Band of Annuals

If you've spent time in Salt Lake City's underground community, you've seen how the music scene has changed. In the 80s, raw local bands like Iceburn created a distinct generation of sound, later inspiring other acts into the 90s like Red Bennies and Tolchock Trio. Each new band helped to evolve SLC's scene with their different approach and music style. These originals (including countless other Utah bands) paved the way for many artists to follow—including one of SLC's most impressive and talented groups yet: Band of Annuals, the leaders of today's emerging new folk scene in Utah.

This fall will mark Band of Annuals' four-year anniversary. Throughout this period they have experimented with other musicians and morphed together two former projects (Brownham and Alpha Brown) while switching drummers multiple times, ending with newest member Charlie Lewis (The Wolfs,The Rubes). With Lewis, the band is made up of Jay Henderson (vocals, harmonica, guitar), Jamie Timm (electric guitar), Brent Dreiling (pedal steel), Trever Hadley (bass) and Jeremi Hanson (vocals, Wurlitzer organ). At last, B.O.A. have settled into their skin and are ready to hypnotize the city with their sultry folk sounds. However, this rising genre didn't magically appear from thin air, folk music has been around for years, and the youth are finally beginning to appreciate it. "It's because its roots music, it's in everything," Henderson says and recently, it's been on everyone's minds.

"We've been playing the same gigs and venues for years," Timm adds, agreeing that the popularizing of the folk genre isn't some new discovery. Along with other veterans like Glade and David Williams, BoA is able to influence similar artists to step out of their shell and help create a whole atmosphere. The new growth in SLC's folk artists has sparked some friendly competition, but nothing that BoA can't handle. "At one point they [the other folk bands] will try to be better than us, so we have to step up and be better than them," Dreiling says with a smirk full of confidence. Who would disagree? Stepping it up is the right direction to go in; BoA keeps your music passionate and alluring.

The truth is, there is no real competition; there are no shirts and skins in this game, "Everyone plays with everyone," Timm explains. There are many side projects connected to B.O.A such as the Black Hens, Blue Sunshine Soul, Cub Country, Bronco, The Wolfs and The Rubes. Dreiling has even obtained the reputation of being the "pedal steel slut" by his entire band since his pedal steel can be heard on most of the side project's albums. Even though they have many of the same members, each act's live show is incredibly diverse. Playing in the different bands and experimenting with different styles allows BoA the opportunity to learn new skills as well as giving them room to grow as musicians.

Earlier this year, on April 3, BoA and Daniel Johnston performed together at In the Venue. BoA backed the well-known artist during eight different songs even though They were only given one week to learn them. Being the talented musicians that they are, they were able to pull it off with finesse and left even brother/tour manager, Dick Johnston completely amazed. After the show, Johnston compared the set of his songs and their music to a George Harrison solo project. The audience was surprised; "People that were there to see us were really shocked to see what we were playing because it was definitely rock 'n roll," Dreiling says.

Chances like the one BoA experienced seem more possible in towns like Salt Lake. If you've got what it takes, you become a big fish in a small pond. Here bands win on honest merit rather than popularity, because in small towns you have to work harder to get farther. You can see dedication in this band right down to their fingernails. Hadley points out the ends of Timm's fingers, saying, "He's so dedicated to the guitar to the point he's got acrylic nails," which helps with his strumming.

The commitment doesn't just end with manicures; BoA has rounded up similar minded local musicians to form the label, Beartalk Records. On the labels roster are Dead Horse Point, Chaz Prymek and two talents previously mentioned, Glade and David Williams. Beartalk plays a father role in the folk scene— helping the artists with promotion and out-of-state booking. BoA have taken the simple concept of building a record company that you can trust. More simply put, it's the idea of friends helping friends while breaking out nationally.

The folk daddies have also teamed up with another local label, but the nitty gritty details are still in the works. The upcoming Kilby Records' roster includes: Band of Annuals, The Future of the Ghost, Red Bennies, Will Sartain, Beard of Solitude, Mike Sartain and TaughtMe. The idea is similar to that of Beartalk, pushing the importance of having a familiar name, promotion and touring. With a unanimous agreement, Hadley says: "It's all about touring," and Timm adds, "This summer there'll be a Salt Lake band in every city around the country." That's certainly one way to get this fresh talent out.

You can find the BoA album Let Me Live re-released by Kilby Records at Slowtrain for only $10. Kilby Records will also re-release Repondez sometime in May. They are currently working on a new album, produced by Scott Wiley, which will come out next winter. The album will start off where the track "Don't Let Me Die" ends. Unlike their previous albums, written by the first batch of BoA, this album features the creative juices of all six members, new and old.

The gang is also working hard to prepare for their national spring tour that will last nearly two months. Give your hugs and kisses to BoA because they'll be gone from May 12 to June 25. One girl being stuck on a tour bus with five guys for that long doesn't seem like any way to spend your spring, but Hanson is used to being one of the dudes and they all get along surprisingly well. A tour send-off will be held at Kilby Court on May 9. The show will also be welcoming back Future of the Ghost from their tour. A follow-up fall tour is also scheduled with Future of the Ghost.

The extent of labor BoA puts in to make everything happen is impressive; they are completely self-sustained, writing and recording their own songs, booking their own shows, tour, promotion, looking good, and sounding good. Though they seem booked and busy, they still manage to come out and support the community and fellow local folkers. No wonder people see to them as the leaders of folk in Salt Lake.