MacArthur Lloyd is organizing this month's Canyon Céilí at Old City Park to raise awareness about Moab's talented local musicians. [Courtesy photo]

Though it may seem ironic, there will be a free concert on Saturday, May 21, at Old City Park to raise awareness that talented Moab musicians deserve to be paid, event organizer MacArthur Lloyd said.

Lloyd, a musician who performs around the region, created the free Canyon Céilí concert for the first time last year to bring musicians together to show Moab residents the musical talent that exists here. Donations collected at the event were divided equally among all the artists who performed, Lloyd said.

He’s already raising money for this year’s concert for some guaranteed income for the musicians, he said. The Moab Arts Council and WabiSabi have contributed to this year’s event.

The day will start at 11:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony of Native American flute playing, followed by nine additional hours of music. The Moab Community Dance Band, an acoustic group that plays mostly Celtic and old-time country music typically performed at contra dances, is one of the acts scheduled for the event.

Other notable acts include The Round Table, a world music band that specializes in Irish and Scottish music, and for whom Lloyd plays; Moab Taiko Dan, a traditional Japanese drumming band; and Velvet Ant (jazz) Quartet.

Brian Coulter will also perform solo, singing, playing guitar, harmonica and foot drum. Coulter attended last year’s Canyon Céilí to listen and watch.

“It was wonderful,” Coulter said. “That’s why I wanted to play this year.”

Coulter said he will playing original songs from his CD, as well as tribute tunes for a couple of artists who died this year, Merle Haggard and Glenn Frey.

Ryan Barnum, of the Velvet Ant Quartet, will be there with his group – minus one of the guitar players – performing jazz standards. Barnum helped with the sound at last year’s event.

“It was really a good time,” he said. “Everybody’s out there to have a good time – and it happens. It’s a good community vibe. All local people listening to live, local people.”

Barnum said he appreciates that Lloyd wants to bring attention to the fact that it’s hard for Moab musicians to make a living.

“(Businesses) want live music, but they don’t want to pay for it,” Barnum said. “Last year, musicians (performed at the Canyon Céilí) for fun. The fact they got paid through donations was a bonus – and more than they’d get if they played a gig in town.”

At 3 p.m., the Moab Community Dance Band will perform its repertoire of Irish reels and jigs, and other tunes written especially for contra dances. The band will perform again that evening for a contra dance at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North. The dance is at 8 p.m., with a lesson for beginners at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll use (the Canyon Céilí) as a warm-up,” said Miriam Graham, who performs pennywhistle and the concertina, which is a small accordion often used in Irish music. “We have some unusual instruments, such as the charango, a South American instrument,” somewhat similar to a ukulele.

Vendors of all types are welcome to sell their food or wares at the Canyon Céilí in Old City Park – with no vendor fees, Lloyd said.

“Come throw out a blanket,” he said.

Free May 21 concert at Old City Park showcases Moab’s talent

Old City Park is located south of Moab, at the intersection of Murphy Lane and Old City Park Road. For more information, call 208-290-4781, or email

What: The Canyon Céilí

When: Saturday, May 21, from noon to 9 p.m.; ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m.

Where: Old City Park, at the intersection of Murphy Lane and Old City Park Road south of Moab

Information: 208-290-4781;

It’s a good community vibe. All local people listening to live, local people.