Takin' It to the Streets
Provo's popular rooftop concert series.
When the city of Provo began brainstorming about how to revitalize the downtown area in 2010, they did what most cities wouldn’t think to do — they contacted a popular local blogger. Courtney Kendrick had acquired a large and dedicated following through her C. Jane Kendrick blog, which has focused largely on her own personal narrative since 2005. Figuring she had a finger on the pulse of Provo, the mayor’s office invited her to sit on the revitalization board and asked if she had any similarly creative local friends who could cook up some fresh ideas.
Luckily, Kendrick knew some very crafty people. She recruited Justin Hackworth, a successful local photographer; Sarah Wiley, an accomplished band manager; and Mindy Gledhill, a rising singer/songwriter. Together they concluded that a rooftop concert series would put feet on the street.
Vibrant Music Scene
“There was a vibrant local music scene and a lot of great venues, but nothing bringing people outside,” Kendrick says. “We weren’t sure if anyone would come at first, but 500 people showed up the first week, and it’s been growing ever since.”
Because the crowds have gotten so big, the concerts no longer take place on a roof but on the street at 100 W. Center St., in front of the Nu Skin building. These days the average attendance hits around 5,000 people, but it’s a family friendly environment (though attendees are encouraged to research the bands beforehand) and, best of all, it’s free. Concerts are the first Friday night of each month, starting in May and continuing through September and always begin promptly at 7:30 p.m.
The bands are primarily either local acts or national acts with local ties. Wildly popular ska band the Aquabats put on a highly-buzzed-about show last year, and perhaps biggest of all, Kaskade, one of the most popular DJs in the world, did a set to gushing onlookers. But, heads up if you’re a Utah-based musician — the concert organizers have a very strict “don’t call us, we’ll call you” policy when it comes to booking acts.
“This last summer we had the opportunity to headline and played to the largest crowd we’ve ever played for,” says Brady Parks, guitarist and lead singer of local band The National Parks. “Whether you’re on the stage or in the crowd, I think it’s hard to walk away without feeling like you made significant memories.”
Revitalization Efforts Succeeding
What used to be an almost neglected section of town with little foot traffic is now arguably one of the more vibrant sections of Utah County. According to Kendrick, there is “undoubtedly” evidence that the revitalization effort is bringing patrons to local businesses in the area.
“I walk around downtown a lot and eat lunch there almost every day, and you can hardly find a seat anymore,” Kendrick says. “I always tell people ‘there’s BYU Provo and then there’s the real Provo,’ and they’re very different. The real Provo is becoming a very interesting and creative place.”