Four more years!: Velour flourishes in the valley

Four more years!: Velour flourishes in the valley
Staging the scene on University Avenue. Photo credit: Ai Mitton
Staging the scene on University Avenue. Photo credit: Ai Mitton

Velour Live Music Gallery (or, alternatively for BYU students, “The Velour”) has been a local treasure ever since it first opened its doors in January 2006. My memories of the venue stretch back to Fall 2005, when a bunch of local musicians, myself included, got together to help Velour owner Corey Fox renovate his newly purchased building, formerly home to local card and game shop, Dragon’s Keep.

Over the next couple months, we watched an old comic book store transform into a music venue. While tearing down the old walls, we accidentally discovered an old Pepsi ad that stretched across the wall of whatever shop was there over a generation ago. As much of that vintage ad as we could salvage remains on Velour’s wall to this day.

While working on the space, Corey would play CDs of local musicians on a little boom box in the corner that is now his office. One CD that I think got the most airplay during the long nights there was a collection of demos by Brinton Jones, singer of The Devil Whale (then Palomino).

With the memory of these songs ringing in my head, one of my fondest Velour memories was The Devil Whale CD release concert in the summer of 2008. Here I watched these songs evolve, like the room they were being played in: once demos on a boom box in a building that was a work in progress, now a complete, perfectly packaged work of art.

From the iconic stained-glass windows that backlight the stage to the Vintage Flea Markets that clothe its patrons, Velour Live Music Gallery is a visual and sonic work of art. It has not only brought national acts into Provo’s local scene, but has also helped develop local artists for national exposure. In commemoration of their four year anniversary this week, I asked some Velour regulars and local musicians to weigh in on some of their favorite Velour memories

McKay Stevens (NightNight, The Vibrant Sound):  I remember a Joshua James show a little while back. It was the most emotional concert I’ve ever been to. The music, the harmonies, and the sincerity of it all; it was raw emotion captured in perfect form. He just connects with the audience and moves them.

Kaneischa Johnson (local music & arts advocate): There are the ongoing memory builders, like Rockin’ Rob’s giggle and lengthy guitar solos, but there are also the memories that cannot be duplicated, and couldn’t have happened anywhere else:
Laura Gibson and Damien Jurado played a show together in April of 2009. The air was so thick with magic you could practically see fairy dust in front of your face. Velour is just small enough so that when great performers like those two

A spirited Weak Men show during Velour's first four years. Photo credit: Ai Mitton
A spirited Weak Men show during Velour's first four years. Photo credit: Ai Mitton

come through town, we can have an enchantingly intimate experience with them.

Carly Reeves (A Film In The Ballroom): When my band opened up for one of my favorite bands, The Helio Sequence. As soon as they were booked at Velour, I was on the phone begging Corey (Fox) to let us open! And he did. That’s what I love about that place. It’s like a big huge family and everyone goes there to support each other.

Steve Pierce (founder, Rhombus Online Magazine): The first time I saw Isaac Russell headline. He took the stage in the dark, with only the disco ball on. He was wearing a button-up shirt and tie, except he also had these wings that were splattered with glow-in-the-dark paint. All I can remember thinking is, “Who is this kid?” Then he started playing and completely blew my mind.

John Allred (singer/songwriter): The grand opening show really left a huge impression on me. There is no other venue that looks like Velour; the lighting, vibe onstage, the stain-glass windows. It was insane to take in for the first time. I never really toured much until the last two years, and that place just feels like home.

Ryan Neely (Sego Arts Foundation): When Teitur came through, they were super cool, hung out downtown, and played a great show. I hadn’t heard them before, and was shocked at how good they were. Also, Joe Castor and his masks…

Katie Brandeburg (singer/songwriter): When Bishop Allen came through the first time about two years back. I remember being in a musical trance the entire time.

Maile Hamnett (manager, The Trademark): I really love how Velour brings people of different cultures and musical genres together. It opened the door for cross-genre shows and in turn opened the minds of many people.

Skippy Jessop (iamskippy.com):  I remember going to Velour for the Matt Lewis Band CD release party and thinking, “this place is cool,” knowing that I’d for sure be back. I’ve been going back off and on ever since.

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