While it isn't meant to piggy-back on the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals that will start shortly thereafter, Lunar Festival director Kevin Hooker sees some parallels.
"The Lunar Festival was basically designed to gather these musicians and put them in front of record-label professionals, media and fans in a beautiful place like Park City," said festival director Kevin Hooker during an interview with The Park Record. "I'm not here to do some guerilla marketing on the Sundance Film Festival, but the type of format that Sundance Institute uses has worked in the independent film industry and I think a similar concept will work in the music industry.
The Sundance method is to take the best independent filmmakers and put them in a beautiful place and get a beautiful result, said Hooker, who lived at Sundance when the Institute started in the 1980s.
"I remember living in one bedroom when stars like Robert Duvall, Karl Malden and Edward James Olmos were in the other bedrooms," Hooker said. "We would sit around and talk about movies and the exploding changes that were going on at the time, which included the filmmakers moving away from big financiers."
In the 1990s, the same thing happened with the music industry.
"It got cheaper to produce music by yourself with a little bit of money," he said. "It got to the point where some quality musicians and groups wouldn't get distribution and they'd get stuck, because they weren't getting their music to the right people, so they did it themselves."
The Lunar Independent Music Festival will give these types of musicians the opportunity to showcase themselves.
"This is a great way for artists to meet people that will help promote their music, but it's also a good way for people in the industry who need music for soundtracks or for promoters who need bands to open headliners on national and international tours," Hooker explained.
The Lunar Independent Music Festival schedule at the Spur Bar & Grill, 352 Main St., is as follows:
There will also be performances in Salt Lake City at the Hotel, the Complex, Inferno Cantina, Crazy N Sand Studios and the Urban Lounge, Hooker said.
"The shows are roughly running from nine o'clock until when the clubs close," he said. "The Spur Bar & Grill is our hub of the festival."
The schedule only shows a small portion of the bands that tried to solidify a spot in the lineup, Hooker said.
"This is only the first year and my credibility only goes so far, but the response has been phenomenal," he said. "Since I put a shout out to the musicians back in September, I've had 3,200-plus bands from 26 counties that have submitted their music and tried to get into the festival.
"There is so much variety of good quality, super-tight and professional-level bands out there that are unexplored because of the way radio is set up these days," Hooker said. "If you don't have great distribution, you don't get played. So, I'm trying to gather this quality talent and move it out to the public."
Sometimes the festival became a logistical nightmare for Hooker.
"I wear a lot of hats," he said. "Not only am I the promoter, but I also book the clubs and choose the bands, and don't have time to update the website (http://lunarmusicfest.com/ ), let alone work on Twitter and Facebook. So, I have some interns who help a lot."
Also, the selected bands are doing their part.
"They have helped by setting up little tours in the area so they can perform during the festival, because I think they, personally, are hoping the festival will turn into something like a Sundance Film Festival for music," Hooker said. "Like I said, I don't want to make Sundance mad, so I don't want to piggy back on them. That's why I started the festival before the film festival and I am happy to be at the Spur."
The Lunar Independent Music Festival will run from Wednesday, Jan. 9, through Wednesday, Jan. 16, in various venues in Park City and Salt Lake City. Park City concerts will be held at the Spur Bar & Grill, 352 Main St. Festival passes that allow entry to all the shows throughout the festival are $50. Nightly passes, which allow entry to all the concerts in one evening, for $20, and venue passes for single concerts are $5. Passes and information are available at www.lunarmusicfest.com.