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Sounds of Summer pulses to array of musical talent

Jul 13, 2017 08:34PM ● By Travis Barton

Alex Boye performed last year as part of the Midvale summer concert series. (Midvale Arts Council)

By Travis Barton | [email protected] 

Michelle Mullen knows a good concert venue when she sees it. That’s why you can find her on many a Friday night at Midvale City Park enjoying the Sounds of Summer, a free concert series at the outdoor amphitheater.


“I’ve been (to the concerts) with friends, with my dog, been here on dates,” she said. “It’s just a really relaxing place and there’s so much green with the trees and the grass, that’s probably my favorite.”


Every Friday until Aug. 4, the Midvale Arts Council will feature free summer concerts at Midvale City Park, 455 West 7500 S.


“This is our way of letting our community have a place to come together again and just enjoy an evening in the park,” said Melanie Beardall, treasurer on the board of directors and a chief organizer of the series.


The weekly musical event began four years ago when Beardall said they “were happy to get 40 or 50 people” to attend. It’s lowest attended concert so far in 2017 was 230.


But it’s grown each year with total attendance for last summer reaching 10,000 where a Levitt Amp matching grant allowed the council to have a higher budget attracting big stars like American Idol winner Taylor Hicks and Alex Boye.


The grant did carry restrictions though such as no cover bands were allowed and the performers had to be a mix of national, regional and local. Without the grant this year, it’s allowed the council more freedom.


Groups like Bent Fender and Assembly 6.0 were allowed to perform (both are cover bands).


Beardall said they had a contest to award someone a chance to come on stage with Assembly 6.0. She said 12-15 people would send the arts council a video of them singing Foreigner’s “I want to know what love is” with the winner coming up on stage to sing the chorus.


Another sign of its growth from the first year is the amount of emails Beardall receives from artists wanting to be a part of it. Beardall said she spends lots of time checking into the bands to “make sure the quality is there.”


She also wants to have a variety of performers, both in styles and geographically.


“There’s a lot of talent in Utah that we don't have to worry about going outside of the state, but at the same time, I love bringing in a few groups like Jarabe Mexicano to give people that experience of seeing these groups that they might not see anywhere else,” Beardall said.


She found Jarabe Mexicano (playing July 28) at a conference last August. The group planned to do an outreach program with the local Boys & Girls Club.


“We were really impressed with these young men,” Beardall said of the San Diego St. graduates who sing Latino pop along with some traditional music.


The variety this summer has included the energetic Los Angeles-based group Incendio, 23rd Army Band (who have performed every year of the series) and local non-profit Cityjazz.


The concerts take place at the unique outdoor amphitheater where people sit and watch the shows from blankets or chairs on the park’s lawn. The stage also hosts events for Harvest Days and occasional musical productions.


Beardall said the arts council is working with the city on stage upgrades. Plans include a bigger dressing room, ticket booth, awnings that close the sides a bit more, finding better places for speakers and a closed off area to leave production sets there without taking it down each night.


Beardall said the best part of the concert series is seeing people, like Mullen, come to the park to enjoy music in the great outdoors.  


“It’s been a wonderful place,” she said, “the last few years especially now that people know that we're there.”