More canvas than venue, the Helipad is designed to transform into whatever it needs to be, events manager Hayley Knouff said.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, from 7 to 10 p.m., the Helipad at 239 W. Center St. will transform into the perfect, intimate venue for a free acoustic performance by singer-songwriter Wonder.
“I intentionally only book places that have a space at the level where people are sitting or standing,” she said. “It’s sort of this feeling of, ‘Hey, I see you. Do you see me?”
Her stage name is simply Wonder, in keeping with the simplicity the tenacious independent musician seeks as she builds her brand and fan base. Touring the U.S. most months of the year, she has booked her own performances exclusively at grassroots venues like the Helipad.
“When I first started building my brand as a performer and a musician, I realized I’m really uncomfortable in the spotlight where I can’t see anybody else,” Wood said.
Intimate venues are more in keeping with her music and personality, too, Wood said. On her website iamwonder.net, the artist shares live recordings from her solo album, “This Far Alive,” which play like an intimate conversation with a friend. More coffee-shop commiseration than diary material, even her more emotional ballads are upbeat.
“I know my fans by name – I keep up with their pets, and their families and what’s going on,” she said. “I try to keep it dialed in with what the community needs and what’s going on. It’s lucrative, too, because there’s no middle person booking the shows. I think it’s more exciting and interesting.”
Asked about her influences, she nods to Billy Joel, Billy Idol and “of course” Michael Jackson. Her contemporaries, though, are people we haven’t heard of, she said – they’re her friends, fellow artists on the house-show circuit who she thinks are the next little thing.
“We’re definitely pioneering the house show,” she said. “This whole style of performance art is gaining a lot of momentum and catching on all over the place. We’re going back to the ages of music being this thing that we share like stories around the campfire – artists who travel and tell stories. Like the bards of old.
“Without the contagion and plague and consumption, hopefully,” she joked.
On a typical Google search for grassroots venues in the “cool desert town” in Utah she hadn’t played in yet, she stumbled on a bed and breakfast owned by Helene Rohr, proprietor of the Helipad. She called to see if she could host a concert in its lovely garden.
Knouff, who also manages the bed and breakfast, said she was excited to invite the talented artist to play at the Helipad.
“It’s totally an honor so far just to have musicians reach out to us,” Knouff said, adding that she sees great potential for Moab to attract more artists like Wood and her friends. “I think because we’re right on the highway, we have a great opportunity to host a lot of musicians and bring in something new.”
Transformed by the community into a space of its own over the course of the summer, the Helipad is quickly becoming what Rohr said she originally envisioned – a space created for and by locals with “food, music, and a more urban ambience and atmosphere.”
Wonder will be the third live music act hosted at the renovated auto-mechanic garage, following the space’s grand opening concert by Talia Keys in May and recent performance by Seattle-based band La Luz.
It’s also host to Moab’s first vegan food truck, the Food Tank, open Monday and Tuesday for lunch and Wednesday for dinner, and acroyoga classes are held there weekly.
“The space is morphing as we get more people in there,” Knouff said, explaining that the reason the open, white-washed walls remain largely undecorated is to remain accessible for a wide spectrum of activities.
The priority at the Helipad is community, she added, which means family-friendly. To comply with local noise ordinances, events will start early and music will move indoors and quiet down after 10 p.m., and responsible alcoholic beverage consumption will be permitted only at select events.
The Food Tank will be open during the event, serving gourmet vegetarian fare.
Acoustic musician “Wonder” to perform at new Moab venue
We’re going back to the ages of music being this thing that we share like stories around the campfire – artists who travel and tell stories. Like the bards of old.”
When: Sunday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m.
Where: The Helipad, 239 W. Center St.