One of the few sad things about this "job" is routinely seeing totally deserving acts that are working hard, writing good music, but not getting very far. Mix that in with head-scratching turnouts, odd bookings and any band's tough, worthy task is made even tougher. And what's really sad is seeing a small show that you know would have been warmly received by many had they seen it. And believe me, I don't relish telling people later "they should have been there." I feel it's a big part of my job to get you there in the first place.
But I'm only one guy, as the song goes. And sometimes it seems like the rest of the world is conspiring to make sure many deserving acts are ignored in Salt Lake City.
To wit: Two weeks in a row, two fine bands play Salt Lake City at venues that generally host vastly different acts are welcoming in groups that deserve wider attention. Last Tuesday. it was outlaw country rockers Whitey Morgan and the 78s at the hipster haunt, The Urban Lounge, and this week it's the endearing folkie duo of the Milk Carton Kids heading for Kilby Court on Tuesday night. Morgan played for less than 20 people and I'm afraid that the traditional folkies may face similarly slim pickings at the all-ages, indie-rock haven on Tuesday. Mix that in with The Moondoggies' return Sept. 23, who played for about 50 people the last time through in 2010 and it seems like a recurring problem.
Please note, in no way am I faulting any of these venues, it's just that all of these acts would be better served if they had a surefire way of letting potential fans know who they are and where they'll be.
I know a lot of people would likely have been just as stoked to see Morgan's energetic show Tuesday as I was, but they had little to no idea it was happening and it started at 11 p.m. Yikes! "Country" radio won't play acts like Morgan for reasons unbeknownst to me and have largely shied away from traditional country bands for decades now - and that's not changing.
Folk music has never had much of a home on the radio so the road to recognition is likely even rockier for the Milk Carton Kids, pictured above, than for Morgan. I saw the band open for indie-folker Joe Purdy earlier this year at The State Room and was floored, along with many in the sell-out crowd, so I'm harboring hope that enough people enjoyed their lonesome, well-played songs - and witty banter - enough to brave spartan Kilby Court. But ever seeing a crowd member at Kilby older than 30 is relatively rare, a fact I blame partly on the fact it's a dry venue. But Kilby is a worthwhile, exciting place to see bands and I'm not faulting their setup. It's just that the forlorn, world-weary sounds of MCK could likely have a better go at some place that sells brews, or hell, even coffee. Also note, they'll also hit the Logan Arthouse on Wednesday.
And finally, The Moondoggies, who are my vote for best young rock band completely off the radar will hit The State Room for the second time. These guys suffer from similar problems as the other acts - save for satellite radio, or the occasional play on KRCL, The Moondoggies are invisible to radio listeners. I only learned about them because I trusted a buddy who runs Groovacious down in Cedar City. Complete luck. And rest assured, no one's talking to me about music during the next month without hearing a hearty plug for this show, so brace thyself.
So the challenge is up to you fellow music lovers to read and listen for info about as many upcoming shows as you can and pay attention to various venues' websites, otherwise you might miss something grand while inadvertently harming hard-working bands fighting the oh-so good fight.
Follow Salt Lake Arts/Entertainment writer Scott Murphy on Twitter @murphyinfo.