Headliners for the 2013 Utah Arts Festival run from the African Showboyz kicking off Thursday to Jason Isbell closing on Sunday.
Thur, June 20, 7:30pm & 9:00pm, at The Round and Fri, June 21, 6:30pm at the City County Steps, 8:45pm at the Round, and 10:15pm at the Park Stage
Drumming, dance, magic and adreneline combine in the African Showboyz' performance. The five Sabbah brothers – Napoleon, Joseph, Isaac, Moses, and JJ – grew up in Binaba, a tiny village in the bush country of northeast Ghana without electricity or schools. At home their drumming is used for daily life events, childbirth, marriage, and funerals. But when the Showboyz took it to the rest of Africa – aided in their early years by Babatunde Olatunji, the "father of world music" – they found that their music and messages of peace and unity connected with audiences everywhere.
Thur, June 20, 9:45pm, Festival Stage
New Orleans band The Iguanas reflect the musical heritage of that most European of cities. Their Creolized sound reflects fusing blues, classic R&B, zydeco, Cajun, Tex-Mex, and roots rock & roll. The band includes Rod Hodges, vocalist and saxophonist Joe Cabral, bassist Rene Coman, and drummer Doug Garrison. Their latest release is "Sin to Sin," their first studio recording since 2008, a tasty mix of English and Spanish over a musical gumbo that could only come from The Iguanas.
Thur, June 20, 9:45pm, Amphitheatre Stage
With roots tucked deep in Utah, where they are still based, Royal Bliss is a nationally recognized melodic rock outfit. Formed in 1997 in Salt Lake City, Royal Bliss has created eight studio albums, including the Capitol Records release, "Life In-Between." The band has triumphed over several hardships to keep making music, not the least of which was frontman Neal Middleton's horrific near-deadly 35-foot fall from a balcony. He amazed doctors, fans and bandmates alike by not only learning to walk again, but returning to rock out in front of the band once more. In 2012, Royal Bliss released studio album "Waiting Out the Storm" as well as "15 Years: 1997–2012," a compilation of favorites.
Y La Bamba
Fri, June 21, 9:45pm, Festival Stage
Singer/songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza is the heart and soul of Y La Bamba. Her band melds the Mexican musical influences of her childhood with the melange of styles that comprise the music of her adopted city, Portland, Oregon. Y La Bamba was originally a name Mendoza gave to her solo project, but she has since added a stellar band including Ben Meyercord, Mike Kitson, Eric Schrepel, Paul Cameron and Scott Magee. They released a new six-song EP, "Oh February," in March 2013.
Fri, June 22, 9:45pm, Amphitheater Stage
Baton Rouge swamp blues rocker Kenny Neal plays traditional music with fresh zest. A second-generation bluesman (his father Raful played harmonica with Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo), he followed in his father's footsteps and into Buddy Guy's band. Later he went to Toronto to play in a band with his brother Noel before returning to the states and a solo career. He has since made a series of outstanding blues albums from Alligator, Telarc and Blind Pig Records, showing he has what it takes to keep the deep swamp blues alive and well.
Sat, June 22, 8:45pm, Park Stage
Shovelman is a Junkyard beatnik, a shovel guitar wielding surrealist folk superhero. Armed with a collection of pawnshop effects pedals and an old barn-shovel turned slide-guitar, Shovelman plays ol' fashioned folktronica-grooves looped straight out of the ground.
Dennis Chambers & Grafitti
Sat, June 22, 9:45pm, Park Stage
Drummer Dennis Chambers has recorded with jazz and rock heavy-hitters from John Scofield, Santana, Parliament/Funkadelic, and many others. Chambers is known for a groove-oriented yet technical style, and though he has played with musicians of many genres, he is best known for his hand with jazz-fusion, funk and Latin rhythms. He brings one of his classic fusion outfits to play the Utah Arts Festival.
Sat, June 22, 9:45pm, Festival Stage
The SteelDrivers is a group of seasoned veterans based in Nashville who blend bluegrass roots with new styles. The end result is something new yet familiar and delightful. The group features Richard Bailey on banjo, Mike Flemming on bass and vocals, Gary Nichols on guitar and vocals, Tammy Rogers on fiddle and vocals, and Brent Truitt on mandolin. Since the release of The SteelDrivers (2008) and Reckless (2010), The SteelDrivers have been nominated for three Grammys, four IBMA awards and the Americana Music Association's New Artist of the Year.
The Sensations Soul Band
Sat, June 22, 9:45pm, Amphitheater Stage
The Sensations Soul Band is an energetic, polished, and well-choreographed Variety Dance Band that specializes in Oldies from the Fifties, Motown and Classic Soul from the Sixties, Funk and Disco from the 70's and 80's as well as the best in Top 40 hits from all decades. Like a juke box of musical classics!
Sun, June 23, 8:30pm, Amphitheater Stage
An Arizona native who now lives in Provo, Ryan Innes has made a name for himself this season on the NBC singing contest, "The Voice." With a truly soulful sound and a ready, groovy hand on the piano, Innes possesses a big, blues-tinged torch of a voice that will definitely wow Festival-goers.
Sound Mass (Theta Naught + My Education)
Sun, June 23, 9:30pm, The Round
In 2010, Austin, Texas, band, My Education had three days to kill in Salt Lake City on a West Coast tour. Guitarist Brian Purington had been emailing Ryan Stanfield, the bassist for Utah improvisational collective Theta Naught (a band featured twice before at the Utah Arts Festival). In those three days, the groups combined for a magical studio session. The end result was the fresh group of recordings known as Sound Mass.
Portland Cello Project
Sun, June 23, 9:45pm, Festival Stage
Since the group's inception in late 2007, the Portland Cello Project (or, PCP, as their fans affectionately call them) has wowed audiences all over the country with extravagant performances. They've played everywhere from Prairie Home Companion to that punk rock club in the part of town your grandma warns you not to go to after dark. The group has built a reputation mixing genres and blurring musical lines and perceptions wherever they go.
Sun, June 23, 9:45pm, Amphitheater Stage
After spending six years drawing accolades as one of three strong songwriter/musicians in The Drive-By Truckers, Alabaman guitarist/singer/songwriter Jason Isbell went his own way. Soaking in as he did the diehard Southern-rock style, honed by many a club night with the DBTs, Isbell has become a powerful leadman in his own right.