Band venue blues, local groups struggle to find places to play

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    By Carolyn Irvine

    College towns are known for their bands.

    Sometimes these groups find success. The Dave Matthews Band started in Charlottesville, Va., home of the University of Virginia.

    Sarah Wiley, band manager for Sunfall Festival, said Provo has a lot of local bands.

    Wiley and her husband, Scott, own June Audio, a Provo recording studio.

    The Wileys established their studio about three years ago. Since then, they said they have recorded many local bands.

    Because of her close association with bands, Wiley said she understands the difficulty of keeping a band going.

    Wiley said small groups in Provo struggle to find places to perform.

    Borders Books Music & Cafe employee Melanee Phibbs agreed. Provo offered a much larger variety of performance choices a few years ago.

    Phibbs said there has been a shortage of good Provo venues since the closure of places like Mama’s Caf?.

    However, Phibbs said there are still a few places where people go to see bands.

    Provo groups often play at places like Barnes & Noble Booksellers, the Wrapsody, Borders Books Music & Caf? and the Roasted Artichoke.

    Many of the bands become regular performers.

    For example, Sunfall Festival has become a regular at the Wrapsody, Wiley said.

    One of Borders’ regulars is the West Side Jazz Quartet, Phibbs said. This group of BYU students plays every Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m.

    Phibbs said another regular at Borders’ is Fiddlesticks, a local family folk group.

    Fiddlesticks member Mark Davis said the group loves playing at Borders because of the nice acoustics, receptive crowd and friendly employees.

    “It’s nice that bands can come play at our coffee place, but it’s sad that’s the only place they have,” Borders employee Bart Madson said.

    While it’s true the conventional venues are limited, Davis said bands can also play for events like weddings, church functions and house concerts.

    Borders Community Relations Coordinator Carina Wytiaz said house concerts have been around for years but are becoming increasingly popular.

    Wiley said she and her husband have hosted such concerts in their studio. She said these concerts are nice because they feel more personal and controlled.

    Spencer Rands, member of The Dickens, said a big problem in Provo is that many residents would rather go see a movie than a band.

    It all comes down to the law of supply and demand, Rands said.

    “There are still lots of bands, but not as many fans,” Wiley said.

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