This article originally appeared on The Selective Echo.
Editor’s Note: Aaron Wolcott provides a concise look at three musical headliners who will send Utah Arts Festival visitors out on some fine notes to close out the 2012 four-day event.
Chicago Afrobeat Project, 8:30 p.m., Amphitheater Stage
A group with its roots in the Chicago loft party scene and the innovative sounds of Fela Kuti’s Nigerian Afrobeat movement, The Chicago Afrobeat Project is an eight-piece ensemble whose signature style blends elements of jazz, funk, hip hop and rock. Afrobeat is a sound you immediately recognize, although you may not have heard the name put to it.
Afrobeat touchstones include Roy Ayers’ score for the blaxploitation film ‘Coffy’ and countless other film scores of a similar vein. Chicago Afrobeat’s songs are meditations – perfectly built Afrobeat journeys with each turn a pleasant and interesting surprise.
Blue Highway, 9:45 p.m., Festival Stage
Blue Highway is a bluegrass supergroup if ever there was one: Grammy nominated and Dove Award recipients. Blue Highway comprises five unquestionably mind-boggling musicians with their origins in the likes of Alison Krauss & Union Station and the Cox Family. From lush harmonies to back country ballads, Tim Stafford has a voice that hits the sweet spot of that mournful achy tone (regardless of whether the song is joyful or not) and that is the trademark of the bluegrass sound.
Blue Highway members are genuine storytellers and masters of a poignant turn of phrase. Expect some tricky pickin’ and rock solid songwriting. They’re one hell of a band.
The Pimps of Joytime, 10 p.m., Amphitheater Stage
A great festival send-off will feature smooth-talking funk proselytisers The Pimps of Joytime, a funk group for the year 2012 bringing the message of the ‘Janxta Funk!,’ an album possessing the preternatural ability to inspire a mood-lit groove party in any setting the moment it comes through the air.
This is electro funk with a Latin flair and some solid hip-hop thrown into the mix which becomes a tasty, contemporary and eclectic funk perfectly catered to the modern ear. With its growing fanbase PJT seems poised to take over the airwaves but be warned: festival goers who attend the PJT show are required by law to get up and bust a move.