Jesse Walker: On Beats, Booze and Bunny Ears
One of Salt Lake’s quintessential members of the music scene, Jesse Walker, has been throwing parties for decades. Five years ago, after being introduced to Bob McCarthy and Marsha Merrill, owners of Garage on Beck, he realized that their glorious patio was the perfect place to party and listen to some groovy, crackling vinyl with his buds. Thus, the Bunny Hop was born. The turnout was so impressive for the first few years that Walker said he decided the event would be a great way to give back to the community. Today, contributions are collected at each Bunny Hop for the VOA of Utah Homeless Youth Center. It’s an amazing event filled with sunshine, good vibes and a real sense of holiday cheer.
Walker has been a staple in the Salt Lake community for years. He tells me that he picked up on an interesting phenomenon—without fail, every year his best parties fell on the same weekend as Easter weekend. “It’s this magical holiday that never fails to produce lovely weather and hope springs eternal for the coming Spring/Summer,” says Walker. “It’s also a free day for many of us nonbelievers, so why not enjoy it with friends and celebrate the rhythm of life?” The man has a great point, and boy does he know how to put together an event.
With the help of his co-conspirators Ron Green and Johnny Peppinger, Walker has been working hard organizing the lineup for next weekend’s event. “We were so happy with last years flow that I basically asked everyone to come back if they wanted to,” he says. “For a some—like 45s enthusiast Megan Moak and Jazz/Lounge lizard Peppinger—this started out being their only event of the year and now they’re playing out quite regularly.” I’ve been assured that there is a great roster at this year’s Hop so you should expect a perfectly curated set from each artist.
Profits from the event go to Volunteers of America, an organization that is particularly close to Walker’s heart. “It’s an exemplary organization that benefits a cross-section of young people, many of them runaways who identify as LGBTQ,” he says. “For me that’s a personal win.” You can learn more about The Homeless Youth Resource Center on their website.
For someone who’s seen events come and go, Walker has a solid understanding of what works in the music community of Salt Lake and what doesn’t. “I’m just happy to see how much we’ve grown. It all seems to have gelled in the past 5–10 years with the help of stalwart venues and promoters who are determined to make things happen. We might not be able support two malls here but you can find at least that many drool-worthy music-related events to choose from on any given night,” says Walker. “That’s the sign of a healthy music scene.
Over the years, The Bunny Hop has grown in size and reputation, but their intention remains unchanged—to provide an environment where the old world weaves in with the new at a rad venue with cool vibes and an admirable purpose to share some of those good feels with people that really need it. Come down this Easter Sunday—April 5—to the Garage on Beck and partake in this glorious event with your friends and loved ones. Tickets are $10 and the show runs from 11 a.m. to sunset. This year features a set from local DJs like DJ Sneeky Long, DJ Godina and Finale Grand, along with a special performance from the Bad Kids. Get your tickets today, because this is one party you won’t want to miss!