The Last Hurrah of 2019 — and the 2010s — will be “a feast for your eyes, your ears, your stomach” in downtown Salt Lake City, promises Lucas Goodrich, one of its organizers.
And local musicians scheduled to perform Tuesday night say they aim to support a feeling of community as a new decade begins.
“I think people want to hear hope,” said Carlos Mathis Johnson, who performs music with “a mellow groove” as Carlos Emjay. “It’s a good opportunity for us to come together with a sense of solidarity behind the idea for hope and for perspective in the year 2020.”
Last Hurrah, Salt Lake City’s free New Year’s Eve event at The Gateway, will include game rooms with giant pegs like Lite-Brites, oversized beer pong played with garbage cans and a volleyball, a pop-up bar with DJ Bo York, and a karaoke lounge. Partygoers can fill up at coffee and hot chocolate bars or in the newly opened HallPass food hall with cuisines from Asian to Mexican.
The night will begin at 8 p.m. and end at midnight with a projection countdown on the video screen of the clock tower and fireworks. The immersive art exhibit Dreamscapes will offer buy-one, get-one-free admission; Clark Planetarium will have $5 movies and Discovery Gateway will invite kids to make free noisemakers from 7 to 9 p.m. in its ground level Learning Center. Many Gateway shops and restaurants will be open for shopping and dining.
2019 is the third year of Last Hurrah. New this year are more food options and places inside for guests to warm up with games, activities and hot chocolate, “so that people can go indoors for a while and then come back outside and listen to the music,” said Jacklyn Briggs, Gateway’s marketing director.
There will be two outdoor stages hosting live music. The National Parks will be this year’s headliner on the main stage at the Olympic Legacy Plaza. The Blocks stage, in the intersection of 100 S. and Rio Grande Street, will feature local performers.
“One of our goals is to promote a broad range of performing acts, different mediums, but also a broad range of performers,” said Goodrich, program director for The Blocks, one of the sponsoring organizations. “Salt Lake City gets a bad rap for not being a very diverse place, and that’s just not true.”
The Blocks is a cultural initiative of Salt Lake City and County that partners with art organizations. Horrible Penny, a local band grown out of a Spy Hop program, will perform, as will Mariachi Alma Ranchera de Utah, a six-piece band with members from Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico.
Band members have been classically trained; some here in Utah and others in conservatory schools in their home countries. Mariachi is originally from Mexico but has influences from Spain, Italy and France.
“A bad mariachi plays with a music stand. A good mariachi plays everything from memory, from the heart,” said Marx Huancas, one of the members. “We’re pretty good.”
Mariachi is traditionally played at weddings, funerals, birthday parties and cultural celebrations, but the music goes with everything, he said. “We joke and tell people, ‘You want to do your taxes? We can play for any occasion,’” Huancas said with a laugh.
Some equate mariachi to Mexican bar music, but it’s much more than that for Huancas. “One instrument alone sounds OK, but put everything together, the trumpet, the guitarron, the guitar, there’s a synergy,” he said. “It’s one reason I fell in love with the mariachi music.”
The band’s grito, a shout that sounds like a crossover between a laugh and a cry, encourages the audience to listen and participate. Starting at 8 p.m., the band will play traditional songs such as “La Cucaracha” and “La Bamba,” as well as newer songs, including “Un Poco Loco” from Disney’s Coco, and will be open to song requests.
“If you’re too shy [to request a song],” Huancas joked, “you can write it down on a piece of paper with a 50-dollar bill.”
Johnson will be on The Blocks stage at 10 p.m., where he will experiment with looping and inventing songs on the spot, doing what he describes as “complementing the environment.”
He often performs at the Salt Lake City farmers market and does street busking in Ogden. As a busker, he has gained the confidence to perform live and learned how to see the “pulse of the city,” the mood and temperament of the community, he said, which helps him anticipate what people like to hear in music.
He hopes that his music — covers and area songs — will bring in the new year with “a tune that people can’t shake.” Johnson is enthusiastic about “regional sound; regional music is the bread and butter of American roots music,” he said.
Back for her second year of headlining at this event, Talia Keys explains her genre of music as a mixture of hip-hop, electronic, funk and soul. “I do a live looping show — you can call me a one-woman-band.”
She enjoys performing at the New Year’s Eve event, she said, and appreciates the work of the arts groups that brings it to life.
“I would love to see it explode and be super successful year after year,” she said. “... Plus, The Gateway is the coolest remake of corporate America dying off and being reborn into art,” she added, referring to the outdoor mall’s new emphasis on experiences and arts.
Keys wants people to come and expect a dance party. With cold temperatures last year, she was worried that no one would show up, she said. But there were crowds of people from all walks of life, all having a good time.
“This is also a good reminder that we all as a community get along,” said Keys. “I always try to strive to really remind people at my shows that we are a lot more alike than we are different.”
LAST HURRAH OF 2019
Salt Lake City’s third annual New Year’s Eve free event, featuring live music, indoor games and activities, food and fireworks.
Where • The Gateway, 400 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City
When • Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 8 p.m. to midnight
Admission • Free and open to all ages
Schedule • Online at www.lasthurrahslc.com
Coverage of downtown Salt Lake City arts groups is supported by a grant from The Blocks, a cultural initiative of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.