The Aiden Barrick Band brings unique style to the Southern Utah music scene

·4 min read
The Aiden Barrick Band performs in Springdale
The Aiden Barrick Band performs in Springdale

The Aiden Barrick Band, southern Utah's up-and-coming, self-described "queer band" is growing in popularity, with band members saying they strive to give their audiences “permission to be their authentic selves.”

Aiden Barrick, the creator of the band, began to fall back in love with music after a difficult breakup in 2018 when they picked up a guitar for the first time in years. Singing and songwriting were large parts of growing up, providing a place to express and discover an identity and passion, Barrick said.

After a year in New York, Barrick returned to St. George with new music and a new goal: to perform. Affogato West, a local coffee shop, had been hosting an open mic inside the shop and Elise West, the owner, invited Barrick to play.

Barrick enlisted their stepfather and musician, Steven Stay, to perform alongside, and the beginning of the band was formed.

Aiden Barrick and Steven Stay perform at St. George Streetfest Friday, March 1, 2019.
Aiden Barrick and Steven Stay perform at St. George Streetfest Friday, March 1, 2019.

“So, 2019 we start gigging around town with Steve. We decided that we need some music to be online, so I need to go in and make an album," Barrick said. "So, I launched an Indiegogo campaign, like Kickstarter, to fund the campaign. The first show, we did it at Affogato West. And that first day we raised $1,000, which was just amazing."

Barrick was scheduled to record the album over spring break in 2020 at Tuachan High School but the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to twart that plan. Fortunately, Barrick was able to record despite the pandemic and released their debut album, "Wastelands."

Soon afterward, Barrick was introduced to Judith Rognli, a classically trained violinist who had recently moved to St. George after touring with European bands. Barrick also met Shawn Owens, a drummer with his own band focused on jazz music. Now, The Aiden Barrick Band consists of four members, all of whom were able to get back into music and pursue new performance goals.

Besides the music, band members said they were also drawn in by the theme of the band, which speaks largely to people who are gay, transexual, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Aiden Barrick and Steven Stay perform at St. George Streetfest Friday, March 1, 2019.
Aiden Barrick and Steven Stay perform at St. George Streetfest Friday, March 1, 2019.

“I think visibility and representation matter so, so much and I'm an activist by heart, too," Rognli said. "So, what was missing with my folk combos, to be honest, was that element of, you know, that edge, and I love that. I think we have that."

Owens said he has been playing music gigs in St. George since 2001 but was interested in Barrick's music and wanted to add some rhythm with percussion.

The first show they all played together was a concert in Kayenta and they have been performing together ever since. The Aiden Barrick Band also travels and will be attending the Park City Song Summit on Sept. 9 as a new local artist.

“I just love being part of it and seeing people's response," Stay said. "I mean, seeing the positive response, it's so fun being that up close and personal with it."

Band members said that for them, music is a language, a "battle cry" for visibility and authenticity, and a way to bring people from all walks of life together.

“It's just kind of a way to bring people in and to communicate and to show that it doesn't have to be divisive. It's not, you know, us and them and in a lifetime, none of that matters,” Owens said.

The Aiden Barrick Band performs in Springdale
The Aiden Barrick Band performs in Springdale

Band members have been active advocates locally for the LGBTQ+ community, but at times there has been some controversy around their performances or at the events where they've performed.

“One was just after the war in Ukraine started and one was on the day when Roe versus Wade was overturned," Rognli said. "And I guess there is an element for me in our music that is about connecting but also about connecting with a purpose and connecting with a purpose that says you matter, life matters, and people matter and individuals matter."

Barrick's music is indie-folk rock and some spoken word. But it's not just about the style of music, Barrick said. It's also how it makes the audience feels and the message that comes across.

“One thing that I do try to reiterate is how important it is just to show up and be yourself," Barrick said. "And the more that I can do that as a performer, as a human, as an artist, as a musician, if I can show up in the fullest form of my authentic self, then it innately just gives people the freedom and the opportunity to do it themselves."

The Aiden Barrick Band hopes to go on tour soon and expand their audience outside of Southern Utah.

Elle Cabrera covers breaking news and topics. Please help us to continue producing this content at thespectrum.com/subscribe

This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Southern Utah band looks bring new music, support LGBTQ+