Uncle Uncanny's Summer Sessions 

10th-annual festival welcomes big changes

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John Brown's Body
  • John Brown's Body

What started out in 2004 as a small, “grass-roots, homegrown event,” says Uncle Uncanny’s Summer Sessions co-founder Travis Arnovick, has grown exponentially into one of Utah’s must-see music festivals.

With a two-part focus on live music and outdoor recreation, the three-day, family-friendly event—located at the River’s Edge campground in Heber—has become a gathering place for folks who like some tunes with their trees and mountains with their melodies. This year, not only is Uncle Uncanny’s celebrating its 10th birthday—with the pirate theme “X Marks the Spot,” also playing off of the Roman numeral 10—it’s kicking off its biggest year yet, with several game-changing developments on the festival’s horizon.

The first-annual Uncle Uncanny’s was put on by musicians Arnovick and co-founder Rick Gerber in the Uinta Mountains. It was a humble “family reunion of sorts, for just all of us local musicians,” Arnovick says, and was completely off the grid. A few years and location changes later, Junior Richard came on as the production manager for the sixth-annual festival. It was the first time Uncle Uncanny’s was held at River’s Edge, featured touring headliners and, Arnovick says, is when the event started gaining serious momentum.

Since its inception, Uncle Uncanny’s has “taken on a life of its own,” Arnovick says, and expands by “10 to 15 percent” every year. Recently, the festival’s popularity even caught the eye of ReverbNation, a source of online promotion tools for bands and venues that has also supported big-name festivals like South by Southwest. Now, Uncle Uncanny’s is “an official regional event, sanctioned by ReverbNation with their support this year,” Arnovick says. “That was a really big deal for us.”

There is also talk that Uncle Uncanny’s has outgrown its own shoes. Arnovick says that the festival’s organizers are planning to eventually combine Uncle Uncanny’s with two other major Utah musical festivals, Roots of the Rocks (formerly Desert Rocks) and Powellapalooza Beach Party. The event, slated to kick off in 2014, will be called Tri-festa, with the location still to be announced.

In the meantime, festival-goers can still enjoy outdoor recreation, workshops, kids activities and more, as well as more than 50 bands on three stages at River’s Edge, which Arnovick calls “an epic kind of venue,” located at the bottom of the Jordanelle Dam. The music lineup features national acts such as John Brown’s Body, plus local bands including Folk Hogan and Triggers & Slips.

“We’re all about spreading the word about local Utah music because there’s so much talent out there. When it comes down to it,” he says, Uncle Uncanny’s “is all about the music.”

River’s Edge at Deer Park
7000 N. Old Highway 40, Heber
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 9-11
CW Store Weekend Passes

Twitter: @VonStonehocker

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