Sunday, February 28, 2021



Summer is fast approaching, and with it, a bevy of arts and music festivals throughout Utah. Notably, the Utah Arts Festival (UAF) makes its return at Library and Washington Squares, heralding its 40th year. June 23-26 promises to bring local, national, and global entrepreneurs, artists and performers to the fore of our cultural consciousness.

As evidenced by last year’s installation, the festival, unique in its urbanized, laidback setup, collaborative programming, and all-ages offerings, continues to live up to its mission statement: to foster greater appreciation for the arts – especially of the non-traditional variety – spur innovation among local talent, and ultimately improve our quality of life.

I spoke with UAF Performing Arts Coordinator, Steve “Doc” Floor, who with his keen ear for sounds across genres has been enlisting musicians for the festival circa 1999. While the program is still in its finalizing stages, he gave me the scoop on confirmed acts. With returning and debuting artists, the eclectic roster is sure to satiate goers’ specific palates.

CHARISSA CHE: What does the UAF has to offer that makes it unique from other summer arts festivals in SLC (i.e. the annual DIY Festival)?

STEVE “DOC” FLOOR: I think that at the Utah Arts Festival we bring together more forms of art and fun during the annual four-days than any other event… I only handle the performing arts portion (classical, folk, rock, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, bluegrass and electronic music; modern dance, multi-cultural dance and ballet).  But we also feature over 100 visual artists booths full of traditional 2-D and 3-D works, not to mention a festival-long program of literary art and film.  We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this summer, and we still provide a great opportunity for this community to come together to celebrate how art makes our lives better.

CC: Tell me about some of the confirmed acts for the upcoming festival. What might be particularly exciting for first-time goers?

SDF: It’s still very early in the game and I’ve barely made a dent in scheduling the 90+ performances for this year.  But at this point, I can release the following list of artists who are confirmed to perform at the Festival: The Utah Symphony Orchestra; haven’t had ‘em in over 20 years, Steep Canyon Rangers– Steve Martin’s back-up band; Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio – Elvin was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Cimarrón, from Colombia, and about 86 more still to be named.

CC: What do you look for when you review artists’ applicants?

SDF: Several factors are considered when reviewing artists’ applications.  While certain time slots are reserved for music schools and “young” musicians, for most other time slots, I personally look for experienced, professional performers.  That doesn’t mean that all of the band members are full-time musicians…we should present seasoned players that can perform with at least a minimal amount of competency, professionalism and have the creativity and energy that all performers should demonstrate… I have recruited 25 persons to serve on five separate music-genre committees to help me review the 300+ acts that are considered every year.

I can safely say that the only acts that perhaps might not be appropriate for the Festival are those that present gratuitous sex, violence or profanity.  I think that when so-called artists rely on such superfluous displays, it’s actually a sign of artistic weakness, and is therefore contrary to our overall mission.

CC: For those who may be too late in applying for a slot in the program: how might they still get involved in the Festival’s cause?

SDF: The Utah Arts Festival depends on more than 1,200 local volunteers every year and volunteering is a great way to be involved.  Members of the set-up crew, face painters, beverage servers, Earth Team recyclers; we need help with all of it! (Find out more and sign up to volunteer here.)

CC: What has been one of your most memorable experiences at the UAF thus far in the time you’ve been involved?

SDF: I think the one that stands out the most was in 2007 when I performed at the Festival.  The band, Zion Tribe, had been together for 20 years by this time, and we had played the Festival several times. For whatever reason, this show was one of our best ever…the crowd was big and appreciative.

This is what many other acts have experienced at the Festival and the main reason so many local bands really want to be accepted to play the event. We provide a big stage and a big, top quality sound system with professional audio engineers. This is the sort of technical production that provides a rare opportunity for local bands. For most groups, it’s sort of a once in a lifetime experience and the chance for their fans, friends and family of all ages to see them in a professional and fun setting.

In addition to the above, here’s a sampling of confirmed acts that Floor is personally excited to see, and bookings in progress: 

A collaboration between RDT Dance Company and 3hattrio, a country/folk/jazz group out of southern Utah.  I saw the two groups perform together and it was an absolutely unique pairing.

A Dutch woman who now hails from Portland, Oregon and performs under the name Jet Black Pearl, does amazing things with her voice, her accordion and some electronic devices.

The Phoenix Jazz and Swing Big Band will make their first appearance ever at the Festival and will feature California based vocalist, Jack Wood.  They will present an evening of music in tribute to Frank Sinatra entitled “A Sinatra Centennial Salute.”

For the past few years, we’ve presented artists submitted by the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation.  The pianists they’ve brought to us are always world-class.  At this point, we don’t know who they’re going to feature, but it will be high-caliber piano artistry.

I’m currently in the process of booking a musician to be featured as soloist with the Salt Lake Jazz Orchestra.  I don’t have confirmation as to who it will be; I’m exploring several options.  But whoever it is, will be a world-class player.

Beginning last year, we presented the Salty Cricket Composers Collective, who will again premier original music written by Utah composers. Their repertoire consists of classical music written for the piccolo, clarinet, and piccolo trumpet, played by a handful of Utah Symphony Orchestra musicians.

From Great Britain, we will have Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International, a group of larger than life, colorful street theater performers. They’ll be on site, roaming throughout the festival at various times during the four days and nights.

For more information on the Utah Arts Festival, visit its official website.

Photo cred: Austen Diamond

Even in the exploration boom of the 1800s, nobody dared to explore the terrain flowing through the Green and the Colorado Rivers.⁠

That is, nobody until Major John W. Powell said the 19th Century equivalent of “Hey man, hold my beer while I try this.”⁠

Read more about his dangerous expedition at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo of Powell’s expedition courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division⁠

A brand new issue of Salt Lake magazine is coming your way! ⁠

We can't wait to share these stories with you. This issue includes our annual Blue Plate Awards celebrating those surviving and thriving in the restaurant biz. Plus, we take a road trip to Wyoming and ask why the only Utah passenger on the Titanic didn’t survive her journey.⁠

A note from our editor Jeremy Pugh, including beautiful tributes to Mary Brown Malouf from our friends in the community, is online now. Read more at the link in our bio ❤️⁠

Subscribers: Look for this issue in your mailbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands March 1! 📬

Today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Blue Plate Awards! ⁠🎉⁠

These prizes honor the growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs who do more than put good food on the table—they make our community a better place to live. This year, just surviving as a local business deserves an award, but each of our Blue Plate winners did more than that. They made us grateful for every person involved in the essential act of feeding us.⁠ 🍽⁠

At the link in our bio, we have the full list of winners, a celebration of feats of COVID creativity and a tribute to restaurants we lost this year. If you’re hungry for more, pick up a copy on newsstands March 1! Plus, check out our Instagram for spotlights on some of the Blue Plate winners. ⁠

This year’s Blue Plate Awards are the first without our beloved Executive Editor Mary Brown Malouf. We dedicate them to her, our town’s biggest food fan, critic and champion. xoxomm⁠ 💙

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @ricobrandut for Staying in Beansness⁠

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove and now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.” 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award Winner: @spicekitchenincubator for Keeping the Spice Flowing⁠

This year Spice Kitchen Incubator, already an essential resource for refugees, became, well, even more essential. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @thestore_utah for Special Deliveries ⁠

As grocery delivery becomes the new norm, The Store offers a personal touch that only an independent grocer can provide. Last March, high-risk and elderly customers began calling in their grocery lists over the phone, and The Store’s general managers personally delivered food to their homes. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @cucinaslc for Preserving Neighborhood Connection⁠

Cucina’s outdoor spaces became a place where the neighborhood could gather safely. Owner Dean Pierose offered free coffee in the mornings and encouraged his regulars to linger and commiserate together, preserving a semblance of society during a socially distanced time. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @oquirrhslc for Betting the Bottom Dollar⁠

When COVID-19 hit Salt Lake City, Oquirrh co-owners Andrew and Angelena Fullers' dream was seriously damaged. But the Fullers keep trying to follow the rules. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @hearth_and_hill for Opening Doors⁠

As the pandemic ravages independent restaurants, Hearth and Hill has reaffirmed its commitment to small businesses in Park City and used its large dining room as an informal gathering space for the city. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @fisherbrewing for Creative Canning⁠

This year, Fisher found ways to utilize their beer, taproom space and canning capabilities for good. They created special lines of limited edition beers in custom cans to help raise funds for local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. 💙⁠

A wind storm #tbt for your feed today. 🌬️🛹⁠

2020 was a long, long, loooong year, so we asked local photographers to share what the new normal looked like through their eyes. The link is in our bio!

Just hours after being sworn in, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for a review of the boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The monuments—designated by Barack Obama in 2016 and Bill Clinton in 1996—were reduced by roughly 2 million acres by former president Donald Trump, and the executive order is seen as move towards restoring the original boundaries.⁠

Read the full story through the link in bio.⁠

📸Bears Ears National Monument: Courtesy of Utah Office of Tourism

What’s your favorite park in Utah? ...