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Uncle Uncanny's Music Festival

Say Uncle: Three-day outdoor festival prepares for its biggest year.

By Brian Staker
Posted // August 19,2009 -

“Uncanny,” more or less expresses something beyond our powers of comprehension, almost to the point of being mystical or supernatural. Uncle Uncanny’s Music Festival, now in it’s sixth year, isn’t a supernatural phenomenon, but it is singular for creating an event bringing local and national musical acts together in a spirit of inclusiveness, using the natural surroundings as part of the experience.

Originally, the festival had been set in the Uintas, but the three-day event has outgrown that site. “We wanted to move it to private land rather than Forest Service land,” explains Junior Richards, festival coordinator. “We were thinking of moving it an hour-and-a-half away, to Pleasant Grove, but that was too far. We found a great location near Heber City on a private campground.” Deer Park at River’s Edge is located in the Heber Valley, just below Jordanelle Dam.

It’s the first year Junior Richards’ production company has put on the event, although Richards has been the musical producer. He’s also spent 10 years in film production. He’s adding a larger stage with excellent sound. “It’s a lot more organized this year,” he observes. “The site will have all the amenities and services.” With fishing, hiking, nearby golf courses and camping facilities it’s designed to be a family-friendly atmosphere. There will still be a full bar and beer truck for adults with ID, and, with two outdoor stages and an acoustic stage in the bar, there will be music virtually round the clock. Saturday and Sunday will include workshops with local artists.

As far as the music, Richards sought out local bands in the community, as well as national touring acts. Jerry Joseph strikes a chord as a former Salt Lake City singer/songwriter who emigrated to Portland. Reggae artist Joseph Israel is a late addition. DJ Logic adds hip-hop to the lineup with an eclectic range of musical styles. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, a funk band fronted by Lenny Kravitz’s former sax player, has already played in the state numerous times, but not all the visiting acts are familiar to local audiences. “I wanted to help Heavyweight Dub Champion become better known in the area,” explains Richards.

Local acts include founder Rick Gerber’s two bands Ulysses and Lab Coat, Salt Lake City psych-rockers Furs, Naked Eyes and The Astrals, Oh! Wild Birds, James Shook and the Resolutions, Spearit, and Shaky Trade. Steven Harding of Ogden-based Auto Pirates is getting amped for his first year on the bill at Uncle Uncanny’s. He watched from the sidelines last year and found “a lot of cool people, good times, great vibe. We wanted to play.” Jason Sawyer of Junior and Transportation, Richards’ band, as well as Hotel le Motel, adds, “It’s a great chance for the musicians to get to know each other.”

Past years have been successful enough that Gerber has fielded requests to take the event out of state. He promises he won’t: “This is where I live. We believe we’ve got a really good music scene here, and we want to put Utah on the map.”

Richards says attendees come from all over the Intermountain region, as far away as Jackson Hole, Boise and Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The festival inspires the kind of uncanny dedication that it is largely produced by volunteers. This “summer sessions” event is meant to end the season on a positive note for everyone concerned. It‘s not just about the music but also maintaining the environment of the site, which adds so much to the experience. “We want to be successful in recycling,” says Gerber. “We want to be a positive force for the community. We want to be a positive force for Utah.”

Uncle Uncanny’s Music Festival
River’s Edge at Deer Park
Heber Valley
Aug. 20-23
435-640-8725

 
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