Live and Local brings four local bands to rock the stage as they welcome students back

Many local bands performed at the Live & Local event at Utah Tech University. As part of Welcome Week, many students attended the event. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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Students stand in a line, wrapped down the hallway in the Gardner Student Center building. Music is playing through the shut doors from bands practicing for the night ahead of them. Pictures are being taken. Friends are being made. All of this is happening at Live and Local.

As a way to help kick off the semester, Utah Tech University hosts the event, Live and Local, at the beginning of every fall and spring semester. Local bands are invited to perform on the Clock Tower lawn for the community which helps spread their name. Food trucks and games are also available at this event.

However, on the night of Aug. 25, rain and lightning moved Live and Local inside the Gardner Student Center building on campus. This was a way to make sure the show still went on while keeping everyone safe.

Some of these local performers included Cannon Graham; Lighten Up, Francis; Ernesto; and No Such Animal.

Cannon Graham

Local folk-rock artist Cannon Graham is a solo artist. Graham is originally from Layton but recently moved down to St. George to focus more on his music.

He started his musical journey when he got an electric guitar for his 14th birthday and then started writing music. He was in a heavy metal band in high school where they played his original songs.

“Then sometime around 2012, I discovered Ray LaMontagne, Chris Stapleton, City and Colour, Mumford and Sons, you know sort of folk-rock bands,” Graham said. “It really heavily influenced the kind of music I started writing.”

Graham has been writing music since then. He also performed at a couple of venues and coffee shops within the last few years while writing songs on the side. For Graham, writing songs is a way for him to talk about personal experiences.

“Writing has always been a way to express myself and sort of get [stuff] off my chest that I can’t just talk to people about,” Graham said. “It kind of becomes sort of like a diary.”

Graham’s favorite memory so far while playing occurred when he was younger doing a guitar solo with a heavy metal band. By standing on the edge of the stage, kids in the audience were able to get even closer to Graham.

“Kids were so close on like my guitar that I could feel their breath on my hands,” Graham said.

Graham will be releasing his fifth home studio album called “All Acoustic 5” in October. He also started working with a local producer to record a full album.

“So, getting both of those done and released are the goals in the near future,” Graham said. “Also doing another event like Live and Local is a goal.”

Lighten Up, Francis

Lighten Up, Francis consists of four members: Matt Checketts, singer and guitarist; Tom Fitzhugh, singer and guitarist; Whitney Royal, singer and bass; and Brad Royal, drummer.

The members of Lighten Up, Francis came from Las Vegas, Chicago and Salt Lake; however, they’re all residing in Salt Lake. The alternative rock band has been playing together for about five months. During that time, they played in Velour’s Battle of the Bands in Provo.

The day before Live and Local, the band set up in their garage to practice their set. With the garage door up, neighbors came over to listen to Lighten Up, Francis play. For some band members this was their favorite memory so far, but for others it was Live and Local.

Fitzhugh said: “Seeing this crowd out here is my favorite memory so far. That’s crazy.”

Ernesto Caballero

Ernesto Caballero, a junior music education major from St. George, was welcomed back to the stage at Live and Local. He enjoyed playing in the spring Live and Local event.

“My dad sings and we used to do a lot of work with church,” Caballero said. “I don’t know, I just fell in love with it.”

Caballero joined an a cappella group in high school and loved the harmonies they were making. He also wrote a song for his high school’s talent show and ended up loving the process.

While Caballero has been performing since high school, he started writing and producing his own music within the last two years. Since then, Caballero has performed at the Electric Theater, Landslide Festival, Couch Stock, and on the roof at Thirst Drinks.

“I think the crowd was really receptive to the energy that I brought to the stage,” Caballero said. “They gave it right back to me.”

Besides being a musician, Caballero has also written a musical that was performed at the Electric Theater in St. George. It was called “Fantasy the Musical” and followed along with his album called “Fantasy.”

“[The musical] is basically about falling in love with someone and wondering if they’re real or not in terms of the way they feel for you,” Ernesto said. “Then at the end, you get left hanging where you don’t know if the entire of what you just watched was real or not.”

Caballero wrote the musical in about a month. It was then combined together with lighting, acting and music in about a month as well, Ernesto said.

“We only did it one time, but it was like probably the best thing I’ve ever done,” Ernesto said.

No Such Animal

This alternative rock band consists of students from Brigham Young University. No Such Animal’s members include Cole Harris, lead guitar; Finn Morrison, rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Max Miller, drums; Ella Morrison, keys; and Seth Jensen, bass.

No Such Animal has been performing together as a band for a couple of years. Some of the members have been playing from as early as middle school and others since high school. The band played in the spring event and loved it, Morrison said.

The band has since been playing at events across Utah. No Such Animal has performed at places like The Beehive, Soundhouse and Velour. However, one of their favorite performances was at Fork Fest.

“They’re all like Utah-based bands,” Morrison said. “That’s like the cool thing about the festival.”

No Such Animal has an album coming out Oct. 27. It is the first album released as a band together.

Want to enjoy food trucks and games while hearing local artists perform? Come to the spring Live and Local event. In the meantime, go support these local bands by giving their music a listen.