Peter Breinholt’s “calling’ is music

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    By Marijo Rogers

    As a child he daydreamed about performing in a concert.

    He realized, however, that the business was associated with an unconventional lifestyle, and he decided music would be just a hobby.

    But somewhere between his childhood daydreams and the reality of adulthood, it all changed for Peter Breinholt.

    He”s now one of the top-selling artists in the area, and he will be performing August 30 and 31 at Sundance.

    Breinholt is living the dream he once envisioned, but instead of being rocked by the crazy lifestyle of a typical musician, he”s doing things on his own terms.

    With total ownership of albums and shows, and with the responsibility of promoting his music, Breinholt recognizes the demands of his job, but appreciates the artistic freedom it gives him.

    “I like owning it and I like being able to make all the calls,” Breinholt said. “I don”t think I”m a control freak, but I think I like to use my judgment on things.”

    His band members, on the other hand, have opted to have outside careers, and they play for Breinholt part-time.

    “My job is to write the music, produce the albums, do all of the work, and I”m full time,” said Breinholt.

    He tries to keep the time commitment to a minimum for the band members, he said, whose job is to just show up and play.

    Breinholt and his band go back a long way – some members go all the way back to high school.

    Back then Breinholt had a love for music, but playing was just a hobby, he said.

    While he played in bands, at assemblies and stomps, he said he was always wary of the music world.

    Upon graduation from high school, Breinholt served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile.

    After returning home from his two years of service, Breinholt said he had no desire to play in bands and wanted nothing to do with a music career.

    It wasn”t until he attended the University of Utah that Breinholt found his voice and started down the road to fame.

    Ironically, he still did not want to focus on music, so he majored in Spanish and minored in history.

    The Spanish major offered “the classes that I loved the most, and it gave me chances to study abroad,” he said.

    Even though he didn”t study music while attending school, he occasionally found opportunities to pull out his acoustic guitar.

    Breinholt and his friends would bring their guitars along on dates, and they”d sing and play popular songs, Breinholt said.

    As time went on, both Breinholt and his friend Mike Waterman started writing music, each on his own, and playing it at their friendly gatherings.

    It snowballed into a regularly occurring event where a cabin full of listeners would request certain songs of both Breinholt and Waterman.

    Breinholt said the experience helped them to experiment and try new things; it also resulted in a fun rivalry.

    “I think it”s kind of healthy to have somebody you”re kind of competing against,” Breinholt said. “There was this sort of friendly competition we were doing.”

    As Breinholt continued to receive requests for his music, he decided to create a homemade tape of his songs.

    The tapes got passed around, and soon Breinholt was in the studio making his first album.

    Breinholt, who had saved up money for a trip to Chile, used the money to buy time in a recording studio instead.

    “In just two days we pounded out this album,” he said. “It”s kind of unheard of now to do something that fast, and that quickly, and on such a budget.”

    He attributes the album”s successful sales to the locals.

    People would listen to his music in their cars, and their friends would ask who the singer was, and then go out and buy the album, Breinholt said.

    “Utah has great word-of-mouth,” he said.

    About this time Breinholt graduated from college, and he and his band decided to put on their first ticketed concert.

    They rented a theatre in Midvale and performed to a sold-out audience.

    With such encouraging success, they decided to do it again, Breinholt said.

    The experience “became the template for what we do now. We just book our own hall, and promote it ourselves,” he said.

    Despite his achievements, Breinholt plans on keeping the band”s image low-key.

    “I”ve never quite shaken some of the trepidations of life as a celebrity and rock star. It just doesn”t call to me,” he said.

    Maybe that”s part of his appeal.

    Sarah Moore, Breinholt”s publicist, said his music comes from his personal experiences – his songs tell a story about his life.

    People feel like Breinholt is their best friend, she said. He”s able to connect with them and his music just makes his listeners feel good.

    Brian Paris, director of programs for Sundance, said that when he first met Breinholt, he was mesmerized by the quality of his music.

    He has a connection to the people and the land and his music feels local, Paris said.

    “I”ve never seen anyone who can draw people like Peter Breinholt,” he said.

    Breinholt said he hopes when people leave his concerts, or after they hear his music, they feel elevated and edified.

    People can listen to music and afterwards feel like they”ve wasted their time, he said.

    As they listen to his music, Breinholt said he hopes they feel productive.

    If his past success is any indication of the future, his listeners feel that Breinholt”s music is well worth a person”s time.

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