August 1, 2008

Snowbird Rock & Blues Festival: Concert is a Big Step Up for Junior Giant

By David Burger, The Salt Lake Tribune

Aug. 1--The average age of a band member in Junior Giant is 36.

But that tells you nothing -- or, possibly, a good deal -- about the band playing Aug. 2 at the Snowbird Rock & Blues Festival.

"We're the band with the two old guys and the two young guys," said Junior Giant drummer Giles Reaves.

Junior Giant is a local alt-rock band that spans generations. Lead singer and guitarist Spencer Linsley is 18, and bassist J.T. Nebeker is 21. Also on guitar is Spencer's 56-year-old father, Brian Linsley; Reaves is 47.

"We're budding musicians working with veterans and professionals," Nebeker said.

"We're the potential and energy, and they have the experience," Spencer Linsley added.

"And we know when to get out of the way," Reaves said.

The elder Linsley and Reaves have been around the music-industry block. Brian was a founding member of the Jim Carroll Band in the 1970s. (Primarily an author and poet, Carroll wrote an autobiography called "The Basketball Diaries," later made into a 1995 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.) Reaves is a studio engineer at Annex Recording in Draper, working most recently with Emmylou Harris.

The band was launched last winter, after years of Spencer noodling around on the guitar and helping his father on recordings at the Annex under the guidance of Reaves. Spencer had written some songs, and as he recorded a few demos with his dad, Reaves was so impressed he joined the band.

Their first gig was a corporate Christmas party, but the band lacked a bass player. Spencer tapped his fellow Waterford School grad Nebeker to play bass, even though Nebeker had never held a guitar before. Brian taught J.T. briefly, and ever since, the two young members of the band have jammed for hours every day.

Junior Giant has played at Kilby Court and the Waterford School Prom, but its biggest concert will be at 1 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Snowbird festival. "There's a lot of places we can't play because Spencer is under age," Brian Linsley said. "That's why the Snowbird gig is so big for us."

The Snowbird Rock & Blues Festival features tonight's headliner, Bettye LaVette, the 62-year-old soul singer and recent Grammy nominee for her 2007 collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers, "Scene of the Crime."

"My show is going to be a mixture of my entire career," LaVette said. "This is my job, which is keeping me healthy. It is an hour-and-a-half workout every show. If I wasn't doing it, I'd be a cripple. In lieu of aerobics and exercise, I do this."

Snowbird Rock & Blues Festival

When -- Tonight and Aug. 2. Doors open at 5 p.m. today, noon on Aug. 2.

Where -- Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird

Tickets -- General admission for one day is $35, with two-day tickets $55


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