Broadway Media exec Jake Jensen is passionate about music.
Yet Twilight isn't even the local concert series he's most invested in or passionate about. No, that would be Salt City Sounds.
He did, after all, first conceive of it when he was a teenager.
“Salt City Sounds started off as a doodle on my notebook at Brighton High School. That’s where the name ‘Salt City Sounds’ originally came from,” Jensen said. “My mom still has that notebook! It’s kinda cool.”
For Salt City’s third season, Broadway partnered with promoter Park City Live, usng its “world-class relationships with artists and management” to make this year’s lineup “a little bit more urban, a little bit more EDM.” The 2018 trilogy of concerts kicked off June 6 with electro/house DJ Steve Aoki, and Swedish DJ Alesso followed on June 20.
Salt City will wrap this Wednesday with an all-ages set from hip-hop collective Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who burst to the forefront in the mid-1990s with their unique brand of gangsta rap crossed with harmonized singing.
Bone Thugs member Flesh-n-Bone (aka Stanley Howse) said in an exuberant phone interview that the group always looks forward to its Utah appearances.
“Salt Lake City can be a very, very quiet city and whatnot, but we’ve always produced really positive results in Salt Lake City. It always turns up in a royal way,” he said. “We love Salt Lake City! I love it. I love it. One hundred percent! It’s a big market for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and we hope to keep expanding on that.”
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were first signed to NWA rapper Easy-E’s Ruthless Records label in 1993 and gained some attention a year later with breakout single “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.”
However, it was their debut full-length LP, 1995’s “E. 1999 Eternal” — anchored by the massive, ubiquitous hit “Tha Crossroads” — that made them full-fledged superstars.
What set the group apart from its contemporaries was its focus on musicality, Flesh said.
“It could have damn well just been any old typical gangsta hip-hop album with no thought to it whatsoever,” he said, ”but man, when you hear those harmonies …”
Those harmonies resulted in the album being certified five times platinum by the RIAA, and soon enough the group’s members (including Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone and Krayzie Bone) found themselves more successful than they’d ever imagined.
“It was amazing. It was wild, unbelievable times. Like, ‘What the hell?!’ Not only did we make it, but we were like megastars, we propelled to the moon!” Flesh-n-Bone said. “We were really, really rockin’ and rollin’, lovin’ it, enjoyin’ it, being those hip-hop stars, rock stars, whatever you want to call it.”
But then — as an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music” would say — came the hard times.
As the 21st century rolled around, BTnH were beset by infighting, their popularity began to wane, and Flesh-n-Bone saw his fortunes change most dramatically of all when an argument with a friend escalated to him pointing a loaded AK-47. He accepted responsibility, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
He was released after eight years and emerged with a new outlook on life.
“I’m still advancing, a student [of life] in many respects. But prison pretty much saved my life. It saved my life. I was as wild as it comes. … But I needed to take a load off and calm down. If not for prison, who knows? Something tragic might have happened,” he said. “I was able to sit down, finish educating myself in a variety of ways, stay productive in a variety of ways, get my mind together. … A lot of people go there and they wither away. I wasn’t allowing myself to wither away. I was able to sharpen my mind and come out a better man.”
Flesh-n-Bone rejoined the group after his release, and while Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s lineup has undergone myriad changes in the years since, it’s now back to the original five. In addition to the members’ various solo projects in the works, the group has started recording a new album that should be out before the end of the year.
Jensen, for one, was thrilled to get the “foundational classics” onto his Salt City Sounds lineup.
He credited music promoters throughout the state with working hard to change the perception that Salt Lake City isn’t the place for hip-hop culture.
The result is that, should you want a concert series here that’s “a little bit more urban” now, you can actually make it happen.
“It’s absolutely mind-blowing the amount of cool music that is in this city. Salt Lake, at one point, was … we weren’t a flyover, but we were a drive-through place — you drove through here, and some people stopped and some people didn’t,” Jensen said. “And because of the investment and the sweat and tears of all these different organizations here the last couple years, Salt Lake is now a place where every single good show comes. It’s a pretty amazing thing.”
Salt City Sounds
When • Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $10-$40; saltcitysounds.com