MUSIC BOX: Ugly Valley Boys make beautiful music

By on January 27, 2015
The Ugly Valley Boys — Ryan Eastlyn and Braxton Brandenburg — have been playing The Trap Bar since 2010, a tradition they look forward to every year. PHOTO: UGLY VALLEY BOYS

The Ugly Valley Boys — Ryan Eastlyn and Braxton Brandenburg — have been playing The Trap Bar since 2010, a tradition they look forward to every year. PHOTO: UGLY VALLEY BOYS

Duo on tap at The Trap

Vintage processes — whether they consist of a classic songwriting style, amplifying an electric guitar, or the blowing and bending of neon glass — are often developed from years of trial and error, leaving future generations established foundations to utilize and tweak.

For old souls Ryan Eastlyn (guitar, vocals, songs) and Braxton Brandenburg (upright bass) of the Salt Lake City two-piece Ugly Valley Boys, purity lies within their crafty skill set both on and off stage. Their sound gives a genuine wink to early country, folk and blues, with shades of punk and rockabilly, and a tangible connectedness in songcraft. Spinning their stripped-down 2011 album, Double Down, the simplistic instrumentation and steady beats allow for the introspective stories within the songs to pop, and that’s where the Ugly Valley Boys get to the heart of American roots music.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a music junkie,” said Eastlyn. “But when it comes down to it, after years of following everything from metal to western swing, the simplicity and the heartfelt emotion of early American blues is where I draw my musical energy from. I am always inspired by my family heritage of musicians, going back to the first generation of Swedes in Salt Lake City, my great-grandfather’s family, and a large black-and-white family photo with each and every family member holding a different instrument. It just is something I am compelled to do. Music is my family, and I guess it always will be.”

Brandenburg is a barber by trade, while Eastlyn is head glass bender at Brimley Neon. Eastlyn was introduced to that trade by his father-in-law, David Brimley, in 1997. Started in 1930, The Brimley Brothers business was one of the first neon sign shops in Salt Lake City, and Eastlyn has spent the past 15 years building and restoring vintage neon signs utilizing the time-honored craft. Watching him bend glass (via a segment on KSL TV/YouTube) while listening to the Ugly Valley Boys, it’s easy to understand how naturally these two make the music they make.

“The duo thing comes natural to us. It’s the way we started and probably the way we’ll go out,” Eastlyn said. “We’ve had the honor of playing with many talented musicians over the years, but we’ve decided to keep it simple. We never thought we’d play more than a couple shows when this band set sail, but here we are seven years later, and still afloat.”

Ugly Valley Boys, 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in Trap Bar at Grand Targhee Resort. Free. GrandTarghee.com.

Members of reggae-dub trio Jon Wayne and The Pain bring a unique sound to the Pink Garter Theatre on Wednesday. PHOTO: JON WAYNE AND THE PAIN

Members of reggae-dub trio Jon Wayne and The Pain bring a unique sound to the Pink Garter Theatre on Wednesday. PHOTO: JON WAYNE AND THE PAIN

Wayne brings The Pain

There’s a lot of passion in Jon Wayne’s voice. Not the film star Wayne, but the sharpshooter for Minneapolis-based reggae-dub trio Jon Wayne and The Pain. The band has transitioned from up-and-coming to established since their first local shows, and much of that grassroots momentum has been sparked by their new release, Surrender, which adds jam and EDM to their palette. Playing 20 shows per month during the past four years has allowed the band members to really sink into a sound of their own.

“Dub music probably has the strongest hold on my heart. I could listen to it all day,” Wayne said. “I also like the electronic influence on reggae. We try to give a broad spectrum of reggae styles rather than just sounding like Sublime, which we used to get a lot, but not anymore.”

Jon Wayne and The Pain, 9 p.m. on Wednesday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $12-$15. PinkGarterTheatre.com.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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