When Darin Piccoli and Chris Mautz got together, it was just supposed to be for lunch. Instead what the two friends ended up with was a plan to create the company that brought The State Room, The State Room Presents, and now, Live! At the Eccles to Salt Lake.
Both men had already been working in the music industry in Salt Lake independently Mautz was booking Red Butte Garden’s Summer Concert Series—and a similar concert series in Michigan—while Piccoli was managing bands, working with local music festivals and running a corporate events company. And the first thing they did together was start a concert booking company: First Tracks Entertainment.
Mautz says the duo recognized that there was a missing piece in the live music scene in Salt Lake, since the Zephyr, Port O’ Call and Dead Goat had all shuttered their doors—First Tracks Entertainment was meant to fill that gap. The company began to book shows at existing venues around town, starting with a Return to Forever show at Kingsbury Hall—and including the Summer Solstice shows at Library Square benefitting the Utah Arts Festival—until they settled into their own space at what is now The State Room in 2009. It was after that, Chris Mautz says, that they realized they were onto something, “We became aware that The State Room was building a brand,” Mautz says, “So that’s where the The State Room Presents, as a moniker, came about.”
So, shows that were booked by First Tracks Entertainment at venues other than The State Room, because they can pull a bigger crowd than the 300-people The State Room accommodates, suddenly became The State Room Presents Shows—while booked by First Tracks Entertainment. The State Room Presents has hosted shows at County Facilities, Kingsbury Hall, The Viv, The Depot and Deer Valley.
Now, First Tracks Entertainment is booking the Live! At the Eccles concert, lecture and comedy series at the new downtown Eccles Theater. Mautz says he sees the 30-or-so shows that will be booked there as a natural extension of what his and Piccoli’s company already does, filling in the gap for shows that would normally play Red Butte in the summer but have no venue in town to play in the winter, spring and autumn months. “The way, philosophically, that Darin and I have thought about this is that at the very core of it all, it’s really about the audience and the audience experience and their connection to the music,” says Mautz. “The way that we’ve curated and created what’s going on at The State Room and the way that we approach some of the Deer Valley shows—we already have that—but there’s a whole other layer of it at The Eccles.”
“I think that our city has been missing something like this for live music,” says Mautz, “The Capitol is pretty cool for shows. Kingsbury is pretty cool for shows. Abravenel Hall is pretty cool for shows. The Depot is a club. The State Room is a club. Urban Lounge is a club,” he says, noting that the Eccles is filling that gap. “Where else would someone like the Doobie Brothers play in the non-summer months, if not there?”
If you’re still unsure about The State Room/The State Room Presents/Live! at the Eccles, I find a flowchart always helps.