You smell that? No, not the Great Salt Lake. I'm talking about the smell of fall, as exemplified by the opening of the Utah State Fair and the Utah Symphony's season--both happening this weekend.
UTAH STATE FAIR, UTAH STATE FAIR PARK, Thursday-Sept. 16, $10 for adults/$7 for seniors over 62 & kids 6-12
One of my favorite things about Utah, and its been true since I first visited in the mid-80s, is the Utah State Fair. Granted, it’s not dramatically different than most state fairs, but I love discovering what new, unnatural use for deep-frying that some entrepreneurial soul has come up with (Oreos? Beer? Mac & Cheese?), and checking out the inarguably lame carnival games that I just KNOW I can beat, no matter what the odds. The rides have gotten better through the years, but quality of live musical acts has gone backwards. Not that long ago, I saw Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Destiny’s Child at the Utah State Fair; this year, the biggest music offerings are Wilson Phillips and Blues Traveler. Yikes! Thankfully, the rodeo offers far more excitement than Sheena Easton or Lonestar. And, of course, there is always a fine selection of freak-show-quality livestock. See the six-legged cow! The world’s largest rat! Who knows what it will be this year? I just know that I’ll be there to find out.
THE UTAH SYMPHONY PERFORMS THE SONGS OF BILLY JOEL AND MORE WITH MICHAEL CAVANAUGH, ABRAVANEL HALL, Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m., $29-$59
At the risk of losing any credibility I might have as a music critic, I’ll cop to being a Billy Joel fan. Hey, show me a kid who grew up on Top 40 radio in the ’70s and ’80s who isn’t–at least as a guilty pleasure. And after seeing the Utah Symphony perform the songs of Michael Jackson at the Deer Valley Music Festival this summer, and the tunes of Queen last summer, I’m game for seeing them tackle the considerable catalog of the New York piano man. Singing the songs will be Michael Cavanaugh, a Tony-nominated vocal powerhouse who was personally selected by Joel to star on Broadway in Movin’ Out, the jukebox musical of Joel’s tunes from a few years back. Two sets of Joel classics, plus some songs by The Who and Elton John, should make this a pretty loose night at the symphony compared to most.
ART MEETS FASHION, RED BUTTE GARDEN, Saturday, 6 p.m., $35 students/$50 GA/$100 VIP
Looking for an excuse to glam it up and support a great cause at the same time? Here it is. The annual Art Meets Fashion show this year is a benefit for a new water conservation garden at Red Butte Garden, and the party takes over a piece of one of Salt Lake City’s most beautiful spots for a fashion show, art show and cocktail party Saturday night. Not only will you be privy to the latest looks coming from SLC’s own designers; you’ll also have the chance to peruse and buy artwork by 15 of Utah’s best contemporary artists while sipping drinks and noshing on bites from some of the city’s best restaurants. Not a bad little way to spend a Saturday night.
OLD 97s/THOSE DARLINS/RHETT MILLER, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Saturday, 9 p.m., $20
I’ve always considered Old 97s more pretty than gritty, and pretty doesn’t really work quite as well in the realm of roots-rock. But after years of seeing the Dallas band deliver stellar live shows over and over again, I’ve come around on the band named after a Johnny Cash tune. Lead singer Rhett Miller is a damn fine songwriter–check out his solo albums if you can, as he’ll be doing some of that material at this show as well–and the whole band has a chemistry that can only come when a band has been playing together for a long time. Old 97s have almost 20 years together under their collective belt, and last year’s The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2 showcased a group that’s only getting better with age.