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Twilight concerts going strong

For 20 years, the Salt Lake Arts Council has produced the Twilight Concert Series. From humble origins at the Salt Lake Arts Center to eventually shifting to the plaza of the Gallivan Utah Center, it has grown into one of the most popular free concert series in the state.

Such artists as Robert Earl Keen, David Grisman, Sam Bush and John Hammond have all played the series throughout the years. And series director Casey Jarman said he's happy to see how successful the shows have become.

"Thirty years ago we started up the Brown Bag concert series," Jarman said, "which took place during the day at lunchtime so people could take a break from work. Ten years later we received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to expand our artistic endeavors. So we started up the Twilight Concert Series. We actually partnered it with the Brown Bag series. And a few years after that, we separated them into different series altogether."

The move to the Gallivan Utah Center came after after the event outgrew the Salt Lake Arts Center, and since then, it has grown to unimagined proportions, according to Jarman. "When I look back and remember how it was when we first started, I can't help but be surprised."

In the early days, Jarman ran sound and lights. "I was happy if I could hire one other person to assist me with the set-up and show. Now, we have between 50 and 60 people working on a show. And they've been great to work with."

Still, putting on the series does have its challenges. "It took awhile for us to get the budget to where it is today. And we do offer the concerts for free. But there has been so much support with sponsors and the public. And the artists we book have always been great to work with. In fact, we have requests by many who want to come back."

This year, returning artists include Keen, Grisman, Bush and Charlie Hunter, to name a few.

Another challenge is trying to accommodate the audience at the Gallivan Center, said Jarman. "I'm aware of some of the issues that have been cropping up with the space at the Gallivan Center. We don't have any plans to relocate right now. And we may have outgrown the center, but they have been great to work with concerning these issues. If they decide to renovate the plaza I would like to see a set-up where everyone can see the stage.

"Still, the Gallivan Center is a good place to have these shows. Fans of a certain artist can arrive early and get close to the stage, and others who are just coming down to socialize can feel comfortable talking to friends or family in the back.

"And speaking of families, the people who were kids 20 years ago are now bringing their own kids to the shows."

If you go

What: Twilight Concert Series, Robert Earl Keen, Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles

Where: Gallivan Utah Center, 239 Main

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

How much: free