What started as a KWCR specialty show at Weber State University has now grown and expanded over recent years into a broadcasting and media company called The Banyan Collective, and participants attending Historic 25th Street’s First Friday Art Stroll can watch tapings of one of their podcasts, The Van Sessions.
The chosen venue for local artists to jam out and share their thoughts and talents happens to be an ’80s Dodge van. This was Brandon Long’s family camping van, but it now doubles every month as the stage for acoustic music sets, broadcast live and later uploaded to the bands’ podcast channels.
Long purchased the van from his parents, and after years of collecting dust on the side of his house, it became the main transportation for camping trips with his family. It also transforms into a mobile studio for all of The Banyan Collective’s podcasts.
The van is parked outside, and musicians pack in with their instruments. The bands are all local and from 6-10 p.m. participate in an evening of casual conversation and acoustic performances.
Lawn chairs line the side of the van, welcoming audience members to come and go as they please.
“You really get to know who they are,” Long said of the acts they’ve broadcast so far.
He researches the artists for hours before the podcast in order to pick out interesting and relevant questions.
Long described how enjoyable it was to be producing in the van while the artists are performing.
“That’s my family camping van. We could have easily been up South Fork, and my family was in the van days before, and now there’s musicians in there singing. It just blows my mind,” Long said.
The Banyan Collective focuses on arts and outdoors in Ogden. They work in association with the First Friday Art Stroll, where local galleries open to the public to display their newest art exhibits.
The Van Sessions has been broadcast in a few other locations as well, most recently during The Relay for Life event at WSU.
The Van Sessions has received requests to visit different cities in locations as far away as Canada. Their priority, however, remains with the First Friday Art Stroll, but they are looking forward to many possibilities in the future. Due to popular demand, they are entering their second season of producing The Van Sessions.
Long recalls his days studying at Weber State and stresses the opportunities that social media, blogs and podcasts create for students. He advocates students creating their own brand for whatever they want or what they’re passionate about. After developing his specialty show at Weber, he has transformed the same ideas into The Banyan Collective’s current productions years later.
After the show, the venue gets packed up, filled with gas and parked back at home. It will sit until the next podcast session or weekend adventure with the family where it may become a performance venue, production studio or trusted transportation.