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Utah State Fair features Bridgit Mendler, .38 Special, Crescent Super Band

Published September 5, 2013 10:58 am

Utah State Fair • Favorites from TV share spotlight with new and older acts.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This year, the Utah State Fair will offer something new, something old … and something local.

Disney Channel star Bridgit Mendler, veteran Southern rockers .38 Special and Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band from American Fork are three highlights of the Grandstand Entertainment performances.

Amy Grant, Love and Theft, the Kahuna Beach Party, Ramon Ayala and the Texaco Country Showdown round out the musical entertainment.

Also headlining will be two touring extensions of popular TV series: "American Pickers," which airs on the History Channel, and "The Price Is Right Live."

The triple punch of Mendler, .38 Special and Chapman's super-talented high-school-aged band will provide firepower Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 9-11.

Bridgit Mendler • The 20-year-old blonde returns to Utah to showcase her singing. Last time she was here, in March 2011, she filmed a feature-length Christmas movie based on the series "Good Luck Charlie."

In the popular Disney Channel sitcom, now in its fourth and final season, Mendler stars as an older sister who films video diaries meant to impart advice to a younger sister and brother as they grow up.

With the series ending. Mendler is focusing her energies on a music career.

Singing is nothing new for Mendler — she played Olivia in the 2011 Disney Channel musical film "Lemonade Mouth." She had two singles from the soundtrack land on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She released her debut album, "Hello My Name Is … ," last year and her first single, "Ready or Not," charted as high as No. 49 on the Billboard singles chart.

Now a student at the University of Southern California studying jazz, Mendler demonstrates her command of different pop styles on her first album. She even takes a stab at Ke$sha-style rapping on "Hurricane." On tour, she has been trotting out a cover of "Animal" by the Utah band Neon Trees.

"I love ['Animal']," Mendler said. "It has great energy. People are familiar with it, especially for people in Utah."

As for rapping, she tried it, but doesn't envision herself as "transitioning to a full-on rapper."

.38 Special • Guitarist Don Barnes, 60, remembers growing up in the Navy town of Jacksonville and going to the fair.

"I remember the bad foods and the funnel cake," he said. But, more important, it was "the first time I saw a live band. They were on the back of a flat-bed truck, That looked fun."

In 1974, he created the band with neighborhood friend Donnie Van Zant. Van Zant's brother Ronnie was the original Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer who died in a 1977 plane crash in Mississippi. The .38 Special duo enjoyed solid success in the early 1980s with hit singles "Hold On Loosely," "Caught Up in You," "If I'd Been the One," "Back Where You Belong" and "Teacher Teacher." Since then, they have remained tour warriors.

Earlier this year, Van Zant was sidelined because of health issues associated with inner-ear nerve damage. Barnes has taken over most of the vocal responsibilities. "When we were kids, [Van Zant] told us to aim his amps toward us," Barnes said. "He's paying the price."

Barnes said the show is "all hits top to bottom," and even though the songs are three decades old, the band still plays them with passion. "If we were going through the motions, it would be boring," he said. "This is a celebration of the brotherhood. … We were a neighborhood band, and I remember the cops being called on us for playing too loud."

Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band • Caleb Chapman is the founder and director of the award-winning Crescent Super Band, made up of high-school-aged musicians. In May, the group performed a sold-out show at New York's famed Carnegie Hall. While Chapman was recently named director of the prestigious Jazz Band of America — following past directors Wynton Marsalis and Wayne Bergeron — he still is looking forward to releasing the Crescent Super Band's new album, "Don't Look Down," in November. The more contemporary sounds illustrate that the band can perform more than just slam-bang renditions of the Great American Songbook.

"They spend as much time listening to Maroon 5, Beyoncé and Foo Fighters as Coltrane," Chapman said. As a result, the album features a cover of Dave Matthews Band's "Mercy." The song features a guest solo from DMB member and longtime friend Jeff Coffin, who recorded it when DMB was in Utah recently. Other songs include Utah-born Imagine Dragons' "On Top of the World," Janelle Monaé's "Tightrope" and The Black Keys' "Gold on the Ceiling."

This is the first time the Crescent Super Band has headlined a Grandstand show at the Utah State Fair. And it marks the beginning of an impressive series of fall shows.

The Crescent Super Band is scheduled to play alongside Stanley Clarke at the 2014 Telluride Jazz Festival; it will be the first high-school-aged group to headline the Jazz Education Network's national conference, which takes place in Dallas.

Joining Chapman and his band at the Utah State Fair will be Grammy-winning Latin percussionst Poncho Sanchez, who first jammed with the band three years ago and loved it, Chapman said.



Twitter: @davidburger —

Utah State Fair

Where • Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City

When • Sept. 6-15

Hours • Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Cost • Adults $10, seniors 62 and older $7, youth 6 -12 $7, children 5 and younger free.

Online • http://www.utahstatefairpark.com/home

Grandstand Entertainment

Thursday • Plain White T's, 7:30 p.m., $20 in advance, $26 day of show.

Friday • Amy Grant, 7:30 p.m., $24 in advance, $29 day of show.

Saturday • American Pickers "Treasures of Trash," 7:30, free; seating ticket required.

Sunday • Love and Theft, 7:30, free; seating ticket required.

Monday • Bridgit Mendler, 7:30 p.m., $22 in advance, $27 day of the show.

Tuesday • .38 Special, 7:30 p.m., $22 in advance, $27 day of show.

Sept. 11 • Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band with special guest Poncho Sanchez, 7:30 p.m., free; seating ticket required.

Sept. 12 • "The Price Is Right Live," 5 p.m., reserved seats $22, $29, $37, $5 more the day of show.

Sept. 13 • Texaco Country Showdown, 7 p.m., free.

Sept. 14 • Kahuna Beach Party, 3 and 7 p.m., $15 adults, kids 12 and younger free with fair gate admission.

Sept. 15 • Ramon Ayala, 7:30 p.m., $22 advance, $27 day of show.