"It started out with very humble beginnings at City Park but outgrew the park and moved to Deer Valley a few years ago, and Park City has kind of held ownership of it," Richards said during an interview with The Park Record. "It has always featured local musicians. In fact, going back to its genesis, musicians had to show an electric bill to prove that they lived in Summit County in order to play. We have kept the series a Utah-musicians only series, with a higher proportion of artists being from Summit County."
So, in order to keep the community involved, Mountain Town Music has decided to let the public vote on who will perform at this summer's Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series that will present live music at the Snow Park Amphitheater every Wednesday, beginning June. 19.
"This is kind of a new program," Richards said. "We're rolling it out this year for this series to see how it goes."
The process is simple. People can nominate their favorite local bands by visiting www.facebook.com/mtntownmusic/info .
"It's a very loosey-goosey way to get people to throw all the bands out there," Richards said. "I will compile all the bands and shrink the list down to 20 from Summit County and 10 from all over the state of Utah.
"The public will vote for seven Summit County bands and three Utah bands," he said.
To do this, Mountain Town Music, a nonprofit organization, will send out a ballot to people in its email database and to the bands that were nominated.
"Everyone can forward the ballot to their friends or people and bands can forward it on to their fan lists or post them on their Facebook pages or Twitter," Richards said.
People can nominate their favorite bands until the end of February, and the voting will start on March 1 and end sometime in the middle of April.
"We'll announce the concert series lineup during our annual Music-Makers' Fundraiser around that same time," Richards said. "So people will have six weeks to vote and they can vote as much as they want.
"For example, if people like Sin City Soul, they can theoretically vote for the band 1,000 times or more," he said. "It's not scientific, but the main purpose is to have fun and get involved in something that's unique."
Richards admits there are concerns that the process will end up being a popularity contest, but, at the same time, isn't worried.
"There are so many great bands in town and around Utah, and I feel if we narrow things down to the 20 best Summit County Bands and the 10 best Utah bands that we'll put a great line up on the stage regardless," he said.
The idea for voting for a concert-series line up started with an "off-handed" conversation with a musician during a meeting last year.
"We were discussing the booking process and how we booked the people who wanted to play," Richards said. "I joked and said, 'We should have the community vote and that will take it off of my plate.'"
A similar process was used to select three bands — Lash LaRue, Patwa Reggae Band and the Motherlode Canyon Band — to play the Newpark Stage last year.
"If I remember correctly, the community picked them from nine bands, and it went pretty smoothly," Richards said. "So, this year, I decided to do it on a bigger scale for the Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series at Deer Valley."
One reason the Deer Valley shows were targeted was because of the unique atmosphere of the venue.
"When you walk the hill at Deer Valley during a show, you see your friends, neighbors and relatives," Richards said. "It's a great experience and we want people who support the series, who are donating, have the opportunity to see the artists they want to see.
"We consider Mountain Town Music a community organization," he said. "We're for the community supported by the community and this vote fits with that idea. We're looking forward to the 2013 summer and excited to work with the community on a grander scale."