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Draper Journal

Draper Summer Concerts in the Park series spotlights local talent

Jun 03, 2024 02:56PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Rock University’s Past Bedtime takes the stage in this recent concert photograph. (Photo courtesy of Jenny Mather/Rock University)

Draper Summer Concerts in the Park returns this month with a lineup of local musical talent performing on Wednesday evenings at Draper Historic Park. The dance pop-rock band Red Light Challenge kicks off the free concert series on June 5. Made for Midnight brings its mellow yacht-rock sound of the 1970s and ’80s the following week. Students from Draper's own Rock University and local country singer and guitarist Cole Hartley round out the month-long series.

Red Light Challenge

Red Light Challenge is composed of the guitar-strumming and singing duo, Sean and Kyle Luster. The brothers, who grew up in Hawaii, are currently based in Idaho. They performed at Riverton Town Days last summer.

"This is our first time in Draper. We're excited to see the town and perform there," Kyle said.

Sean described their music as pop-rock, "lots of harmonizing, lots of energy and lots of fun." They play original songs as well as covers of old and new favorites from the Beatles and The Monkees to George Michael, Dua Lipa and more. "It's all songs that people know and love and can sing along to," he added.

"We definitely encourage people to get up and dance," Kyle said. "We'll be dancing too—if you can call it dancing!"

"The biggest thing is, we play music that's a lot of fun. You'll be leaving with a big smile on your face," Sean said.

“It’s very family-friendly,” Kyle added. “We love to meet people after the show. We’re looking forward to making some new friends.” 

Made for Midnight

On June 12, the audience at Draper Historic Park will be transported back in time when self-described "yacht rock" band Made for Midnight takes the stage. The term “yacht rock” was first used in the early 2000s to describe the smooth “soft rock” sound that was popular in the 1970s and early ’80s. Band founder Dave Smith explained what makes Made for Midnight stand out from the genre. "We call it yacht rock with a twist, it's more pop. What we do is find and perform the most iconic songs from 1975 to 1985 that really move people," he said. 

Their set list includes pieces by Earth, Wind & Fire, Ambrosia, Michael McDonald and Player to name just a few. “So many of these songs will bring back memories,” Smith said. He said that his personal favorite song in the set list was “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Audience members are encouraged to get up and dance to the music.

Smith founded Made for Midnight about a year and a half ago. “There are nine of us,” he said. The band members, who are all locally based, have become close friends. The band includes three vocalists as well as saxophone, lead guitar, trumpet, keyboards, bass and drums. Smith himself plays rhythm guitar and provides backing vocals.

“I love to perform and to engage with the audience throughout the evening,” Smith said. He was inspired to put the band together out of a love for music, but also because he enjoys connecting with audiences. “Please bring your dancing shoes and your friends,” he encouraged. “We play music for everyone.”

Rock University

Students from Rock University in Draper will perform at the Historic Park on June 19. Jenny Mather, director of events for Rock University, said, "We have three bands that will be performing." Each plays a different style of music.

The first group that will perform is called Past Bedtime. "They're all fifth graders and their band class meets at 9 p.m. so that's how they decided on their name," Mather said. She described their sound as "a little country" and noted that they include a fiddle in some of their songs.

Star Soda, a rock band composed of fifth, sixth and seventh graders, is next in the evening lineup. Mather explained that the group performed at the amphitheater before the movie during Draper Days last year. "They're known for their rendition of 'Crazy Train,''' she said. "They are so young but so good!"

Lastly, Moon Juice will take the stage. The band, which performed on the main stage in Draper Park during Draper Days last summer, has grown to include seven members. All are juniors at Corner Canyon High School except for one who is a senior. 

Mather described their music as "pop-jazz fusion” as the band incorporates brass instruments along with keyboards, guitar, drums and bass. “They have such an original sound,” she said. Most of their set list consists of songs written by the band members. Recently, Moon Juice won the Battle of the Bands at The Boardwalk, a live music venue in Orem. 

Being in a music group and performing is special to all of the students at Rock University. “It’s really fun for the kids,” Mather said. “They make lifelong friendships.” 

Cole Hartley

To conclude the concert series, Cole Hartley will perform his special brand of “Texas red dirt country music” on June 26. He described his style as having “more of a traditional feel to it, a blend of traditional and modern country music.” 

He added that the country singer who has influenced his musical style the most is the Texas singer-songwriter Cody Johnson. 

Hartley said that he has been playing guitar for 19 years and singing for about five. “I grew up in Alpine,” he said. “My mom grew up in Draper and my parents’ first home was in Draper. I’ve been here most of my life.” 

He played at talent shows in high school and began writing songs as a hobby. Hartley was inspired to pursue music professionally after a camping buddy heard him play a song and encouraged him. 

“It’s been a full-time job since Draper Days last year,” he said. Hartley plays gigs primarily in Utah and is usually accompanied by four other musicians. “We do more original music but play some covers to get the audience into it, singing along,” he said. “It will be a little more intimate at Draper Historic Park. Just me and the guitar.” 

The Draper Summer Concerts in the Park begin at 7 p.m. at Draper Historic Park, 12625 S. 900 East.  Audience members are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs, snacks and beverages although alcohol and glass bottles are prohibited. The concert series is organized and sponsored by Draper City. λ