hindustani classical music. Khan is the son of Ali Akbar Khan, one of the greatest performers in Indian classical music who is considered the father of tabla musical culture. Tabla is a percussion instrument similar to the bongo drum kit.
Cappel and fellow band member David Satori developed Killer Bee, a “fun little idea,” as he describes it, incorporating saxophone, flute and other instrumental sounds into the track. There are all sorts of ingenious collaborations in their music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band. There is the impetus of local musicians and a singer in a large Israeli dance club. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris late last year, Satori wrote a song for a benefit on behalf of Syrian refugees. The verses were sung in French with elements of Arabic and Balkan music along with a stripped down dance hall beat. Both Israelis and Arabs collaborate for the chorus. “It was an emotional music moment,” Cappel says, adding that everybody was intent on showing how love and peace can come out of this struggle.
Beats Antique has played in many venues from the Egyptian pyramids in the backdrop to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado to the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia and before more than 20,000 at the Burning Man Festival.
Red Rock Rondo (Festival Stage, 10 p.m.)
A six-member ensemble, Red Rock Rondo is a dream team of virtuosic folk and acoustic musicians: Phillip Bimstein, Kate MacLeod, Hal Cannon, Charlotte Bell, Flavia Cervino-Wood and Harold Carr. It has defined the paradigm of chamber folk music as members perform on piano, guitars, violins, oboe, English horn, concertina, harmonica, bass and vocals. And, many of the musicians are active in other festival music activities (MacLeod with the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association, Cannon with 3hattrio and Cervino-Wood who will be collaborating with Jet Black Pearl).
Bimstein, who has composed and worked comfortably in the realms of classical and new wave music of the 1980s, says he wanted to enhance the folk music elements with a deeper, richer, more complex symphonic sound. “Red Rock Rondo offered an additional dimension and additional life,” he says in an interview. The group’s catalogue was established with two song cycles: Zion Canyon and A Secret Gift. Jeri l. Dobrowski in a 2009 review described the Zion Canyon song cycle, as “it is not Western music, but rather music of the West.” The project arose from a grant by the Continental Harmony commissioning program of the American Composers’ Forum.
Creating the songs invited a bit of artistic democracy. “I would sing a part and then the musicians would workshop it adding in all of the musical lives,” he adds. The overall impact led to immensely interesting and yet very approachable songs that have all of the polyrhythmic, polytonal and polystylistic elements that attract advanced musicians. As Bimstein says, “nobody just has a supporting role.”
Candy’s River House (Park Stage, 9:15 p.m.)
Blues-inspired rock has taken hold in Utah and a good deal of credit goes to Candy’s River House, which is on an incredible performance pace with 200 shows solid in a year. The group has taken honors from Salt Lake City Weekly music awards and has become an anchor for the genre throughout the region.
The band is a straightforward setup with Jordan Young, who spent time in Tennessee to learn and study the blues rock tradition before returning to Utah as frontman; drummer Joey Davis and bassist Nathan Simpson. The group’s most recent album Another Night is a fresh reminder of the sound that immortalized bands such as ZZ Top in their early release. It is as gutsy and muscular as any bona fide Blues Rock aficionado would appreciate and the band’s performance will thrill festival crowds.
In an interview, it is evident how Young wears his blues passions proudly. And, the music reflects the meticulous dedication he and his fellow band members have made into carrying forward a vintage musical tradition that has proven its longevity. Going back to his formative years, Young says, “I knew what I liked to hear: The Doors, ZZ Top, B.B. King. I bought the CD of AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Young has rounded out with jazz, funk, and, of course, the country and Memphis Blues from Tennessee. Add the icons of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and other standards, and one understands clearly why Young’s band is in such fierce demand. The band even has a European tour on the books.
Young is pleased with how the music is being given its profile at this year’s festival. Just last week, the Utah Blues Society’s festival at the downtown Gallivan Center attracted serious enthusiasts. The society also is conducting workshops at the festival this weekend, and Young will be participating. Young says all of this is positioning Utah to become a serious player in national and international blues competitions.
Silent Sorcerer (The Round, 10 p.m.)
Based in Salt Lake City, Silent Sorcerer is a metal rock band with its newest release coming out titled Drowning in Time. Drummer Kelton Shelley agreed to answer questions in an email interview with The Utah Review.
TUR: What are your formative influences and musical training experiences?
SS: We have various types of formal trainings which range from choir to private lessons as well as learning from experience on our own. As a unit, a lot of our growth came from experiences in performing live through the years and learning how to put on an outstanding show, including adapting to the venues we play in, as well as the do’s and don’ts of putting on a live performance.
TUR: And what have been the most significant influences in metal music?
SS: A few significant sources of influences vary depending on the sound and feel of the song we are writing, with inspirations drawn from old school heavy metal and hard rock bands such as Van Halen, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, to new age powerhouses such as Avatar and Children of Bodom. However, our influences vary depending on the part the individual member plays. There are also several local metal bands right here in Utah that are just as good if not better than the big name metal bands. Several of which are among some of our biggest influences as well.
TUR: This year’s Utah Arts Festival is giving a broader, and certainly far more visible, to many different types of music that normally have not been featured at venues like these. The trademarks of your performances seem like a perfect fit for the festival. What do you plan for the performance, especially knowing that you likely will see many audience members who are not familiar with the band?
SS: We are very enthusiastic about our “theatrical” live performance. We believe people want to see a full show and not just a group standing around playing instruments. Energy is everything to us and we love to get the audience involved and having fun with us during performances. It’s more fun for them and it’s more fun for us. We will also be showcasing selections from our new album (which will be released August 13) as well as favorites from our debut ep. Audiences will be experiencing our full armada of metal and a fantastic stage show put on by the Sorcerer and his Acolytes. We have been told by many, even those who do not particularly enjoy heavy metal that we put on amazing shows, so you could say that our trademark seems to be wowing audiences and making them beg for more.
TUR: Would like to know more about your forthcoming album, especially in new songs and the process involved in compiling the tracks for this album. Have you settled on a title for the album yet?
SS: Our new release will be entitled “Drowning in Time.” With this album, we wanted our sound to be much heavier and more aggressive, but at the same time we wanted very badly to capture our own talents and skills, as well as keeping things very melodic and in a dark place. We recorded this album in Columbus, Ohio for two weeks straight and were very focused, so much so that it was basically eat, sleep and breathe our music for the entirety of the trip.
This album is something we are all very proud of, and has our individual personality’s shining through from start to finish. We are very excited for its release this August, and we are very confident that every soul will love it.”
TUR: To date, what have been one or two of the most memorable performing experiences for the band?
SS: We very much enjoy traveling out of state, it is always an adventure for us as we have played several shows all across the western United States. One show in particular was this past Hallows Eve at Rocktober Fest in Evanston, Wyoming. We were very surprised, because we headlined that night after this “Beach Boys” tribute band, and we were thrilled to see all the energy and excitement from our audience after hearing the variety of music that night. It is always a pleasure when we are invited to perform at local venues right here in Salt Lake City, with other amazing local and touring bands which pass through as well, it’s a pleasure to meet these talented musicians and watch them go out and give it their all, night after night.
TUR: What is the band’s future performing and touring schedule, heading into late 2016 and on into 2017?
SS: At the moment, we are focused on our album release performance this coming August 13 at The Loading Dock, which is promoted by the very talented JRC Events. We have some great things in store for us in the very near future. Be sure to keep up with us on social media as well as our website, we will be releasing two music videos in the very near future. Silent Sorcerer has enjoyed so much success as a band, we enjoyed a taste of success after releasing our self- titled EP, and we are anticipating more success with our newest release Drowning In Time.