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Salt Lake City Nightlife - 2002-02-23

Salt Lake City, the host of the Winter Olympics, is not known for its music or night life. And the heavy security at this year's games has threatened to dampen the spirit of Olympic spectators. But after the day's events are done, visitors are finding some lively entertainment.

Salt Lake City is known for its pleasant neighborhoods and its scenic setting, and now for the security officers who line its downtown streets. Salt Lake City is not known for its music. And that's a mistake, says a musician who introduces himself and his band.

"Harry Lee and the Back Alley Blues Band. My name's Harry Lee," the musician says.

By day, Harry Lee is a security officer at an Olympic site that houses journalists. "I work for the Expo Mart. I run the security there," Mr. Lee says. By night, Harry Lee plays the blues.

"By day I keep you safe, and by night I keep the room full," he says. At the Dead Goat Saloon, Mr. Lee keeps the room full by playing his music.

The blues is a classic American musical form that speaks of troubled times. "That's my first love, blues. I've played all kinds of music, but blues is my love," Mr. Lee says.

Harry Lee plays music by all the blues greats from B.B. King to Elmore James.

During the games, he has played at Washington Square, a downtown park hosting Olympic cultural events. "You just go out there and do your thing, just like the Olympians. You go out there and do your thing and try to do the best you can," Mr. Lee says.

Tonight, Harry Lee is playing the Dead Goat Saloon. Waitress Kelley McKinnon serves visitors who stop by for the music. "It's been wonderful. We've met a lot of nice people. Everyone's had a great time down here. It's been fun," she says.

Among the customers tonight are Leo Sorenson and his wife, Gay McEwan, from Australia. Their son, Alex McEwan, is an Olympic athlete on Australia's short-track skating relay team.

"They didn't qualify for the final but they have a very good chance of taking out what they call the B final, which would place them fifth in the competition. And if anybody does anything too wrong above them, they could even sneak up into a medal," Alex says.

Mr. Sorenson notes that happened Saturday, when Australian Steven Bradbury took the gold in the men's 1000-meter speedskating event, after four other skaters collided.

"Oh yeah, he was just smart. He knew they were going to fight in front of him, so he said I'm not going to mix it with them, I'm going to sit at the back and when they've all stuffed up, I'll just take over. And that's exactly what he did," Mr. Sorenson says.

As they wait for their son to compete, the Australian couple enjoys the local beer and local music.

Harry Lee, security man by day and blues musician by night, is himself enjoying the visitors who come to Salt Lake City, especially those who pass through his favorite Olympic venue.

"The Dead Goat Saloon," he sings.