ULB: 2016 in Review
Take a look back at some of the highlights of 2016 at Utah Live Bands!
Lots of stuff happened in 2016. There was a presidential election. A new Star Wars movie came out. Some really famous and beloved celebrities died. But you don’t need me to recap that. (And if you do because you were in a coma or in outer space or something, then maybe read this column from Dave Barry. He’ll catch you up on the highlights and it’s hi-larious.)
At Utah Live Bands we had a great year. We played and produced hundreds of events across the country from New York City to San Francisco. We introduced the world to two great new bands: Mimi Valentine and the Gentlemen’s Club and Corner Pocket. We added new staff. We added some more bling to our trophy case as we picked up three new Best of State awards. And best of all we got to party with some of the best people in the world. It’s been a blast!
We asked our talented performers and staff to help us tell you about some of the highlights of our year. Here’s a sampling of what they will remember about the late, great 2016.
Michael Tobian (Owner/CEO)
I had a great time producing and putting together a show for the Station Park concert series. To fill out the Rat Pack themed show, we hired great tribute artists out of Los Angeles and then we used some of ULB’s best musicians to back them up. Our impersonators included some top talent. The Frank Sinatra impersonator had been a comedy writer for Sinatra himself back in the day. Our Dean Martin impersonator was the main Dean Martin tribute hired by hotels in Vegas. The Sammy Davis Jr. was spot-on as well. It was just a really great show with fantastic musicians backing it. It was a pleasure to be a part of such a well executed night of entertainment.
Stephen Tobian (General Manager/Sales)
I’d say one of the most memorable gigs this year was a Star Wars party for ng-conf on May the 4th at the Grand America in downtown Salt Lake. We provided a ton of entertainment including a record number of casino dealers and tables, karoake DJ, dueling pianos, a Star Wars Cantina band, dozens of Star Wars characters/impersonators, a foam pit, sign holders, a replica Cantina bar, sound systems, etc. Needless to say it was quite the set-up—but so worth it!
Jen Tarasevich (Vocalist)
What a whirlwind of adventure and exciting performance opportunities in 2016 with Utah Live Bands, which took me everywhere from Whitefish, Montana, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to New York City, New York. It was just one incredible gig after another—and 2017 looks to be shaping up the same. I’m so grateful for all the good times singing for Drive, The Groove Merchants, Mimi Valentine and the Gentlemen’s Club, and Voodoo Box with Utah Live Bands.
Jefferson Tuke (Vocalist)
Playing all over the world with amazing musicians is one thing but every once in a while we get to cross something off the old bucket list. Playing some of Journey’s most memorable songs with the former lead singer of the band, Steve Augeri, was UNREAL! Couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces if you tried.
Mike Fjerstad (Musician)
One gig that stands out from 2016 was this great gig I had with Drive Country Band in New York. We flew in, got up the next morning, and drove (yes, we DROVE) into midtown Manhattan—something I thought I would never do. Michael T. kept his cool behind the wheel though and it was an adventure! After a great brunch in Central Park and several other NYC adventures, we went and played a killer show. What could be better?
Kate Plewe (Vocalist)
The decor and ambiance of Thanksgiving Point’s Valentine’s Dinner made for a beautiful night of dancing with the ladies of 6 Miles Ahead. There’s nothing like an impromptu serenade during a surprise proposal to add the cherry to the top of a super romantic night! Besides releasing our first Christmas album, 6MA’s vote for 2016’s number one gig would have to be sharing the stage with Corner Pocket at the Gallivan Center. Nothing compares to singing the songs of Count Basie, played by Utah’s finest while paying tribute to the war time era, and then being lucky enough to dance the night away with veterans that still live to tell the tales.
Jordan Kamalu (Musician)
My most memorable gig was a big wedding in Indiana. I left the stage in the middle of a song in order to go learn the IU fight song being requested by the groom. I remember pulling it up on YouTube and hoping it was the right one and trying so hard to hear the harmonies through my tiny iPhone speaker with the sound of the band going on in the next room. When I could hum the melody confidently from memory I went back in and we played it successfully. (For more on that story check out this blog post.)
Susanna Robison (Sales Manager)
My favorite casino parties are when the parties have a theme and everyone gets into it. Like the one we did at the Underground Social Club, a really cool venue in Provo. Everyone was dressed up in Wild West costumes and there was a really fun vibe. It was like we were in an Old West saloon! Another great theme for casino night is James Bond. We fit right in since our dealers dress in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. It’s fun to see everyone dressed to the nines and having a great time!
Arnie (Dinosaur Performer)
It’s not an easy life being a Jurassic Era dinosaur in the modern world. But working for Utah Live Bands and Dinosaur Events takes some of the sting out of it because we get quite a bit of work. I’ve had so many good moments this year, but hanging out with the celebrities on such Hollywood hit shows as Last Man on Earth, Workaholics, and Walk the Prank were probably the highlights of my year. I’m hoping to put together a reel and send it to Steven Spielberg. Jurassic World II is getting ready to start filming and I know there’s gotta be a part for me.
Austin Hancock (Account Manager)
In all seriousness, 2016 has been the biggest year yet for our dinosaur crew! We made some additions to the fleet with a raptor (Fawkes) and a dilophosaurus (Blue). Our performers have been featured on Disney XD, Comedy Central, and a 21st Century Fox production called The Last Man on Earth. Among many other corporate events and parties, we were invited to In-N-Out Burger’s corporate Christmas parties in Long Beach, Vegas, and Phoenix. It’s been an amazing year and we’re excited for what’s to come.
May Wescott (Content Creation)
I loved being able to attend the Sandy City Fourth of July concert featuring the Salamanders. July can be a sweltering, sweaty mess, but that evening was perfect. Me and my huge, extended family staked out a spot on the grass just behind the bandstand. From there we watched our kids dance and sing-a-long to the Salamander’s infectiously fun performance. The time flew by and before we knew it the band was ending the music and turning the stage over to the crew who were going to M.C. the fireworks show. Our perfect spot for jamming to the Salamander’s show turned out to be the worst possible spot for watching fireworks since the stage completely blocked that part of the night sky. We gave up on that piece of the evening and headed home, but it will always be a night to remember because the Salamander’s were so awesome!
Jay Lawrence (Musician)
It’s impossible to single out just one Utah Live Bands gig as being the most memorable! Each engagement is a wonderful opportunity to please our clients. I have been privileged to work with many ULB bands- from Drive to the Groove Merchants, the Utah Swing Orchestra to Corner Pocket, and Mimi Valentine and the Gentlemen’s Club to the Roadside Ramblers and the Bandits. I love them all! The musicians that Utah Live Bands hires are the very best, so I really enjoy coming out to perform! (Jay’s awesome. Don’t believe me? Check out this blog post.)