St. George banjo picker commemorates lost dog; debuts at LDS Film Festival; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE – The walls of St. George musician Keith Behunin’s home are lined with instruments of all shapes and sizes; a menagerie of music makers from the traditional to the makeshift fill his residence practically begging visitors to sit down for a jam.

A banjo player himself, Behunin said he first fell in love with the instrument from an old time television show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” The show featured a banjo player named John Hartford, Behunin said, who would play a song titled “Gentle On My Mind.”

“I was about 14 years old,” Behunin said, “but the kaleidoscopic sound of the banjo so fascinated me.”

Behunin was gifted a banjo for Christmas when he was 15, he said, and he has been picking and playing ever since.

“I took to it immediately,” Behunin said, “that must have been 50 years ago.”

Behunin has honed his picking skills over five decades and now shares them with the community playing at festivals, weddings, school events and even teaching youngsters about the physics of music through bluegrass instruments, he said.

Musical talent runs through his family as well, and Behunin and his son, who plays the bass, play together in an interactive bluegrass band called The Fertile Dirt Band.

But it is his work with a different band that is gaining Behunin a little extra attention these days.

In addition to his bluegrass band, Behunin is a member of the faith-based, inspirational band Cedar Breaks, renowned for its artistic music videos.

Cedar Breaks is a “group of award-winning artists dedicated to media built around faith, family and heritage,” a press release statement said. Band member Mike Ericksen echoed the statement and said that the most important thing about their band is the message they send.

“We are taking the flavor of the faith-based spirit of the culture of Utah to the world  in a  very positive light,” band member Rebecca Croft said in the release, “and people are responding to our message.”
Behunin’s relationship with the band is unique in that all of the members, including the band’s dancer, live on the Wasatch Front except for himself.

To make this odd collaboration work, Behunin said, the rest of the band records a song and then sends it to him on a disc; then he listens to it a few times, goes to the recording studio and lays down the banjo parts. The recording studio emails the banjo parts back to the band’s master studio where they put it all together.

“It sounds like we are all playing together,” Behunin said, “and yet on so many of the songs I’ve never sat down and played with the other musicians.”

Postal service relationship aside, Cedar Breaks has earned many accolades and has entered several of its music videos into film festivals across the country, the release said, and has won in several categories including best documentary, best musical documentary, best cinematography and best music video.

On Thursday the band debuted their newest song and video, “My Dog,” at the LDS Film Festival held in Orem – an independently organized festival not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to its website.

See a sneak peak of  Behunin and his “My Dog” song in video top of this story

Written by Behunin himself, “My Dog” is a humorous and touching tribute to Behunin’s Shih Tzu Scuppers who died.

“He was the best dog to have growing up with the family,” Behunin said. “He was a smart dog, but sadly dogs don’t live forever and Scuppers passed away a couple years ago so this song is sort of a tribute.”

Behunin said that several of the verses contain truths including the story of Scuppers spending a night in the county dog slammer.

The song tells of the relationship between a man and his dog and the video features some of the band member’s own children as well as lots and lots of puppies.

Cedar Breaks has also teamed up with Guardian Angel Publishing to create a new multimedia interactive children’s book which will allow parents or their children to manually read the story of “My Dog” with the band singalong while the pages turn, or watch the video complete with band, kids and furry friends.

Ericksen said of the project:

There will be a physical book and a note on where to get the song on iTunes. Then there will be a digital book and an iTunes book which will have the digital book, the song that will run and turn the pages as it plays and then the music video with the kids and puppies. It is new and very cool.

Enjoy a quick look at the book and preview of the song courtesy of Ericksen and Cedar Breaks, top of this report in video.


  • To learn more about Cedar Breaks including upcoming projects visit their website
  • To book The Fertile Dirt Band for your next party email Keith Behunin

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