When we moved to Utah 16 years ago, I was amazed at the amount of people willing to sit out in the summer weather and listen to a plethora of outdoor concerts. Don't get me wrong, the evening weather is cooler and I sit on my patio often at that time of night. However, the weather is also fickle here. Far less predictable than the temperate California climate I was raised in. An evening thunderstorm can pop up at any moment and send me scurrying indoors. Native Utahns aren't afraid of lightning like this California girl is. They didn't even used to call the kids in from recess during a storm until a student was struck by lightning a few years ago (and thankfully was fine). Their non-chalance results in several people being struck by lightning each summer, which does nothing to allay my fears.
There are at least 10 amphitheaters in the Salt Lake Valley and the surrounding ski resorts. All have a summer concert series. Some have had terrific bands I have wanted to see, but never enough to pay actual cash to risk braving the unpredictable elements. But that all changed last weekend due to my more adventurous spouse.
Tim was in town for the weekend and one of his favorite artists, Lori McKenna, was doing a concert at the Sundance Resort amphitheater. It is part of their Bluebird Cafe concert series. The Bluebird Cafe is a famous venue in Nashville, where songwriters perform their works of art. Sundance is a ski resort best known as owned by Robert Redford and the home of the Sundance Institute which hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year. They have deep roots in the entertainment industry. They have partnered with the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to bring their artists to Utah to perform. In addition to McKenna, Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin shared the stage with her.
The concert itself was delightful. The narratives between songs were informative and funny. Songwriters are storytellers and they did a good job entertaining the crowd of 700+. Many of their songs were well known as they had been performed by famous artists and a few were songs that are just near and dear to them, but never made it high on the charts. They are country artists, which is NOT my thing, but these were mellow songs. More like gentle folk music. Nothing like Take Your Cat and Leave My Sweater. I don't think a pick-up truck was ever mentioned. So it was very enjoyable.
The views were stunning. The river was still raging from the snowmelt seeming more like May than July. The weather remained cloudless and clear. However, we were in the mountains. When we arrived, it was 85 degrees and taking the sweatshirt and blanket from the car seemed silly, but once the sun went down I was so glad we had them. The sandals were a mistake, both for the cold night air and the hike to the amphitheater and back to the parking lot. But it was a great evening. I certainly enjoyed myself enough to give it another try. I've learned the rewards outweigh the risks when it comes to the summer weather for these outdoor concerts. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks...