City Weekly Blogs - Gavin's Underground <![CDATA[ Blog: Blown Magazine]]> By Gavin Sheehan

To those who question the uncertainty of publishing in the future hands of young writers and editors, one need look no further than a small publication in Ogden that's starting to make waves. --- Blown Magazine is a independently created magazine made up of younger writers and former high school friends, reporting on local arts and entertainment that they find interesting and believe deserve more exposure than they're being given.


Since their launch last year, they've released a handful of issues and online content, and are currently working to release the magazine both in a physical and digital format. Today we chat with founding member and Editor in Chief, Jack Williams, about the start of the magazine and where they're headed as a publication. (All photos courtesy of Blown.)

Jack Williams

Gavin: Hey Jack, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself and the staff.

Jack: We are just a few young people who met each other at school. We all sort of gravitated towards omen another because of similar interests. We became a really tight knit group of people. We all met at Weber High School, and became friends quickly. All of us have been involved with creative projects throughout our life, but this was the most ambitious and largest.


Gavin: How did you take an interest in local arts and entertainment?

Jack: All of us sort of immersed ourselves in it to counter the mundane normalcy of high school. Being a part of the artistic counterculture became and Identity for us.

Gavin: Prior to Blown, had you written for a publication or website, or had any experience doing this?

Jack: None of us had any prior experience with journalism,but I have been writing since elementary and all of my friends have been working on their various interests (photography, graphic design, painting, etc.) for years.


Gavin: How did the idea for Blown come about and where did the name come from?

Jack: The idea originated from a plan to design a book of all of our creations, and distribute copies just throughout our friends. Then we decided we wanted to expose as many people as possible to our creativity, so we decided to start a magazine, and show other people. We wanted to spread our love of art. The name comes from something one of our friends said while on a rant about the world. “Society is Blown.” The phase mad everyone laugh at the time, but the name stuck.


Gavin: Part of the “about us” description on the website talks about society oppressing creativity. At the time of starting it, what were your thoughts on local art, music and film coming out of the scene?

Jack: I’ve always felt that there is a constant struggle in the modern world between creativity and conformity. I feel that there is an established status quo that being average or normal is okay, and we all wanted to oppose this. Ogden is a fantastic place filled with creative people and its art scene has been extremely influential for me. The community embraces local culture and local business in an amazing way. Also, I am a member of a generation that has access to so much online, just at our finger tips, and much of that is art. The underground scene has grown to become more mainstream and accessible, and its great. But there is still a general conformist mentality, and Blown is our way of combating it.


Gavin: All of you on the staff has met each other in high school. What was it like putting together the small staff and working together on this single project?

Jack: It really has been a fantastic experience. It has taken all of our talents and interests and combined them in order to achieve one goal. Blown has created a blank canvas for us to express ourselves on, and I feel it has made us all closer friends in the process.

Gavin: What was the process like in planning out the first issue and getting everything together. 

Jack: When we made the first issue, we were clueless to how to produce and publish it. We used the resources we had at hand, and we were very proud of the final product. The initial reaction was amazing, and people were impressed by our initiative. Looking back, I am still proud, but we have learned a lot, gained many new resources to use, and developed our skills more. We aren’t entirely clueless now.


Gavin: The first issue came out back in mid-2013, what was the initial reaction like from readers?

Jack: Our audience was extremely small initially, but it seemed that everyone who read the first issue was interested in what we were trying to do, and our organization gained new staff that were passionate about creativity. Its amazing how many people want to help us reach our full potential. Of course, there were those who had no faith in Blown, but we overlooked them. We were determined to express ourselves.

Gavin: What's the process like in creating a new issue for you and the staff?

Jack: Its a hectic process of communication between the staff to gather all the pieces we want to feature. For me it is always a strange mix of stressful insomnia and anxious ambition. I have learned a lot from it. We try not to let it become to stressful and prevent creative freedom (which means being very lenient with deadlines).


Gavin: In issue #4 you said you'd start working more closely with Only In Ogden. How did that partnership start up and what has it been like working with them?

Jack: I had contacted Only in Ogden to ask for help publicizing Blown. I wasn't really expecting a response, let alone an offer to meet with the owner, Bryan. When we met, he offered us a chance to get our own website sponsored by Only In Ogden. It has been a great experience working with Only in Ogden, and we would not have made it this far if Bryan had not seen something in us and helped us as much as he has. It has been an amazing experience.

Gavin: Since then the content has gone entirely to the website without a formal issue being produced. Is that the direction you will continue to go in, or will you revive the magazine section again down the line?

Jack: We are working to resurrect the magazine format, in a physical issue and in a digital format. It is a medium that I feel best represents Blown.


Gavin: For those interested in contributing or working with Blown, what can they do to get involved?

Jack: Blown is always looking for new talent and content to feature. If you are interested, contact us at or on our Facebook page.

Gavin: What can we expect from all of you and Blown over the rest of the year?

Jack: We will be striving to make Blown bigger and better. We would like to start hosting events and become more deeply rooted within our community. Blown will continue to be an original expression and exploration of creativity.


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Jack: There are many people who have helped with this process that I would like to thank, especially Bryan Smith from Only In Ogden. His mission to promote Ogden and make it a better place is a great cause. I would also like to thank Ron Atencio at Mojos in Ogden. He has helped promote us, and he has given a home to the music scene in Ogden. Also we are always looking to promote art and creative projects.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Salt Lake Comic Con: Fan Xperience]]> By Gavin Sheehan

When it comes to the discussion of 2013's Salt Lake Comic Con, the phrase that seems to best describe it is “who woulda thunk?” --- That's not to disparage anything. In fact, it's meant to be a commendation, but for years our state has had marginal conventions with Anmie Banzai being the biggest in Layton and no signs of ever seeing a major event of this scale take place anywhere in Utah. When Comic Con happened in September 2013 and brought in the numbers and exposure it did, a lot of things in the local geekdom changed overnight.


Looking to capitalize and possibly eclipse the first event is FanXperience, a three-day convention set to take over the  Salt Palace with another long list of celebrities, panels, booths and displays. And hopefully this year you won't require a rowboat to crowdsurf your way through the sea of geeks, Deadpool cosplayers and hundreds of women dressed as Amy Pond. Today we chat with the Con's founder Dan Farr about the success from last fall, this brand new event and a taste of what you'll be able to see. All with pics from last year's event I snapped, which you can check out in this City Weekly gallery.

Dan Farr

Gavin: Hey Dan! First thing, how have you been since we last chatted?

Dan: Fantastic... and incredibly busy!

Gavin: Getting right to it, what were your personal thoughts exiting Comic Con last September?

Dan: I was blown away by the support from the entire community. Everyone from the city to the Governor's office to the incredible fans of Utah made it an amazing event.

Gavin: When you got the final numbers for the attendance, what were your first surprises and concerns?

Dan: I was definitely concerned about people who weren't able to get in and any and all issues surrounding crowd control for the event. This aspect has been the number one focus from the end of the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con until now. For the FanXperience we'll be able to accommodate a much larger crowd than we had at the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con back in September. I was surprised that attendance was as high as it was. I wasn't blown away by it because we had several indications leading up to the event that let us know it was going to be big, but it was bigger than we had anticipated. I was also surprised that we got to a point that the fire marshall shut down the convention center and wouldn't allow anyone else in for a brief time. This is why, as I mentioned earlier, crowd control is our number one concern for the event.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to do an event in April rather than waiting the full year?

Dan: Nobody wanted to wait. We were too excited about doing the second event, we didn't want to wait a full year to do it.

Gavin: When you decided you were returning to the Salt Palace, what kind of planning went into utilizing the space compared to the first Con?

Dan: We knew the Salt Palace had a lot more capacity than we had utilized last September, so we put a lot of planning in and secured the entire facility. We planned on making the overall experience of people getting into the hall much easier and to have a lot more space while in the hall.

Gavin: Knowing the crowd issues, as well as what worked and what didn't, what were the first things you wanted to incorporate into FanX?

Dan: We wanted the lines leading into the convention center to go much faster, as well as the lines leading into the hall floor. We also wanted to keep people in the building while they were waiting to get their wristbands and get registered and to provide an overall smoother experience.

Gavin: Aside from the celebrity area, what sections have you expanded on to accommodate the fans who are attending?

Dan: We have larger areas for people to take a break and get a bite to eat. We have broader isles that will make it easier for people to move around in the hall.

Gavin: One of the bigger draws last year were the roundtable panel discussions. What are some of the big panels you have planned at this event?

Dan: One of the big panels this time around is actually a ticketed event, it's our Star Trek Ultimate Xperience. This panel features Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby. We know this will be a great panel. That being said, there are many other panels focusing on a variety of television shows and movies that will be great as well.

Gavin: I know podcasting is taking a bigger presence this year, what shows will you have involved with this year's events, both for panels and live recordings?

Dan: We have GeekShow heavily involved in the panels at FanX. In addition to them, there are many other podcasters involved in the panels at the event. Not only are there a number of podcasters participating in panels, there are many involved with planning panels and proposing panel topics. We love what podcasting has been able to do for us in terms of spreading the word about Salt Lake Comic Con, so we're happy to have them involved in providing feedback and new ideas.

Gavin: Cosplay was a huge factor in last year's attendance, are you doing anything special with or for those who will be attending in costume?

Dan: We will be conducting another cosplay costume contest at FanX. The participation in last September's costume contest was phenomenal and we expect the FanX costume contest to be one of the key draws at the convention during Saturday's activities.

Gavin: What plans do you have in expanding the comics side of things, both with artists and writers?

Dan: We do have more attending the convention this time. As the show grows and becomes larger it will attract more comic book artists down the road.

Gavin: On the local side of things, who are you bringing in to represent the Utah geeks?

Dan: We are bringing in a lot of local talent for this event. Specifically, we have brought in local comic book artists Ryan Ottley and Tyler Kirkham to the event. We are happy to be able to showcase local talent at the event as it gives things a distinct Utah flavor.

Gavin: Aside from the last minute celebrities and surprises you're not revealing yet, what are you most looking forward to at this event and are anxious to see the reaction to?

Dan: I love to watch the reaction of the fans. It's fun to see the costumes people wear and to witness the enthusiasm for the event. I relish the experience we are able to provide for others while they are at the convention. This energy and excitement is the most rewarding aspect for me.

Gavin: After all the planning and initial dust has settled, what are your thoughts going into FanX?

Dan: I'm very optimistic that the fans in Utah are going to support this event in a way that is going to give Salt Lake Comic Con more national attention an notoriety in the comic con industry.

Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

Dan: We will be doing some intermediate events leading up to the second Salt Lake Comic Con in September, but we don't have anything specific set at this time.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Dan: I'd like to shamelessly promote our fans. I can't give enough credit to them. Ultimately they are what will make FanX a success. We've made it a point to really involve fans in these events by giving them a true voice via social media in the types of guests and topics we bring to the table. We know that as we continue to do this we will receive the overwhelming support of the community.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Salt City Builds]]> By Gavin Sheehan

The weather is getting warmer and for many in the valley it means its time to pull out their motorcycles, dust off the chrome and leather, and start tredding around the valley until the heat starts beating down. --- But for some, this is the first time they're looking for a new ride and need something great to do it on. Now, anyone could go to a Harley shop and, with enough money and knowledge, get the kind of bike they'd be able to ride best. But for many riders, that just won't do, and the only thing worth plunking their hard-earned cash down for is a hand-built custom fit.


For those people, Salt City Builds has become their destination. The South Salt Lake business has been cranking out their own awesome creations for nearly two years, headed up by a pair of brothers who have been working on and building their own rides for years. Today we chat with the Clark brothers about their passion for motorcycles, starting up the shop, building bikes for a living and a few other topics. (All photos courtesy of Salt City Builds.)

Seth & Rev Clark

Gavin: Hey guys, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Seth: Well basically, we are two brothers who always hated having a boss. A few years ago we started working on our own road bikes and it grew into the company we are running now. Most everything we've done throughout our lives has been done together, whether it was skateboarding, dirtbiking, camping or whatever. So starting a company together hasn't been much of a stretch. More than anything, we love getting out in the mountains and camping in the sticks. Plenty of times we've just grabbed a couple cans of chili and headed out on the bikes up into the Uintas for a few days to unwind.


Gavin: How did you both get into mechanics and what were some early influences on you?

Seth: I've always been pretty mechanically inclined, I guess. My first jobs were at auto parts stores or busting tires and that stuff. After we moved to Salt Lake in 2010, I started buying cars to fix up and flip but we only had a tiny garage so it was huge pain in the ass. Motorcycles were an easy step down, honestly. As far as fabrication, I am self-taught on metal work. Just a LOT of practice and patience and it eventually started working out for me.

Rev: I had to work a lot harder to become the mechanic I am today. I'm still learning a lot to be honest. My life goal back in 2009 was to become a pathologist (study of diseases), so I started school at Weber State. After we moved to Salt Lake and started working on our bikes, I found out pretty quick I wasn't too interested in that life anymore. So I guess you could say my first road bike got me into mechanics.

Gavin: What specifically drew you toward motorcycles over cars?

Rev: I was just never really into cars in the first place. The feeling of freedom you get from riding a bike is nothing new. Everyone who's ever ridden one knows that feeling. A car will never give that to me. We always had pickups or Broncos or stuff like that. Mostly just to haul around our toys.

Seth: And our garage was too small.


Gavin: What kind of motorcycles did you each prefer riding and working on, from when you started to today?

Seth: We did a lot of work on our first road bikes, so if I had to pick one bike that I know the most about, it would be the DOHC Honda CB750s. I actually am still using the motor from my first bike in the chopper I'm riding right now. I can fix any damn CB750 out there.

Rev: My first road bike was a 1980 Honda CX500C which I found to be a really great platform for custom work. One of our first customs was building a CX which had to have just about everything repaired or replaced on it so I know quite a bit about them things. Nowadays I'm riding around a 2000 XLH 1200 which has been fun to chop up as well. Harleys are surprisingly simple machines.

Gavin: At what age did you really start working on bikes on your own and how was it learning the ropes to building, repairing and maintenance?

Seth: I started wrenching on my dirtbike with my buddies when I was about 18 but I didn't really take it seriously. On New Year's Eve 2010 our resolution was to have bikes by the end of June. I think at the end of that year we had like 15 at the garage getting worked on. After we bought road bikes, I really started taking the mechanics seriously and learned a lot in the first few months from shop manuals and the Internet. The CB750 I bought wasn't running so I had to figure out why. After a week or two of monkeying with it, I finally got the thing running and that kind of sparked the whole motorcycle revolution with us. Within a few months most of our friends had a bike of some sort and it was basically up to us to get them running right.


Gavin: What was the first bike you each worked on alone and completed from scratch?

Rev: For our first road bikes, Seth's 1979 Honda CB750K and mine was a 1980 Honda CX500C.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up a motorcycle business together?

Rev: We were just riding around one day, speeding obviously, and both got pulled over. Seth didn't have his motorcycle license at the time and the cop decided to not let him ride his bike home. So I had to ride back home, pick up the truck, and drive over to pick up Seth. Anyways, during the time I was going to grab the truck a guy ran over and just started talking about how much he liked our bikes. He turned out to be a professional photographer and had just done a shoot with a motorcycle and got the itch. He commissioned us to build our first bike. After that, we kind of realized we could actually do this for the rest of our lives and the goal to start a shop became a reality.


Gavin: How did you come across the space on West Temple and what made you decide to set up shop there?

Seth: After two years of running the shop in the garage and it getting bigger every day with more and more bikes coming in and out, our neighbors basically told us that if we didn't get a shop, they'd file a grievance with the city and get us evicted. It got to the point where we were just scrambling to find a place because it was all pretty sudden. This place on West Temple was the first place we checked out and was just a perfect fit.

Gavin: What was it like transforming the place into a fully functional garage for your particular needs?

Rev: It's actually still in the transformation stage. We aren't business gurus or anything so we didn't have a huge plan laid out on how to set this thing up. About every other month or so we'll rearrange something here or there in the shop to try to get it tuned a bit better.


Gavin: What was it like when you first opened up the shop and what was the reaction like from patrons?

Seth: We had tons of space to do whatever with. Most people still hadn't heard of us so we didn't have a whole ton of bikes in there. We also started up the shop in September at the end of riding season. We figured if we could get through a winter, we'd be alright.

Gavin: When creating a new bike. how do you decide what kind of model you want to work on and what you'd like to shape it into before you're done?

Rev: All of our builds so far have been commissioned for customers who, for the most part, have a pretty good general idea of what they'd like it to look like. So outside of some artistic license with certain details, we haven't gone through the process of choosing a particular bike for a build. Hopefully soon though!


Gavin: What's the process like for you in putting together a new one, from frame and parts to having it running?

Rev: We like to get a bike running really well before we customize it so that's almost always the first step. After that, we tear it down to each part and replace or refurbish everything. Custom parts are ordered and/or fabricated and we'll put it all together again for a test run and ride. When we're satisfied with how the custom runs and rides, we tear it down again and get everything powder-coated, chromed, painted or whatever finish work our customer wants. Then it's final assembly and wire and we're done.

Gavin: Do you find yourself coming up with crazy designs for things or do you make an effort try to keep it all as practical as possible?

Seth: Crazy ideas are fun but you always have to have a level of practicality in there. We aren't fans of trailer queens that weren't built to be ridden.

Rev: It just seems a fantastic waste of money and engineering to build a bike like that. To each their own I suppose. We have some crazier stuff on our bikes but nothing to detract too much from their principle use; to be ridden.


Gavin: What are some of the more interesting custom jobs you've done for riders?

Seth: We've been fabricating these sweet little 1-into-2 intakes for old 2-cylinder bikes. We can slap a Mikuni VM34 on to replace the tired CV carburetor bank. It's been so awesome to see these bikes wake up and just rip around like a dirt bike. We've made four or five of them and they've all just worked like a charm. Soon we'll be experimenting on other bikes like my CB750.

Gavin: If someone want's to have a motorcycle built or worked on by you, how do they contact you and what do they need to have ahead of time?

Rev: A phone call always works best – 801-810-9794 (text also works). Message us on Facebook. Hit us up on our Instagram.


Gavin: Do you have any plans to expand the shop beyond what it is now or are you comfortable with how the business is currently running?

Rev: We don't have any plans to hire anybody else on currently. We're really busy, but that's how we like it.

Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and Salt City Builds over the rest of the year?

Rev: We have big plans! Our website is being currently constructed by Underbelly and should be ready soon. We are just finishing our storefront where we'll be selling some of our stuff and hopefully a pretty wide variety of local artist's stuff. We've been in contact with leathersmiths, fabricators, painters and others who we feel can help embody the kind of lifestyle we have. It's pretty vague as of now, but hopefully by the end of the year we'll have a fully functional storefront where local artists can kick-off their product!


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Seth: We are collaborating currently with a few artists who have helped us out a lot. Damian Garcia and Dan Sammons of Johnny Bones who do apparel and lifestyle, Anthony Lagoon and Dax Hansen of Underbelly who do web development, Brett Blaisdell from Smuglabs: Laser Engraving & Design. Ben McClelland and James Comas of 80 CAL, who do leather work, art and metal working. Eric Lambourne of Lambourne Leatherwork, Ian Halcott of Cafe Racer Seat and Tank as well as Robert Rashidi of Handmade Industries who both do metal fabrication, and Eli Scarbeary from BearScar who do leather working and carpentry.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Pen & Palates]]> By Gavin Sheehan

As our art scene continues to blossom, we're seeing many artists turn their talents into thriving businesses that are making an impact around the city. --- Take for example Pen & Palates, who have a major focus on letterpress works such as cards and stamps, but also have a public design presence as the company's central artist designs graphics and lettering for businesses and art shows that help make rooms pop and artistic exhibits flow form space to space beautifully.


Today we chat with P&P founder Thy Doan about her education and career in the field, coming up through the SLC art scene, starting up her own business and a few other topics. (All pictures courtesy of Doan. Headshot an final picture by Chad Kirkland.)

Thy Doan

Gavin: Hey Thy! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thy: I’m a vertically challenged transplant from California that has a love for, and obsession with, letters.


Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some early influences on you?

Thy: Truth be told, I’ve been drawing, painting or what have you since I was teeny. I have photos to prove it. I think a lot of my early influences were more people who supported or encouraged my passion to express my creativity, even if it was just finger paintings or drawing block letters. My parents have always been an amazing encouragement and making sure I knew to do whatever it was in my heart, which is pretty rare for a first generation Vietnamese kid. It was as early as junior high that I knew I wanted to venture down the path of graphic design—mostly because it was then that I learned it was even a profession. Of course, a piece of advice that’s stuck with me all these years was from my older sister’s high school friend, Geoff Dowd. He was a graphic designer in San Francisco and the best thing he ever could have told me was “whatever you do, just keep drawing”. I don’t know if I could let go of that if I wanted to anyway. I just love that feeling of putting a pencil to paper. Although, I’d like to think my lettering is more evolved than the block letters I drew in grade school.


Gavin: You earned your BFA from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. What made you choose them and what was their program like for you?

Thy: I knew I didn’t want to pay for a private art school, well, more like I couldn’t pay for it, so I had to find a state school that I thought I could thrive in. Of course, living somewhere I liked helped, too. My sister’s friend, Geoff, was also a Cal Poly alum who I thought to be successful, so I think that might’ve had a sort of subconscious influence on my decision-making. I was also interested in the program being small and impacted which I hoped would mean more individual focus with professors. Upon arriving at Cal Poly, I think I initially struggled with what, I think, a lot of state school design kids encounter. It was a sort of complex that I wasn’t going to get the kind of design-focused education that the private art school kids were going to get. But, if anything, because I had to take more general education classes, what I took away made me more well-rounded and helped to interest me in things beyond graphic design. Graphic design can be better described as creative problem solving and I believe that having a larger pool of knowledge and interests only results in far richer solutions than just being pretty. I also learned that, as with things in life, you get what you put into it. So, in reality, whatever program you’re in or are limited to, can be as good as you make it. I like to think that a passion for something will create the drive to challenge the faculty or existing program to be better. Thankfully this mentality spread to a lot of the design students and it motivated us push each other to be better and show those private art programs at annual portfolio reviews in the big cities that we could keep up with them.


Gavin: During that time, what persuaded you toward graphic design and how was it for you picking up the genre?

Thy: Actually, since the Cal Poly design program was so small and impacted, you had to declare your major upon applying so it was a very deliberate decision, which is sort of crazy to think about considering I know people who are my age and still don’t know what they want to do. I think I’m of the lucky few who knew at such a young age.

Gavin: Near the end of college you were working for iiiDESiGN. How did you get in with them and how was it working a professional career in the field?

Thy: I think there was a posting for an internship for iiiDESiGN in the art department or something—funny how your memory doesn’t retain some details as important as that. Really, I think I got the position because Missy Reitner, the creative director and founder, and I hit it off pretty well during my interview and assumed I had enough skill to keep up with them. It was a small boutique design shop (there were only four of us!), so I think personality fit was also important to them. Needless to say, I learned a lot and wore a lot of hats which was my main interest in working for a small shop. I think most graphic designers can agree that you don’t learn everything you need to know in school (I don’t care what design program you’re in), so there was an incredible amount I was able to get from that experience.


Gavin: What eventually brought you to Utah and what made you decide to stay?

Thy: A design job with a small design studio, actually. I wanted to get out of California—sunny and 72 degrees got old and I wanted to see seasons. Of course, Utah wasn’t ever on my list of places I ever thought I’d end up but this tight knit community has been what’s kept me here. The different communities of interest, be it food or music, are all so permeable and have plenty of people who are willing to share knowledge or support your ideas. I think I ended up here in a great time because it’s a place of incredible growth which has made for some great opportunities.

Gavin: You've been involved with a lot of projects and organizations, most prominently the AIGA of SLC. How did you get involved with them and how was it being on the board for over three years?

Thy: I actually became an AIGA member in my Cal Poly days and, being a transplant, I knew no one in Salt Lake City. So, it only seemed natural to connect with the local chapter here to get introduced to the community. Needless to say, we had a meeting and then I got recruited to be a board member after being in the city for six months. After finishing my five year stint last June, I couldn’t be more grateful for the people and community that I met along the way. There’s just something about giving back and (hopefully) inspiring the people we interacted with to engage with others in their profession. With AIGA being a national organization, it’s also rad to know I have connections and friends through AIGA all over the country. I feel like I could move almost anywhere in the country and have a network to tap into. It’s another one of those things that you can’t just get by becoming a member, but, again, it’s about what you put in.


Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up your own design company, and where did the name come from?

Thy: I never quite deliberately set out to start my own deal, actually. I feel like a lot of it came as a result of just not having the types of creative custom lettering projects at my full time gig, so I sought out opportunities that might remedy that. While I was working at Whole Foods Market as an in-store sign artist, I struggled to find a good outlet to experiment with my lettering—you can only take it so far with sale and holiday signs. There came a day when I had an epiphany and decided I wanted to align my personal interests (music, food and the community) with my freelance work. I got myself involved in things like designing for SLUG, gig posters for The State Room, when I could, and eventually some food events. Pen & Palates came from that ah-ha moment and had the ambition of maintaining a blog to catalog these projects and discoveries. ‘Palates’ certainly was more a of a stretch of the word, too, since I took it literal that it was tastes of food, music and visual. While the blog is no longer (seriously, it’s tough to have one—props to you!), I still believe that my business strives to touch those communities I originally sought out.


Gavin: What was it like for you getting setup and finding clients to work with?

Thy: Everything happened pretty organically, I think. My stint at Whole Foods Market got me even more educated and interested in food and, through a co-worker, got introduced to the Caputo’s food classes (thanks Andy!). Food classes made food friends, food friends turned into me helping with food events and food events turned into food clients. Nowadays, new business inquiries are interestingly coming from Instagram and other social media fronts. It’s sort of crazy to see how garnering new business and making connections is really at your finger tips these days. Of course, I’m still maintaining work with clients in the food industry because there seems to be continual growth and I’m fortunate enough that my clients understand the need for someone like me to help improve business through design.


Gavin: Did you find it easier or more challenging starting up your own company, rather than joining an established one?

Thy: Being self-employed is certainly a beast in itself and has its obstacles, but it also has so many perks. While I’m sure there are people who think I live a glamorous and relaxed schedule, working in my pajamas (I try to avoid this as much as I can!) and doing what I want, when I want…it’s really only partially true. Sure I have flexibility in my schedule but I’m probably working more hours than I would at a 9-to-5 gig because even when physical work is done, my mind is still going. But oh the perks! My paychecks are driven by me, the work is mostly driven by me and it’s pretty damn gratifying to put out good work and have clients to respect your craft. I think the most important perk is that my work is more about how I want to live rather than having someone else dictate that.

Gavin: What's the process like for you when working on a new product for someone, from concept to final design?

Thy: Like any design process, I identify the problem or goal at hand. Design and the act of making things pretty can be subjective and having some guidelines to follow ensures success if you have objective goals. In custom lettering, a lot of it is trying to pinpoint what it’s for and narrowing down styles. Based on client input and research, I develop pencil sketches. Ideally, they select one pencil sketch for me to develop, fine tune with some revisions,and finish in whatever the agreed production method would be.


Gavin: Do you have a lot of free reign over the look or do you tend to stick strictly to what the person has asked for?

Thy: I think I do tend to have a lot of free reign but, like I said before, I establish objective goals by conversations and research that both myself and the client take part in. I believe that your client pays you to be the expert in what you do but it’s also my responsibility to deliver something they’re happy with. After all, they’ve decided to spend their money with me and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Having mutual respect is a priority in my client relationships, no matter how large or small the project is.

Gavin: One of the things you really push on your website is people communicating through traditional letters and thank you cards. What made you want to promote that ideal?

Thy: I often think about how this digital age we live in is costing us amazing and very human things that seem to be getting lost in all of it. While I don’t reject technology, social media and the new ways of communicating, there’s just a break down in what should be meaningful ways in which we express ourselves to one another. I mean, things such as what used to be a birthday card or phone call, devolved into an email or e-card and, now, text messages seem sufficient. Don’t even get me started on the sad development of poor communication etiquette—how many times have you been put off because someone who’s mid-conversation with you, is ignoring you because they just have to reply to a text or show you something completely irrelevant on their phone? So, while writing letters and thank you cards won’t solve all of that, my hope is that I can encourage some people to be more thoughtful and deliberate in their communication with someone else they care about, even if it’s once in a while. I truly think it would make us better people to just think of others more than constantly seeking instant gratification.


Gavin: You offer a wide range of items from cards to cards and stamps to dishes and mugs. What else are you able to work with?

Thy: I’ve actually been trying to push my lettering into less conventional mediums. Lately, I’ve been dabbling in glass painting and wood burning. Since I still do spend a good amount of time in front of the computer, trying new mediums or developing products that really require my hands is most appealing right now.

Gavin: Do you have any plans to expand your business beyond what it is now, or mainly sticking to how things are running for a while?

Thy: My aim is to let things stabilize at the moment. Over the last six months, I’ve been trying to evaluate my product offerings and making sure they can be sustainable. There’s plenty of time to do more and new things but I want to establish a good foundation first.


Gavin: For those who wish to commission something from you, what's do they need to do?

Thy: They can certainly shoot me a line with a brief description of what their needs are and we can chat from there! Email me at

Gavin: What can we expect from you and Pen & Palates over the rest of the year?

Thy: I’m continuing to develop my products and refine the line of offerings. With Craft Lake City last August under my belt, I’m shooting to be accepted into one of the Renegade Craft Fairs, likely San Francisco or Chicago. Of course, looking into other markets is on my to-do’s as well. And, fingers crossed, you’ll see me at Craft Lake City again.


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Thy: Yes! I’ll be selling my wares at the Bijou Market in Provo on April 11-12 — go check it out, as I’ll be launching a new product there that I’m really excited about!

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Salt Lake Acting Company: 4000 Miles]]> By Gavin Sheehan

One of the final productions Salt Lake Acting Company has to show us before they get all Voyeur this summer is a little ol' play that has some fine accolades behind it. --- 4000 Miles is a dramatic production featuring a young man on a bike trip trying to escape his current situation, who ends up having an unexpected extended stay with his grandmother in the West Village, forcing them to re-examine their lives and try things neither is fully comfortable with. This Amy Herzog play was named Time's “Play Of The Year” that same year in 2013.
Today, we chat with several actors (Shelby Andersen, Hye Soo and Joyce Cohen), both of the show's executive producers (Cynthia Fleming and Keven Myhre), and director Adrianne Moore about the production leading into opening night. (All pictures courtesy of SLAC.)

Shelby Andersen, Joyce Cohen, Cynthia Fleming, Keven Myhre, Lily Hye Soo Dixon & Adrianne Moore

Gavin: Hey everyone! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Shelby: My name is Shelby Andersen and I'm from Salt Lake. I graduated from Weber State University last spring in musical theater and now I work full time at SLAC.

Joyce: I've been in the business for almost forty years. I manage to work here and around the country. I live here and in NYC.

Hye: Hey! I'm Hye Soo, I'm a mom to one adorable three year old, a theater teacher and an actor in between.

Adrianne: I’m a freelance director and dialect coach and voice over artist. I'm also on the faculty in the theater department at Utah State University. I’m from New Zealand originally and lived in Australia and England before coming to the U.S.


Gavin: What have you all been up to over the past year in local theater?

Joyce: In terms of my most recent work, I was in PTC's Other Desert Cities in January and in February I worked at the New Play Summit at the Denver Center Theatre.

Adrianne: Let’s see... I have worked a lot for SLAC over the past year. I directed How To Make a Rope Swing for the company last spring and then coached dialects for Venus In Fur, Good People and Grant & Twain. I directed a reading of Debra Threedy’s play Wrestling With Angels for Pygmalion and directed Candida at Utah State.

Hye: I performed with the Grassroots Shakespeare company last summer and then in the fall I was in the musical, Avenue Q at the U of U.

Shelby: I was in In The Heights at Hale Orem in the fall, then jumped right into Road Show with Wasatch Theatre Company, and the day after 4000 Miles closes, I start rehearsals for the Broadway show at Lagoon!

Gavin: Cynthia and Keven, when did you first come across 4000 Miles and what were your initial impressions of the play?

Cynthia: We are fortunate to have the most amazing audience, mostly comprised of season subscribers. They love and embrace "new work." When someone appreciates "new work," it usually means they have bought tickets to a play that they have never heard of or seen before. They trust Salt Lake Acting Company and know that the play will be a high quality adventure. So our job is to honor our audience and present great new plays, period. Now, about 4000 Miles, Amy Herzog is a celebrated young New York playwright. We have read many of her plays and love her depth of characterization and concise writing which is laced with unexpected humor. In 2010, After The Revolution was produced at Playwright’s Horizon in New York and Amy was given the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. 4000 Miles is its successor. 4000 Miles was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist and was named Time Magazine’s Number 1 "Play Of The Year." This play falls into the category of Great New Plays, period.


Gavin: What made you decide to bring it to SLAC for this particular season?

Keven: When choosing plays for a season, we make sure our subscribers have a diverse and entertaining experience. So far this season, we indulged in sex and power with Venus In Fur, looked at the "haves" and "have nots" in Good People, explored friendship and courage in Grant & Twain and will have compassion as a 91-year-old grandmother and her 21-year-old grandson find their way in today’s world in 4000 Miles.

Gavin: Adrianne, what were your first thoughts on the play and what made you decide to direct it?

Adrianne: The character of Vera was so fascinating. I loved that fact that although the playwright doesn’t ignore the concerns of old age. Vera is certainly frustrated by her physical limitations and “not being able to find my words”–she is full, bold and has opinions about a whole range of things quite unrelated to her age. Amy Herzog talks about her own grandmother, on whom the character of Vera is based and her concern about “the way that older people can just disappear” and her sense of her own grandmother's “fight to remain present and relevant.” Leo rather reminded me of my own son and the relationship between these two is really intriguing. And the writing is lovely – so subtle.


Gavin: What kind of approach did you take in putting the production together knowing it would be for mature audiences?

Adrianne: Oh, I don’t know that it made any difference. I mean, the actors say the lines as written by the playwright, and as the director, I want to follow the playwright’s intention, so I think the approach is really pre-determined by the decision to include it in the season. Of course, there is some latitude where stage directions are concerned but for me it’s always about honoring the playwright and finding the particular world of the play.

Gavin: For the cast, what were your initial thoughts on 4000 Miles after you first read it and what drew you in about the story?

Hye: I was immediately drawn into Leo. I couldn't understand his process and at the same time, I felt super empathetic toward his situation. The fact that each person wanted each other to fulfill a certain expectation and yet they couldn't was somewhat heartbreaking but real.

Shelby: When I read it, I immediately had a connection with it. I felt like I totally understood Bec. I was really drawn to her. I knew right away that I wanted to audition.

Joyce: I first read this play after a conversation with playwright Julie Jenson. I had heard about it but never seen or read it. I ran into Julie at a book reading and signing at the King's English for a collection of short stories by David Kranes.


Gavin: What was it like for each of you auditioning and eventually getting your parts?

Joyce: At a signing at the King's English for a collection of short stories by David Kranes, Julie suggested I take a look at the role of Vera because SLAC was going to be producing it and she really liked the play. I knew it was being done around the country so I did indeed get a copy when I got back to NYC. I fell in love with the play and with this marvelous woman I now get to bring to life. I was in NYC when SLAC held auditions so I asked them if I could submit a "taped audition.” I learned the scenes from 4000 Miles that the producers and director wanted to see. Then I set up my camera, got a fellow actor to read the other characters behind the camera, and shot the scenes. Once uploaded to Vimeo, I sent them along to the SLAC producers and Adrianne.

Shelby: I had a really good time auditioning, and it was a really smooth process. It was an audition that I worked hard at and even though I don't like to admit this during the audition process, I really wanted the role. Let's just say I was thrilled when I got the call.

Hye: My audition process was great, everybody was very friendly. There aren't many Asian actors around here and so the pickings are slim. Haha. No, but it was really nice to see other female Asian actors during auditions. It's kinda nice to know that you weren't just the only option, that you were a choice.

Gavin: How was it for each of you growing into these roles and figuring out your characters?

Hye: Amanda is so different from me that at first I didn't like her. She kind of put me off. It almost felt like putting on a coat that you're embarrassed to wear. Now I have a fondness for her. She has this vulnerability that's quite beautiful and yet she's flashy and quite ostentatious. She's been really fun to play.

Shelby: It's definitely been a challenge. Bec is unlike any character I've ever played; she's got a lot going on in her life and she's really struggling, but she isn't a victim. She's strong. Every day I'm figuring out more and more about her. It's been a really good challenge for me.


Gavin: Being only a cast of four, how has it been putting on the play together and interacting?

Joyce: It has been a great joy to work on this play. All of the young actors in the show are talented, disciplined, and committed to working hard. What more could anyone want?

Shelby: It's been interesting because I haven't spent much time with Hye Soo yet! So I'm excited for when we get into runs and all four of us will be there.

Hye: The cast and crew have been so lovely to work with. It's really been a supportive environment. I have loved getting to know everyone and soaking in all their talented goodness, it's been nothing but a positive experience.

Gavin: How has it been working with something for a mature audience only compared to works where it's suggested or family friendly?

Shelby: It really hasn't been different from any other process – I just say the F word a lot!

Hye: So far I feel I've only done shows that are for a mature audience... so I haven't been able to compare, well I should say nothing comes to mind as of late. I'd say no matter if it's for a mature audience or if it's family friendly I'd treat it with the same devotion, it's a good story and that's what we are here to do, that's our job, to tell the story.


Gavin: What are all of your thoughts going into opening night?

Adrianne: Well, it’s always a mixed experience for me. I’m delighted that audiences are going to experience this lovely play and I’m thrilled with the work of the actors and designers but after opening it really belongs to them and my job is over.

Hye: I can't wait for opening night. It'll be nice to have an audience. It's like a dance, the actor and the audience, you know. The audience plays just as big of a role as the cast does.

Shelby: I'm pumped! I'm really excited for this show, and I want everyone to come see it. It's a beautifully written piece with complex and interesting characters.

Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of the year?

Shelby: I'll be singing and dancing all summer at Lagoon, plus a few auditions coming up!

Hye: I will be teaching theater at Alianza Academy and hopefully will be working on some more shows, whatever I can manage with work and my son. Gotta try and balance it all out.


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Shelby: Tell your friends and family about 4000 MILES! It's going to be a wonderful show. Also come play at Lagoon this summer!

Cynthia: SLAC will present A Loss Of Appetite by David Kranes, April 25 to 27. Family, friends and fans of David’s will gather for this special event. We look forward to shining the light on David’s work and we thank him for his many years of inspiration. Directed by Robin Wilks-Dunn, A Loss Of Appetite features Anne Cullimore Decker and Patrick Tovatt.

Keven: SLAC is proud to host Tip Your Hat To Equality, a special fundraiser for Restore Our Humanity on May 5. Arts organizations from our community will come together to create hats for creative auction pieces, playwrights will write short plays, and various artists will donate work. The Salt Lake City arts community has a big heart and we are honored to lend our time and energy for this remarkable event.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Repertory Dance Theatre: Land]]> By Gavin Sheehan

It's April, which in the land of performance arts means we're enterting the last run of several seasons for local companies. --- The first one up will be Repertory Dance Theatre that will be clocing out its 2013-2014 season with Land, an epic season closer featuring works choreographed by Molissa Fenley, Zvi Gotheiner, Ze’eva Cohen and Joanie Smith & Danial Shapiro. The show will kick off on April 10 for a three day engagement at the Rose Wagner, with tickets still available as of this post.
Today we chat with dancer Efren Corado Garcia, as well as RDT's Education Director (and former RDT dancer) Lynne Larson about their careers and this production before they kick off this Thursday. (All pictures courtesy of RDT.)

Lynne Larson & Efren Corado Garcia

Gavin: Hello to you both. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Efren: Gavin, I was born in Guatemala in a remote town in the middle of nowhere. I lived in California for 15 years before moving to Salt Lake City. I earned my undergraduate degree in dance from Chapman University, my masters and certification as a Movement Analyst from the University of Utah. I performed locally for two years prior to joining RDT full-time this past summer.

Lynne: I received a BFA in dance from Western Michigan University and a MFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I lived in New York in the early '90s and performed there with Martita Goshen’s Earthworks. I also received a lot of training in arts administration by working for Gina Gibney, The Field and the International Festival of the Arts. I traveled to Utah in 1995 to attend the RDT Summerdance Workshop with Susan McClain. Linda asked me to guest perform for a work being presented that fall, Doris Humprhey’s With My Red Fires, so I moved here and have stayed. I danced with RDT as a guest for three years and then as a full company member for seven years. I also performed during that time with SBdance and Koester & Dancers. I am currently the education director for RDT and also rehearsal direct, teach company class and coach the company.

Gavin: How did you each take an interest in dance and what what were some early influences on you?

Efren: Honestly, when I was in high school I was accidentally signed up for freshman basketball training, which made me dislike running. In my other P.E. classes they would also run every Friday. I hated it so much I though it would be easier to take a dance class. I ended up taking dance classes the last two years of high school, with little intention of continuing to study movement in college. I really wanted to teach math. Unfortunately, once in college my math classes gradually became far less interesting. In those first years I met Heather Gillette, my dance mom. She was a huge influence in those early years, in fact, I say that when you see me dance you can also see her in me. She guided me, allowed me to be foolish and her passion for dance left an imprint in my heart. I just found out that she had previously performed with RDT as a guest dancer. I am truly following her footsteps.


Gavin: What was it like for each of you growing up performing prior to college?

Efren: As I mentioned, dance was a very small part of my life in high school. It was an escape goat. I didn't perform very much, in fact in those early years I don't think I even knew what it meant to perform. It was in college that I met fellow dancers that were exemplary performers. it was through them that I realized what dance could be.

Gavin: Lynne, let's examine your career first. How was it for you coming up through college and then going professional?

Lynne: I started dancing when I was 4. My mom signed me up with a friend for pre-ballet classes and I continued from there. I took ballet, jazz and tap all during my childhood and high school years. I started modern dance when I was in college.

Gavin: What brought you to Utah and what was it like joining RDT at that time?

Lynne: I came to Utah to dance. I joined RDT at a time when the Rose Wagner was just being built. At that time, RDT was housed in an old restaurant supply warehouse next door. I found some tremendous mentors in the company that inspired me and pushed me to become a better dancer and teacher.


Gavin: How was it performing here with the crew who run RDT and how would you compare your time here with the rest of your career?

Lynne: It has been a wonderful experience performing for RDT. I was able to work with some amazing artists and choreographers throughout my time and have been able to dance in wonderful work. Some highlights are working with Daniel Nagrin on a solo, Spanish Dance and working with Zvi Gotheiner on many pieces, Chairs, Glacier, Lapse, Brazilian Duets, Bricks and Erosion.

Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to become the director of education and how has it been working in that position?

Lynne: When I retired from performing, RDT was granted a new sum of money for arts in education. This money was one-time money and the artistic director decided it was a good idea to create a director of education position. I have always loved teaching and during my time in Utah have always been involved in teaching dance whether in the public schools or a private studio setting. It was a good transition for me and for the company.

Gavin: Efren, what was it like attending Chapman University and studying dance there?

Efren: Chapman was a small program filled with encouragement and some amazing faculty. It was in this program that I learned the importance of technique, clarity and to exercise curiosity.


Gavin: What brought you to the University of Utah and how did their program compare to Chapman's?

Efren: I applied to the University of Utah because my mentor Heather received her master's degree from the university. I knew it was a good program but I didn't know much of what even a master's degree entailed. The experience differed from my undergraduate degree in that it was much more analytical, critical and life changing. I learned to be my own teacher, to stand outside of my self and question every action. The faculty was incredible in guiding learning processes that emphasized personal research on theory and how to apply it to your product as an artist. I was also very lucky to be recipient of a scholarship to the Integrated Movement System Certification program. IMS is a program that helps realize the body's unique potential to be expressive, functional and creative. It was this program that changed my life while at the University. In it you learn to talk about movement thru an analytical lens, while also having a strong foundation in the lived experience of movement. It was also the stepping stone to get my first teaching job at a University.

Gavin: You're a first-run dancer of Bare Dance Company, what was it like starting up your own company and participating as both a dancer and the team?

Efren:%uFFFDI was part of the company for the first four years and I would do that all over again. Mike and the dancers were integral in building my foundation as a professional. With them I learned to be a hard worker, to challenge my body, to be a quick learner and curious. Many of the dancers have now moved on to travel the world with Broadway shows such as Wicked, The Lion King or have started their own companies. When I started Project Revisited Grounds, a project based umbrella functioning to support local social service agencies, I wanted to mimic much of the service Bare had provided for its community when I was a company member. It was a jarring shift going from company member to director. The administrative work in putting together a show, bringing in guests artists from other states, the publication and promotion of a show, all of it was daunting. I hope to bring back PRG in the next year but only time will tell.


Gavin: How did you get involved with RDT and what was it like for you joining the company?

Efren: I first considered working with RDT when a friend asked me to join her to one of their auditions. I didn't expect anything to happen but I was lucky enough to have been offered a position as a guest artist performing a work by Merce Cunningham. A few months after that first show, I was offered a second stint as a guest artists. I enjoyed the work, the process so much that when a final decision was to be made if I would be joining RDT full-time, my heart knew that it was the best decision I could make. In the span of my educational career, studying and trying to grasp the importance of historic work was always last on my list of priorities. I never had the opportunity to perform classical modern work and now I can't get enough. I wish every dance student would get the opportunity that I have now. I just performed a solo by Ted Shawn, work by Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, Bill Evans, Michio Ito and that experience is priceless. I am also grateful to work with the people in the company. We sometimes feel like we perform for each other more so than the audiences. Only we know our triumphs, defeats and the goals. But, what I appreciate about RDT aside from its historic importance, is how incredibly difficult it is to bring these works back to life. And, I get to learn to that from some amazing people.

Gavin: Lynne, how did the plan for Land come about and how did you become involved to help set some of the works?

Lynne: The artistic plan for Land came about through a series of meetings between the staff and the artistic director. It was Linda Smith’s vision for this concert that brought these four pieces together. I became rehearsal director for three of the pieces because I had been in these pieces as a dancer and was familiar with the choreography and premise behind each piece.

Gavin: You helped set three works for this production, can you tell us a bit about all three?

Lynne: First there's “Desert Sea” – choreographed by Molissa Fenley. I was in the original cast. Molissa entered RDT’s national choreography competition for Sense of Place in 2004 and won. She came and set the work during two weeks in December. It was an amazing experience. Her idea for the piece came from the Native American weaving of the Navajo people. The movement was physically challenging and the process itself mentally challenging. As dancers we were expected to know the movement forward and backward, so Molissa was able to change our facings, where we started in each phrase, which foot we started on, etc. with great ease. The piece has no counts per say, the dancers aim for music cues and felt timing. Almost no movement in the piece repeats. None of the current dancers in RDT had performed this piece, so it took quite a bit of time to set this piece. Molissa Fenley came in October to coach the piece for a few days. Since then, the piece has been performed on tour with rehearsal sessions in between. Next there's “Turf” – choreographed by Shapiro & Smith. I was in this piece when it was re-staged a year or so after its premiere. Danny Shapiro came out to re-work some of the piece and also to help coach the four of us who were new to the piece. The piece is sectional with the use of unique props, rugs, and based on the spirit of friendly competition.


Lynne: There is beautiful partnering, lots of fun, athletic movement and great camaraderie with the dancers. I was chosen to set this piece, because I am currently the only person here who has danced it. Joanie Smith came to clean the piece last month and made numerous changes, all wonderful additions to their original premise. The dancers have settled into the piece and are looking forward to performing it. Finally there's “Erosion” – choreography by Zvi Gotheiner. I was also in a re-staging of this piece as well, so that is why I was selected to re-stage it this time. This piece was commissioned to be part of RDT’s Landscape Suite. A series of commissions based on the diverse landscapes of our State. Zvi visited Bryce Canyon as part of his research about Utah’s red rock region and was inspired to create Erosion. The piece is a journey for the dancers and the audience. The movement is luscious and beautiful. The dancers work as a group moving through their unique world working, moving, loving, exploring and conquering. The process for re-setting this piece was very satisfying. The dancers were committed to the movement and took to the themes very quickly. Zvi just left a couple days ago from being here to coach the piece and get it performance ready.

Gavin: How has it been working with the dancers and the crew to help make this production happen?

Lynne: The dancers have worked very hard during the entire year to make this production come together. Because of choreographer’s schedules and our schedule. Pieces can be set throughout our season regardless of when they will be performed. The dancers started Desert Sea in October, Turf in February and Erosion in March.

Gavin: Efren, what were your first impressions of the show when you learned about it?

Efren: Gavin, to be honest we have been so busy, touring two or three different shows at a time that I don't think I ever had the time to build any impressions. As I'm answering these questions I can only tell you what each piece looks like, we have yet to run the entire show from beginning to end.


Gavin: How has it been for you learning these works and working with the other dancers to being the show to life?

Efren: Every work was a mountain all on its own. Each is 15 to 20-plus minutes. It really takes a team to make these pieces work. For every one of these pieces we had the opportunity to work with the choreographer. That experience of working with them in person helps us find our home in each of the dances, to love it and hate it at the same time. It also makes us realize how lucky we are.

Gavin: What has been your personal favorite piece to work on, and why?

Efren: I love "Rainwood" by Ze'va Cohen. It is pure. The work requires a sense of clarity in the body and mind that sweeps me off my feet.

Lynne: I have enjoyed setting each piece. They are all so different that it makes the rehearsal process interesting!

Gavin: What are both of your thoughts headed into opening night?

Efren: Come to the show! I'm proud of this show. We have worked very hard and have devoted ourselves to make it beautiful.

Lynne: The concert will be diverse and beautiful!


Gavin: What can we expect from both of you over the rest of the year?

Efren: I am currently marinating over developing my first full-evening work. Ideas are floating, feelings are being tossed around.

Lynne: The rest of my year will be filled with teaching in the public schools, reports and gearing up for the summer workshop season.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Efren: RDT has some amazing community school classes. We are not a studio, we tailor to the community. You can't say you are too old or too uncoordinated to dance. Our classes help you feel good about moving your body. We have beginning modern classes, Soma Dance for those over 40 years old, hip hop. Come and join us!

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<![CDATA[ Blog: In The Loop: 4/5/14. Playing To Pay My Taxes!]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Hello to all you money-saving, deduction-finding, accountant-yelling, why-the-fuck-do-I-owe-so-much entheusiests! --- Yep, that's right, I totally did an IRS intro. Because nothing else exciting is really happening around town, and since the alternative was the talk about the Tar Sands protests, I decided to go for the less-depressing topic. In lieu of a 337 update, here's a shot of a local busker on the streets.

Not a lot to talk about over the next few weeks that won't be covered in this blog. The first being on Monday at Library Square as a celebration of support will be held for the families and legal team involved with the Kitchen v. Herbert case heads to Colorado and the 10th Circuit Court in Colorado. If you support the movement for marrigae equality in Utah, this is a must-attend as these guys will be going head-to-head against the governer.


Skipping down to Saturday, AwkwardFest 2014 will take place at the Utah Arts Hub. This will markt he sixth year that the Awkward Hour podcast has been rolling along with it's host Brian Staker at the helm. The evening is due to have a ton of music as well as art exhibitions, craft booths and of course comedy from local standups. Be sure to check it out this Saturday from Noon-8 p.m.


Going into the following week, we'll discuss this event more down the line, but Salt Lake Comic Con's next event, FanXperience will take over the Salt Palace for three straight days, hosting a huge lineup of guests and panels. Not to mention an open floor of amazing booths to check out.


The following Friday, April 18, Westminster College will play host to an event called Until The Violence Stops. A benefit concert featuring bands like Bombshell Academy, Wildcat Strike, Juana Ghani and more to benefit the Rape Recovery Center. It is so worth the cause, be sure to check it out.


And then finally in two weeks on April 19, the Utah Pride Center presents Queer Prom! The annual event for LGBT youth between the ages of 14-20 will take over the City Library, and give those who are unable to attend their own high school proms a chance to be out and proud for an evening to remember. 


As for the blog... Over the next couple weeks we'll talk about FanX, a couple of performances in tehatre and dance, a local letterpress company, an indie magazine and a local motorcycle shop. At least, that's the plan for now, as always, we'll see what happens.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Greg Kyte]]> By Gavin Sheehan

I had an opportunity to throw a stand-up comedian interview up on April 1, but then I thought, that's such a cheap move and they deserve better. Well, until I interview someone who is truly bad. --- This month we chat with Greg Kyte, one of the few clean stand-up comedians finding major success throughout the state and on the big stages in Salt Lake City. Kyte takes his personal experiences from being a Certified Public Accountant and belts out true-to-life comedy about the absurd bullshit he sees and many deal with on a daily basis. Today we chat with Kyte about his career as well as local comedy. (All pictures courtesy of Greg Kyte.)

Greg Kyte

Gavin: Hey Greg, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Greg: Yo, Gavin, thanks for asking. I'm a CPA and a comedian. As a child I often visited my Grandma Kyte's farm. She's dead now, but she wrote a book called Plants From Test Tubes: An Introduction to Micro-Propagation. The fourth edition is available in hardcover on Amazon for $25.79. I started swimming competitively when I was 8 years old for my local team called the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. My left earlobe is dangly, but my right earlobe is attached. That's very rare.


Gavin: What first got you interested in stand-up comedy, and who were some of your favorite comedians growing up?

Greg: I gave some funny speeches in high school that were very well-received by my fellow students as well as the faculty, including one titled "How Hostess Products Have Influenced Me Physically, Emotionally, Intellectually and Spiritually." That one propelled me to homecoming king and gave me the dream of stand-up comedy. I almost started my comedy career in a talent competition at the Seattle Center in late 1990, but then I got pretty busy for 12 years. My first show was an open mic at Blue Cats Coffee Shop in Sugar House in 2002 hosted by John Clark, where I crushed it for the eight-person audience with my impersonation of Chris Farley giving a talk at general conference. I didn't have much exposure to stand-up when I was growing up. I did, however, have a bunch of really funny friends, like Robert Dixon, Mark Yocum and Richard Chamberlain (not the actor, the 5th-grader). I wanted their power.

Gavin: What officially brought on the decision for you to attempt it as a career?

Greg: Dang. I don't think I have officially attempted it as a career. I enjoy health insurance too much to give up my day job. Comedy's always been more of a lucrative hobby.


Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?

Greg: It all went fairly quick and easy, but I was always looking for new and non-traditional stages. When I started standup, I was a middle school math teacher. In 2004, for my 32nd birthday, I invited all my friends and co-workers to the little theater at Dixon Middle School where I pulled off my first 50-minute set. That helped me get a headlining set performing for an eight-person audience at a fledgling club at the Murray Theater. Later that summer, I applied to do some standup at the Utah State Fair which ended up landing me an opening gig for Weird Al Yankovich.

Gavin: When you first started out, what were some of the lessons you learned about performing?

Greg: If you're having a bad set, taking a dump on the audience never helps. If the audience doesn't seem to be engaged in the performance, still give them a great show, up your energy, and keep your confidence. Write and perform as much as you possibly can.


Gavin: What's it like for you personally coming up with material and deciding what works and what doesn't?

Greg: Over the years, I've developed a pretty good sense of what will work onstage and what won't. My wife is a great sounding board, too. I run most of my material past her. My writing process is pretty boring. I force myself to write and tweet three jokes a day. I read a lot of accounting websites to find joke premises. You'd be surprised at how something as eye-gougingly boring as accounting can have lots of comedy just waiting to be mined.

Gavin: How is it for you interacting with other local comedians, both as friends and competitors?

Greg: It's great! I don't like to view comedy as a competition. For me, it's about respect. I'm not trying to "beat" anybody at comedy. I'm trying to gain their respect.


Gavin: Something that's set you a part from many local comedians is that your act is totally clean. Do you find it easier or harder for you to come up with material keeping it clean?

Greg: It's totally fucking harder. Some days, I'm like, "Whose dick do I have to suck to get you assholes to laugh at clean comedy?!" I started super clean. It's only been in the past three years that I've let the horses loose. Comedy is a lot more cathartic for me when I let myself swear onstage. I've never done very much sexual material, so I'm still clean like that, and it's not too hard to lose the language for gigs where I need to stay clean.

Gavin: The advantage you gain in your set is that you can play to any audience, no matter who you're paired with. How have you been received by audiences who usually expect a raunchier set?

Greg: I think those gay cunt-fuckers that want a raunchier set can kiss my shit hole.


Gavin: What's your take on the standup scene in Utah, both good and bad?

Greg: The Utah scene is fantastic! If you're looking for stage time, you can find it pretty much every night of the week. And the venues here are so encouraging, it's weird. Open mics are supposed to be places where people are barely paying attention while they silently judge you. I feel like the open mic audiences in Utah are the most intelligent and most engaged audiences around. Not sure how we got so lucky. I also think Keith Stubbs at Wiseguys does an incredible service for the local scene. He's always been super generous by giving me gigs locally, and he's even landed me some work out of state.

Gavin: Aside yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?

Greg: Of the local comics, I think Christian Peiper and Jackson Banks are two of the best. Andy Gold is a whole new comic since his stint in New York. He was great before he went, but he really honed his craft and polished his stage presence out there. Jay Whittaker's fantastic, too. The crazy thing is that there's so much great talent out here. I was at an open mic at Wiseguys a while ago, and I was blown away by how many of the new comic were crushing it.


Gavin: What are your thoughts on the clubs that provide comedians a forum to perform, and the work they do to help bring in audiences?

Greg: I think they provide a forum in which comedians can perform, and they help by working to bring in audiences.

Gavin: Whats your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town and what that does for the local scene?

Greg: It's nice to see huge headliners come through Wiseguys. They make those rooms legit, and it's great to network with them. It's cool to see the comics who bring their shows to the big theaters like Abravanel Hall, Kingsbury Hall and EnergySolutions Arena, but I don't think they leave a lasting impact on the local scene.


Gavin: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into standup comedy?

Greg: Find the open mics. Go to as many as possible. Hang out before and after. Don't be an asshole.

Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

Greg: I'm working on putting together a monthly video series called "Greg Talks to People About Accounting" for the website (It was originally called "Greg Talks to Stupid People About Accounting" but the people weren't stupid enough to support the title.) I'm also developing comedy continuing education for CPAs. That should launch in May, meaning it will probably launch in September.


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Greg: I write a monthly blog post for, a monthly blog post and a monthly video for, and a monthly podcast called the ThriveCast which is available on iTunes. Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook is a good way to know when and where I'm performing. My dead grandma's book, Plants from Test Tubes is still available on Amazon for $25.79.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Mojos Music Venue (Part 1)]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Utah in general has a fair amount of music venues, even if some of them are shitty dive bars, but there aren't a lot of all-ages places floating around. --- Oh sure, SLC and Provo both have two major ones making an impact. But when you leave those two counties, Utah becomes the musical equivalent of a desert as most major cities only have one venue, and you're lucky if the small-town hangouts have a karaoke stage. Not to mention the issues some cities bring up for no reason as we saw down south with a number of venues starting up and shutting down within a year. So if you're an all-ages joint that manages to make it past five years, chances are you have something awesome going for you.


One of the most prominent venues in the entire state is Mojos Music Venue, sitting at 2210 Washington Blvd., the place has become one of the most popular hot-spots in the city. Thriving off the hip-hop and rock bands performing in the area, it's become a jumping-off place for musical acts to gain experience and build a fanbase before striking out. Plus, the coffee shop has become a focal point for the community as a whole to grab a cup and chat while being able to see the latest local music in town. Today we chat with Mojos founder and owner, Ron Atencio, about his time in Ogden prior to the venue, starting it up and keeping it in business, his thoughts on approaching the 10-year marker and a few other topics. (All photos courtesy of Mojos Facebook page.)

Ron Atencio
Mojos Music Venue on Facebook

Gavin: Hey Ron! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ron: Well, I was born and raised in Ogden, I went to schools here in Ogden including high school at St. Joseph High School and college at Weber State. Back then in the '70s it wasn't a University yet. I was in the fraternity SAE and that was loads of fun. I studied for a history major and communications minor. I changed around a lot not sure what I wanted to do, but history and journalism really gave me passion for some reason. I had founded a high school newspaper at St. Joseph in Junior year and ran it for senior year too. We called it The Bird's Word as our mascot was the Jaybird. I don't know how I knew how to publish but I did and loved it. I also worked for the Signpost at Weber State. I loved history and wanted to do historic research eventually or even teach it in school. I tied history into my publishing later in life and eventually led to my position as Chair of the Ogden City Landmarks Commission.


Ron: I have traveled much in my life gaining many experiences. I have always been adventurous and a rolling stone. I moved to Salt Lake City a few times but first in 1976. From there I headed to Hawaii with a one way ticket and a hundred bucks in my wallet. I lived there for nine months and experienced the bicentennial there. I was 22 and full of adventure and ready to take life on. I was waiting tables at this time in Salt Lake and for many years after. I moved back to Ogden, then to SLC again, then to Seattle for a year and half. Back to Ogden, to Wisconsin for a summer, then back to Ogden to help open up a restaurant owned by a friend for a year, then off to San Francisco. I lived there for four years in the '80s working as a waiter at Ghiradelli Square then eventually got the dream job at the San Francisco Newspaper Agency which was the non-editorial corporation of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner. I was the Promotion Assistant in the Marketing Services Department. This was the time of my life. I loved San Francisco. I dream of it all the time. I worked there for almost five years. I then got the bug again as I would visit Ogden to see friends and family and the beginning of the renaissance on Historic 25th Street had begun and the first seven buildings were renovated and their was great excitement among the community and my friends who were all involved somehow.


I left San Francisco to move into one of the newly renovated buildings as the first tenant above The Bistro on Historic 25th Street, and began the first independent monthly publications in Ogden called the Junction City News. We called it the Wasatch Connection in it's sub title as it was distributed all over the Wasatch Front at over 300 outlets. At that time, just a small publication, The Event was in Salt Lake. We had monthly calendars for the entire northern Utah and covered music, art, happenings all over and of course history. It had great success with 30,000 printed each month. We had an office in the third floor of the building on 300 South and Main in SLC which is now the huge high rise of Wells Fargo, as well as still on 107 Historic 25th Street. It is hard to believe the difference now in SLC and Ogden. In 1989 I got restless and the need to adventure took over. We merged Junction City News to a small publication called The Private Eye which had slowly been growing from South Salt Lake servicing the private clubs and I went to work for them for six months during the merge. This publication eventual became the City Weekly a decade later. John Saltas was great to work with and I enjoyed it as he gave me the art director duties and it was great relieving some of my old jobs to him in his publication. I got to completely upgrade his magazine. He told me he was going to go weekly as at the time he went bi-monthly. I told him he was crazy, and look at what he built. I was pleasantly surprised. I moved to Las Vegas after spending the summer in San Francisco with friends. My sisters live in Vegas so I stayed with them and after a grueling period as Publisher/Editor I was so happy being uncle to my niece and just baby sit for her. I eventually got a job at GTE selling yellow page advertising and this was very lucrative. I eventually moved to Monterey/Santa Cruz, California and worked for Great Western Directories in yellow pages also. Together that was another decade.


 That leads us back to Ogden. I bought a small historic farm house off 12th Street on Gramercy next door to the home my mother and brother owned. Between us we had an acre of old orchard land. I loved being on the land. I knew I was done with yellow pages and ended up at AOL call center for a year and a half. I became miserable being tied up in a small cubicle and it was so very strict. I had gone from an independent advertising representative driving freely along the California central cost in my hot little Toyota Celica making my own schedule and making loads of money to being in lock down in a small cage. I hated it and wondered how the hell this happened. And from that discomfort I had the revelation to begin a publication again. Hence the birth of STREET Magazine in 2002. I started it on Historic 25th Street again.


The renaissance we had hoped for in the '80s was really being realized then and even more now. It took that long. With a new Mayor and administration in town that was very aggressive in development things started to really get going in Ogden in 2002. STREET Magazine was part of this new renaissance again and we covered much of the development as well as all of the activities. I will go further on STREET in another question you have down for me. But that led me from Historic 25th Street to Washington Blvd which was suffering due to the mall development in the '80s that failed in the late '90s. That's when I moved into our current building which has two spaces and two stories, and Mojos is on the north side at 2210 and STREET was on the south side at 2212 which is now Spikes Stuff & Things, my upcoming boutique. I had the vision for Mojos years prior and was set to do it on 25th, but destiny led me to this building and at one time, both operated at the same time in this building. I have been 10 years in this wonderful historic building and many experiences and changes have occurred. And what a ride! This is the highlights of my life and career. Each chapter has many chapters within and long stories of lifetimes of life and love. I have been lucky to have so many adventures and experiences but mostly friends and love. For that I am grateful.


Gavin: What first got you interested in music and what were some of your favorite acts growing up?

Ron: I was always interested and drawn to music. I played the viola in Junior High and that was the extent of my playing. I do wish I would have kept at it but other interests kept me going a different direction. But music always played a big part in my life as a huge fan. I got my first record player in sixth grade with two albums. One was The Beatles' Rubber Soul and the other was The Monkees. It was hard to believe how big The Monkees were back then. I date myself but that's okay. I then joined Columbia record club and would get my monthly LP and so looked forward to that every month. That was exciting. The FM radio was the only other means of music back then and we all listened to the same radio stations which were KCPX and KSVN in that day. There wasn't so many genres but all rock/pop from the radio and that is how we got our music in the '60s & '70s. And, of course, television. I was in fourth grade when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. And even for grade school kids that had huge impact on us, but especially the teens. Everything changed after that. Styles, ideas, music, dance and just plain being young. Other than school proms, there wasn't much live music or young local bands other than concerts in Salt Lake. I remember when the first Salt Palace was built in the '70s. I saw Grand Funk Railroad for my first concert and was just blown away. Later, I would see Alice Cooper and many others. As I had talked about my travels, I look back and realize that music was an amazing part of each place. Mostly live but in the '70s, disco began. And I tell the kids that they just cannot imagine how great that was back then and they may laugh, but it was incredible. DJ's became our superstars. I would sneak into places in Salt Lake since they had disco's not Ogden.


I was 20 when I entered my first disco. That was short lived but I got to experience them in Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. They were much like the raves these days but every weekend and not so big and crazy. And drugs were not part of them, at least not what I saw. Perhaps weed was there, but I didn't see it. Just beer. Then disco died. At least became less popular in early '80s. Live bands became the rage again. My experience with that was largely in SLC at the Zephyr club and Gray Moose Pub. And other places but they were the biggest. They brought in incredible acts to the area and featured local bands. I was then doing Junction City News and we wrote of all the local acts and got to see the great music in town. I was lucky because I got tickets to all kinds of shows from being in publishing and getting press passes to everything. I was in my 30's and having a blast. Zephyr really introduced me to blues and jazz. And then were small promoters. I saw Oingo Boingo the first time when they were still small and later when they packed the house at the state fairgrounds. We had back stage passes on both and saw my first mosh pit then. I saw so many touring, local and regional bands and became very impassioned about them during this period. Since then I spent much time in clubs, coffee shops, concert halls in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, California and all over the country before coming back to Ogden this time. I would do parties all the time and promoted events with both publications through shows. I just had the interest and always loved music. I am happy to say that I went from vinyl to 8 track to cassette to CD to iTunes in my lifetime so far. What's next?


Gavin: As briefly mentioned, you studied in Communication at Weber State, what was it like for you being a part of their program?

Ron: Yes, Communication became my minor to history major. I was able to stay in school because of history and my interest in journalism. And with communication, I focused on journalism. I thought I might be a writer or journalist at one time. Or perhaps a teacher. It really opened up my mind of all the possibilities. And as I look back I see how even then it was preparing me for my path.


Gavin: What made you decide to leave Ogden at first and what kept drawing you back?

Ron: Adventure would pull me away to other lands. I was young, single and adventurous. But Ogden has always been home. My family, including my widowed mother, lived in Ogden so I'm sure the need to be with them was a big part of coming back. I have many friends and memories in Ogden and love the outdoors here and the unique history. And the people. I followed my heart and opportunities as they came and every move was a new lifetime of stories, memories and experiences. I just knew when I was done and it seemed I needed to come home and apply what I learned and experienced out there to my home community. Ogden has been on a slow growth for many years. That is both good and bad. It kept it quaint and it's historic personality in tact. But also made it hard for a young person to expand if one needed bigger things. There's so much history and remnants of the past here and you can feel the difference from other Utah cities or in the country. The move from San Francisco back was the biggest. I thought then I would go back but got totally sucked into what was going on here in Ogden with this new renaissance and my abilities to make a difference. When I came back this last time from California I was seeking some land that was affordable and to be near my mother and brother. And the peacefulness of Ogden with some serenity. I hadn't seen the adventures which lie ahead of me this time but knew something was ahead.


Gavin: As you already mentioned, for a period of time you were publishing STREET Magazine. What was it like for you running your own publication and having an influence in the city at the time?

Ron: Starting STREET was so very exciting because were were riding on the excitement of Ogden's growth and the administration's vision as well as the Winter Olympics were coming and that created great excitement and positive energy. I have never felt such hope and excitement in Ogden and in Utah. There was a fever. Utah became so busy getting ready to show the world what we had here. I knew there was a need to communicate all of this including what I thought was to come for the area. I found a small space on 25th Street again and the publication is named from that... the street. Hence, STREET Magazine. I worked with the city fathers to get the stories and we promoted the growth, history and activities among other topics. There was a special energy in the air and we were in the center of it with this growth. I was asked to become a City Planning Commissioner during this excitement. That has been nearly 10 years ago and still on the commission and also Landmarks Commission which I love.


Gavin: What pushed you to become a member of so many boards at the time, including becoming Planning Commissioner for the city?

Ron: I was asked. It's hard to say no to a Mayor. I am still on some of them. Planning Commission (10 years) and Landmarks commission (five years) are the longest. I was on RAMP when it first started here for three years. I am music chair and on the executive board for the annual Ogden Arts Festival which is at the Union Station which I am on that foundation board also, which I love. I have been on Downtown Ogden Inc board for six years. Also a member of the Crossroads of the West committee. I love being a part of the action and helping solve problems and make things better for our community. Each project is different but all come together in making Ogden a better place to live and for the future. I am just a voice and a vote but love being a part of it. Very humbling. It is my way to give back.


Gavin: Prior to Mojos, the story I've read was that you were going to leave and head for Las Vegas. What was going on at the time to make you want to leave, and what got you to stay?

Ron: Yes, that is true. You are way good in your research. I am not sure where that info came from but you sure did your homework, Gavin. I did have a moment of anguish and anxiousness as I always have had where I was wanting to hit the road again. I was feeling like I was running in place and hitting my head against the ceiling and antsy as can be. The Olympic glow was leaving and the reality that things were back to the same hit me. And publishing is a lot of work. I felt the need to be with my family and my mother had moved to Vegas, too. I have nieces and nephews and sisters in Vegas and missed them. I had the idea and desire of being mister Uncle again. I was ready to sell my property and all my stuff and just hit the road. I told my good friend, Jeanne Harris (who passed last March just a year ago) about it. She worked in the Business Development Division of Ogden City. She said, "no you can't leave. Ogden needs you. I'll talk to the Mayor and see if there is anything that can be done to keep you." I was like, oh yeah ... whatever. That was a Friday and on Monday Jeanne called to tell me that the head honchos in the Business Development Division with the sanction of the Mayor wanted to offer me any space on Washington Blvd. in a grant for one year lease if I would stay in Ogden and had to be at least three years. I was like, "Oh really. Hmmm." They gave me a list of all the empty buildings on east side Washington Blvd. downtown which were many at that time in 2003 and I knew immediately which building I wanted. I always have looked at it this awesome building as I drive by with the huge Coca Cola ghost sign on the side. And just a majestic building in a simple way. So, I said what the heck. I felt needed and wanted. I ran STREET in the one side and started working on Mojos on the other. I had already knew I wanted the name Mojos from The Doors' L.A. Woman... mista mojo risen!!! That's another long story. So I took the space and the rest is Ogden rock and roll history.


Gavin: How did you come across the space that would eventually become the venue?

Ron: Well, I touched on it already but I will elaborate. When in high school the space that was STREET was called Village Fair West and had the greatest hippie-type clothing. These guys were older who ran it and appeared like hippies. They were Vietnam vets, actually. They had some great clothes and would make leather clothing right in the space and incense and fragrant oils were strong in the air. So I had the greatest memories of this space. Later they added Hobie cats in the '70s and in the '80s were skateboards. The same man owned the space all this time. Where Mojos is was a bar for many decades called the Mecca. It ran from the '30s/'40s to the '90s. The space got an overhaul in that time. Much of the furniture and other things were in the basement and we use a lot of it in Mojos such as benches, bar stools and chairs and other decorations. When we moved in the failed mall was still up across the street and not even torn down yet. We lived through that period and it was a dirt lot for years until the master plan got approved. I was a part of that eventually being on city planning commission. Then came the resurgence of growth and new businesses coming on east side Washington in downtown Ogden. We were pioneers and thankfully we had destination customers from day one and never relied on drive by or walk by traffic. It is exciting to see the changes and to know we are part of it and were pioneers and now the old timers on the block. There has been much progress but still more to come and it is coming!


Gavin: What was it like at the time clearing it out and turning it into a functional coffee shop and venue?

Ron: Luckily, the last tenant was a vintage/consignment clothing store in Mojos space. So they just had racks on the walls and other then dressing rooms where the stage now stands it didn't need any major work, just minor and cosmetic. Definitely some but not big construction. Next door, where the STREET office was, and the basement were filled with the clothing in boxes and scattered and it took 27 truck loads to clear it out. The front was perfect with the counter and we just added to it. They had track lights in front which we love and added more throughout the main room which was my best investment I made. We can set the mood just perfect and still show off the artwork. I sold my home when I got into this space, September 2002, and brought all of my belongings here. A lot of it became Mojos decorations and still is in the room. It has been modified since then but that is how it started. I went thrift shopping to get the other couches and tables and other things and received many donations. That created our eclectic decor, and that's my style anyway. The artwork came not only from my personal collection but from local artists wanting to exhibit. Some still is in Mojos from the beginning as we just like it so well. Some artists such as Steve Stones changes his out periodically. We do have Jeanne Harris' collection still hanging in Mojos. There are many other local artists who still show here and new one's all the time. I bought some collections because I liked it so well.


During 2004 while I was still getting the space put together, we would open on Friday nights for jam sessions. Some of the artists that worked for STREET Magazine were also musicians and they began the jam sessions. At that time there was not much live music but only at two bars in town, Kamikazes and Brewskis. So we had by word of mouth 40 or more musicians show up to jam. These were amazing times as magic was made every time. Everyone would bring their instruments and own amps and just play. It was a rock symphony. We sold coffee and that's all. No sign and it was very underground. After a year or so in 2005, I felt ready to open and asked these musicians if their bands wanted to play. All said yes and were excited. So hence, Mojos began! With humble underground beginnings  and slowly evolving, she was open to the public and became a reality. Many of those initial young musicians are all over the place playing gigs in Ogden and beyond. Some are on both coasts and had their start right here on the Mojos small stage in the early days. I am proud of that. I had no idea then what this revolution of Ogden music was happening and now it is all over in pubs, restaurants, festivals, coffee shops and streets. We were in sync with the entire Wasatch Front as those communities had their own places and spurts of creativity also. I knew there was a ripe oil well here but never ever knew how much. It gushed from the very first day on February 5, 2005 and has never stopped. In some ways, there's more. They came at us from every direction. We promoted by flyers as this was before MySpace. We were swarmed from the beginning and open five nights a week at first. We even had new band Tuesdays. We had our first super star bands in 2005 in Gundhi, Invisible Rays, Omnipresent, Jebu, Spearit, Juse, X-Marks, Random, Fox Van Cleef, Space Between, Second Dept, Catalyst and many more. Each year brought new super star bands to us. Most are still playing music even though their bands may not have survived but are in other projects. It was organic and the space evolved with every band and every guest as it still does.


Gavin: What was that first year like being open, and how did you finally decide on the name Mojos?

Ron: The first year was magical beyond words. Those that were here and part of it will always remember that magic and often stop by and reflect on it. I think it was a major part of many people's lives. Many of them are still bonded and best of friends to this day. And many others are married with what I call Mojos babies. When a couple met at Mojos they are a Mojos couple and their kids become Mojos babies. And there are dozens of those. We all knew each others names back then and were a very close group. The Mojos super-star bands played weekly to all friends and new ones coming in all the time. Creativity was so strong and powerful and it was all new and exciting and even though we did flyers, it was word of mouth that got the initial blast and continued thereon. Nobody had seen anything like this here in Ogden, especially the youth and they loved it. I had wanted to create a space that was a combination of so many places that I enjoyed in all the cities that I lived in and visited. A combination of coffee houses, music venues, quaint and unique pubs and concert halls. Not just in decor but in ambiance. I spent many nights in places I enjoyed of different styles in the west coast. And I had my own idea of the eclectic, unique and artsy atmosphere but wanted the safe, chill and creative environment. I think that has been achieved and a success and is what many love about Mojos.


On the name Mojos: That is a long story but I will attempt the short version. After I came back to Utah in 1999, I took a road trip in my red Toyota Celica to San Francisco, Monterey then Las Vegas. I stayed a week in each city. This was a special trip as I went to see friends of the lives I'd lived in those cities in the past. It was wonderful. I took plenty of CDs to listen to on the way. But for some reason, I listened to The Best Of The Doors the entire trip. Never took it out. I never tired of it. It had so many songs on the CD that it never got boring and I just rocked all the way with it. Every time "L.A. Woman" came on and the lyrics "mista mojo risen, keep on risen" came on I just would get such a great feeling and realized that one day when I had my own hangout that would be the name. I knew it would be a coffee/espresso with music and art. I also knew then that it would be called Mojos for short. That was years before it was a reality but I knew it would happen and the dream always stayed with me. I thought it would be on Historic 25th Street originally and found a space next to the STREET Magazine office when it began there but it got rented out from under us. Which at the time was not a happy moment but grateful it did now. It was a few years alters and one other "almost" space before this happened. This space is perfect in every way for what I wanted and what it became. Jim Morrison has become our patron saint and in some ways Mojos is a shrine to him, his music and his philosophy of the time. I think the kids of this day get him as much or more then in his day.


Well hello dear reader! It is a rarity, but this interview is just too damn long for one page. Click this link for Part 2!

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Mojos Music Venue (Part 2)]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Hey there! This is Part 2 of an interview with Ron Atencio, founder and owner of Mojos in Ogden! You should probably check out Part 1 first by going to this link here, unless you've already read it, so in that case, enjoy the second half. --- (All photos still courtesy of Mojos' Facebook page.)


Gavin: At what point did things change from being a music cafe to being a full-fledged venue? And what made you choose to keep the coffee?

Ron: I think it was early on that this transition actually took place. I still held out for years that we would be more cafe then venue as I had originally envisioned. I had many tables and chairs and had the cafe feel for many years. Eventually, as tables broke, I didn't replace them but added chairs and the front part became more theater with the mixture of all kinds of chairs and then we would take them out when we needed the space for dancing. But we still always had some tables so that feel is also part of the venue as are the couches or to stand near the stage. All of it exists still. We leave a tray of blank paper on all the tables with a bucket of crayons and we now have books of art from the creativity folks have left us through the years. Big binders and people enjoy looking at all this original art. I think that when the night is peaking with creativity that kids just have to let it out. And this is one way to do it, to express that internal fire. Dancing is of course another. We have some amazing art in our binders from this and gather pieces every night still. The bands came out at us right from the start. I didn't know until the first band Gundhi played that it would work. And it did. From there, we have had tens of thousands on the stage. We began doing shows with promoters and one was Rick Shoes from Salt Lake City. He wanted to have a space that would hold mid size shows and he wanted to reach the Ogden market. So we began doing shows together in 2011 and that lasted for a year and a half. He brought some incredible bands and musicians to Ogden at Mojos and we got a lot of attention from it. They were starting to get too big and we had a visit from the Fire Marshall on that issue so we decided to give that a break.


Others have also rented Mojos as a music venue and brought in touring bands such as Jason Allen of the Basement, which was a venue that opened up in Ogden 2009 and lasted a few years. Now he does one show a month in Mojos as a promoter. We bought their incredible sound system and we work together well. On December 9, 2012, SLC Concerts brought in Allen Stone. That was one of the most amazing shows we have ever done and that night I realized that things have changed and that is when I decided to upgrade the stage, sound system and sound booth and realized and relinquished that we were truly a music venue. It was then that I realized that the cafe idea would not be happening anytime soon. The needs of the community spoke loudly. So we changed the name from Mojos Caffe & Gallery to Mojos Music Venue officially with the state and city. And that defines us better as it is. I started and intended to be a coffee house with music but ended up being a music venue that serves coffee. About the coffee, you ask. There is just that special feeling to sit and enjoy a hot, strong cup of coffee and listen to music and chill. I love coffee. We serve one flavor and that is Double French and we brew it double strong. If you want decaf we refer you to our herbal teas. Our cocoa which is the dark chocolate is very popular and we have our infamous Mojoccino which combines the coffee and cocoa with caramel and vanilla syrups and fresh cinnamon with cream and whip cream and more chocolate on top. They are very popular. Our menu is simple but very good.


Gavin: What was it like for you setting up shows and trying to figure out lineups that people would want to check out?

Ron: At this point in time we are booked a few months in advance. Most of our shows are those requesting nights. That is from bands, promoters or other groups. There was a time that I booked every band for every night in the early days but even then it was not too difficult as we had so many bands and musicians and so many requests. It was just coordinating and the fun part was putting different acts together to create that special evening. Now a band will ask for the night and host it and perhaps bring in a touring band and some of their local bands and friends and make a night of it. There are so many genres and we play them all and always have done every type of music. So whatever the genre is we have the ready built bands and crowds who are fans of that genre. In my youth we had one type of music and that was rock/pop and all teens listened to the same bands on the radio and bought the same records. It is not like that at all these days. There are sub genres within the genres. So many and within are the crowds that follow that music. Some cross over but not a lot. So we have friends from every genre. Our open mic jam night Thursdays bring them all together however and that is awesome and special. At the first we didn't have the internet working for us as it is today. When MySpace came our way in 2006, it was heaven sent. We had kids and we had bands and we just put them together with our site. Things changed that year when bands from all over the country (and world, even. We had one from France) request to play Mojos. I was so amazed these awesome bands wanted to play our little venue. I booked them all and that spring to fall was busy as can be with touring bands every weekend. The locals that played often at Mojos always played with touring bands. And every one was amazing. Some incredible shows and great friends that came through. Many I let stay in the venue on our couches. And it was always good. We have many regional bands from Salt Lake City, Provo and Logan who play Mojos often, too, from the very beginning. Our roots go wide and deep after a decade. Many folks have been in several bands and still playing even if they are of bar age at Mojos because they like the all ages crowds and want to reach the youth who buy merch and become fans. So many of our musicians and bands which began at Mojos long ago are doing well and playing everywhere from bars to festivals to touring the country. I am proud of that.


Gavin: The venue came around right as Ogden's rock and hip-hop scenes really started gaining steam. What was it like for you to watch those musicians grow, and the audiences double?

Ron: I knew there was untapped talent in Ogden for music and art. I knew there was not an outlet for the youth to showcase their music and creativity. I knew it. What I didn't know was how much and how long that well would pump once we tapped it. I don't even have words to express this. But it still gushes strong and in some ways even more. It is accumulative and it multiplies. We are Ogden's only all ages venue and have seen many come and go. We are still here. We are one of the longest running in the Wasatch Front pushing 10 years. I believe Kilby Court is the only one older than us and they have had ownership changes, but still I consider them the grand daddy of all-ages venue in Utah. I didn't even know that term "all-ages live music venue" when I started. I just wanted a coffee house with great local music to play and thought of the old hippie or beatnik days of past for what the atmosphere would be. And although we get the bigger concerts for a mid size venue we also have those nights that it is chill and very beatnik for alternative and progressive sorts. We have seen it all. From rock to punk to acoustic to Americana to metal of all types to hardcore to ska to reggae to blues to jazz to indie to progressive rock to hip hop/rap to ... well, you name it. It is what keeps me going as you ask what is it like for me. I have watched 10-year-old kids start and make a name for themselves and 50 year old's who just started playing and end up on our stage on a regular basis just for the love of music. I take pride in that and all those who are making a living or just enjoying their talents and sharing with others. And they know where there start is and come in often to play or to just hang out and reminisce. Our roots do run deep and wide and we have so many incredible friendships and magical nights to share and remember. And that continues each and every night. This is what keeps me going!


Gavin: What made you decide to keep Mojos an all-ages venue rather than turn it into a bar like many other Ogden venues?

Ron: Well, it's true that the money would be bigger if it was a bar. But that is not the atmosphere that I am going for and it never was. I love the coffee house atmosphere but not just a coffee house. I love the chill, relaxed setting. And I love going to bars on occasion and have a beer and listen to music. But where would the kids go if we did that? I like the sober environment where kids come to a safe place to hear music. They wouldn't have a place to go if we did that. I am more than happy not to deal with drunks and drinking. I have many friends in the bar business and respect that they handle this so well. But that is not for me. I want a sober environment. We have parents drop a car load of kids at our front door and do whatever they what to do and come back later that night to pick them up. That is the greatest endorsement and compliment that I could ask for as they know their kids will be safe, have fun and be exposed to positive things and have a great time and not have to worry about influences they do not need to be around. Many parents come in to hear their kids or just hang out in back while their kids are enjoying the show and their friends. I love when parents do that. I talk with them and they thank me for having a safe place for the youth to come to and be themselves and grow and have great times. It isn't about the money for me although we do alright. We pay the bills and have enough for improvements. It is about the good that comes out of it all and the magic every night. The kids have a place to play on great sound equipment and nice staff to welcome them and the guests are treated with respect and encouraged to enjoy themselves safely and freely and to express themselves also. I always say leaver your problems and dramas at the door. They most likely will be gone when you leave.


Gavin: What has the reaction been like from the city over the years, and how much support do you see from the community who aren't the average audience attendees?

Ron: The city has been more then supportive right from the beginning. In the beginning Mayor Godfrey encouraged and praised Mojos and we got the business of the month in our first opening days. And as I had said the city encouraged me to stay in Ogden and even funded our first year lease to do so. That was a big help and a big incentive. At that time they were really working hard to bring and keep small businesses into downtown Ogden. I was also supporting that with STREET Magazine and then again in Ogden City Planning Commission. The only thing we ever had trouble with was with a new Fire Marshall in this new administration who was concerned about our shows getting too big and stay within our capacity of 150 so we toned it down with the bigger touring acts and focused on mid size and local shows again. But they have been great and supportive of what we do. I have police officers tell me that they think it is great to give teens something to do and keep them off of the streets or parties where they may get into some trouble. It is positive, music, art and friendships. How can you beat that? I have enjoyed the city's support from the beginning and really appreciate that. We keep it clean and respectful and safe for our guests and go extra measures to make sure of it and that is also with me being in the venue every night and having a watchful and attentive staff. If anyone is out of sorts, I am on it right away and they are out. But thank goodness that doesn't happen very often. I think everyone watches out for Mojos as if it is their own home, for it is in many ways. So many say it is their home away from home and that is the highest compliment anyone could give me and to Mojos.


Gavin: How did you start building the collection of art and photos on the walls and what significance does everything have to both the venue and the city?

Ron: The art collection began with my own personal collection. Then I tapped local artists to display such as Steve Stones, Jeanne Harris, Bruce Case, Colby Robinson, David Winward and many others who have brought in a piece or two or a collection through the years. Some are for sale but many are either in my collection or just on exhibit. Some have been with us the entire decade as I get very attached to it while others change out often. It is forever changing and evolving. That is the beauty. It is original, raw and local. I think it adds so much to the space. We dim the lights and it just glows color while the music rocks out. And it is so nice when our guests just stand there listening to music staring at the art or discussing it. It is music and color and vibration in the air just growing and growing. It is something one feels and words are not really adequate to describe it. It is an experience.


Gavin: Mojos is slowly creeping up to the 10-year marker, how has it been for you watching the venue and music scene grow since opening and knowing you had an impact in it's growth?

Ron: Now that is an amazing question and one that I am going to have to contemplate on. I see this decade and all that has happened as magic and a powerful experience for me personally. I understand what you are asking but I am often within the bubble and it is hard for me to see from the outside looking in. I'm in that room every night for every show. I have taken very few weekends off. Mostly because I love it and don't want to miss out on the fun. It is humbling when you ask it this way. I realize my role and it is the amazing talent and the incredible kids who are open and sharing that make it what it is. It is truly community. I created the space and guide the ship but without those two parts it is just a empty space that is pretty. The magic comes with those that enter the door willing to give and receive the energy of the moment. I simply coordinate it, clean up, and pay the bills. And I know that sounds too simple and I know it is true and there is much more then that. I set the mood and insist on a positive and safe space for all. I know when it needs this or that. Such as lower lights, louder or softer music between sets, if there is someone who is not behaving right and to encourage the healthy friendships. To have seen so many fun times and amazing music is really a privilege for me and the highlight of my career and life. I consider this my life work at this time. How I define it? I am not sure yet. Maybe in another decade I can do that better. For now I just store all that data and events in my memory and live in the moment to create the new and future moments.


Gavin: Are you looking to do anything new with the venue down the road or making improvements, or are you good keeping things as they are for now?

Ron: The formula that it is here now will stay the same with the flexibility to change as the music and the kids change. I have seen many genres come and go and new ones come up. Attitudes and styles will change but the basic principles will stay the same always. The formula is set and I doubt will change unless kids/folks stop enjoying live music or other people but I doubt that highly. The way technology is going one wonders but I do not think that will ever changed. It was always the youth who guided music and the new trends and who go to concerts and buy the merch and support the local and touring music. I still fantasize about having that cafe and opening more nights or days even. But that is not in the plans in the near future. Just keep doing what we are doing until someone somehow forces me to stop or the kids or bands stop showing up. But what we have works great. Just more and different and more of the same.


Gavin: What can we expect to see from you and Mojos over the rest of the year?

Ron: When I began 10 years ago, I had acoustic nights on Wednesdays and we did that for five or six years. As the weekends exploded the acoustic nights were a bit slower start but still steady. I played the same musicians most every week and they loved it but we didn't get the big numbers in as the bands nights. But I believed in them and told them all just hang in there I know this is going to work. This is the the raw and beginning of it all. The heart and soul of music and of Mojos. And lo and behold, we had James King and Jake Smith show up around the same time and they made this night explode. I played them alternatively each week as they both brought a great crowd and other musicians and it evened out the nights. They were amazing and as big as our now Open Mic Jam night Thursdays. We did this many years. Then I decided to put them on Fridays and we did that for a long time. Then out of no where we got so busy and I had to reduce the amount of acoustic showcases. So we play them the first Friday of each month. I am considering bringing back the Acoustic Weds later this year. We have more acoustic musicians, singer songwriters again. Our open mics are incredible. They are packed and so many young and first time musicians get on that stage and play and sing their hearts out. It is so inspiring to see and that is truly what keeps me going when I see that raw, untapped talent just blossom before my eyes and the enthusiasm and support the guests give each other. I think Mojos will evolve on it's own as it already has but much is in place. There is a path set but there is flexibility as needed. That is the beauty and the fun of it all. Other then that it is the same rock and roll as we have done for a decade!


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Well, every weekend I would like to promote and plug, and we do that through our Facebook site. But I guess the easiest way is to refer folks to our Facebook page: Mojos Music Venue and become a fan/friend and then those interested can get our schedules, posts of each weeks shows, photos, videos that we record of each show and other fun stuff. We do record every show and I post the entire sets on our YouTube channel. We also are on Twitter, Instragram and Snap Chat. But best of all is in person. Come in and check out our shows and see our great mercy as well. I hope folks will come on out and share the fun with us!

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Salt Lake Lions]]> By Gavin Sheehan

We're living in a really awesome time if you wanna be an alternative sports fan in Salt Lake City, and much of the Wasatch Front for that matter. --- Few people realize how fortunate we are in the idea that we have a competitive roller derby circuit with four fully-functional leagues and maybe more on the way. We've got three women's football teams working their asses off harder than some of the college teams we have in town. We've got a rising MMA circuit that's getting national attention. We even have our own professional wrestling promotion turning out better stories and matches than you're seeing on cable.


The latest indie-team to be added to that list are the Salt Lake Lions, an ultimate disc league who will be launching their inaugural season this month as part of a five team expansion to the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The team will help kick off the 2014 season on April 12 at Taylorsville High as they compete against another expansion team, the Vancouver Riptide. Today we chat with team owner, Jonathan Orlofsky, about the sport and starting up the team, as well as the season to come. (All pictures by Arron Coleman, courtesy of the Salt Lake Lions.)

Jonathan Orlofsky

Gavin: Hey Jonathan! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jonathan: I'm a problem solver and a risk taker - that's all any businessman really is. Businesses come across unique, typical and antiquated problems all day every day, and our job, as owners, is to apply the solutions. The hard part is when we don't know what those solutions are, and every time there is no clear path to follow, which is most of the time in business. We can put in hours and hours of effort on something we have no idea will ever pay off or work out, no matter how much research and planning we put into it. We won't really know how well it'll turn out until it's... out.


Gavin: You're originally from New York, what brought you out to Utah to begin with?

Jonathan: That's a long story, and it wasn't quite so simple - you see, a long while ago I had come out to Utah to study at U.C.M.T to become a Massage Therapist. At the time I had needed a change from the rigid ideology of New York, and the harsh weather of the Albany area. What I found in Utah was a population of people I had a very hard time connecting with my adolescent, forward, brazen, and often brash, nature was an affront to most people here. Meanwhile, their sugar-coating, mild-mannered dispositions rather bothered my impetuous need for clear, direct communication. After graduating with accolades I knew neither New York nor Utah was the place for me at the time, and I decided to follow my dreams of living near the ocean. I ended up spending four years in San Diego, living exactly one mile due east of the ocean in a town called Pacific Beach. Eventually, I missed having seasons, and San Diego's transient lifestyle left no taste to be had in my mouth. I packed up and took my third trip across the country, spending around six weeks visiting different states and places. On Jan 2, 2008 I came back to Utah with a renewed view on the state - dead-set on being a pro snowboarder. Let's just say that part didn't pan out.

Gavin: For your dayjob you're the founder of Orlof's House Of Design. How did you get into graphic arts and how has it been running your own business for the past nine years?

Jonathan: Many moons ago, in high school, I took every possible art and technology credit my school offered - this included a two-year long CISCO Certification class. When I was introduced to the Adobe suite I instantly fell in love, spending hours doing what is now called "photoshopping." That slowly turned into performing my services for remuneration. A business is a relationship, and it will quickly express to you all of the shortcomings, inconsistencies and misgivings of yourself. On the other side, it will reward you for your positive character traits, and make you work for every cent. It's a hard woman to love, and it's totally worth it.


Gavin: What first got you interested in ultimate disc and how did you start getting involved in the sport?

Jonathan: The first time I ever really played Ultimate, with rules and a proper field, was back in college at R.I.T. It was hard, it involved more running than I knew what to do with, and the immense personal drive it took to be good at was intoxicating. I still remember the moment I scored my first real goal back in 2001. It changed my life.

Gavin: Prior to forming the team, what was it like playing the sport around SLC in competition?

Jonathan: For the first little while I had no idea where to play Ultimate here, I checked online, but the websites were all old or dead. I looked for "MeetUp" groups, but those never panned out. Eventually I started driving around parks at random hours of the day. That's when I stumbled across an off-the-grid Tuesday night game which is host to some notable Utah business folks, including the man who owns and operates the now-national Dirty Dash. Slowly the scene revealed itself to me, and I heard about the now UUDA-run Winter League. That lead to Murray City's Spring/Summer/Fall leagues, and the rest is history.


Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up an ultimate disc team, and why choose the Lions as the mascot?

Jonathan: Back in April of 2012 I read a Facebook post about a league which had started in the North East. I contacted the AUDL and told them Utah needs a team: they had no previous intention of putting one here. With some mild convincing, the Lions were born! Why the Lions? Let me answer that with a series of questions. Who does a Lion answer to? What does a Lion fear? What hunts a Lion? In terms of land mammals, how would you rate the power, prowess, speed, cunning and intellect of a Lion? Who messes with a Lion? I rest my case.

Gavin: What was it like for you getting the word out and starting to form the team?

Jonathan: Getting the word out was a bit of an eye-opener. Here I am with an awesome product I just want everyone to know about, and no one understands it! This isn't like a football team where nearly everyone has at least some semblance of what the sport entails. Most people still think Ultimate Disc is played with dogs, hippies, baskets, on a course like golf, or is only for the beach with some "buddies." I task all Ultimate players with getting the proper word out - that this is a legitimate, powerful, exciting sport with amazing athletes and non-stop action! To lead that charge, we made a video called "What is Ultimate Disc?"


Gavin: With most sports, average fans have an idea of the kind of training and practice that goes into it, but Ultimate Disc isn't your average sport. What do you need to do to train for this?

Jonathan: You're right, Ultimate is unlike any other sport. No other sport makes an athlete play every role, in Ultimate a person has to be the quarterback, wide receiver, safety, wing, goalie and cornerback. Every player has to be good at every one of those things to be considered a threat on the field. Not just that, but Ultimate players must accept the fact that their own bodies are now sacrificial lambs for the Disc. "Going big or going home" doesn't even begin to describe what I mean.

Gavin: How is it searching for talent in SLC and finding the right player to take on a position?

Jonathan: We had a hard time finding the right talent, and getting the players to recognize the potential and opportunity. What we ended up with is an excellent team full of men with outstanding character and morals. We've become a family: we eat dinners together, work out together, play games together, get frustrated with each other, and hug it out after. Each member of our team is responsible for the other, and they take that very seriously.


Gavin: It was announced earlier this year that the Lions would officially be joining the AULD with four other teams to form the new West Division. How did that opportunity come about?

Jonathan: With the league spotting known and potential hotbeds for Ultimate, these were the teams the AUDL felt would be ready for the season come April. In 2015 the league has plans to expand further into the west, and to establish a South Eastern division which includes the long-awaited Jacksonville.

Gavin: What kind of pressure does that put on you and the team to not only build a bigger fanbase, but also to represent SLC and that division well as major competitors?

Jonathan: The weight is something I go to sleep with every night and wake back up with in the morning. Utah has a statement to make to the country, no one knows what we can do yet. We have one of the best high school scenes in the country with 23 teams, and the #1 High School in the country three years in a row: Lone Peak in Highland. Our roots are strong. We've cut the fat from the Utah scene and taken the best athletes around. They hail from BYU, BYU-Idaho, the U of U, local clubs and varying other locations.


Gavin: I understand you're crowdsourcing to help out with the last part of the season, can you explain a little more about the situation and where the money would be going?

Jonathan: Our IndieGoGo campaign is designed to bolster the sport in our community and foster the youth of Utah. Ultimate teaches kids great life lessons like communication, problem solving and sportsmanship. There is something called "Spirit of the Game" which is the primary objective of every game, and there are awards for teams who display the best "spirit" at competitions. Honor, integrity and high-morals are the heart of Ultimate. We have been promoting and building programs for kids here since 2012. This funding will help us to further that cause, give us more opportunity to serve the community and ensure an excellent season for Lions fans! Please take a moment to check it out!

Gavin: Your season officially kicks off on April 12 at Taylorsville High against another new team, the Vancouver Riptide. What are your thoughts going into the season opener?

Jonathan: The season opener will be crazy! Fans, vendors, players, the roar of the crowd, the snap of the flags, the national anthem, the huge plays, the unknown, the smiles, the laughter - thinking about it gives me goosebumps! We still have plenty of planning and people to get into place. Each process has been given its own time to make sure it has been done right - a strong foundation is key, and it's something we've worked hard to establish.


Gavin: For those interested in attending, how can they pick up tickets?

Jonathan: Tickets are available directly through our website, and at a discount on our IndieGoGo Campaign.

Gavin: What can we expect from you and The Lions over the rest of the year?

Jonathan: On the field, fans can expect awesome action, sportsmanship and athleticism. Ultimate games are jam-packed full of excitement - it's a guarantee! I've never watched a "boring" Ultimate game in my life, at any level, and the Pro players make it that much more entertaining! Off the field, you can expect a serious and meaningful impact on the youth of Utah. We already have outings planned for the Utah Summer Games, Utah Kids Club, Down Syndrome Foundation of Utah and others. We have players going into high schools to teach kids about the sport, be mentors and become heroes for our kids.


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Jonathan: Gavin, I'd like to speak directly to the fans and readers: My staff and players work very hard every day, and they are heartily dedicated to this sport and its growth. We want to be around in Utah for a very long time, and we can't do it without you. Come to our games. Grab a perk from our IndieGoGo Campaign. Try something new. I promise you'll have a great time! Thank you for being here and reading. Thank you for being a part of this community. Thank you for supporting the Salt Lake Lions! See you on the field! Go, LIONS!

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<![CDATA[ Blog: The Salt City Throwdown Podcast]]> By Gavin Sheehan

As you've read in one of our most recent issues of City Weekly, Capitol Hill and the politics in this city and state that surround it are a clusterfuck. --- There are so many pointless bills going in and getting a stamp of approval before they hit the floor, while others can't even get a third of the representatives to go in and listen. And while some radio and television programs cover it as part of their news, there aren't a lot of media sources focused on local politics from both sides as their primary format.


Enter the Salt City Throwdown podcast, a two man show dissecting and analyzing everything they can in a tone even the most oblivious-to-politics listener can understand. The show's hosts look at all the local sources they can, shine some light on the insanity outside Utah, and even interview guests involved with and covering politics to give you the best possible information you could need to help be informed and make decisions. Today we chat with both hosts about starting up the podcast and the content, as well as thoughts on podcasting in general. (All pictures courtesy of the Salt City Throwdown.)

Adam "The Fish Guy" Andrews & Shon "Smitty" Harris

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Adam: I am 35, a new father and for many years worked in pet care (That’s where the Fish Guy comes from). Now, I have switched to home medical equipment and switched from fish tanks to oxygen tanks.

Shon: I am 32, and not a father. But I am a full time student at the University of Utah and an IT Guy. The name "Smitty" is a nickname I picked up when I got into IT Security (read; Hanging out with Hackers) and wanted a Pseudonym. I didn't want a cool screen name, I wanted an alter-ego so I chose the name "Smith Kennedy" and it kind of stuck, and got to the point where everyone just calls me Smitty. I live downtown with my wife and my two dachshunds.

Gavin: How did each of you take an interest in local politics and government?

Shon: I have been following politics in Idaho and Utah for a long time. The politics of the Western United States fascinates me because it is so different than anywhere else you go. The culture, prevailing wisdom and the party dynamics are so interesting, and the party infighting is hilarious to watch as well.

Adam: I didn't really think much about politics until I moved to Utah more than 10 years ago. I was always into radio shows, and while working at a job down in Orem, I ended up listening to a lot of the right-leaning talk shows, (Hannity, Beck, etc.) because that's what the boss would play on the radio. After I left that job, I still liked hearing about politics in the talk format. I started listening all day. It wasn't until later that I really started following it outside of radio and news shows.


Gavin: Have either of you actively been a part of the system, or are you more observant about what's happening?

Adam: I have always seen myself as more of an observer, or "armchair commentator." When something comes up, I'll speak my mind about it, or tell others about it, but collecting signatures for the GRAMA bill a few years ago is the most I've actively participated.

Shon: I am actively involved. I'm a Salt Lake County and Utah State Delegate for the Utah Democratic Party, I have volunteered on campaigns and in every election. Some day when I am done with school, I plan on running for office.

Gavin: When did the two of you first meet each other and become friends?

Adam: Adam: We pretty much "met" through hearing each others texts and calls on KSL's Nightside Project. After a while, I got into social media, and we'd have conversations through Facebook and Twitter.

Shon: Yeah, we met up at some live remotes for the Nightside Project and we found we clicked in person and the friendship was born.


Gavin: Prior to the show, what kind of conversations did you used to have over politics?

Adam: Mostly tweets back and forth, but I'd say 90% was on news and politics. I like to crack jokes about stories, because it can take something that has me upset or "wound up," and get me to take a step back and laugh for a moment. Shon and I had that in common, so if I thought of a joke about Sen. Hatch, or GRAMA laws, or ALEC; I knew that he'd at least know about the story enough to get the joke.

Shon: We have been active participants in the #utpol community, and usually it was me getting someone wound up, and then we would discuss different topics that hit there, or stories that I would retweet or put on Facebook, after that it was game on.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up your own podcast, and why call it the Throwdown?

Shon: I had been throwing the idea of a podcast together for a while. I am a huge fan of Pirate Media, Adam Carolla and others who have paved the way to making it a viable vehicle to getting out there. In addition to politics, I had thought about putting together a sports podcast, but the pop culture politics, as we call it, just seemed to appeal more to me.

Adam: Shon approached me almost a year before the show started with the idea. (He is actually the person that introduced me to podcasts, which is now 95% of what I listen to though the day.) Shon leans to the liberal side on a lot of issues, but on some he does lean more conservative; and I (at the time) was the opposite. We had found through all the time going back and forth online about politics, is that even though we leaned in different directions, we could agree on what the core of the problem was on an issue, and that we both had reasonable arguments for the way it should be solved.

Shon: The original working title for the show was We're Both Right. As we got closer to launching the show, we thought "throwdown" expressed the idea of the show: to take a topic, throw it in the middle of the table, hash it out, and decide where we really stood on it and why.


Gavin: What was it like getting all the equipment together and kind of setting up your own studio space?

Adam: Shon did pretty much all of the work on those issues. He is far more savvy than I when it comes to the tech side of things...

Shon: It was pretty easy actually. The hardest part was the acquisition of the equipment. The recording software (Adobe Audition) is part of a larger package that I use for school stuff, but the Board, the Mics and learning how it all interconnected was the fun part.

Gavin: What were the first few episodes like when you started recording and what did you think of the flow of the show?

Shon: The first few episodes were shit. I won't lie. Lots of echo, feedback and just bad quality. Finding the space we use to record in now is actually a podcast studio and a bit higher quality than we had starting out. But the format we use hasn't really changed.

Adam: The very first episode we recorded together had a horrible echo and sounded awful, and we never aired it. The next one we did was in my neighbor's office, which still had some issues with sound quality, but it was useable. Finding a good place to record was an issue early on. As for the flow of the show, it just kind of developed as the show went on. Like anything, the more you do something, the better you get at it.


Gavin: You launched the show in September 2013, what was the early reaction like from listeners?

Shon: I was surprised we had them. I mean we promoted the show via social media, but as word got out, people started to figure out who we were. I have always approached the show as if nobody but myself was listening. We have had certain episodes, like the episode we did with Mark Shurtleff (former Utah Attorney General) that took off. Others we fluctuate a bit on the downloads and the listeners. It's weird when people figure out who I am say "love your podcast!"

Adam: With the early episodes, our biggest concern was getting the word out about it. Social Media played a huge role in that. Most of the feedback I got was just from people who were letting me know that they had listened. It has been mostly positive, though.

Gavin: How do you go about deciding the content you're going to discuss for each episode?

Adam: We bounce ideas back and forth, but mostly we use shared documents on Google Drive as a place to create a list of stories we want to talk about. Some stories are no-brainers, while others might get cut at the last minute. Picking the stories is easy; figuring out what exactly it is we want to say about those stories is a little trickier... Example: Rep. Anderegg and Sen. Niederhauser had a bit of an issue with some posts on Twitter earlier this year. Of course, we are going to talk about it; but just saying "that was dumb" or "he should know better" doesn't make for a good show unless we explain why we didn't like it, or how they could of handled it better. To do that, you have to look into the details of what actually happened.

Shon: I'm a big news type. So I'm always finding something new to talk about. I come into a show with about 15 browser tabs open. Most of the show is free form and off the cuff, though we just roll through it naturally. Also, Idaho never fails to give good content for the Throwdown.


Gavin: Considering the content that you cover, do you get a lot of feedback from people who dislike the conversation, or is it more of a situation where those who hate it just won't listen?

Shon: The feedback we get is usually from people who may not agree with us, but can see where we are coming from to get to our views and opinions. Nobody has ever come out and said "screw those guys." But even if they did, I would feel they were missing out, because one thing we make sure to let people know is that if you have a view or an opinion, bring it to us, we will bring you on and hash it out.

Adam: I think that the theme of the show itself is that you can't just look at a story from one side; or that one political party will have all of the solutions all the time. The reality is that the most extreme voices of the political spectrum tend to be the loudest, but the honest conversation that needs to happen is closer to the middle of the spectrum. That's what we try to do with our podcast: present a topic, give some background, explain why each of us feels the way we do in it, and leave it up to the listener to make their own opinions.

Gavin: With all the politics you cover, do you ever hear from anyone on the hill or from either party?

Shon: Oh yeah we do. But it is never a bad thing; nobody has ever complained. For example, we had Sen. Todd Weiler on who made some comments about SB-100 and Gay Marriage. Eric Ethington heard them and we gave him an hour to come and refute them. We have heard from people who are in power, and know about us and it is weird when they talk about coming on.

Adam: We are both pretty active on social media, so when we get a response on the content of our show, it's usually through there. We have been lucky enough to have some people approach us about being on the show, and we always appreciate that. We like to think that we are open to feedback.


Gavin: More recently you've brought on reporters and commentators to chat on the show, how has it been bringing on guests?

Adam: Guests are great. It let's them state their positions in their own words, rather than sound bites or headlines. People talk about "media bias" a lot; and you can't put bias on someone speaking in their own words. For example we recently interviewed Tristan Mecham (the man who went on hunger strike in protest to Judge Shelby's ruling on Amendment 3 a while back). Neither Shon nor myself agreed with what he had to say, but he wasn't mean, he wasn't aggressive and he wasn't anywhere near the person that many people I knew had "decided" he was based on headlines about his story. He even thanked us, not just for letting him on the show, but for not editing what he said.

Shon: I think it gets their story out. Take something like the John Swallow episode. We had Robert Gehrke from the Salt Lake Tribune come on and for more than two hours we went over the story. Now, of course, this was before more details came down, but it gave the consumer another way to view and understand a very convoluted and in-depth story. I think guests have been open to coming on. Guests like Mark Shurtleff responded via a simple tweet, and gave us tons of content and buzz. We also don't edit what they are saying. If you say something on our show, it is going out as is. I think that has helped guests to come on and feel comfortable with us and the format of the show.

Gavin: What's your overall goal with the show and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Shon: For me there has never been an agenda. I use it as an outlet. I appreciate all the listeners and what not, but the Throwdown has always been a hobby. If I could turn it into a media empire or a radio show, it might be different, but for right now, I just roll on and wait to see what happens next, just like you and our listeners do. Because the show is always evolving and changing to fit what we think will make it more compact and keep it fresh and interesting.

Adam: I honestly have no agenda for the show! I do the show every week hoping that someone listens, but I'm not bothered if they don't. I'd like to get a job in radio, but that's not why I do the show. I do the show to tell people how I feel about issues that affect the people of Utah.


Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and the show over the rest of the year?

Shon: I think you can expect more guests. We are working on changing up the format just a bit to have multiple episodes that drop over an entire week instead of listening for two hours at a time. One of the things about podcasting is that it makes it extremely mobile in format and the show changes because within a week or two, we can gauge how a change is working. We will have more feature episodes where we talk in depth with candidates, who can use the podcast as a vehicle to get their message and platform out to a different demographic quickly and easily. Also we are looking up at picking up remotes and doing live recordings as well. (If any of your readers are interested send them our way.)

Adam: I'd like to think we'd have more of the same as far as honest commentary on politics in Utah. All politics are local politics! If you aren't paying attention, then you are doing yourself a disservice. My hope for the show is that people learn more about how the system works, and choose on their own to get involved.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Adam: is a website we contribute to where a group of bloggers from all around the state and with different views get together to comment and participate in a single website. It's a very unique format and platform to get views about single issues or issues that are important to you. I'm happy working with them.

Shon: I would say vote. Participation in politics is crucial to the good of our community. Also, many people have heard of "buy local." Well, we promote "listen local." There are a lot of great podcasts from Utah and you're missing out if you aren't listening to them. And then I will echo Adam's views on The Utah Politico Hub.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Plan-B Theatre Company: 3]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Closing up the #SeasonOfEric, Plan-B Theatre Company is presenting the final world premier of the season with Eric Samuelsen's 3. --- The show is comprised of three short plays--all using the same cast of talented actresses taking on multiple roles--about Mormon women confronting their own culture through different aspects and hardships. Today we chat with playwright Eric Samuelsen, director Cheryl Cluff and all three actresses (Stephanie Howell, Teresa Sanderson and Christy Summerhays) about the production and their thoughts on the play, headed into the debut night starting March 27 and running through April 6. (All pictures courtesy of Plan-B Theatre.)

Stephanie Howell, Teresa Sanderson, Christy Summerhays (below), Eric Samuelsen & Cheryl Cluff.

Gavin: Hey everyone! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Cheryl: I co-founded Plan-B in 1991, I’m the company’s Managing Director, and I do sound design for most Plan-B shows. I’m also a bewildered mother of two kids (ages 6 and 8).

Stephanie: I grew up in L.A. and went to college in Chicago (Northwestern), where I studied theater. After college, I thought it would be fun to move to Park City for a couple of months to ski. It’s been a loooong “couple of months.” %uFFFDI have an incredible husband and two awesome kids. I am constantly cultivating new and totally random interests--I spent a summer jumping out of airplanes, for a time I was immersed in circus skills, right now I’m learning American Sign Language.

Eric: Not much to say. I'm still writing, blogging, getting excited for baseball season. I Read whenever possible, and see way too many movies. Same old same old.

Teresa: I have been busy with family matters, we have two new grandsons! It really is the greatest thing in the world.

Christy: I grew up in a large happy Mormon family in the Avenues in Salt Lake City – relevant for my ability to relate to the subject matter of this particular play. I Knew from the time I was about four years old that I wanted to be an actor. After high school, I auditioned for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York – at 19, I went to said school and loved every minute of it. Later, I spent another three years in New York where I did some theater and some more training and grew up a little more. Most of my professional work has been in Salt Lake with our great theater companies and in film productions. I also love to direct and will be directing a Plan-B play next season!


Gavin: What have you all been up to over the past year in local theater?

Cheryl: I directed Eric Samuelsen's Radio Hour Episode 8: Fairyana for Plan-B last December.

Stephanie: It’s been an exciting year with some great highlights. Most recently, I played Jean in Good People at Salt Lake Acting Company. Before that was The Rose Exposed, where I had a blast representing Plan-B, performing with Matt Bennett in his piece "Get Up Again" (part of Plan-B’s educational touring show Different=Amazing). Also, Plan-B’s 10th anniversary SLAM. And last spring, I was busy working with Repertory Dance Theatre on their concert Women Of Valor.

Eric: Ha! The #SeasonOEric keeps me plenty busy!

Teresa: I have been busy theatrically too. Most recently Plan-B's Radio Hour Episode 8: Fairyana with Cheryl and Eric in December. And I started the year wrapping up Plan-B's tour of Eric(a) at Theatre Out in Santa Ana, Calif. I have also been busy producing for Pygmalion Theatre Company. Still working with the Davis Arts Council too. And babies!

Christy: I’ve been mostly directing – some for Plan-B's SLAM, the reading of Eric's play Miasma, the Peter & The Wolf tour and A Soldier's Tale, that was a co-production with NOVA. And I was in the Script-In-Hand Series reading of Eric's translation of Ibsen's Ghosts that launched the #SeasonOfEric!


Gavin: Eric, how did the idea for the stories that made up 3 come about?

Eric: It's hard even to remember. Although the three short plays that comprise 3 are similar in approach, tone and subject matter, they were written 15 years apart. "Bar & Kell" came from observing my old ward, and the way some of the women responded when a single woman (similar to Brandie) moved in. "Community Standard" came from an actual trial 13 years ago. "Duets," meanwhile, is quite recent, around a year old. It's based on the lives of a number of my former students.


Gavin: What was it like putting them together and formulating how they would flow as a single play?

Eric: I just had these old one-acts sitting around, and I pulled 'em out and thought they were pretty good. So when we were talking about the #SeasonOfEric, I mentioned them and did a quick polish, and Jerry and Cheryl thought they had some real possibilities. I had to rewrite them extensively, especially "Community Standard," which needed the most work (but which I really love too). But it's interesting; they have so many stylistic similarities. They're all plays with casts of three women, but the women also play multiple roles. They're plays that suggest larger communities. One thing that struck me about all three plays is how often they refer to other people who never appear onstage. Mark, the husband in "Duets" is the best example, but we hear about other jurors in "Community Standard," and "Bar & Kell" has all these names of other people in their ward; Sophie Arguello, Rachel Fessmacher, etc. I wanted the plays to feel populated. So we have three women in the plays, but they also suggest a much larger context. That's one of the stylistic similarities between them. What's been interesting is how current these plays feel today, given the cultural conversation within Mormonism right now. Serendipity.


Gavin: Cheryl, what were your first thoughts on 3 and what made you decide to direct it?

Cheryl: My first thoughts were about my own childhood and experiences in the predominant Utah culture. One of the greatest things my Mom taught me was how to be kind to others – especially the underdogs. She didn’t just say it, she lived it – she showed me kindness and compassion. She really did a great job with that and I think it’s one of the greatest things I could ever teach my own kids. And so kindness and compassion is often conditional. And I think when it is conditional, that condition is based in fear. I wish there was less fear in this world. That’s why I wanted to direct this show. All of this sounds pretty heavy – like this show is a big downer. %uFFFDActually, it’s very funny in many places. That’s another reason I wanted to direct it. It has an interesting blend of humor and sadness.


Gavin: How has it been staging three one-act plays on one set?

Cheryl: It’s been more of a challenge than I thought it was going to be, but challenge is a really great thing. We’re telling three different stories, but each of them is connected to the larger story we’re telling. Eric has done a brilliant job writing the script that way and as a director I have to keep up with that and make sure everything in the play supports that.


Gavin: For the cast, what were your initial thoughts on 3 after you first read it?

Stephanie: I thought, “Eric’s done it again. Another wonderful, funny and thought-provoking play.” My next thought was, “I reeeeeally hope I’m being asked to read this because I’m going to be asked to be in it.”

Teresa: I was glad to see stories featuring women. Mormon women. It is interesting to examine these stories through their eyes. And honestly, working with these amazing women is just a blast!

Christy: I thought it was funny and moving and took an interesting look at the Mormon culture – and that it would be a challenge to act in.


Gavin: What were your thoughts when you were asked to play your string of roles?

Stephanie: The women Eric has written are complex and funny and flawed and human. I think any of us could have played any of the roles, but from the beginning my “string” of roles – Brandie, Janeal and Sherilynn – felt right to me somehow.

Teresa: I adore playing multiple roles.

Christy: I always have a string of conflicting emotions when I know I’m going to take on a project – such as, great! Fun! And then – oh no! what have I gotten myself into! Mostly with this one, I thought I better start as early as I can memorizing and doing all the character work because I could see the mountain I had in front of me. And ... well ... I was right! What a wonderful challenge!


Gavin: How has it been figuring out all the different roles?

Stephanie: I’m so enjoying discovering who these women are – physically, vocally, emotionally, psychologically. Bit by bit. Brandie and Janeal and Sherilynn are in many ways polar opposites (Can you have three polar opposites? I think not. Anyway...) but they share some remarkably similar struggles. And I’m genuinely %uFFFDthrilled about the ensemble nature of this rehearsal process and the experience of working with Teresa and Christy and Cheryl.

Teresa: I always start with text. Eric gives very clear clues about the women we are playing. Then it is just a big exploration – what does Cheryl want, what do my fellow actors need, how can I most effectively tell these stories.

Christy: It’s been an exercise of getting in touch with the inner child! You really have to be willing to do a lot of experimenting and letting go of any inhibitions – trying out different voices, different dialects, speech patterns, not to mention different ways of seeing the world. It’s been fun and frustrating and exhilarating.


Gavin: How have these stories affected each of you?

Cheryl: It has really highlighted for me that even though women have made progress within the LDS Church and on a national level, there is still a long way to go – especially in our own minds as women. I struggle with the popular feminist phrase, “you can have it all” or the unspoken phrase, “be it all and do it all” that a lot of women seem to be internalizing. And I have developed more empathy for those who are stuck in this perception of how women should be – those who take it to heart and try to do it all – or at least appear that they’re doing it all. I think I have a greater understanding as to why that happens. How our culture supports that kind of thinking.

Stephanie: Well, first off, working on this play has made me very, very grateful for my incredible husband and marriage. I’ve also been thinking a lot about perfectionism. And how we define ourselves or let ourselves be defined by others. And friendship.

Teresa: I live in a very LDS community. I love my neighbors and feel honored to examine stories about their lives and culture.

Christy: Well... they’ve made me ask myself questions about what motivates people.What motivates me. Looking deep inside to try to understand why we do what we do. I think what I’ve found is that everyone is looking for basically the same thing and going about it in our various clumsy ways. We all want connection and acceptance and love – and sometimes we let our fears get in the way and that always ends badly.


Gavin: What do you hope audiences will take home from watching 3?

Cheryl: I hope people talk about how they might be doing what some of the women do in the play, consciously or subconsciously, regardless of what religion they subscribe to. I hope more people think about giving themselves a break from how the world says they should be and just try to find happiness on their own terms.

Stephanie: I try not to think about what an audience will take away from a play. Our job as actors is to tell the story, or in this case stories. These particular stories are humorous and heartbreaking and, above all, I think, honest. I guess what I most hope is that the play inspires conversations. I look forward to hearing about those conversations and seeing the direction they take.

Eric: I really like plays that start conversations. When I go to the theater, I want to experience worlds I don't currently inhabit, but I also want to learn more about the world I do inhabit. I love it when we go see a play and talk about it endlessly afterwards. So that's my biggest wish. I want these plays to generate further discussion.

Teresa: I think everyone will take away something different. One of my favorite things about sharing more than one story in an evening.

Christy: I hope audiences will take home a better sense of our humanity and look at themselves more honestly – and I hope they’ll have compassion towards each other and be kinder.


Gavin: What are all your thoughts going into opening night?

Cheryl: I’m looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the really great, funny moments, along with the sad moments. Some of them are funny and sad at the same time. And I think everyone will recognize bits of themselves in each of the characters. So I’m curious to hear some of the audience's opinions of the characters.

Stephanie: I’m excited for opening night, but more excited to see how the characters will continue to grow through the run. That’s one of the great things about live theater. You strive for consistency during a run, but at the same time, a play is a living, growing thing. It changes – though usually in very subtle ways. A tiny new layer. A small discovery. A moment realized.

Eric: Oh, usual things. Sheer unreasoning terror. In this case, I'm mostly scared about the thought that women will see these plays and go "These things were obviously written by a dude. He doesn't understand women at all."

Teresa: Lines, lines, lines. Then we are just going to have some serious fun.

Christy: They boil down to this – Man, I hope I don’t %uFFFDf-up.


Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of the year?

Cheryl: In October, I’m directing Matt Bennett's Radio Hour Episode 9: Grimm and then Julie Jensen's Christmas With Misfits in December, both for Plan-B.

Stephanie: Well, next month I’m looking at a beach vacation and a new puppy. After that, we’ll see...

Teresa: After 3, I go into rehearsal for Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf for Pinnacle Acting Company and then August Osage County for Utah Repertory Theater/Silver Summit Theatre Company. And I will be stage managing when I can at the Davis Arts Council this summer.

Eric: Well, I just finished the first draft of a new play. So that's exciting. Eleventh century papal politics, the obvious next topic after macroeconomics and feminism. And... I'm excited about working with Plan-B honoring marriage equality in Utah – it's a piece for the Script-In-Hand Series called Marry Christmas, which will be Plan-B's fundraiser for Restore Our Humanity in December.

Christy: Good question! %uFFFDUm... well what I hope is that I’ll keep working as an actor and get a short film produced that I’ve been working on – and, of course lose those last 10 pounds.


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Cheryl: The women in this show are fantastic. They have inspired me throughout the entire process. I am in awe of them. And Plan-B's latest eBook, #SeasonOfEric, will be available beginning May 3 at And The Banned Played On!

Stephanie: Go see live theater!

Eric: Just my blog!

Teresa: BABIES!

Christy: Besides the play? %uFFFDYes – peace.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: March Gallery Stroll: Heather Romney]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Winter is officially gone, even though we know better, so this past Gallery Stroll was a breezy jaunt through as many galleries as your chapstick could hold against. --- This month we visit Nostalgia Cafe on 100 South, not your average place to visit on Stroll, but a damn fine coffeehouse with some good grub and a home-like décor that makes many in the city want to play Dungeons & Dragons and read comics while waiting for their tea. ...We're basically saying it's a cool place to hang out.

Hanging on the walls this month is artwork from photographer Heather Romney, who chatted with us about her career and local art, as well as her current exhibition at Nostalgia. You can check out a small gallery of her exhibition from this past Friday in this gallery here.

Heather Romney

Gavin: Hey Heather! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Heather: Hello, Gavin. I was born in Salt Lake City in 1989. I was lucky to be born into a family of artists who encouraged me to be creative from a young age. My mother was a painter, and my father was a photographer, which I feel influenced me to be interested in a variety of disciplines. This spring I am graduating from the University Of Utah with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography.

Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some early influences on you?

Heather: During high school I dabbled in painting and drawing, but later on became interested in photography when I took a film production class at SpyHop Productions. Probably my first influence, and the one that drove me to go to art school initially was Anton Corbijn. As a kid I remember tearing out his photography work from every magazine/album artwork sleeve I could find and pasting it on my wall because I loved how dark and weird his photographs were. Later on, Francesca Woodman and lot of filmmakers like Wim Wenders, David Lynch and David Fincher were huge influences on me.

Gavin: What was it that specifically drew you toward photography and graphic design?

Heather: I’ve always been interested in portraits more than anything, and I think that the frustrated painter in me found more interest in photographic portraiture because it was more accessible and you could do so many different things with it. Graphic design was an extension of my interest in art in a way, because it felt as though I could be photographic or illustrative and there was really no limit on style. I think a lot of the work I do now in my photography is influenced by a need to have clean and minimal compositions.

Gavin: You're in the process of getting your BFA from the University of Utah, what made you choose the U and what has their program been like for you?

Heather: I chose the U because it was close to home, and also because I loved the Salt Lake City art scene. I’ve really enjoyed my time there, and I’m happy to be graduating this Spring. The photo professors—Laurel Caryn, Ed Bateman, and Joe Marotta—really do encourage you to do something different, and to question your ideas every step of the way. One positive thing that I feel the U taught me was to be an artist who uses photography to express my ideas, rather than just a photographer who can take photos.

Gavin: What was it like for you first breaking into the local art scene and getting your work noticed?

Heather: I have to thank The Hive Gallery for being the first gallery to let me exhibit my work. In Utah, I feel that it’s often hard to land an exhibition as a fine art photographer who doesn’t do landscape work because I think most art patrons come here looking for those kinds of things. Avant-garde photo work can be especially hard to show, but thankfully places like Nostalgia and the SLC Photo Collective are doing a great job at keeping the photo community vibrant.

Gavin: What made you decide to take on two different genres of art and how is it for you balancing between the two?

Heather: I think partially, out of necessity. When I first started going to the U, I was doing cinematography and graphic design, later my priorities shifted to web and photography work. I think that because technology is changing so quickly, and there’s so many disciplines to learn that it can be difficult to focus. Sometimes I feel like when I focus on one discipline, I’m missing out on the other. But unfortunately you can really only focus on one thing at a time.

Gavin: Design wise, what's the process like for you in creating a new piece, from concept to final product?

Heather: Usually I have an exact idea in mind, which is more often than not informed and/or changed by the process. For instance, for my television series I set up a timed camera on a tripod and took photographs of myself standing in front of a projector that was continually projecting television programs onto my face. I then took those photos, unedited, and sent them through an application on my iPhone which took photos of my photographs on a CRT analog television in Sweden and sent them back to me. The point of this process was that by the time the photos got back to me they’d been around the world in ones and zeroes twice, and compressed and distorted enough times that they were just copies and not really “real” anymore—a lot like how television is.

Gavin: Do you play around with your creations as you make them or do you tend to focus on the original idea?

Heather: Sometimes ideas will change in the middle of a process because certain things don’t work (lights, locations, models), or something unexpected happens. With portrait photography you’re constantly collaborating with people who all bring different things to the table. So while I may have an idea in mind, what I get from my subject that day may be entirely different. But that’s kind of what I love about it.

Gavin: For photography, how do you go about choosing the kind of subjects or topics you want to shoot?

Heather: I think that most of the conceptual photography I do is related to living with an anxiety disorder most of my life. "Growth" was a reaction to that in a way. When my panic attacks became unbearable I turned to studying Buddhist philosophy as a coping mechanism. This was something of a change for me because I’d been distrustful of religion my entire life. Shooting "Growth" on film and having the double exposures be what they were without Photoshopping out the flaws, dust spots, misaligned frames, etc. was a way for me to try and explain those Buddhist concepts of accepting your lack of control, destroying your ego/ individuality, finding beauty in simplicity, etc. My next project "Breathe," which I am working on now, is also about anxiety but in a more disturbing, violent way.

Gavin: Do you prefer shooting with digital or film, and why?

Heather: I’ve heard many photographers say that you should with shoot with film as much as possible because it will make you a better photographer. To some extent I think that holds true. I’ve found that when I shoot with film I focus on my subject a lot more, and not having a digital screen to review keeps the relationship between the photographer and the model that much more intimate. I think we sometimes take for granted how divided our attention can be in the smartphone age and how that affects our work. I also love the feeling I get from seeing a roll of film come back a couple of days after the shoot and being surprised by the results. That said, sometimes I still have to shoot with digital because the stakes might be too high to have a roll of film come back blank. However, I still prefer shooting with film whenever I can.

Gavin: For those curious, what kind of equipment do you shoot with?

Heather: For film, I shoot with an Olympus OM-1 and sometimes a Mamiya 645. For digital, I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II. I love my OM-1 because it’s small and subtle and I can take it everywhere. It was also the camera my father shot with when he was my age, so I guess it’s sort of sentimental to me for that reason also.

Gavin: About a year ago you also did a video installation about television. What inspired that piece and what was it like putting that together?

Heather: For my television series "Interference," I really wanted to capture what it felt like growing up as an only child in a divorced household, where gathering around the television was sort of the main family bonding ritual. From a very early age, I remember going through my parents’ entire video collection on a weekly basis just to keep myself entertained. I would continually sneak out of bed at night to watch movies in the basement. I don’t why. I think television became a friend for me in a way because being an only child can be a very lonely thing. The negative flipside being that not everything you see on television is real or right or beautiful. Using a projector to project those images of violence, beauty and misconception back onto myself and photographing it was in a way very cathartic for me.

Gavin: More recently you've been doing profile pictures, what influenced you to head in that direction?

Heather: It’s strange, I hadn’t thought about it to be honest! I think it may be because my work has become a lot more personal in the last year. Being in school for the past seven years and now coming out of the “waiting room” so to speak, I do feel like a completely different person with different priorities. And I think that trying to reconnect with this new person has been a bit of challenge.

Gavin: Tell us about the artwork on display for this Stroll.

Heather: All of the work on display for Growth is comprised of either film photography or alternative photography processes. A lot of these processes (cyanotype, van dyke, palladium) were invented more than 100 years ago and were used by early photographers. All of the alternative photography pieces are non-silver prints created by hand and more or less unique to themselves. All of these processes have been very interesting to learn, and I feel that they’ve encouraged me to create work in a much different way.

Gavin: How has it been working with Nostalgia Cafe and being displayed for hundreds of people a day?

Heather: Terrifying! Haha, no. Being able to show my work in such a public area has been an incredible opportunity. Nostalgia was a huge haunt of mine when I was growing up, so having my work up on their walls is a very personal honor. I have to thank both the owner Marcello, and the curator Julia Sanders, for being incredibly kind in helping me show my work there.

Gavin: What are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Heather: I’m really excited to see what the SLC Photo Collective is doing for the local photography community. I think a lot more photography shows have been happening in the last few years because that space has been available, so I’m excited to see what happens with that.

Gavin: Who are some local artists you like checking out or recommend people should look for?

Heather: I tend to gravitate toward photographers who emphasize film photography work, probably because I love the aesthetic so much. I’m sure it goes without saying that Ryan Muirhead’s natural light work is great, and probably the reason why I decided to pick up a film camera in the first place. Mitchel Issel is also a great black and white film photographer who still uses film and prints his work in the darkroom. Tessa Barton—also a grad from the U—has been making incredible work in the last year. And more recently, I’ve really been enjoying Michelle Frampton’s fashion work.

Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work they're doing to promote local art?

Heather: As a teenager growing up in Utah, Gallery Stroll was one of the few things I looked forward to each month. I think having the stroll helps keep Salt Lake City vibrant and current, and I hope that it continues to showcase emerging photographers.

Gavin: What can we expect from you and the gallery going into next year?

Heather: I’m really looking forward to finishing up my degree and possibly revisiting some unfinished concepts I’ve had from my undergraduate studies. One of the downsides of rushing through my last year at school is that I feel that I’ve had a lot of ideas, but not enough time behind the camera to implement them.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Heather: Yes! On April 18 I will be having a graduation show alongside seven other graduating photo students at the SLC Photo Collective. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the work that’s coming out of the university, which tends to be a little more avant-garde than the commercial or traditional work you normally see in the galleries here.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: In The Loop: 3/22/14. Strum, Dance & Sketch!]]> By Gavin Sheehan

Hello to all you hand-rubbing, website-refreshing, space-preparing, humblebrag-writing, can't-wait-for-Best-Of-Utah-Awards enthusiasts. --- Now that all the voting is out of the way and I just pointed out the ridiculous behavior happening... Stop asking me if you won. If you read this blog at all, you know I have nothing to do with the voting process, so just stop. You'll find out Wednesday, you can clear a whole TV show's run on Netflix to occupy your time. Let's check out the latest addition (in nearly four months) to the 337 Memorial Wall.

Getting right to events, there isn't a lot to talk about this week until Thursday down in Provo, Muse Music Cafe will be throwing their annual Songwriter Showdown! Much like a Battle Of The Bands competition, this will focus squarely on solo performances from singer/songwriters who will compete for your votes in this three-day competition. Two rounds of performances on Thursday and Friday, followed by finals on Saturday night. Every night is a mere $5 with music starting shortly after 8 p.m.


Speaking of Saturday, next Saturday will see Poor Yorick Studios open it's doors for their bi-annual Open Studio. A totally free chance to see dozens of SLC's best artists in the massive private studio in South Salt Lake. Recently it has gone from being a two night event to now being an extended day/evening extravaganza. The whole thing will run from 4-10 p.m., so you get once chance to check out what's happening behind closed doors until the fall.


On Sunday, March 30, the Geek Show Podcast will take over Brewvies again for their monthly movie night. This time they celebrate the luck of the Irish (albeit a few weeks late) with In Bruges and Boondock Saints. The movies and entertainment are totally free starting at 5 p.m., but the food and drinks are not. Be sure to tip your waitstaff!


On Monday, April 1, aside playing pranks on each other, Salt City Slam will be holding their selection finals at the Off Broadway Theatre on Main Street, featuring guest poet Theresa Davis. That's right, it's being used for something beyond predictable parody! This is your chance to see the best of the best compete for a chance to defend SLC in competition in Oakland this August. Snag tickets while you can, these shows are usually a blast and become heated! Tickets are just $5-7 depending on seating, the show kicks off at 8 p.m.


On April 3, Samba Fago will take over part of the Rose Wagner for three days to present Inspiracao Do Fogo (Breath of Fire). This show will feature live music and dance, mainly focused on Afro-Brazillian, along with martial arts and fire. These guys really know how to put on a show and give you your money's worth, I highly suggest checking it out.


If you're looking for dancing but aren't quite interested in Samba Fago, the Black Box Theatre at the Rose will have something else for you. Black Box Belly Dance Affair will kick off on April 4 for two days, with the goal of putting belly dancing back to the mindsets of those in and checking out the dance community. You're going to see a mic of styles over the course of those two days including Modern Egyptian Cabaret, Fusion, Middle-Eastern Folkloric and American Tribal Style, by many of the top performers and troupes we have across the state of Utah. Check out their website for more info and tickets.


And then finally in two weeks on April 5, The Leonardo will present and evening call Drink & Draw. A chance for some of you more artistic folk to head over and draw real-life models posing as your favorite superheroes in pencil, pen, charcoal or tablet. Tickets to attend are $15, $12 for members,

As for the blog... Over the next couple weeks we'll return to Gallery Stroll, check out the latest from Plan-B Theatre, visit with a local political podcast, look at a longtime Ogden venue, chat with another local comedian and preview the latest indie sports team in town. At least, that's the plan for now, who the hell knows how things will shape up during this awards week. As always, we'll see what happens.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: 13% Salt]]> By Gavin Sheehan

What happens to former City Weekly writers and editors when we leave the paper and vanish into the ether that is regular employment? --- Do we cast away reading the publication? Do we move away and find our souls in some monastery where they make apple cider to pay bills? Do we simply go batshit crazy and regret the decision we made?!? ... Nah, we just start up something new. 


Take our former music editor Austen Diamond, who got the idea to start up his own photography blog under the name 13% Salt, cataloging some of the more high-profile people and events in the state while giving readers a very different perspective on the people involved. Today we chat with Diamond about what he's been up to and the work he's doing on his new blog. (All pictures courtesy of Diamond.)

Austen Diamond

Gavin: Hey Austen, first up, how's things been going since you left City Weekly?

Austen: Things are good! Mighty kind of you to ask. I’ve been focusing more on photography than anything else and have an incredible assortment of clients now—from Wild Turkey to Downtown SLC and the Utah Arts Festival. But, you know, I haven’t left CW completely. For some reason, they still let me write words and take photos for the paper from time to time.


Gavin: Getting right to it, what made you want to start up your own blog, and where did the name come from?

Austen: There are a few reasons why I wanted to launch 13% Salt. It’s a photo journal with the intent to create an iconic digital archive of Utah’s subcultures, communities and modern pioneers. So, I get to highlight what I find fascinating about this place, and, hopefully, other people will think the same. Although there are a bevy of incredibly talented photographers in Utah, I’m not aware of anything else specifically like this. The blog gives me creative license to engage with the community and its people and to make artistic and creative photos. Without an “outlet,” some of the people that I’d want to take photos of might say no or say that a concept was too, I don’t know, esoteric or something. Getting access to people is extremely important for my style of photography and for photojournalists. Finally, it can, at times, be difficult to get the kind of photo assignments that I want to shoot, so now I give myself those assignments. It’s kind of like the idea that if you shoot what you love, people will eventually catch on and pay you for it. The name 13% Salt comes from the average salinity of the south arm of the Great Salt Lake. I actually didn’t want something that had the words “salt” or “beehive” in it, but this is just enigmatic enough, just catchy enough, that I kept coming back to it. Hopefully the name alone draws people in, if the stories don’t.


Gavin: How did the idea come about to do it in a photo journal style rather than as a complete story?

Austen: I’d like to think that the photos are good enough to tell the story. Many of these portraits are laden with metaphor, so my hope is that people will engage with the photo and it will make them ask questions—like any good piece of art. The captions are short and sweet to help keep the focus on the image. Plus, it’s a practice of self-restraint. As a writer, I could go on and on with words, and that’s not always the most important part of a story.


Gavin: Being a writer first, how did you get into photography? And how much experience did you have shooting photos both for print and for leisure?

Austen: I’ve been taking photos longer than I’ve been a professional writer. However, my love of photography and writing began at the same time. I was traveling around the world at every chance I got in college and was trying to make sense of it all through the lens. But this was before high speed internet was readily available and you could just post pictures to a blog or social media, so I had to put it all to words and really enjoyed painting scenes and stories with prose. But I had memory cards filled with photos, and I had my first gallery showing in 2006, where my travel photography was on display at the World Grotto Gallery in Knoxville, Tennessee. Fast forward to 2009, and I began writing for the City Weekly. I’d get to (or sometimes have to) take shots for a story, and I loved it. I dove full bore into professional-level photography late-2012 and early-2013, I think that the two forms of storytelling dovetail nicely.


Gavin: For those who may be curious, what kind of equipment do you shoot with?

Austen: I’m “all in” with Nikon. I shoot on a D600 and only use Nikon glass. I primarily use Nikon’s CLS system on five speed lights, which range from 910s to used—and still incredible—800s. I have tons of light modifiers (and it feels that way when lugging gear around), but the ones that I couldn’t live without are the Lastolite 20in EzyBox, the Lastolite TriGrip and the Orbis Ring Flash.


Gavin: How was it for you starting out fresh and what were the first few posts like?

Austen: Interesting question. I had been building a library of images and stories for a few months before the official announcement on Thanksgiving weekend. So no one really saw the first few posts—there was no pressure. Once I had enough stories that would give someone the impression that this was a viable thing if they landed on the site, I had the announcement campaign. But that weekend, I was featuring C. Jane Kendrick, the super famous Mormon mommy blogger in Provo (seen above), and she drove an absolute ton of people to the site, and I was like, “Oh no, the site is going to break!”


Gavin: How do you go about choosing your topics and figuring out what best to feature?

Austen: I just sort of shoot what I love. I have an insatiable curiosity, so I’m open to all kinds of interesting people and their stories. More and more, I want to make really outstanding and creative portraits, as opposed to documentary style of work, although there’s a place for that and it can be really creative. So if I can think of some concept or metaphor that is irresistible to me, then I’ll do it. For instance, this shoot with music producer Nate Pyfer (seen below), where we built a wall out of his vintage keyboards to symbolize he was the “Man Behind the Music.” 


Gavin: When you go into a session, what are you specifically looking for in the photo? What are you hoping to capture that drives the story home?

Austen: Well, like I said, I generally have a notion of the exact thing I want. The shoot is generally just a series of small compromises to get as close to that as possible. But I find that process to be thrilling. And sometimes I’m really surprised at what might come out of it that’s not planned. Also, during a session, I try to have as much fun as possible and build rapport with the photo subject. I love that photography gets me away from a computer and engaging with someone. Sometimes, I feel like that is the best part, and the images are second. I don’t know if that makes much sense to anyone else. 


Gavin: Who have been some of your favorite guests that you've photographed for the blog, and why?

Austen: That’s a tough one. One of the great things about being an on-location photographer is that I get to go where the people are, see their homes and the places that are meaningful to them. So I really enjoyed sitting in Bad Brad Wheeler’s (seen below) living room and seeing his massive collection of amplifiers and harmonicas. I really enjoyed my shoot with Margaret Ruth, because she read Tarot cards about the site’s future (and it was favorable). And I really liked being in the kitchen at SLC POP for an evening and documenting that. The adventure photographer Chris Noble taught me how to ascend ropes to take pictures of him at a crag in Big Cottonwood Canyon ... Ah, damn, they have all been so good. Unfair question! Haha!


Gavin: What is the goal you have in mind for the blog and hope to achieve with it?

Austen: To create an iconic digital archive of the people, subcultures and communities that make Utah unique. There’s a lot of really amazing things happening in Utah, and this is one way to highlight them. More and more, web-based niche blogs and publications have flourished to keep people informed, connected and excited about the world in which they live—here in Salt Lake City. Think of 13% Salt as the local photo department of this new form of journalism. So, I want people to get to know their neighbor, take interest in their community, engage with art, and finally, let’s be honest, I want people to see that I make badass photos and hire me.


Gavin: What can we expect from you and 13% Salt over the rest of the year?

Austen: Aside from the weekly posts, and there are a lot of really cool ones coming up, 13% Salt will be featuring guest photographers this year—there’s already been two. Also, I’m hoping to have some pop-up gallery showings starting in the summer, in places like shipping containers, abandoned warehouses and establishments that were featured on 13% Salt. I’m applying for a few grants (wish me luck!) to create more community engagement. And I want to do some fundraisers for a few charities. 


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Austen: Ready for a horrible, self-promotional plug? Haha! I’m for hire. If your readers have a need for photography that strives to be thoughtful and creative, I do commercial, event, documentary, portraits, etc. I need to say THANK YOU to everyone who has been supportive and visited the site and subscribed to the newsletter and liked us on Facebook and followed us on Twitter. And thank you Gavin for the great interview.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Loft Concert Series]]> By Gavin Sheehan

One of the most awesome things that's slowly starting to rise across the Wasatch Front are private concerts. A chance for people to see bands in intimate settings for cheap in a cool environment. --- They don't happen often, but when they do, it becomes an awesome opportunity for fan to see their favorite musicians play a unique show, and for the musicians it's a chance to connect to fans in a way they rarely see.


So of course, the city where these types of shows are really taking off is Provo, home to the rising indie scene of Utah where a handful of bands are getting signed every few months. The Loft Concert Series has been quietly running in the background, giving local music lovers an up close glimpse into the future of their city's music scene every month in secret locations around the city. Today we chat with one of the organizers, Nellie Kat Rajabi, about the series and local music in general. (All pictures courtesy of the LCS.)

Nellie Kat Rajabi

Gavin: Hey Nellie, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nellie: I'm just another Southern Californian Persian/music snob, except I've never gone viral for liking fake bands on a Jimmy Kimmel video. Studying Advertising/Design at BYU, into nature and allergic to cats.

Gavin: What first got you interested in the local music scene?

Nellie: My interest was honestly first derived from my need to stay sane in Utah. I wasn't familiar with this place at all so I gravitated toward the one thing I am very familiar with: music. I didn't need much convincing after going to a couple of shows and seeing the amount of talent there is to witness out here. I remember being somewhat confused, thinking there are so many signed bands—to big labels even—that could learn so much from the bands I'm watching on this tiny stage, in this random little town I'm living in right now.


Gavin: Who were some of your favorite acts you saw when you first started going to shows?

Nellie: There are a ton of impressive bands that I've heard in Provo and SLC, but the first band that I ever tried to Google or look up on Spotify was Lake Island. I had just moved here at the time and happened to end up at one of their shows. They had just a familiar sound to me so I assumed they were touring through so when I couldn't find them anywhere on Spotify or my other musical sources I was super confused. The Moth & The Flame for sure. I have no words. All I have to say is there's a reason why they're doing so well and they damn well deserve it. And then there's Joshua James—he's mesmerizing on stage.

Gavin: How did you start getting involved and taking part in things around Provo and SLC?

Nellie: Well, I was working in Los Angeles at Warner Brother Records at the time and knew I'd have to leave it all to come to school here really soon, which was really killing me, so I decided to get in contact with anyone I knew out or should know here involved in music scene here. Lance Saunders, Kaneischa Johnson and Corey Fox just took me under their wings, let me get involved and really helped me get the vibe of things here. I love them so much for it.


Gavin: When did the idea come about to start up your own concert series?

Nellie: It was kind of a combination of taking advantage of our space and my roommate's slight obsession with Joshua James. We were loosely dancing around the topic of house shows one day and the conversation somehow kept looping back to Joshua and her dying desire to have him play in our apartment. We made this whole plan of limited seating, higher entry cost, and then Joshua could keep it all, of course. Real cute, huh? Anyway, I told her we should probably start a bit smaller, get some hype, and then I'd tackle her one wish. So that's what I've been doing.

Gavin: What made you decide to hold it in private buildings and smaller spaces?

Nellie: I think there's a nice element of intimacy when it's in a small, closed in space, especially with this place given the downtown Center Street views and the overall quaint feeling of it. The acoustics, style, and space of our flat are just so epic, we thought why not do it in here—we live above a Hookah shop and a bar so it's not like our neighbors will give a shit. Plus, it was either that or doing it on our roof, but that thing feels like an old man's back sometimes. Either way, I'm going to try to swing it in the summer months, ha.


Gavin: What was it like for you starting up the series and finding places to hold them?

Nellie: Starting up the series was really simple. It all made sense—I have all the right resources, passion for music, and plus the space was practically begging for it to happen.

Gavin: What did you think of the public reaction to it when it first started up?

Nellie: I was honestly surprised with the amount of people I've never met that found out about it and showed up, especially because our “promoting” really consists of word of mouth, an Instagram the day of and maybe a Facebook invite if I'm feeling really ambitious. The reaction was rad. Everyone was genuinely listening to the artists, having worthwhile conversations and kinda just soaking it the vibe of the night. There was immediately buzz around the idea of holding more house shows so I knew it was definitely something people were interested in.


Gavin: How do you go about choosing what bands you want to play the series?

Nellie: The show typically sparks up because of one particular band, like the first show with Nathan Reich, a Nashville artist who happened to really like both playing house shows and the crowd in Provo. He is friends with Adam Klopp, who suggested that I host him. And from there, I picked artists that would complement one another's styles and personalities.

Gavin: What are your future plans with the series and where do you hope to see it go over the next year?

Nellie: Future plans are just to keep celebrating and spreading the crazy amount of music talent with the good people of this city. And whichever other cities happen to be represented in the room. Really, I'm doing this because it makes a lot of us happy. There are artists here that simply want to share their work with us and I feel it an honor to have the tiniest part in helping them do that. So I plan on keeping it going for as long as I'm in Provo, which will definitely be through the next year. Oh, and I have to host a night of Joshua here. You know, for my roommate.


Gavin: What are your thoughts on the current music scene in Utah?

Nellie: The current local music scene, as booming as it is, is still completely underrated in my opinion. More recently I think a lot of people within the industry have seen this pattern of really stellar bands pushing out of this area so now they're paying attention. I just have personally found the cultural stigma to be that all amazing bands are originated in Southern California or New York. I mean, a lot of amazing bands have been found in those areas and a lot of my friends' bands have become huge successes. But there's also a good amount of talent here and luckily, I think that's really starting to get recognized.

Gavin: Who are some of your favorite acts, or bands you feel people should be checking out?

Nellie: I would say all the ones I had mentioned previously: The Moth & The Flame, Lake Island, Bat Manors, L'Anarchiste, Coral Bones and Luna Lune. If you haven't checked them out you really should stop reading this and go do that instead.


Gavin: What's your opinion on current local music airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

Nellie: The local music airplay is beyond impressive. I can't even express, which is strange coming from me because I am not a radio enthusiast in the least bit, but it's definitely one of the best forms of local music discovery out here. When I'm at home in Orange County or L.A. I will avoid it. Backwards, I know. It still trips me out too. That's the first thing that really caught my attention when I moved here, my phone was being weird so I had to listen to the radio one day and found KRCL and 88.1, which I believe is student run, and was so confused about how fresh the selections were. Any sort of exposure is crucial for an artist, especially airplay on a credible station within their area. You don't see that happening in California, they don't care about these little artists that haven't been signed yet frankly. The local loyalty and promotion in Utah is very unique and is one of the best forms of advertising for these growing artists.

Gavin: What do you think of the rise of sites like Bandcamp and bands essentially marketing themselves?

Nellie: I think sites like Bandcamp really level the playing field for indie artists. It's a really great tool for them to increase their online presence and fan base. Also, these kind of sites don't charge huge fees in order for artists to sell their music, which makes a huge difference when money isn't even in the equation yet. It has very much turned into a necessary marketing tool for bands.


Gavin: What can we expect from you and the Loft Concert Series over the rest of the year?

Nellie: Expect good times. Expect an invite. And expect to come. I don't know- I hope that it can be just another way to further unite the music community, meet like-minded people, and open doors for possible collaborations.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Nellie: This Thursday night is the next show in the series. It'll be Luna Lune who will headline, and Swimming Forever, a touring band coming through after SXSW. There's going to be a lot of energy, you won't want to miss it. My place is above The Hookah Collection, next to ABG's on Center Street next to the dolphin mural (20 N. Freedom Blvd). The music starts at 8 p.m. I don't have a website or a personalized Instagram for the series, it's honestly just by word of mouth and my Instagram and my Twitter that people find out, and I think I like it like that. It keeps the right people coming. I always post invites and other fun music junk on those accounts.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: SaltPop]]> By Gavin Sheehan

As we draw closer to the next geek-related event to hit the Salt Palace, we're seeing more local writers beefing up their coverage to prepare for the metaphoric meteor due to hit in April. --- Among the media entities covering pop culture in town, SaltPop has become one of the more interactive websites available, creating reviews and podcasts more focused on interactive elements than just posting news that comes their way. Today we chat with three of the writers and founders behind the website about their work and coverage, along with where they're headed as a collective. (Photos courtesy of SaltPop.)

TJ Allen, Eric Pincock, and Steven Coombs

Gavin: Hey everyone! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

TJ: Just a group of like minded friends with tons of passionate opinions.

Steve: I'm Steve, and I'm loud and I like movies a lot, and comics too.

Eric: We’re just a group of friends who all shared a common interest in pop-culture who thought that some people actually may have an interest in hearing what our opinions are about pretty much all things geeky.


Gavin: How did each of you first get into geek culture and what were some early influences on you?

Steve: I would say I'm the least "geeky" guy here, I think. I'm not really into video games, and I was late to the comic book party. I would say the clichéd Star Wars as my first big influence. Every Sunday, I would watch the entire trilogy. Then "Episode 1" came out and ruined everything.

Eric: For me it was just video games early on. Taking a trip to Blockbuster to rent a new Super Nintendo game was a weekly deal, and a staple of my childhood. My parents after a while wouldn’t let my brother and I rent fighting games because it would cause to physically fight with each other. My dad also made sure to take the time to show my siblings and I the original Star Wars movies, and from there I was in for the long haul.

TJ: I started when I was about 10 or 11. I noticed my uncle playing Warcraft 2 and was instantly amazed. Gaming was a big influence over me and it just progressed from there.

Gavin: What was it like for you growing up and finding multiple geeky things you were interested in?

Eric: Finding something new was always exciting for me growing up. When I’d go to a friends house seeing them play a new game, or hear someone talk about a show that they love I always wanted to find out why they loved it and experience it for myself. It was also a lot of fun to be the guy who would see a movie or play a game first and could recommend it to my friends. The best part was to have them come back excited to talk about it with me.

TJ: Meeting new people through school and online gaming opened up my view to different forms of "geeky" things I liked. My friends I made then are still there today. Growing up was very easy and tons of fun.

Steve: It was overwhelming really. It still is. I hate that I have this insane desire to consume everything, but also have to still sleep and eat and be a functioning human.


Gavin: What pushed you to want to talk about it more as reviewers and commentators?

Steve: The best conversations I've ever had in my life are when I'm talking about something I love with someone who shares that love with me. So naturally, talking about movies is one of my favorite things to do. Framing it as a reviewer and commentator just gives me an excuse to do it more, without sounding insane. "Sorry, sweetheart. Can't clean out the garage today. I have to go see that movie and then talk about it for an hour."

TJ: The fact that we ALWAYS talked about it. Usually for hours on end, often eating up the time for the plans we had made. So we decided to make our plans to talk about it. And record it.

Eric: It probably started for me when I got a job at a movie theater with all the free movie benefits and then all of a sudden became a personal movie critic for my family and a few of my friends. I thought it was kind of odd that they actually wanted my opinion and would consider my thoughts on the movie, but they did. From there it just sort of stuck. It seemed almost logical to me to make the step and put my opinions out publicly.

Gavin: When did all of you first meet each other or come to know of each other's work?

TJ: Gaming, work, high school. Pretty common methods, but we have stayed together for so long that we know what each individual excels at and focus their efforts there.

Eric: All of us can trace our relationships back to either high school, a movie theater that we worked at, or the Graywhale record stores where others worked at. Friends of friends were brought in and we all just hit it off. Steve Coombs, who co-hosts the SaltPop: On Film Podcast with me was a complete stranger to me two years ago. He came on as a guest for an episode a while back, we hit it off talking about movies and then decided that we should make a movie specific podcast together. The whole process was a natural progression in my mind.

Steve: Through Graywhale Entertainment. I worked there part time and met a few of the guys. They started the podcast and invited me on as a guest. As time went on, I started becoming better friends with all of them. Next I knew, they were on hand and knee begging me to be a member.


Gavin: How did the idea of SaltPop come around and what was it like putting it together?

Eric: All of us were in a Dungeons & Dragons group together. Because of schedules and other factors we didn’t get to meet nearly as regularly as most groups did, typically it was months in between sessions. Since it was so long between our meetings we’d all get together and spend way more time catching up and talking about all the games, movies, and comics that we’d read/seen/played between. Getting all of the missed geek stuff out before we could actually play. In an effort to make our sessions shorter and actually more about the game we thought to create a podcast. It was a pretty long process, getting a site up, learning how to actually record, figuring out what content we wanted, and accepting responsibilities. Creating content, and deciding on what we wanted to spend time talking on was very interesting. All of us had our own individual interests and wanted our voices heard, it made for some discussions about Anime or RPG video games where some of us would just tune out, or it would create an interesting conversation in trying to educate each about the subject. I’m so glad that we took the time to do it, my eyes were opened to a lot of new movies, music, comics, and video games.

TJ: Like Eric said, we would get together for D&D sessions and we would go usually a month without seeing each other so we had so much to talk about. It often ate well into our time to play that session. We decided why not record what we talked about? Bought some equipment, set a time and it was born. Originally we were called OutofOurSystem which was thought up during a name storming session. We changed to SaltPop around a year later for branding reasons and breathing new life into the cast.

Gavin: Considering the various other pop-culture sites that are made locally, what did you do set yourselves apart from them?

TJ: We tried to set ourselves apart with a very professional looking website that was easy to navigate and interesting to check a few times a week.

Steve: We don't have an over-inflated sense of self. We know we aren't being heard by everyone every week. So you can jump in whenever and feel included.

Eric: It was important for us to provide regular up-to-date content. Whether that was reviews on movies, video games, or just the news in general. There are plenty of other places that you can find news about a topic, or a review for whatever you want. We realized that it was our opinions that set us apart. The content became about providing the information on the news, but also making sure that we had a discussion that would go along with it. Being able to play both sides of the subject and not all dog-piling to one side or another.


Gavin: What made you decide to focus specifically on music, movies, games and comics?

Steve: Because it's all I spend my free time doing. Why talk about anything but the thing I love to do?

Eric: I always enjoyed TV and movies. A little too much if you were to ask my parents. Growing up with Batman: The Animated Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars it was easy for me to get hooked on the culture. Growing up and finding friends who all shared the same interest made focusing on those things simple (or complicated if you take into account all the new stuff we became exposed to).

TJ: As mentioned earlier, most of us excel at particular aspects of pop culture, some are more involved with movies and TV shows, others are into games and comics. We took the ones we had the most forte in.

Gavin: What was it like launching the website and what was the general feedback like the first few months?

TJ: The website went off without a hitch thanks mostly to Devin (our producer) Trent and Alex Ferguson (not affiliated with our cast). Feedback was almost non-existent from any non friend viewers or listeners. The website received praise from almost everyone. That was our goal and I think we achieved it. We also got a lot of great feedback on the logo (Lightning bolt warning sign).

Eric: Launching the website was fun, exciting, stressful, and frustrating all at the same time. It was so cool to punch that URL in first time and find the our product there. Bio pages, information about upcoming content, etc. It was really awesome. Then came the troubleshooting and creating new content. A bunch of time was just spent staring at the website to make sure everything looked the way we wanted, things were showing up where they should, and all our links were working. Then, we wanted something a little bit extra besides a weekly episode. Writing up articles, and proofreading them was always a pain, but cool to hear people comment on it. The general feedback in those first couple of months was overall positive. Mostly it was friends and family that we had told about what we were attempting. They looked at the site, listened to the episodes, and read some articles. They had the most feedback for our episodes: “So and so talks too loud," or “I didn’t find interesting.” But a lot of positive comments too, like “I laughed so hard when you guys talked about [blank]!” or “I loved the discussion that you had on .” It’s been very cool to have people talk to us about it.


Gavin: How do you go about deciding what you want to review for the website at any particular time?

Steve: Usually it's just which movie is out that week. If there is more than one option, it's either a coin flip or a personal choice. Our audience likes what we like, so the choice isn't a difficult one to make.

TJ: We would assign someone with forte over a certain subject and let them decide what to review or write about. Mostly sticking to current things as it was the most relevant but a lot of freedom was given on what to write about.

Eric: For Steve and I doing a movie podcast it’s usually pretty easy to decide on what to cover next. Oscar season and the summer movies make our job pretty simple. It can get tough during the spring when things usually slow down. Usually the buzz and upcoming projects decide for us. We’ve always tried to cover things that would be interesting to both us and anyone who would tune in and listen. Occasionally it will just be something that we want to soapbox about and get the word out on, and sometimes it will be something that we’re not too excited about but know others are. Just ask Steve about the Man Of Steel movie and you’ll get a quick idea about the “sacrifice” we put in for the show. It’s all been in great fun though, I wouldn’t trade it at all.

Gavin: What made you expand into doing podcasts and how has it been creating that content?

TJ: We felt that our opinions were strong, funny, and interesting enough that other people would want to listen to them. We tested the waters with some friends who agreed and decided to try our hand at podcasting. Creating content flowed nicely. It was easy to let someone write, review, or talk about something they loved. The content is there, and we were able to produce it and talk about it.

Eric: We had a regularly recurring podcast where as a big panel we got together and would discuss, but schedules and travel started becoming more and more of an issue. Some of us didn’t have interests in some specific topics that others wanted to spend more time talking about. I went to a lot of those earlier episodes happy to discuss whatever we wanted, but occasionally wanted to spend more time talking about a movie or game a little more than we did. It made sense for us to split into topic based podcasts. Steve and I can talk about movies for hours, whether it’s ones that we’ve seen, heard about, or want to see. We don’t feel the need to skip over some bits of news or cut a review short because we need to make room for a discussion on a video game or music album. I still love getting together to talk with everyone, but it’s still nice to have a niche that I can call my own.

Steve: I listen to A LOT of podcasts. Seemed fun and easy enough to make, so it was a logical thing to do.


Gavin: What's it been like attending conventions, both to cover them and promoting a local website?

Eric: This coming July it’ll be my fourth attending the gigantic San Diego International Comic-Con. The first year that we went it was just as spectators who wanted to go to Comic-Con. We had a blast, but it was a completely different trip the next time around when we had a podcast and a website that we were thinking about too. Panels that we wanted to go to became more about what news could be shared during them, and we took more time to go and demo the games, look at toys, and speak with comic book artists. It’s been hard to shift over to shamelessly promoting ourselves when we have so much that we want to see and do, but we had a great chance at last years Salt Lake Comic-Con. Graywhale was kind enough to let us volunteer to help out at their booth and to promote our own website. It was so cool to see the convention from the side of a vendor instead of just an attendee and the amount of work it takes to put on a convention. It’s definitely a lot easier to cover a convention as an attendee instead of as a promoter.

Gavin: How has it been for each of you being able to create this kind of website and provide a local voice on so many pop-culture items?

TJ: It's been an amazing journey. Providing a local voice, talking about my favorite things, hanging with my friends at least once a week for a few hours was great. Creating something from nothing, just going for it, and actually doing something like this will be something I'll always remember.

Steve: So far it hasn't felt any different than just hanging out with friends. I don't think our audience is very large, so even the listeners we have just makes it feel like a larger group of friends.

Eric: Since we started doing this website the number of times that I’ve been asked “Eric, have you seen [this] yet?” has at least tripled. It’s cool that people consider I have an automatic credibility when it comes to movies or comics. It’s been great to give a voice to Salt Lake especially in an area where things like local music or independent movies may get overlooked. I love having the chance to recommend people go and see a movie like Mud that was quickly overlooked, or The Spectacular Now that most people I talked to had never heard of. I really like being the go-to guy for pop-culture.


Gavin: You're going to hit the two year anniversary in April, where do you see the site going over the next few years?

Steve: I don't know. I would like to see it grow and expand to hit other topics like we started to do with focused gaming and movie sub-casts, but that all depends on time commitments and energy. So we'll see.

Eric: Over stuffed with content, ideally. It’s weird to think we’ve been at this for close to two years, but I just want to put more and more stuff out there. Get the name SaltPop out there even more, have a lot more a discussion on the site. For Steve an myself going to the movies more and more. I really want it to keep going, I have too much damn fun making this stuff.

TJ: Things have slowed down a bit, but we plan to keep churning out content where applicable. I see SaltPop remaining a strong local supporter and provider of entertainment.

Gavin: What can we expect from SaltPop and all of you over the rest of the year?

Eric: From SaltPop: On Film, expect regular reviews, and constant movie news. Especially with the upcoming Marvel movie releases and summer blockbusters right around the corner. Steve and I already have a hotel and tickets purchased for San Diego Comic-Con this year so there’s that to look forward to. Just be ready for more SaltPop, it’s bound to be good.

TJ: SaltPop: On Film is a major focus right now with Eric and Steve so stay tuned to hear from them on your favorite movies especially with summer blockbusters around the corner. Craig and TJ are going to be getting back into streaming so prepare for a lot of digital and interactive content.

Steve: I was teasing a "one movie a day" project for a while, but that fell through the cracks. Hopefully I'll get that back off the ground soon.


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Steve: I had a podcast that's been on hiatus for a while called The Twilighty Podcast About That Zone. Check it out. It's pretty funny.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Swoody Records]]> By Gavin Sheehan

As we've discussed many times here before, local music is thriving in ways we haven't seen in the past, as we're quickly accommodating that growth. --- From venues to recording studios to record shops, from recording studios to music promoters. If only someone would get off their ass and make an all-local music station... but I digress. One of the areas seeing the most growth is record labels, particularly being started up by musicians to promote their own work and the music of people they love to see.


One of the newer names to make a mark on 2014 is Swoody Records, a completely digital label working to push the work of artists here in Utah, as well as select names out of California who can't strike a major label. Today we chat with musician and founder Davin Abegg about his music, founding the label and helping fellow musicians get their work to the masses. (All pictures courtesy of Swoody Records.)

Davin Abegg
Swoody Records on Facebook

Gavin: Hey Davin! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Davin: Growing up I was the odd kid that would rather play with bugs and rocks than sports. I would listen to Weird Al and hold praying mantises and make them eat grasshopper. Now I’m 33 and I still get a kick out of the simpler/odder things in life. I’ve always enjoyed unordinary things, especially when it’s music and art.

Gavin: What first got you interested in music and who were some of your favorite acts growing up?

Davin: My uncle gave me Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet when I was five. I guess that was the very first time I really found interest in music. I wore that cassette out. Then of course I really got into Weird Al and Michael Jackson and everything kind of branched out from there. Though I didn’t really start writing my own music until a friend introduced me to Daniel Johnston in the late 90’s. I thought, this guy doesn’t need a fancy studio or cool style to write great music. I guess I can do that too. Around that time I was also introduced to K Records and have been a bit of an obsessed fan since.


Gavin: What was it like for you starting out in bands prior to Secret Abilities?

Davin: My first real band was formed in the early 2000’s. It was called X- Boyfriend. I mostly just wrote and sang songs about ex-girlfriends or girls I liked, it was kind of a goofy pre-emo thing. After that band kind of fell apart I joined a band called Canadians Among Us. It was a band full of extremely talented musicians and I kind of fell into being lead guitar, I’m not that great at lead guitar, but it was cool playing a different role in a band, following someone else’s writing style and just putting in my two cents every once in a while. Plus it was way more successful than my previous band and it was fun riding the wave.

Gavin: While we're on the topic, how has the band been going recently?

Davin: Secret Abilities is doing very well. We’ve been a band almost seven years now and we’re finally obtaining some really exciting heights. We’ve been invited to record our next album with Calvin Johnson at K Records' Dub Narcotic Studio in May and we’ll be doing a short tour the same time. The album will also be released on vinyl and we’ll be doing a small Indiegogo soon to help raise a little money for that. Before that we’ll also be releasing a split with my brother's awesome band Danger Button on April 12 with a release party at Kilby Court that same day.


Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up your own record label?

Davin: Like I’ve said before, I’ve been fascinated with K Records for quite sometime now. I really like the idea of a small tight knit record label that’s not really concerned in becoming huge. I’ve also enjoyed reaching out to unique artists through friends or by just browsing Soundcloud and doing collaborations with them or inviting them to participate on my yearly Christmas compilations and such throughout the years.

Gavin: What was it like for you setting it up and where did the name come from?

Davin: I kind of fell into it. I came up with a compilation idea called The Song Poem Project where I would invite various artists from around the world to submit a poem and I then gave them a random poem from another artist that they then had to record a song with. It turned out to be an outstanding album and I released it on Bandcamp. Unfortunately there wasn’t as much interest as I had hoped so I decided instead of having the song poem project stand alone, I would build a record label around it. I then started asking artists from the project and other artists I’ve discovered if I could put out albums on Bandcamp to help promote their music. The name just came from a bizarre character I created called Swoody J. I really liked the name and thought that the weird name would represent a weird company well.


Gavin: What made you decide to go strictly online releases and do everything through Bandcamp?

Davin: Honestly, doing only digital releases is the most economic way for me to get started. I do in fact intend on releasing a few of them on very limited cassettes or 7” records as soon as I can, after I start noticing what albums get the most attention.

Gavin: How did you go about finding talent to help support, and what do you look for in a musician?

Davin: I’ve been doing a lot of deep digging into sites like Soundcloud, where anyone can record and publish their songs no matter how terrible they are. I look for the artists that fit kind of the “outsider” genre, those that create their own world around them, that go against the norm. They’re just writing and playing what they honestly love and aren’t worried if anyone else ever hears it.


Gavin: What made you decide to branch out beyond Utah artists and push albums from people around the world?

Davin: This month I’ll be releasing an album from a man from the UK that calls himself Mr. Snowman (at least for the time being, he seems to enjoy changing his name every year or two). He just gave me a ton of his tape recordings from the '80s of him and a Casio keyboard playing these brilliant folk and pop songs that at the time he just recorded for himself. He said “I always had trouble remembering the lyrics to others songs so I started to write my own so no one would know if I sang them wrong.” That’s exactly the kind of people I want on my label.

Gavin: You've got five albums out so far, what's the reception been like from fans and the artists?

Davin: Good, but slim. I’m still learning how to successfully promote. The artists just love having someone interested enough in their music to do something with it. I’m just trying to make their music more accessible and I wrap it up in an album format by choosing what songs to use, what order to have them, mastering and equalizing any levels that need it, and designing an album cover or asking other local artists/designers if they’d be interested in the opportunity.


Gavin: For people who might like to join the label, what can they do to approach you about it?

Davin: I’m always open to hearing what people might think I’ll like. I mostly seek out the artists myself but it never hurts to submit, though I’d like to keep everything on the label in the same spirit.

Gavin: What can we expect from you and the label over the rest of the year?

Davin: Swoody Records will be releasing at least one album every month this year including stuff from local musicians Daniel Fischer (Fisch Loops) and the late Mari-Ti The Avant-Garde Grandpa to UK’s Mr. Snowman, possibly another from Tompson Owen from California and a ton more. There’s even been talk with The Lost Media Archive in joining together to put out an unreleased album from the late, great Wild Man Fischer.


Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Davin: I’ve received a lot of help and inspiration from my friend B.C. Sterrett of The Lost Media Archive, he plays a big part in introducing me to and helping me seek out outsider musicians and the like.

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<![CDATA[ Blog: Nate Hardyman]]> By Gavin Sheehan

As we mentioned last month, we're going to make more of an effort to highlight artists coming out of Utah County, mainly because there's awesome stuff coming out of their art scene that doesn't get highlighted enough. --- Take for example the illustrated works of Nate Hardyman, one of the more unique illustrators to come out of BYU in recent years, who has been gaining attention in the area for his detailed yet abstract style. Hardyman nearly snagged the Zankel Scholar back in 2012, which put his art in high profile and turned him into a must-see at group exhibitions.


Today we chat with Hardyman about his career so far, coming out of BYU and into the art scene, his style of work, thoughts on local art and a few other topics. (Pictures courtesy of Hardyman.)

Nate Hardyman

Gavin: Hey Nate, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nate: Hey Gavin. Hey everybody. Well I don’t know how much there is to say, I’m actually still a student at BYU (this is my last semester), and the bulk of my time is spent in that capacity, doing work for classes and whatnot. I come from a town in Idaho called Rigby, which incidentally is the birthplace of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television. I’m a huge music fan (who isn’t?), and the music I listen to really informs the art I make, not to mention my life in general. Lately I’ve been listening a lot to the old Delta blues guys: you know, like Robert Johnson, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf... And even more recently I’ve been getting into jazz pianists like Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. Great stuff.


Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some early influences on you?

Nate: I can’t even remember when I first got into art. My mom has drawings stashed away that I did before I could talk. I can remember always loving picture books. Especially if they were about pirates, knights, or dinosaurs. Some early influences were Calvin and Hobbes (Of course, basically everyone was influenced by Calvin and Hobbes.), Dinotopia by James Gurney, and anything by Maurice Sendak. I was also really inspired and influenced by my dad, who is a closet illustrator, and was constantly drawing pirate maps and monsters for me. He and my mom are still incredibly supportive of my quest to become an illustrator, which makes me really happy.

Gavin: You received your BFA in illustration from BYU. What made you choose BYU and what specifically drew you toward illustration?

Nate: Well, like I said, I’m still a student here, albeit in my last semester, and it still feels like the right place for me. Also, all of my high school buddies came to BYU, and I just kind of floated down here with them. I left BYU for a couple years to be a missionary in Brazil, and I didn’t apply for the Illustration program until after I returned. Illustration attracted me because it felt like a continuation of what I had always done, which was to draw weird pictures. Illustration wasn’t an easy choice for me though. I also felt a real pull toward the Graphic Design program, because I’ve long loved typography and design; but I just couldn’t refuse the opportunity that Illustration gave me to draw my heart out.


Gavin: What was their program like for you and how did your style develop during your four years?

Nate: I have nothing but good things to say about all my professors and the program itself. They do a fantastic job on focusing on fundamental skills like drawing, narrative, and composition. I’ve received a first-class education at BYU. I hesitate to say that I have a style, per se. I still feel very exploratory with pretty much every new piece I do, but there’s no doubt that my time at BYU has made me a much smarter illustrator and designer. And sometimes I make a piece that I’m proud of!

Gavin: While you were there, how was it for you breaking into the local art scene and getting your work shown both on campus and around Provo?

Nate: Oh man, it’s always been hard for me to put my work out in front of the public eye, and I still feel really nervous about it. Heck, I feel nervous about doing this interview! (Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m happy to do it.) I feel lucky in that I know lots of great people and artists that tell me about opportunities for displaying my work, and that’s made all the difference for me.


Gavin: What's the process like for you in creating a brand new piece, from the initial idea to final product?

Nate: Lots of times, as an illustrator, the subject is given to me by the client, which gives me a starting point. From there, I’ll hash out a ton of really rough ideas in my sketchbook. I might choose two or three of those that I take to a more finished state, adding value and color. Sometimes they’re all awful and I have to start back at square one. When I finally have an idea that I like, with working values and colors, I’ll make a finished piece out of it. The hardest part of the process, for me at least, is the brainstorming; thinking of a concept that’s visually interesting and that has a dynamic composition. I think I spend more time just sitting and staring at my paper than actually drawing on it.

Gavin: Considering the medium, do you change up what you do while you create you do you try to hold steady to the idea you first thought up?

Nate: Yeah, I think you really have to strike a balance between holding to an idea and accepting changes to it. I think it’s really important to have faith in your ideas, and to finish them. Invariably, you’ll have lots of opportunities to modify your idea during the creative process, and you have to be smart about which changes you make. Some changes will aid your idea and make it stronger. Others may be interesting, but ultimately will ruin your idea. It’s important for me to note every idea I have, because even if they don’t apply to my current project, they may be helpful in the future.


Gavin: During your time at BYU you were nominated to be the 2012 Zankel Scholar. What was it like for you to be nominated for that honor?

Nate: I was really grateful that my professors nominated me. It’s always nice to be recognized for your work, especially from your mentors and peers.

Gavin: Now that you have your degree, are you focusing more on freelance work and contracting material, or are you trying to be more of an independent artist just creating work for shows?

Nate: Even though I don’t technically have my degree yet, I’ve already set my sights on a freelance career. It’s a tough field to enter, but I’ve enjoyed the freelance work I’ve already done.


Gavin: For those interested in commissioning you, how do they get in contact with you?

Nate: Email me! I’m at You can also contact me through my website.

Gavin: What's your take on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Nate: I’m optimistic about the art scene around here. I’m not very familiar with the SLC scene, but Provo is a really dynamic place to be, and I can definitely see its artistic growth over the past few years. There are just so many high-caliber, creative things going on around here, whether it be music or theater or visual arts or anything else. I really can’t think of anything bad to say about it. I mean, it is Provo. It has its quirks. You won’t find the breadth or depth of art here that you will in, say, Los Angeles or NYC, but I wouldn’t expect to. I think that Provo offers an artistic environment that can be found nowhere else.


Gavin: Aside yourself, who are some local artists you believe people should be checking out?

Nate: A lot of my fellow students do work that blows me away! Hayden Davis has some really awesome design work. Chad Danger Lindsay works miracles with pen and ink. Soljee Lee’s work is amazing as well. Seriously, guys. Check them out. They’ll all be famous soon.

Gavin: What differences have you noticed between the art coming out of Provo compared to SLC or other cities?

Nate: Good question. I don’t know how qualified or knowledgeable I am to comment on the fine art or gallery work coming out of Provo, SLC, or any other city for that matter. Of course, a lot of work coming out of Provo has a strong religious, specifically Latter-day Saint bent to it, and I think that very much distinguishes it from art being produced in other places. With regards to illustration, I know that BYU has had a lot of successful illustrators and designers come out of its program in recent years. In a purely technical sense, I feel the illustration here is fantastic.


Gavin: For those artists who are coming up and looking to break out, what recommendations do you have for them?

Nate: Well I’m still working on that one myself. Lately I’ve been focusing on simply creating the most amazing work I can. I think that’s the most important thing that anyone can do: have a quality product. Also, get a website or a blog or some sort of online presence. If you’re looking to get freelance gigs, it’s important to send out mailers or emails to as many prospective clients as possible. And just keep working and putting yourself out there. That’s my plan, anyway.

Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

Nate: A lot of new work! My best work yet, hopefully. Right now I’m working on a series of portraits of Robert Johnson, one of my favorite blues artists. They’ll be on exhibition at BYU campus in August, and all you guys should come check ‘em out. I also want to keep experimenting with alternative processes and mediums. I just tried screen-printing and loved it. So maybe some more of that.


Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Nate: There are always plenty of great student art exhibits at the Harris Fine Arts Center on BYU campus. Always worth checking out.

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