Norwegian singer and songwriter Sondre Lerche performed at the ASCAP Music CafŽ in 2008 and is back this year after scoring a film, Mona Fastvold’s
Norwegian singer and songwriter Sondre Lerche performed at the ASCAP Music CafŽ in 2008 and is back this year after scoring a film, Mona Fastvold's "The Sleep Walker," which is part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition lineup. (Photo courtesy of ASCAP)
In the past 16 years, the Sundance Film Festival ASCAP Music Café has blossomed into a hot spot where festivalgoers can catch some of their favorite artists playing intimate shows and where these artists can meet film-industry insiders.

That's always been the goal, said ASCAP Music Café producer Loretta Munoz.

ASCAP stands for American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and is a music-rights organization that collects royalties and licenses for its songwriting and performing members.

"The mission has always been to reach our members, songwriters, artists and composers in general and coupling them with members of the film community to find new talent and connect people," Munoz said during an interview with The Park Record.

"It's the same lines as what the Sundance Film Festival does by bringing in new filmmakers in each year. We want to create new opportunities for the artists who play at the café, and we want to help filmmakers discover new artists as well."

The ASCAP Music Café will run from Jan. 17 through Jan. 24 at 751 Main St. Doors open daily at 1:30 p.m.

Munoz programs the café with a group of colleagues and industry insiders.

"We try to set up performances in a way that showcases artists who are successful now and recognized," she said. "We also schedule those who are more independent."

There are also artists who play the café who are attached to films that are playing during the Sundance Film Festival.

"It's like sitting down with a blank canvas and working with suggestions from all over," Munoz said.

The selection process begins in earnest in August, although Munoz and her staff receive informal suggestions throughout the year.

"We start taking submissions in August to keep it under control," she said. "And at ASCAP, we also have our own wish list, which on occasion, gets granted."

One of those wishes was to have David Gray play a few years ago.

"I remember sitting in the café and hearing him do some introductions and start to play," Munoz said. "I looked across to my editor and thought, 'Is this really happening?' It was a magic moment."

Although it's fun to tell filmmakers about great musicians that they have never heard, the real reward is seeing an ASCAP Music Café alumni return to Sundance as a film composer.

Sondre Lerche is one of rewards, Munoz said.

"He played the café in 2008 and now he's back with a film," she said.

The Norwegian songwriter scored Mona Fastvold's "The Sleep Walker" that is part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition lineup.

Another ASCAP Café success story is Ryan Miller of the band Guster.

"Years ago, I had Guster perform at the café and Ryan and I were waiting in the greenroom together and he told me that he wanted to be a film music composer," Munoz said. "He came back the next year with one film and last year, he had two films.

"I asked if he's coming to Sundance this year and he said no because he didn't have a film," she said. "It was such a different conversation than our first one."

Munoz said ASCAP enjoys working with the Sundance Film Festival and hopes to work with them in the coming years.

"We're happy to continue working with Sundance," she said. "We admire them and there are great people who work there. It's a tremendous amount of work that has wonderful experiences attached."

The Sundance Film Festival ASCAP Music Café schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, Jan. 17

    2 p.m. — The Falls

    2:40 p.m. — Lily Kershaw

    3:20 p.m. — Robert DeLong

    4:00 p.m. — Guy Sebastian

    4:40 p.m. — Monarch

  • Saturday, Jan. 18

    2 p.m. — The Falls

    2:40 p.m. — Savoir Adore

    3:20 p.m. — Robert DeLong

    4 p.m. — Guy Sebastian

    4:40 p.m. — The Mowgli's

  • Sunday, Jan. 19

    2 p.m. — Savoir Adore

    2:40 p.m. — Moors

    3:20 p.m. — The Mowgli's

    4 p.m. — Carina Round

    4:40 p.m. — The Wind + the Wave

  • Monday, Jan. 20

    2 p.m. — Venus and the Moon

    2:40 p.m. — Jeremy Messersmith

    3:20 p.m. — Years & Years

    4 p.m. — Kris Gruen

    4:40 p.m. — The Wind + the Wave

    5:20 p.m. — Richie Sambora

  • Tuesday, Jan. 21

    2 p.m. — Sondre Lerche

    2:40 p.m. — Jeremy Messersmith

    3:20 p.m. — The Devil Makes Three

    4 p.m. — Matthew Perryman Jones

    4:40 p.m. — Rae Spoon from the film "My Prairie Home"

  • Wednesday, Jan. 22

    2 p.m. — Clara-Nova

    2:40 p.m. — Matthew Perryman Jones

    3:20 p.m. — Escondido

    4 p.m. — Country Music Association (CMA) Songwriters Spotlight

    5:45 p.m. — KT Tunstall

  • Thursday, Jan. 23

    2 p.m. — Cardinal Sons

    2:40 p.m. — Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

    3:20 p.m. — Escondido

    4 p.m. — CMA Songwriters Spotlight

    5:45 p.m. — The Autumn Defense

  • Friday, Jan. 24

    2 p.m. — Greyson Chance

    2:40 p.m. — Clara-Nova

    3:20 p.m. — Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

    4 p.m. — The Autumn Defense

    5 p.m. — The Parlotones

    For more information visit: filmguide.sundance.org/event/music/category/ASC