On an intuitive level, and most likely to an outsider, music culture in Utah will be inextricably linked to the religious life of Utah as defined by Mormonism. Thus, for example, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a household name and in all probability the first name that will come to mind if someone is asked about Utah’s musical culture. But further research demonstrates a depth and range of styles, genres and venues.
There are a diverse number of music venues in Utah. For example, the Abravanel Hall, with a seating capacity of 2768, is a concert hall located in Salt Lake City that is the home to the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Park City Live, a music venue in Park City, is important for its close connections to the Sundance Film Festival, which is also held in Park City. Main events at the venue are closely tied to Sundance, and often feature internationally known pop artists, such as Iggy Azalea, Skrillex and the Chainsmokers. Major festival events are held in the USANA Amphitheatre, with a 20,000 seating capacity. Festivals such as Ozzfest and big stadium draws such as Phish have played here. The Velour Live Music Gallery has been crucial to the development of many young alternative artists, and the Imagine Dragons, now a major label act view the site as a key incubator for young talent in Utah’s music scene. SPIN magazine also declared it the best kept music secret in Utah.
Arguably, it is Provo, Utah that is the heartbeat of new musical experimentation in the Utah music scene. This is arguably because the high concentration of young people, since in Provo is also located Brigham Young University as well as the Velour Live Music Gallery, alongside the also influential Muse Music Cafe. The importance of Provo has not gone unnoticed to other musicians in Utah, for example, Paul Muuse, who is the leader of the Salt Lake based alternative band Grey Fiction stated that “If you want to be taken seriously, play in Provo.” (Adams, 2012) Also in alternative waters, the Salt Lake City Arts Council has a Twilight Concert Series of weekly concerts in the summer, which have attracted international acts such as the Flaming Lips. The Ogden Music Festival should also be mentioned, a three day festival held in the outdoors that caters to blues, bluegrass and rockabilly music.
One of the key reasons behind the success of the Velour Live Music Gallery is also its owner Corey Fox. Fox, for example, helped Grey Fiction sign a major label deal with Atlantic Records. (Adams, 2012) The aforementioned Imagine Dragons, also making their way through Velour, have further taken the sounds of Utah music culture to a greater audience. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and activities surrounding the Mormon Church are clearly the main associations with Utah music, and they are relevant artists, but it would be unfair to the diversity of the Utah music scene to overlook the alternative sounds emanating from Fox’s Velour project and the Provo scene in general.
Finding out about music in Utah only takes a look on the Internet, as Utah music scene actively uses social media, from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s tweet account to Velour’s Facebook page. There are also podcasts dedicated to local Provo, Utah music, such as www.provopodcast.com. Main stream newspapers such as The Herald also do their part so as to keep the music loving public informed, regularly reporting on a diversity of music concerts and events, and including concert calendars, ranging from independent and alternative acts to classical. Nowplayingutah.com is a straightforward and easy to use website that has all the essential listings of all possible music genres.
- Adams, Megan. “Provo Emerges as Music Scene Hot Spot.” The Daily Universe, January 12, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2018 at https://universe.byu.edu/2012/01/12/321-final-story-provo-music-scene/