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Hoo Ray Who?Hoo Ray Who - Salt Lake City, UT
by Samuel Johnson

Welcome to the desert. It sometimes seems like happening artists are as hard to find as natural freshwater lakes. But my thirst for new talent has recently paid off. My oases: the Jackson Street Junction Theater in Ogden, UT, and Hoo Ray Who, a band of extraordinary vision and talent. In case you hadn’t guessed, this will be a dual review.

Ted Shupe, father of Ryan Shupe (absolutely smoking bluegrass picker, multiple award winning artist) got the funny idea that he’d set up an all-ages venue. It sounded crazy. I mean, after all, this would mean that the majority percentage of the record buying public (i.e. teenagers) would be able to see developing talent, and that young bands would have a place to hone their chops. All of this activity might come dangerously close to building a happening local scene. Fortunately, Salt Lake City has safely avoided all such possibilities. Sarcasm aside, the Junction took shape under Ted Shupe’s direction, and has quickly become Utah’s most interesting venue. Not surprisingly, it’s also where I first caught up with Hoo Ray Who.

Hoo Ray Who? has done what has needed doing for years: they've updated ska. I'll be honest; I'm not a big ska fan. Sure, I enjoy a good My Man Friday show as much as the next fellow, but it's not the sort of stuff I'd put in my CD player. When I heard the Hoo Ray Who?s described as ska, I was less than enthusiastic to hear their show. Even at the show, it took me awhile (2 or 3 songs) to warm up completely to these guys. But once it happened...

What was so fantastic about Hoo Ray Who? Let me count the outstanding characteristics:
1. Originality. It’s like no music that you’ve heard before.
2. Talented individual players that come together as a unified whole.
3. Stage energy. Wow. Coordinated moves, plenty of on-stage motion, a freaky lead guitarist. What more could one ask for in a visual show?
4. Fine songwriting, including a couple of fantastic tunes entitled ‘Everything Will Come Together’ and ‘Suicide’.
5. Back-up singers who can sing. Interesting vocal work in general from a standard vocal approach to some blisteringly fast rap style vocals.
They’re on-line, so you can read up on them.

I'm just going to say that no matter what style of music you like, you'll find something to like in Hoo Ray Who?. They play fast and loud, they play soft and slow, and they play well. And no matter what they play, you'll find yourself moving to the beat. Dancing? It's almost unavoidable. There's more to say, but you'll learn more by seeing them play once than by me writing at you all day.

On-line site for Hoo Ray Who:

Jackson Street Junction Theater Info:
2280 Jackson Ave., Ogden, UT

Samuel Johnson