For almost 20 years, singer-songwriter Peter Breinholt has been a fixture in the Utah music scene and has established a name for himself as one of the state’s most successful folk artists, having produced seven albums.
But now, Breinholt said, it’s time for something different.
Breinholt, 42, will perform at the SCERA Center for the Arts on Saturday. When Breinholt first agreed to take the gig, he said he had a set of songs in mind that he would perform. However, now in the midst of his next album that promises to be different from his previous records, he said he’s not exactly sure what will happen that night, except it will be lots of fun.
“Peter is a creative institution in the state of Utah, and one of our state’s most well-known and accomplished acts,” said April Berlin, operations manager at SCERA. “He is both an artist and an entertainer, a combination that is hard to achieve and one that speaks to his continuing popularity.”
Breinholt said he is excited to play for the Provo-Orem community again. When he first started performing it used to be the center of his musical arena, but now, except for a few small shows here and there, his presence in Utah Valley has dwindled.
Regaining his presence here is all part of the plan to reinstate himself in the minds of Utah’s younger demographic, Breinholt said.
“The last thing I want to do is put out another ‘Peter Breinholt’ album,” Breinholt said. “At least not like the last five. I want to do something different that will put me on the radar again with the groups of people that first became fans of my music.”
When Breinholt released his first album, “Songs About the Great Divide,” in 1993, it caused a sensation in Utah, especially among high schools and universities. Described by Salt Lake Magazine as “an underground classic on Utah college campuses,” the album became the best-selling independently released CD in the state, marketed almost entirely by word of mouth. The first decade of his career was marked by intense, high-energy concerts and an explosion of new fans as his album spread across Utah.
However, as Breinholt gets older, so do his fans, and the energy of the concerts is waning.
“These people who were moshing and going crazy back then just don’t do that kind of thing anymore,” Breinholt said. “They still come and have a good time, but now they sit in their seats.”
Breinholt doesn’t resent this stage in his musical career. Settling into Utah’s musical hall of fame has allowed for more high-profile opportunities, such as corporate gigs and a chance to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Still, he said he longs for the intensity of the old days and wants to reach out to a wider demographic.
Part of the plan includes breaking out of the folk genre he said he seems to be stuck in. Breinholt is currently working on a new album, which should be released sometime in 2012. Not sure yet of the exact genre, Breinholt said this recording will contain a series of related songs that are like pieces of a narrative.
“Every song is connected,” Breinholt said. “It’s more of a concept album than a string of separate singles. It’s like a multimedia version of a book. It tells a complete story.”
Performing outside of Utah may seem like one option to gain more widespread appeal, but Breinholt said he isn’t interested in the high-profile life of a national artist. Doing so would require a lot of travel, and Breinholt simply wants to retain his lifestyle and be there for his wife and kids. This doesn’t mean he wants his music to be stuck in Utah, however.
“I want my music to be heard all over the world,” Breinholt said. “As long as it doesn’t conflict with my lifestyle, I would love for everyone to hear my songs.”