By Jacob Stringer
Once upon a time, in the shadows of the great peak of Mount Timpanogos, Karen Ashton—president of the Friends of the Orem Library—sought out new ways to spark communitywide excitement in literature. After a quick adventure back East to attend the National Storytelling Festival, where she expected to find ladies narrating stories to children in local libraries, Ashton was astonished by the sheer number of adults and children alike sitting in tents upon hillsides listening to dynamic voices spinning tales and yarns about universal escapades.
Nearly 20 years later, Ashton’s quest to energize her community around fables and legends annually sees more than 25,000 people enjoying the revelry of her brainchild, the TIMPANOGOS STORYTELLING FESTIVAL. Not only has the event grown into the largest such festival in the West, it also has turned into a multi-day affair, boasting some of the biggest names in the field strutting their verbal stuff at the foot of Timpanogos. In 2005, the festival even sponsored a park redesign specifically for its own projected growth, right at the mouth of beautiful Provo Canyon. Augmented by musicians and general gaiety, some of the master raconteurs who travel to Utah Valley also take the time to teach storytelling workshops to both beginners and budding amateurs.
As the traditional bookends to any good fairytale, “Once upon a time …” certainly requires a “happily ever after.” So here’s to at least another 20 years of storytelling fun.
Timpanogos Storytelling Festival @ Mount Timpanogos Park, Provo Canyon and SCERA Shell, 400 E. 600 South, Orem, 801-229-7436, Aug. 28-30. TimpFest.org.
By Scott Renshaw
Those who were here remember it well. But more recent arrivals may have a hard time believing that in the mid-’90s, there may have been no more concentrated hotbed of ska bands and ska fans than in that trend-setters’ paradise of … Utah County.
Brandon Smith’s new documentary THE UP BEAT is, in part, a straightforward history of ska music, from its roots in Jamaican dance halls through the 2 Tone era of British bands. Smith grabs notables including the Maytals’ “Toots” Hibbert and Bad Manners’ Buster Bloodvessel to provide a road map of the genre’s journey from Kingston to the U.K. to the United States.
But the film really finds its voice when the focus turns to Utah’s own ska scene, when bands like Swim Herschel Swim, Stretch Armstrong (pictured) and My Man Friday played to overflow crowds, and national acts—including a pre-breakout No Doubt and legends like the Skatalites—made sure to stop in Utah County. Local musicians and radio personalities provide their reminiscences about acts from Logan to St. George, supported by archival concert footage. And as the film moves on to current bands trying to keep ska alive—including Salt Lake City’s The Upstarts—it becomes an object lesson in how hard it is to ride the downside of a sensation.
This week, catch the film as it makes its premiere in the county where the rock-steady rocked hardest.
The Up Beat Utah Valley premiere @ Festival Cinemas, 959 S. 700 East, Orem, Saturday, Aug. 30, 9:30 p.m. TheUpBeatMovie.com
By Jamie Gadette
Musical heavyweights Al Green and Bob Dylan are in town this week, performing under Mother Nature’s brilliant lights. And while both artists are guaranteed to deliver memorable performances to devoted fans, those on the hunt for a legend-in-the-making might want to stay downtown Thursday night for Neko Case.
The Canadian siren doesn’t quite have the back catalog to match Green or Dylan’s, but with a voice that cuts to the bone and lyrics that fall in lockstep with the greatest American gothic folklore, Case can damned sure hold her own in the spotlight. Recognized by many as a key member of The New Pornographers, Case pursues a decidedly less pop-oriented path for solo material that sparkles with elements of Americana, roots-rock and even classic R&B production quality.
Her latest of three full-length studio albums, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, is quite chilling, with torch songs of loss and love that emphasize Case’s otherworldly vocals and lyrics that turn the abstract into the familiar: “I leave the party at 3 a.m. /Alone, thank God /With a Valium from the bride /It’s the devil I love /And that’s as funny as real love /And that’s as real as true love.”
Case, along with opening act Crooked Fingers, closes out the stellar 2008 Twilight Concert Series in what could easily be the coolest moment of the summer.
Neko Case @ Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m. Free. All-ages.
Here&Now: Other New Happenings This Week
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty turn works by the master of lesson-teaching absurdist verse into musical theater. Empress Theatre, 9104 W. 2700 South, Magna, 347-7373, Aug. 29-Oct. 6. EmpressTheatre.com
REAL SALT LAKE VS. COLORADO RAPIDS The quest for the playoffs—and the top of the Western Conference—continues. Rice-Eccles Stadium, 451 S. 1400 East, 924-8585, Friday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m. RealSaltLake.com
CINDERELLA The Phoenix Theatre presents a stage adaptation of the classic fairy tale about evil stepsisters, fairy godmothers and uncomfortable footwear. Academy of Performing Arts, 3188 S. 400 East, 486-2728, Aug. 29-Sept. 20.
GABRIEL RUTLEDGE The 2004 Seattle International Comedy Competition winner brings his stand-up chops to Ogden. Wiseguys Comedy Café, 269 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-5588, Aug. 29-30. WiseguysComedy.com.
BRAZILIAN FESTIVAL Explore the South American culture through food, music, dance and arts & crafts. Gateway Mall Olympic Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 30, 1-5 p.m. UtahBrazilianFestival.com
SALT CITY DERBY GIRLS Those fearless females take on the Reno Battle Born Derby Demons. Utah Olympic Oval, 5662 S. 4800 West, Saturday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m. SaltCityDerbyGirls.com
OGDEN PAGAN PRIDE Learn more about earth-based spirituality and the Divine Feminine through rituals, performance and workshops. Monroe Park, 3000 S. Monroe Ave., Ogden, Saturday, Aug. 30, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. OgdenPPD.org
CULTURAL DIVERSITY CELEBRATION Take a world tour of food and performance—including Taiko drumming and mariachi music—without leaving one block. Washington Square, 450 S. 200 East, Aug. 30-31, 3-8 p.m. SaltLakeAmericanMuslim.com
SONYA DINSDALE The local artist presents her new show Defining Moments, including abstract two-dimensional mixed-media pieces. Utah Arts Alliance Gallery, 127 S. Main, 466-8818, Sept. 2-27. Artist reception Sept. 5, 6-9 p.m.