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The City Journals

Draper Nights celebrates with three nights of music

Jul 01, 2021 09:45AM ● By Katherine Weinstein

“Tapestry, the Carole King Songbook with Suzanne Davis” returns to Draper Nights on July 15. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Davis)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

Draper Nights celebrates its 20th anniversary July 15, 16 and 17 with an array of musical performances and fireworks in Draper City Park. “This is going to be a historic celebration of unity, hope and gratitude,” said Draper Nights event manager LaVar Christensen. He noted that the concert series is special to the city of Draper. “It’s the same spirit of pioneer celebration that really makes it unique.” 

Since 2001 when Christensen went to Draper City Council with his idea for a summer concert series, he has hand-picked the musical talent for Draper Nights. Beatlemania, a Beatles tribute show that Christensen enjoyed at a summer concert at EPCOT, was the first musical group to perform at Draper Nights. Peter Noone, BJ Thomas, Collin Raye, and America are just a few of the performers and bands to have taken the stage at Draper Nights over the past two decades.

Much of the music that will be performed at Draper Nights this year hearkens back to the era of the early 1970s. “People look forward to hearing all of these classic songs,” Christensen said. “The music is timeless. It’s something we love and love to share with the community.” 

Two musical acts will perform each evening. The festivities begin July 15 with a performance by “The Carpenters Tribute with Michelle Whited” followed by “Tapestry, The Carole King Songbook with Suzanne Davis.” 

Davis is pleased to be returning to Draper Nights having played the event several years ago. “It was just a wonderful experience,” she said. “We were hoping to come back.” 

“I’ve been a professional musician all my life,” Davis explained. A singer and pianist, she performed in other tribute shows before deciding to produce her own. The idea to do a Carole King tribute “just popped into my head,” she said. “She has such great music—the Tapestry album as well as the music she wrote before and after that.” 

“Through doing this show I’ve learned so much about her place in music history,” Davis continued, noting that this is the 50th anniversary of King’s Tapestry album.

Davis finds joy in what she describes as “the symbiotic relationship” between musician and audience. “The song that seems to really hit people in the core—when you can hear that collective gasp—is ‘It’s Too Late.’ It’s like people are excited to hear it, that opening chord. I love it because I can hear the audience digging it,” she said. 

On July 16, “The James Taylor Experience with the Fire and Rain Band” will take the stage at Draper Nights followed by “A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney featuring Tony Kishman.” 

Kishman first performed on stage as Paul McCartney before there was such a thing as a tribute band. He was cast in a Broadway production of “Beatlemania” in 1977 and toured with it extensively. Kishman played the former Beatle in the “Legends in Concert” show for many years in Las Vegas before travelling the world in his own solo McCartney tribute show.  

He put together his current show, “Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney,” in 2006. “It is a full symphony show, we have a 12-piece orchestra with a four-piece band behind me,” Kishman explained. “We like to play songs that are fun to do with a full symphony orchestra—wonderful, big songs.” 

The audience at Draper Nights can expect to hear many Beatles songs as well as hits from McCartney’s Wings era and solo career. “We do every song to a tee, like he did it in the studio,” Kishman said. “This show is my pride and joy.” The inclusion of a Paul McCartney tribute in this year’s concert lineup alludes to the Beatlemania performance at the first Draper Nights 20 years ago. 

Draper Nights goes out with a bang on July 17 with musical performances kicked off by the country band Sixwire from the popular ABC television show “Nashville,” followed by “Saturday in the Park,” featuring Jason Scheff, bassist and lead singer from the band Chicago. 

Doug Dredge, the chair of Draper Days, commented, “In the past, the bands have been confined to one area of Draper City Park. This year, we get the whole park.” He encouraged people to “bring a blanket for the whole family to sit on. It’s just going to be really, really nice.” 

The Draper Nights concerts are free of charge and will begin at 7 p.m. at Draper City Park, 12500 S. 1300 East. For more information visit draperutah.gov.