By Amanda Berg Whittle
If you’re seeking a romantic night listening to soft jazz music and watching wonderful ballroom dancing, Backstage at the Grand in Salt Lake is where you need to be tomorrow, Saturday, at 7:30 PM. The small, intimate, comfortable theater setup with soft, classy lighting (Emily Mullaney) brings a casual atmosphere with a six piece jazz band, Lark & Spur, and two beautiful dancers, Stephen Rallison and Brodie Wray Rallison. The music tells the story of mid-20th century Paris, where husband and wife Jeff Whitely (guitar/vocals) and Lori Decker (vocals/mandolin) spent their time establishing themselves and singing in subway tunnels.
Whitely and Decker tell their story through their music choices—though most of the songs are in French, the way they express the music helps the viewer really understand their meanings. I’m not sure if Decker is a native French speaker, but she sure sings like one.
The other band members are also remarkable musicians. Jay Lawrence (percussion) is a multi-talented musician, bringing not only high quality drum set playing to the rhythm section of the band, but vibraphone (a jazz electric xylophone sort of instrument) as well. The vibraphone, to me, has a special place in jazz because of its unique timbre, and Lawrence’s talented playing reminds me of why I enjoy the instrument so much. Another under-appreciated but incredibly interesting instrument is the accordion, a staple of French music, and an instrument Steve Keen (piano, accordion, composer, arranger) understands well. Keen is also an exceedingly talented jazz pianist—I have heard him perform previously at the University of Utah, where he teaches, and the talent he exhibited tonight was no exception.
Alicia Wrigley-Gailey (bass) and Mike Fjerstad (guitar) establish the feelings of each song with the grooves they set and the quality solos they play. Both are exceptional jazz improvisers, which is especially to be expected from Wrigley-Gailey, who recently graduated with a jazz degree. Fjerstad has a wide musical background in jazz, pop, and country genres, so anything you throw at him he can perform and perform well! He has performed on the same stage as The Beach Boys, so you can expect great talent when you come see him!
The dancers, Stephen and Brodie Wray Rallison, bring life to the show by expressing the stories of this wonderful music through movement. They are award-winning ballroom dancers, and members of the distinguished, world champion Brigham Young Tour Team, a ballroom dance team who tours nationally and internationally. The Rallisons share many types of ballroom and Latin dances in this performance, tailoring the styles to fit the musical genre perfectly. Mrs. Rallison, a ballerina who has trained in London, brings beautiful ballet and contemporary style dances to the performance as well.
An Evening in Paris is showing tomorrow, January 13th, at 7:30 PM at the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City (1575 S State Street). Make sure you make your plans to see it tonight, for the show is saying au revoir after tomorrow.
The Grand Theatre presents Lark and Spur: An Evening in Paris
Grand Theatre: Backstage , 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
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An Evening in Paris Facebook Event