Localized: The Silver Desert, Cub Country, Bluebird Radio

Throw all of your suspicious notions out the door, because this Friday the 13th will be luckier than ever. February’s Localized features original and heartfelt music from The Silver Desert, Cub Country and Bluebird Radio that will get you ready and rearing for Valentines Day. Don’t have a sweetie? Make sure you snag one that night at Urban Lounge along with some drinks. Bring $5 to get in and leave your beer goggles at home - this is one night you’ll want to remember.

photo by Adam Dorobiala

The Silver Desert
Shay Thompson - Vocals, guitar, keyboard
John Anderson - Vocals, guitar, keyboard, flute, clarinet, accordion, drums
Trevin Van Dyke - Guitar, drums

As two musically talented roommates, it was no surprise that Shay Thompson and John Anderson formed a band. It began with morning jam sessions and bubble baths. “Most of the time, it started with him playing guitar outside me taking a bath, and I would sing to him and vice-versa,” Thompson says.

It’s been about a year since The Silver Desert first began experimenting in their avenues apartment with Thompson, Anderson and friend David Ludwig (a former member). The creative trio had a craving for the unconventional, using unlikely instruments such as an accordion, cello, pan, sticks, and even a saw and bow, to make their melodies. After six short months, Ludwig left the band, but the team quickly added Trevin Van Dyke as a replacement. Van Dyke managed to learn all the songs a week before his first performance.

For the Silver Desert, creating music begins with an open approach, “If somebody has something, they bring it,” Anderson says. It adds a fresh variety throughout all of their songs and you can hear the difference in each track. Like many bands, The Silver Desert gets their inspiration from everyday things: friends, work, struggles and love. They turn these experiences into relatable, musical interpretations that leave the listener with a sense of relief and a touch of goose bumps. The ease of the instruments combined with Thompson’s ghostly Chan Marshall-esque vocals produce a sound of majestic harmony. Even the unconventional instruments are resonated clearly between the gentle guitars; you can hear the pitterpatter of sticks against a pan and birds singing from a recording, similar to tracks from Coco-Rosie. All of this contributes to the delicate and calming music of the Silver Desert.

“The thing about a simple song is that it has to be more intriguing, it has to draw people in and fill in the empty spaces,” Van Dyke says. The Silver Desert’s music does just this. It captures the audience with original style, heartfelt emotions and multitalented skills. They are able to switch off the instruments and still manage to keep their harmony and unique sound. Thompson says it’s an easy process. “We don’t really even think about it. It usually clicks.”

It wasn’t always that easy though. “People warned us we wouldn’t know what to expect, and they were right.” Anderson says about their first live appearance a little over a year ago at Urban Lounge. “Our first show was a disaster! We were not even sure what we were doing.” Thompson adds. “We had a bunch of technical difficulties and we [were] set up strange, so it was really hard to change between songs.” Fortunately, they didn’t let the first live gig scare them. Like the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and the Silver Desert continued playing shows and practicing, each time capturing more and more of an audience. They have made an amazing recovery, learning it’s important to have good friends in the crowd and to down a few drinks before the set to calm the nerves. They have proved that they can overcome electronics, losing members and the anxiety of being a new band in a big local scene.

With a foot finally in the door, the Silver Desert is looking toward their future. They are excited about creating new music, developing a progressive sound and finally recording an album.

Check them out Feb. 13 at Localized and now every Sunday for Talk Tween Tunes at Urban Lounge.

photo by Skylar Neilson

Cub Country
Jeremy Chatelain - vocals, guitars
Kathryne Youkstetter - vocals
Matt Montaigu - drums and percussion
Wim Becker - guitar
Mike McCaleb - bass
Brent Dreiling - pedal steel

Cub Country isn’t just a band, it’s a story of a traveling artist who has journeyed from coast to coast attracting musical companions at each stop. Utah native and former member of Iceburn, Jeremy Chatelain moved to New York, playing in bands Jets to Brazil and Handsome, but his attention strayed when his eagerness grew to write his own music and create his own project. Cub Country was born in 2000 with the help of a few friends and some home recording equipment. Since Chatelain already had a foot in the door with Jade Tree (Jets to Brazil’s label), it wasn’t long before he had a full-length record and a tour scheduled with a constantly changing line-up. Somehow Chatelain found himself on a life tour. He went from New York to North Carolina, Washington and finally back to Utah. “My wife and I just kept moving. We would stay some place for a few years and just decide to keep moving,” Chatelain says. He believes Salt Lake will be the last move he’ll make in a while. With old friends and family nearby, and a newly born son, it seems the perpetual tour will end here.

Of course the constant change in scenery led to a change in band members and sound. Cub Country has recorded four different albums in three different states and is currently working on a fifth, Stretch That Skull Cover and Smile, which will come out in spring of 2009 on Future Farmer Records. Although most would struggle with a revolving door of band members, Chatelain embraces the change. “Even from song to song on a record, the lineup will be completely different. The records will have 15-20 people each playing on them. The only thing they have in common is that I wrote the song and I’m playing guitar and singing on it,” he says. The variety runs the gamut - from alternativefolk ballads to soothing serenades, high-energy rock ‘n roll and even experimental instrumentals. The group has been compared to bands like Elliot Smith, Gram Parsons and even Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

“I’ve had the band now for a year and a half and it’s longer than I’ve had any band before. It feels crazy,” Chatelain says. He is looking forward to completing the new record with this lineup. His current partners in crime include Matt Montaigu, Mike McCaleb, Wim Becker (Danger Hailstorm), Kathryne Youkstetter, and Brent Dreiling (Band of Annuals/Blue Sunshine Soul).

As of 2009, Cub Country’s sound has progressed into a heavier experience, influenced by his two favorites: Neil Young and The Kinks. Chatelain says, “Cub Country now is way more rock than it used to be.” Although Chatelain has adopted a heavier sound, he plans to stick to what has always inspired him: his life. “I think every song I’ve ever written has been about people I know or places I’ve been. Once in a while I’ll make up a character, but it’s not often.” If you’ve ever been able to see them live or listen to their previous records you’ll feel as if you’ve just stolen a key to Chatelain’s diary and carefully read each page.

Although the band has been on a four-month hiatus, Chatelain’s creative juices are still in full gear. The band recently started rehearsing again, plan on doing more shows, working on an EP and finishing Stretch That Skull Cover and Smile Make sure to catch them along with The Silver Desert and openers Bluebird Radio for Localized at Urban Lounge Febr. 13.