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(Michael Mangum | Special to The Salt Lake Tribune) Live bands perform at Liquid Joe's in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, August 16, 2012.
Bar Exam: Sound system, local bands set Liquid Joe’s apart
Bar exam » It’s the light and sound system and the club’s longevity that set Liquid Joe’s apart.
First Published Aug 15 2012 04:31 pm • Last Updated Nov 30 2012 11:32 pm

Liquid Joe’s has spent the past week bidding farewell to summer with the local-band-infused Joe’s Fest.

Taylor Richards, guitarist for Royal Bliss, one of Utah’s busiest rock bands, organized the five-day music festival, which began on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

At a glance

Liquid Joe’s

This music venue showcases local bands throughout the week and is noted for its friendly bar staff, as well as the draw of The Spazmatics’ Saturday-night gigs.

Where » 1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City

Phone » 801-467-JOES

Coming up » Joe’s Fest features Royal Bliss, King Niko and Isaac Farr Trio on Friday, Aug. 17; $25 VIP, $12 advance, $15 day-of; VIP tickets good also for the The Spazmatics on Saturday, Aug. 18. Or buy Saturday tickets for $7 at the door.

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"I want people to come out and see some of the talent we have here in the local scene," Richards said. "I knew I couldn’t book everybody, but there is a little bit of everything from hip-hop to acoustic and metal to reggae, to rock, pop and dance."

Richards has helped book local bands at Liquid Joe’s for nearly six years. He feels that every band should experience playing at the club, simply because Joe’s is still going strong after opening in April 1996. "The Zephyr, Dead Goat Saloon and Club Vegas have all closed," Richards said. "Liquid Joe’s is still here rocking."

The venue has built a reputation for showcasing local musicians. "Liquid Joe’s is proud that we have been able to support live music in this community since the day we opened our doors," said Kelly Petersen, one of the club’s managers.

"Liquid Joe’s is one of the only venues in town where four bands can play in one night, start at 9 p.m. and be done by last call," said Ransom Wydner, lead vocalist for King Niko. "They’re a very professional and punctual venue with an incredibly friendly and accommodating staff. As musicians, we also appreciate that they’re one of the last places where a band can make money if they promote and play well."

Richards and his Royal Bliss bandmates will play a concert Friday, Aug. 17, in a lineup that includes King Niko and Isaac Farr Trio. Royal Bliss is known for packing the club with fans wall-to-wall (see box for ticket information), and a $25 VIP ticket also gets you admission for The Spazmatics on Saturday night, Aug. 18.

The band members, who play ’80s music, are "nerds with guitars," Petersen said. "They play the whole spectrum of ’80s hits and mix in a little comedy as well. They make Liquid Joe’s a dance party every time they hit the stage."

Joe’s Fest offers a chance for music fans to see local bands at a venue where musicians love to perform. Go early to grab a table in the main room, and don’t abandon your spot or you’ll lose it. There’s also bar-style seating behind the dance floor, where you can pull up a stool and watch the show. The club offers a pool table, and there’s food available at the taco cart that’s parked outside.

"There are not that many rooms in the Salt Lake valley that have the stage, lights, sound system and capacity that Joe’s has," Richards said. "It has a name, and people know what they’re going to get: live music that sounds great in a good environment big enough to feel like you’re at a huge concert but still has that small-club intimate feel."

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