Rod and I made an initial visit late Friday afternoon. The Park Stage was raked in hot sun, but finding a bit of shade, we enjoyed the R&B and Ska stylings of Shaky Trade. Surprised me a bit, really an accomplished and very fun group, I'll look for them again if they play around town.
Then is was off to check the art, get a bite (the presence of Lucky 13 was a big improvement in food booths), and happen on a performance by Hamilton, Flinner, & Dow. These guys have a great rep as players, but their presentation, quite frankly, sucked. They seemed ill prepared and took way too much time between songs. Bored, we headed back to the Park Stage.
When we got there, Gross National Product was roaring away, creating great musical excitement. These guys have been around for quite some time, but they've updated their act and are amazingly intense for a bunch of old farts. No one is doing anything this exciting around town, none of the rock groups, and certainly not the hip hop groups. Some pics:
Kevin Johanson is known for his mainstream jazz guitar work, but he was really ripping off the riffs during this set.
Dale Lee has always been my favorite sax player in this town, and he didn't disappoint on these tunes (here's an example).
OK, so I didn't hear all the music at the Arts Fest (only a small fraction), but I still give GNP Best of Show.
Into the evening, we casually experienced several more performance events. What I discovered was that anything with samples, scratches, or DJs basically sucked. Really. I rather listen to Leslie Gore. Also, there was a disturbing, but not completely negative, in fact kinda intriguing, trend in belly dancing. We saw two groups, both using modern techno/electronica for background. It attracted my attention, but I soon decided I preferred traditional music for belly dancers.
We also spent some time at the Big Mouth tent enjoying the poetry slam. Believe it or not, I'd never been to a slam event before. The constraints on the contestants made the performances exciting. Poetry for me dies on the printed page, I enjoy it more when it is read by someone who can make it come alive. At the slam, we also saw one of Miles Davis' bandmates and her friend:
Later that evening we checked out the Salt Lake Jazz Orchestra. Quite frankly, the arrangements were rather boring. Too bad, because there are a number of great players in that group. And I know Jerry Floor can produce a better clarinet solo than what he did that night. And who was the singer? How embarrassing... can't he dress better that cutoffs and a t-shirt? Even on a hot night at an arts fest, is this any way to front a first class jazz orchestra? (so bad I didn't even take a pic)
But the set was somewhat redeemed by the commission composed by Henry Wolking. The piece was contemporary and involving, although I think the band needed a few more rehearsals. Here's a limited recording of the piece, followed by pics of Henry and the orchestra.
On Saturday, it was back to the Big Mouth tent to hear Harold Carr perform his poetry in a jazz context, with John Flanders on bass clarinet.
This turned out to be quite special, since Harold conveys his poetry very well, and, of course, the playing was excellent. Wow... bass clarinet! The whole performance, what a treat! Here's one poem.
The performance was also captured on iPhone video.
Then it was off to Junior's for Saturday afternoon drinking... Hell with the heat and the crowds! I know there was so much more... many groups I would have enjoyed... but after a week in California (see next post), I needed some down time to catch up.