Derrek Hanson, director of events and visitor services at Red Butte Gardens (300 Wakara Way, University of Utah, RedButteGarden.org), is chomping at the bit to unveil the newly renovated amphitheater when the outdoor concert series kicks off Friday, July 11, with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Gates open at 6 p.m., the show starts at 7 p.m.
What’s new with the amphitheater?
We have reoriented and built a larger, higher stage. We re-graded the slope of the bowl so that, even if you are in the very back, you have a clear sightline to the stage. We added permanent restrooms to replace the ever-popular Port-a-Potties. The new restrooms will run on solar power from panels mounted on the roof. We did not make it much bigger, so we still have the intimate Red Butte concert experience.
Any big plans for the amphitheater’s unveiling?
We are going to have a ribbon cutting and opening-night reception before the first concert with sponsors and key people involved in the renovation.
How do you choose your concert performers?
I have to give credit to our concert producer, Chris Mautz. Basically, we each put together our lists of bands, Chris checks around to see who’s touring and who’s available and then works his magic.
Any past concerts stand out in your memory?
I get a lot of flak for saying this, but I really liked the Ryan Adams show even though he ended the night by storming off stage. (He was having technical issues all night and was upset with his sound tech.) That aside, I think that guy is a musical genius.
Tell us about the kickoff of this season’s concert series.
Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis—I can’t think of a classier way to kick off the season. There are going to be over a dozen world-class jazz musicians up there onstage with Wynton.