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Utah musician Chris Orrock became fascinated by music's ability to elicit a powerful emotional response when he was exposed to The Beatles on TV at age 9.

"I thought, anything that makes someone feel that good, I want to be a part of," he said.

Orrock began playing guitar and got involved in playing with family and friends —anything that kept him involved with music. Born on a naval base in the middle of the Mojave Desert — where he said items such as glow sticks, urinal cakes and the Sidewinder missile were invented — the singer/songwriter moved to Utah 25 years ago.

He has done everything from collaborating with other bands and playing at former Utah great clubs like the Zephyr to touring around the nation and beyond. In April, he spent time in Paris, where he performed several times at the European Independent Film Festival.

His next show is Saturday, May 21, at The Acoustic Space in Salt Lake City, where he performs with The Lazlos. Orrock talked about making rhythm roots 'n' roll music, his third album, "Roots, Roll & Soul," and the live experience.

Finding his style

The latest thing that I have come up with that makes sense for me is rhythm roots 'n' roll. That seems to encapsulate what I have been doing for a while. I've been a rock and roller my whole life, it's been my language. I'd always avoided country, but different artists opened my eyes to it and I started to appreciate different parts of it. I gravitated toward roots music and what it had to offer.

Roots music

[Roots music offers] the ability of an acoustic instrument or the sound of a scratch on a string to provide percussion and power. The echoes that those strings bring from the past are from people who came from all kinds of different backgrounds: the Dust Bowl, the Depression, the Mississippi Delta. Those were people who picked up instruments out of necessity. Those are the roots of so much. I was blown away by the ability of those strings and the ability to lift you off just as some of those rock bands I had always grown up with. Those roots musicians, there is so much power in their simple lines — there's so much behind what they are saying.

The essentials

I wanted to pare things down to their essentials and use mostly acoustic instruments, but creating your own percussion in a way, and get that momentum going in the songs. That was my focus on this latest [album]. [I was] going for touch points we all share: things that can move us, things that can destroy us, things that we love and avoid. I wanted to also say thank you in some of those songs to people who have been in my life and bring them up as characters. At this point in my life, that's where I reside is in kind of a constant state of gratitude — and that's where I want to be.

American in Paris

I played different nights and clubs during the European Independent Film Festival. I was so touched by the reaction I got. It was really fulfilling on so many levels. The French in general revere the American roots music. They know more about American blues and roots and kind of our standards here in the U.S. than a lot of people I know here do, including myself.

Going live

I am a literate writer. I love when I get to play for a literate audience and the lyrics matter to them. You can really tap into a powerful energy if you get an environment going like that. There always seems to be spontaneous dancing at places that aren't dancing venues. I noticed when I played in Paris and here in different outdoor venues that the children are often the first to get it, especially the little ones. I saw this 10 times in the park in Paris. They walk by with their parents and they stop and look at you. They start bouncing on their knees. To me that just says it all. That makes me feel like the universe is telling me I am still in the game. That's the kind of feeling I want people to leave our shows with. I want their minds, hearts and joints to open up a bit and be happier than when they came in. Chris Orrock

With The Lazlos.

When • Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where • The Acoustic Space, 124 S. 400 West (The Gateway), Salt Lake City

Tickets • $10 online or $15 at the door; http://www.theacousticspace.com

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