celebrates five years of surviving small business hell

Small businesses are typically the weakest in the economic landscape, like gimpy mice with no cover from a sky of merciless owls. The Provo-Orem area has seen the demise of numerous eateries, coffee houses, galleries and venues. Before they’ve set up camp completely, their dream business is just another abandoned unit doubling as a makeout spot for teenagers and a restroom for the city’s craftier hobos.
“We’ve watched a lot of places come and go within a year,” said Michelle Cordon Lepinski, door girl and volunteer coordinator at one of the few exceptions to Happy Valley’s small business rule.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Velour Live Music Gallery, arguably the center of Utah Valley’s surprisingly vibrant music scene. Owned and operated by Corey Fox, the venue boasts what few other music establishments in town can—durability. On any given Friday or Saturday night, with rare exception, the first block north of University is typically teeming with people, all milling about, waiting to see either one of their local favorites or one of the many touring acts that choose to stop in town and play a set.

Fox has been working with local bands and clubs in Utah Valley since 1991. After parting ways with Muse Music in 2005, he was presented with opportunities to work in more vast musical landscapes, both in Salt Lake City and outside of Utah entirely. However, after working in Utah Valley’s music scene for two decades, Fox decided the best thing would be to open his own venue.

“Corey wanted to bring music back to Provo, specifically in a venue that didn’t serve alcohol,” said Lepinski, who has been stamping hands at the venue’s entrance since it opened. “Part of that was so that we could have all-ages shows, but, more importantly, Corey wanted to make sure that people came and focused on the music being played.”

Since then, Velour has showcased notable local musicians such as Boots to the Moon, Eyes Lips Eyes (formerly The Elizabethan Report), Fictionist and The Devil Whale, while also bringing in national acts like Rocky Votolato, John Vanderslice and Bishop Allen. Neon Trees, who have gone on to major label prominence, cut their teeth at Fox’s establishment.

“Meeting and befriending the touring bands is one of the best parts about working here,” says Lepinski. “But there’s also so much talent right here in town. I’m optimistic about the future, especially this year.”

Velour’s five year anniversary shows will be held Jan. 14 and 15. The first night will feature Imagine Dragons, Vibrant Sound, The Neighbors and Preston Pugmire. Saturday night will feature Fictionist, Sunflow, Battle School and Boots to the Moon. Velour is located at 135 N. University Ave. in Provo. For more information, call 801-818-BAND.

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