Surprise! Provo is home to a thriving music scene

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

“There is a spirit to Provo that is getting stronger, richer and more vibrant," Kendrick said. "The music scene is really vibrant, the restaurant scene is delicious, there are great artists, Google Fiber is a huge boost. There is just a lot to be proud of now here."

Opportunity

Along with the facelift of Provo’s downtown is the fact that reputable venues exist that allow local artists to perform and gain strong followings.

“Bands wouldn’t have much without good promoters, producers and venues behind them,” said Schultz, who also hosts a lot of block parties and music-related activities outside his café. “It gives these musicians opportunities. That’s what it’s all about.”

Another such venue is Corey Fox’s Velour Live Music Gallery on University Avenue.

“You can’t talk about the Provo music scene and not talk to Corey Fox,” Kendrick said. “He is an amazing coach for a lot of these bands. He knows what he’s doing. He’s got magic.”

Russell, a Provo musician who is now signed to Columbia Records, said, “He’s got golden ears, a great instinct for music.”

After managing local bands and other Provo venues, a passion and career that started in the early '90s, Fox decided it was time to open his own place. With his experience, he really could have gone anywhere.

But he wanted to stay in Provo.

“It would have been kind of stupid to open it anywhere else,” Fox said.

While many venues focus on getting well-known, already-touring acts to play, Fox is more motivated "to be a teacher, to find people and help them do more,” he said. “Provo is a transient town, so you only have these bands for a short amount of time.”

Before they got really big, Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons both won Velour Battle of the Bands and members of both have played at the Rooftop Series. The first time Neon Trees played its hit single “Animal” was at Sammy’s. Russell practically grew up on the Velour stage, playing numerous open mic nights before he got his record deal.

For Fox, a band's success begins by having a structure in place, “spending more time practicing, taking what they do more seriously.”

That, and having a mentor to help along the way. “You can have all the talent in the world," he said, "but if someone doesn’t put a structure on it, it doesn’t matter.”

“He (Fox) cares about me ... where my focus is in life,” Russell said. “He doesn’t just believe in stuff happening. He tells me I need to promote and go do something about it ... just a great guy with an honest heart. He hears music differently, and he gives people a shot. He has got to be like one of three reasons why I’m where I am now.”

Another good motivator for bands is seeing the careers of their predecessors take off.

“When younger bands are coming up and they see that band who has set that bar, they see that they can reach that level as well,” Fox said.

Plus, it helps that these bands remember their roots and share the desire to keep local artists and venues on the radar. When Imagine Dragons came back for a concert in May, The Moth and the Flame was the opening act. Tyler Glenn and Branden Campbell of Neon Trees played at the Rooftop Concert Series last month, alongside Innes, Stuart Maxfield of Fictionist, James and other local talent.

While local venues are all for giving opportunity to new bands, there is still a high standard that needs to be upheld.

Kendrick says bands need to show how serious they are.

“The bands that are promoting themselves and are kind of aggressive — those are the ones we notice,” she said. “You kind of have to work for it.”

No alcohol

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