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Banyan Collective Infuses Acoustics Into Ogden Art Scene

Mar 10, 2016 12:44PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

Ogden - Live music is heard in arenas, concert venues, amphitheaters, high school auditoriums and local bars. But the Banyan Collective, a production company, is now providing live acoustic music from its very own van in a new podcast called Van Sessions. 

Recorded in a 1987 Dodge camper van, Van Sessions is a podcast of live music performed the first Friday of every month between February and May in front of the Union Station in downtown Ogden. 

In a conjoined effort with Ogden City Arts to drive more attention to First Friday Art Stroll during spring and fall, R. Brandon Long and Todd Oberndorfer thought their podcasting skills could help. Long and Oberndorfer, along with John Wojciechowski, founded The Banyan Collective, which makes up four different podcasts. 

“We decided let’s throw some musicians in the van, we’ll pump it out through a PA system down 25th Street, call it Van Sessions, and it was born,” Long said. 

The initial concern that people wouldn’t want to play music in their van quickly disappeared once Long and Oberndorfer put the word out on social media.

“We got so many responses, we’re booked out for months now,” Long said. 

Van Sessions first occurred Feb 5. The event originally had three acts, but due to the large response they added a fourth. 

Long and Oberndorfer said they were surprised at how well-received the inaugural event was, especially considering the winter temperatures. 

 “I had the heater running in the van, but when I went outside I thought these people are nuts,” Long said. “It’s freaking cold out here, so we must be doing something right.”

Oberndorfer said the van’s presence was felt as the music carried up historic 25th Street. 

In order to make the location playable, Oberndorfer spent an hour shoveling snow off the sidewalk creating a standing area for attendees. 

Included in the first night’s lineup were mostly local talent:  The Wednesday People, Blackkiss, Sweet Biscuits and Scott Rogers. 

Each act played four songs interspersed with conversations with the artists about their inspirations and passions. Oberndorfer said it’s special and similar that way to Sundance where you can ask the filmmakers questions after seeing the film. 

“We get to know the bands between songs, and I think that’s what makes this a little bit different compared to if you just jumped into a bar or a live venue,” Oberndorfer said. 

Oberndorfer said part of the fun is the venue itself. Most of the bands that come through the tan van are used to playing larger studios and venues.

“As far as I’m concerned they [the bands] get more excited playing in a place like this because of the limitations, they gotta be creative,” Oberndorfer said. 

Oberndorfer, who hopes they one day have a Van Session Season on CD or vinyl, said they pick musicians according to what match feels right and what their gut tells them. 

“So far we’ve liked a lot of the people we’ve looked at; it’s just a matter of fitting them in,” Oberndorfer said.

Season one of the Van Sessions ends in May, and after taking the summer off, season two will begin in September running through December. Long said they already have bands from Salt Lake ready to play in season two. 

“We like that mix of having local Ogden artists combining with Logan and Salt Lake,” Long said. 

To put on events such as this Long and Oberndorfer said they need the assistance of Union Station, which provide the venue and power so they can produce the show. 

Van sessions appears to have repaid the favor on the night.

“I was told they had more people visit the Union Station museums than ever before on that night,” Long said. 

Long, a native of Ogden, said the biggest beneficiary of the Van Sessions may be the Ogden Art Scene. 

“The arts in Ogden is something that is understated and people should probably pay more attention to,” Long said. 

Go to http://www.thebanyancollective.com/vansessions/  for more information on The Banyan Collective’s Van Sessions.  

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