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South Salt Lake Journal

Bare Bones brings open mic scene to Salt Lake

Nov 12, 2019 03:01PM ● By Drew Crawford

All performers for the evening pose for a photo on the stage after receiving applause from the audience.

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

For Lio Vaitai, moving from Southern California to Salt Lake City was an adjustment that he felt was hard, notably because of the lack of a prominent open mic scene. 

Back in California, he would go to open mic nights where there were thousands of people in attendance and the line would stretch out the door. 

“I’ve gone to different events and I tried to look for exactly what I felt when I was in California,” Vaitai said. 

After living in Salt Lake for seven years he took his love for local talent and desire for other people to express their feelings through art and created Bare Bones. He billed the event on social media as a gym where people could go to work out their creative muscles. 

The event took place in the Impact Hub underneath the warm glow of red lighting. Close to 75 people were in attendance to watch dancers, songwriters and poets perform. 

Lawrence Iongi, who is a close friend of Vaitai, ran the show announcing the artists before their turn on stage. 

“There’s no color, race, shape or size to this event. Everyone can come enjoy this event and be vulnerable,” he announced passionately before the audience. 

One of the standout performances of the night was that of Sacoya Anderson. She did a dance to the song “Shae Butter Baby” by the artist Melody Reyne. 

Her dance was a dramatic recreation of a past relationship that she was in. It began with a joyful exuberance with the choreography being carefree and upbeat. Toward the end it became more aggressive and tense. 

Other artists rapped cover songs, played the guitar to songs about lost love, and did interpretative dances to poetry.

Vaitai was pleased with how the event turned out and spoke with confidence and a measured tone when describing his reaction to the turnout. 

“I think I have a really particular vision of what I like. All of the people that performed tonight are friends of mine that I know are talented, and that I respect their craft and they put into it as much as I put into my craft,” explained Vaitai.

He shared the event through word of mouth and relied on local talent who have large followings to drive the turnout. 

For him, the challenging part was organizing the event. 

“The planning is something that I’m learning—how all of this goes, how we set up, how we prep for who’s going to even be a part of it, because I don’t know,” Vaitai said. “I had a presale and maybe 10 tickets were sold, and then tonight it was a whole different response than I was expecting.”

Vaitai recognizes the tremendous potential in what the event can become and attributes the large turnout to people looking for the same type of event in the community. 

Eventually, he wants the open mic night to transition into a creative lab where artists can combine their talent to create new productions on the spot. 

“I envision creating shows for people, no longer open mics. Getting a bunch of artists together and bouncing ideas back and forth from each other and just creating a show from start to finish from every artist.”

For now, Vaitai plans for the event to be a monthly happening. 

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