Red Butte concert series promises talented musicians

By Chase Straight

Three years and $6 million later, the Red Butte concert series is back with a vengeance in 2008, boasting a stellar lineup covering genres ranging from classic R&B to alt-country.

The new amphitheater is ready to rock ‘n’ roll, and the problems plaguing the original concert series-mainly restricted lines-of-sight and unsightly port-a-potties-have been fixed. The new venue will even provide high-speed wireless Internet to concertgoers.

However, the new renovations aren’t the only reason to score tickets this year. The lineup is perhaps the most talented ever. Seven of the artists performing have 43 Grammy awards among.

The summer series kicks off July 11 with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The famed trumpeter and composer brings with him almost 30 years of experience and a modern performance style still rooted in traditional jazz methods.

Also in July, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi will be laying down some hot tunes with the Soul Stew Revival on July 22. Trucks and Tedeschi (who has played with the Grateful Dead reincarnation The Other Ones) team up to deliver one of a kind blues-inspired rock. The show will consist mainly of songs taken from each artist’s musical bank, with a few melodies written specifically for their summer tour. Derek Trucks, widely known for his involvement in The Derek Trucks Band and member of the Allman Brothers Band, is an acclaimed slide guitarist and has been listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Top 100 guitarists of all time. Coupled with Tedeschi’s soul and gospel inspired style, the Soul Stew Revival promises to cook up some spicy, southern-style goodness without the dirty, bathroom aftermath of the next morning.

If you’re still burning from the Soul Stew, you can cool down with Scottish folk-rock artist KT Tunstall. The one-woman band has been known to dazzle audiences by playing guitar and percussion simultaneously with the aid of a looping machine. She gained notoriety with radio hits “Suddenly I See” and “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” from her 2004 release, Eye to the Telescope. Now hot off the heels of her late 2007 release, Drastic Fantastic, Tunstall is energized and hitting the road with Martha Wainwright (sister of Rufus), stopping by Red Butte on Aug. 20.

Moving from the modern to the classic, the legendary Al Green takes the stage on Sept. 3, delivering what promises to be the most exciting show in the entire series. The reverend, vocalist and producer just released his latest effort, Lay it Down on May 27, with producer Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson (of The Roots). Debuting at No. 9 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, Lay It Down embodies the classic Al Green, a form not lost in his current performances. Apparently, the good reverend heard that Salt Lake City was in the midst of a terrible drought of soul music and figured he would take his butter-knife voice and lay down some Good God Y’all jelly all over the Utah whitebread.

As if that isn’t enough flavor, G. Love will be bringing his Special Sauce to close out the Red Butte amphitheater’s summer run on Sept. 11. G. Love & Special Sauce, cult heroes since 1994, are known for wild, energetic live shows that deliver prime hip-hop, blues, soul and even a little funk. The honky hip-hoppers will be touring in promotion of their 10th album, Superhero Brother, which drops June 24. The politically charged album also delivers some light hearted melodies with tracks such as “Who’s Got the Weed” and “Wontcha Come Home.” Any way you like it, the sauce is guaranteed to please.

Red Butte is looking to be rockin’ (or at least soft rockin’) the whole summer with headlining artists Emmylou Harris, Los Lonely Boys and Greg Brown filling out the lineup, among others. Tickets for the acclaimed summer series are on sale now and you better hurry up and get them-alt-country rockers Wilco and Bonnie Raitt are already sold out. Don’t be the person who missed Al Green because you waited too long.

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