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Upcoming Concerts: Vaux, The Walkmen, Eels, INXS, Les Claypool, Danielson, Lovin’ Spoonful

Vaux Denver metal act, which has in the past often been pinch-hitters, steps to the plate on their own this time. It’s about time, as they have earned it, paid their dues and all the applicable clichés. Who does a metal band pay dues to; and who collects them? At any rate, they maintain snarling vocals and jagged rhythms with more than a nod to punk; if they have to keep up membership in two genres of music they’d better get out there and hit the streets. And then ”Cones” from their latest, Are You With Me, sounds a hell of a lot like Radiohead with its somber synths, faux (rhymes with “Vaux?”)-British accent and ominous lyric “What’s the worst that can happen?” Sometimes there’s a fine line between musical diversity and stylistic confusion, and it’s treading that thread narrow as a kite string that makes this band fascinating. June 6, Club Boomva (Ogden)

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Upcoming Concerts: DJ Quik, Matt Wertz, Gretchen Wilson, Bullets and Octane, Blind Boys of Alabama

Matt Wertz Kansas City native Matt Wertz left behind a yen to design sneakers to join the recent parade of singer-songwriters. To be more exact, slightly disheveled guys who write sensitive songs the chicks dig, lyrics in a scrawl across the album cover as though they came to him spontaneously on his newest EP, Today & Tomorrow. He brings some novelty to a genre populated by Jason Mraz and Gavin DeGraw. June 3, Kilby Court Also appearing: June 2: Denver, CO (Bluebird Theater)

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Upcoming Concerts: The Fall, Matt Costa, D.R.I., Cute Is What We Aim For, Lateef the Speaker

The Fall The Fall is one of the most storied British bands of the last 30 years, and their longevity, lineup turbulence and difficulty to categorize makes it justly so. But they have also been one of the most incredibly influential groups, if moreso on the Brits than on this side of the musical seas, but indie rock of any stripe wouldn’t be the same without them. The one constant is acerbic, often alcohol-laden frontman Mark E. Smith, whose thick North England accent is one reason they haven’t been a huge hit stateside. Coming out of the artsy post-punk movement in the late 70’s that produced Wire and XTC, the Fall has always been far darker and angrier than either of those, in accordance with Smith’s distrust of art as well as other institutions. The paranoia put him right in line with the punk movement, though punk audiences sometimes didn’t know how to react to his experimental ‘noise rock’ tendencies, the specter of chaos always lurking in a Fall show. The armfuls of albums released since that time have as a whole created a remarkable body of work, not least because of his lyrical interests, ranging from European history (Live at the Salem Witch Trials), rants against the mendacity of everyday British life, from truck drivers to football fans, to literature, from the out-there sci-fi of Philip K. Dick to existentialists like Albert Camus, after whose novel The Fall the band was named. Once the band was discovered by American audiences it was enormously influential on bands like Pavement, to the point that their label Matador signed the Fall for US releases in the mid-nineties, and Pavement’s singer Stephen Malkmus adopted some of Smith’s vocal snarl, to the latter’s consternation. The Fall is a bit like the Velvet Underground; in America, at least, they haven’t been heard by that many people, but everyone who did started a band. They were garage rock, if your garage is in the industrial din of Manchester, and you rehearse in a shack constantly threatening to collapse into the ground. Smith is one of those singularly British eccentrics like Genesis P. Orridge that come along every once in a while and change our entire conception of a given art form. To even attempt a comprehensive catalog of all their releases and labels, not to mention personnel, is a foolhardy and intimidating endeavor for the space we have here; suffice to say their latest, last year’s Fall Heads Roll (Narnack) is a good a place to start as any. As the British say, Mind your head. May 25, The Depot

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The Making of Brigham Young, Part IV: Film Historian Saves Brigham Young from Obscurity

By Clint Wardlow, UtahGothic.com Film Historian Saves Brigham Young from Obscurity Enter BYU film historian James D'Arc. In 2002 he persuaded 20th Century Fox to give the film a deluxe DVD release. Considering the number of Fox classics still unreleased on disc, this was a pretty amazing feat for a lackluster performer like Brigham Young. Maybe it helped that D'Arc brought a copious amount of supplemental stuff to the table, including a Movietone reel of the Salt Lake premiere. Fox might have also had its eye on the modest success of the new wave of Mormon cinema such as God’s Army and Brigham City. The question remains whether the retooling of Brigham Young will reach wide acceptance among the home video crowd. With 12 million Mormons worldwide, maybe Brigham Young will finally become a moneymaker 60 years after its release.

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The Making of Brigham Young, Part III: Big Budget Film About Utah Not Shot In Utah

By Clint Wardlow, UtahGothic.com Big Budget Film about Utah Not Shot in Utah Surprisingly, considering how many western were made in Southern Utah, none of the principal photography of Brigham Young was shot in Utah. It was lensed almost entirely in the studio and at California locations. The Sierra Nevadas stand in for the Wasatch Mountains during the famous "This Is the Place" scene. Most of the wagon train footage was stolen from a couple of Hollywood westerns. The famous Mormon handcarts are conspicuously absent, replaced instead by traditional covered wagons, probably so Hathaway could match his shots with the stock footage. In contrast, the scenes of Nauvoo and early Salt Lake City are lovingly recreated. Zanuck spent a lot of cash to build these sets. To add to the authenticity, composer Alfred Newman used real Mormon hymns to underscore the music he wrote for the movie. In particular, "The Spirit of God Like A Fire Burns" by Mormon composer William W. Phelps is an important motif in Newman's score. An odd footnote is that Jagger, whose acting career was pretty much launched by Brigham Young (he later would win a Best Supporting Oscar for Twelve O'clock High), married a Mormon and converted in 1972.

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The Making of Brigham Young, Part II: Brigham Young Gets the Royal Treatment

By Clint Wardlow, UtahGothic.com Brigham Young gets the Royal Treatment Brigham Young was budgeted at a lavish $1.4 million. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck also took a personal interest in the film. He saw it as a parallel to the modern day plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany. At the time of release many reviewers commented the story was more "about the 1940s than the 1840s." To get the most bang for his buck, Zanuck brought on Henry Hathaway to direct and Lamar Trotti to turn Louis Broomfield's story into a script. Zanuck cast his biggest stars, Tyrone Powers and Linda Darnell, to play the romantic leads. For the role of Brigham Young, unknown Dean Jagger was selected.

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Some Elected Officials Singing the Broke-Ass Blues

Congressional financial disclosures, set to be released to the public in full this June, seem to suggest that it never really hurts to have a second job--even when you’re an elected official. Senator and "songwriter" Orrin Hatch is so far Utah’s only elected official who seems to be bringing home the bacon. Hatch reported earning nearly $40,000 in royalties this year from his (gag) music career. Our other congressmen are seriously in the red (financially).

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The Mystery of Cheesies

Great moments in childhood: you're outside playing with your friends and the Transformers, Matchbox cars, plastic dinosaurs and rolls of caps have all lost their magic. Old enough to know better, yet still possessing of a childlike sense of wonder, you turn to the lawn for stimulation. Past the dandelions, the piles of poo, the dandelions, the cool rocks--and trumping even spare change and the four-leaf clover in terms of value (edibility edges out elfin luck and Pac-Man credits), were the little pink buttons hiding among patches of weeds at the edge of the lawn, the base of the tree. Cheesies. "You can eat these," said cheesy vets to neophytes, playing Eve to Adam, plucking it from its place on the plant and offering a taste. Tentatively (in most cases--some of us would pop a potato bug like it was a Milk Dud), we took a bite. Though called cheesies, they didn't taste like cheese. But they were good, slightly crisp, not at all bitter (like grass). In fact, it may even have been flavorless. The best part, though, was for the first time, aside from when we learned to sneak from the cookie jar or spent allowance on Slurpees or Sixlets, we found our own food. No parent or grandparent or corporate clown provided this nourishment; we found it ourselves. And since it fits the loose definition of vegetable, we could also brag on the fact that it was (assuming a stomach ache wasn't forthcoming) good for us. Organic. Funny, though, that those of us who remember cheesies--at least those whom I've encountered--have no idea what they really are. I recall them fondly and, upon encountering some in my buddy's backyard, still ate them without hesitation. However, as an adult--and a father--I'm suddenly dying to know exactly what I ate. An extensive WebFerret search also revealed nothing. Now I appeal to you, New West readers: does anyone know what exactly is a cheesy?

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The Making of Brigham Young

By Clint Wardlow, UtahGothic.com One of the more interesting aspects of the of 20th Century Fox's DVD release of Brigham Young, more interesting than the movie itself, is the commentary provided by BYU film historian, James D'Arc. Unlike most DVD commentary, D'Arc provides a lot of enlightening facts about the trials and tribulation the filmmakers went through in bringing Brigham Young to the screen. In 1939, when 20th Century Fox announced it was making a big budget movie about Brigham Young, Mormon Church president Heber J. Grant and his officials were worried. After all, movie portrayals of the Mormon experience in the past cast a less than stellar view of the Church. During the silent era, Hollywood ground out over 30 exposes such as Trapped By The Mormons which depicted young innocent girls lured into polygamous weddings with lecherous Mormon patriarchs. As entertaining as these ventures might be, church officials felt they were a less than fair representation. I mean, the orthodox Mormons hadn't been practicing polygamy for damn near 50 years. To make sure the Church had some input in the story of its second greatest icon, Grant assigned Elder John A. Widtsoe to influence the outcome of the film. Good flack that he was, Widtsoe began by inviting the screenwriter to Utah to see Mormons first hand. He got the deluxe treatment, a four-day tour of Utah including Temple Square. As a result, church officials proudly said the filmmakers incorporated a lot of their suggestions.

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Aspen Wants to Reel in Movie Theater

Last night the curtain fell on the Stage 3 movie theater in Aspen. It marked the final showing of films in the three screen cinema that was recently sold to buyers who do not intend to keep it a theater. Hours before Stage 3’s last showings, the Aspen City Council announced its intention to buy the Isis Building, what is now the last remaining movie theater in Aspen. The Council’s intent is to preserve the character of downtown Aspen and ensure that what seems so common throughout the country, movie theaters, do not become extinct in the city where real estate is king and fractional condominiums more profitable than moving pictures. “A majority of City Council agrees that movie theaters are important in downtown Aspen,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said.

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