Photo by Adam Finkle
When Eugenie Hero-Jaffe first arrived in Salt Lake City in 1989, a local advised her that to survive culturally she should: 1. Check out national artists at the Zephyr Club. 2. Catch the blues at the Dead Goat. 3. Tune into KRCL. Jaffe, who would go on to become a behind-the-scenes icon of the Utah arts scene, was reared in New Orleans and studied the arts and acting in New York before working as a Broadway press agent. She "followed a boy" to Utah, where she has worked as a publicist for Ririe Woodbury Dance, the 2002 Cultural Olympiad and Utah Arts Festival. She now presents the Midday Show on KRCL. "The scene has grown a lot since 1998, and the Zephyr and the Goat are long gone," she says of her friend's advice. "The original artists are still here and now there are all these new people who are challenging what we think about art."
Salt Lake is "settling into itself" culturally, Hero-Jaffe says. "There are some great things happening. When I see the bike brigade at Twilight on a hot summer night, I think Salt Lake is rad—Salt Lake is amazing."'
5 Insider Tips to Drilling Down Into Salt Lake's Music, Dance, Concert and Cultural Scene.
1) Get on the State Room mailing list. Get the jump on the crowd for great shows coming to town.
2) Go out for music. Do a Red Butte concert for exhilarating weather, top national acts, an ecstatic crowd and a dose of alpen glow.
4) Get jazzed. Discover traditional and contemporary jazz with the Jazz SLC series at the Capitol Theater.
5) Keep SLC weird. Check out an SB Dance show and go to the after party.
Surrender to the Utah Opera/Symphony
We grew up thinking opera is boring and even uncool. Then we saw Turandot. The costumes in Game of Thrones pale before the outfits onstage at the Capitol Theater. (And the music is much better.) But promise us one thing, you'll dress up. For one night, be unUtahn and put on the dog, (monkey suit, tiara, frock coat, etc.) to add to the pageantry of a night at the opera.
When it comes to old-school art, no one beats the "Old Ones'" astonishing petroglyphs and pictographs. The Anasazi, obviously, were trying to communicate something important through the timeless images on Southern Utah's cliff walls. We just have to figure out what.
If you want to know what is happening art- and music-wise in SLC's cultural underbelly, take a SLUG. That SLUG (Salt Lake UnderGround) dubs its letters-to-the-editor column "Dear Dickheads" says it all. Free at your favorite club.
Forget the solstice, the real sign of summer's arrival is the Utah Arts Fest. And it's more obvious with 200 artists, and nearly as many jugglers, stilt walkers, entertainers, bands and dancers—not to mention 80,000 bug-eyed attendees. 200 E. 400 South, SLC.
Tune In and Turn On
What soul abides in Utah is nourished by KRCL, 90.9, where Bad Brad, Ebay and, of course, Eugenie Hero-Jaffe hold the fort of authenticity. In between, volunteers serve up reggae, bluegrass and leftist politics. 90.9 MHz.
The city's newest gallery Modern West Fine Art celebrates the scenery and lore that is the only reason many of us are willing to put up with the other indignities of living in Zion. 177 E. 200 South, SLC
Bend Over to Wendover
When you need a blackjack fix, a roulette rush, an over-produced country band or just a dose of creepy sleep-deprived humans, Babylon awaits on the Nevada state line. Due west on I-80.
Volunteer at Sundance
Sundance Film Festival is so hip that many attendees like to pretend that Park City isn't in Utah (and it's kind of true). For a week, LA and NYC decamps to the frozen wastes of Summit County, jamming Parley's Canyon with limos. But the real stars are the volunteers, who get to see movies for free, pal around with Bob and hope to direct Parker Posey's driver to Temple Har Shalom.
Be the Artist
The Craft Lake City DIY Festival is a free art fair celebrating the "makers" among us. Innovation and handmade are the bywords of this marketplace of cool stuff, including electronic/mechanical gizmos and music and performance. Aug. 8-9, Gallivan Center, SLC
Color Outside Your Lines
For a weekend every spring, Utah forgets its vanilla, sobersided Mormon heritage. The annual Holi Festival of Colors at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork turns 20,000 Utahns, including most of the BYU student body, into rainbow people, quite literally. No booze or drugs, just love and unity.
To reach the highest state of cultural consciousness in Utah, you have to see the solstice through Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels and traipse the curls of black basalt at Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.
Get Lit for Christmas
Growing from a casual one-night performance, this holiday concert by the Provo cooperative Lower Lights has become a concert series at Salt Lake's iconic Masonic Temple for fans of rootsy holiday tunes. It's also a much-need antidote to Kurt Bestor.
Make a Plan-B
Plan-B Theatre Company's value in alternative live drama was evident this year when it dedicated a season to Provo playwright Eric Samuelsen, a fearless local treasure who explores Mormon culture, gays and big ideas.
Meet the Expats
Justin Townes Earle, the cantankerous singer/songwriter son of Steve Earle, and Willie Nelson Family Band harmonica player Mickey Raphael spend considerable time in SLC with their Utah-native ladies. You just might hear them jamming on KRCL or at the Green Pig, 31 E. 400 South, SLC.
Clockwise from top: 1) Show grandma's mink a good time! Vintage furs available seasonally at Name Droppers, SLC. 2) Volunteer at Sundance and meet the stars. You'll score an ID badge and more. 3) Even Groucho dressed up for A Night at the Opera: tux, tie and cummerbund. Tuxedo Junction, SLC, $70. 4) Red Butte concert cocktails? You'll need a GSI Vortex Blender, REI, $114; and 5) a Wine Chilling Stick, Hip & Humble, SLC, $35. 6) For soulful survival, a solar/crank powered radio to mainline KRCL 90.9 after the zombie apocalypse. Emergency Essentials, SLC, $60. 7) Build a killer robot for Craft Lake City DIY Fest. Dremel tool, The Tool Center, SLC, $100. Share your tunes with the undead with a 8) Braven Brav-1 speaker, $150. 9) For soulful survival, a solar/crank powered radio to mainline KRCL 90.9 after the zombie apocalypse. Emergency Essentials, SLC, $60. 10) Hellbent for Wendover? Amp Energy drink will fight off white-line fever. 7-Eleven, $3. 11) No roadhouse thrills in Utah? Ha! Head for the Garage, SLC. 12) You're a culture greenhorn until you've been to the iconic Spiral Jetty and Sun Tunnels. Better take a map, compass, and a GPS from the DNR Map Store, SLC. 13) Support the art of the West. Crow Indian Scout-Apsalooka Brave acrylic on canvas, by Kevin Red Star, Modern West Fine Art, SLC, $2,500.