Scott Cullins’ passion for songwriting reignited when he moved to Utah from Teton Valley, Idaho in 2011. But his move to Holladay, in 2017, was like adding music steroid directly into his veins.
“You can find an open mic or open jam almost every night of the week in this town,” Says Cullins. “I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was playing at Alchemy Coffee, The Royal Mestizo, The Wicked Pour, Wasatch Musician, Lumpy’s…you name it.”
As fate would have it, every time Cullins played, he’d run into the Deli man who was out playing his own basady blues originals.
Cullins had met Michael Feldman in 2012 at a Salt Lake Magazine dining awards photo shoot. Feldman and his wife Janet had recently opened Feldman’s Deli when editor May Malouf’s team discovered the deli.
“I remember it took Mike a few encounters to remember who I was,” jokes Cullins. “He was an award-winning restaurateur and I was merely the creative director who had helped make him famous…LOL.”
Feldman eventually invited Cullins to sit in at the deli one night. The two became friends and started brainstorming on what would eventually become Intermountain Songwriters & Performers (IS&P)
Both had noticed there was a lot of talent in Salt Lake City, but beyond the typical open mic there wasn’t much opportunity for songwriters to play and get noticed.
IS&P’s solution was to organize a series of curated showcases, with top local songwriters they both felt the public needed to see.
“Non-musicians don’t often seek out open mic events because let’s face it…you get marginal performers sometimes,” says Feldman, “But when you go to as many open mics as we do, you discover a lot of amazing musicians.”
Publisher, Richard Markosian, along with his wife and festival organizer, Golda Hukic-Markosian, loved the idea right away. Instead of cover bands used in previous years, the VIP Room would now show case some of the best music made in Utah.
“It’s been a lot of work,” says Cullins, “but we are stoked to be part of this uniquely Utah food and entertainment event.”