ASCAP Music Café integral to Sundance experience
Believe it or not, the ASCAP Music Café hasn’t always been part of the Sundance Film Festival.
In fact, live music showcases weren’t as prevalent as they are today, according to Loretta Munoz, ASCAP assistant vice president and Sundance ASCAP Music Café producer.
"Our very humble beginnings was more like ‘Let’s try this as an experiment’ pitch to Sundance," Munoz said during an interview with The Park Record. "Way back then, it was not prominent at the festival, except for opening and closing parties and attached to the awards. So, it was our plea to have music at the film festival, because music is such a major part of filmmaking and wanted to expand that and expose directors and filmmakers to music."
Eighteen years in, Munoz said, and that’s still the goal
"A bunch of amazing people helped us prove ourselves into what is now one of the intricate part of the Sundance Film Festival," she said.
The ASCAP Music Café will be held at the Rich Haynes Gallery, 625 Main St., and this year’s line up will include Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Lissie, R. City, Tift Merritt, Veruca Salt and an acoustic set from Yoshiki, who is the subject of Stephen Kijak’s Sundance documentary "We Are X."
"This is super special because Yoshiki has global fans and he will perform an acoustic set with strings," Munoz said. "It’s something that will be just beautiful. We are all excited about this."
Also on the schedule are Louise Post and Nina Gordon from Veruca Salt, Air Traffic Controller, Green River Ordinance, Other Lives, Billy Raffoul, Motopony, ron Nicholai of the film "I Am Yup’ik", Walter Schreifels of "Quicksand and Rival Schools," Sibling, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear and Alicia Witt.
"We’ve never had Louise and Nina of Veruca Salt play at the café and we are big fans of theirs," Munoz said. "Tift Merritt is also incredible and the first person we went to get from Daniel Glass’s Glassnote Records was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear."
The café will also feature a special Bluebird Café Series lineup on Jan. 27 and 28. The artists will feature award-winning songwriters Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley and Josh Osborne, who will perform their own works made famous by recording artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney.
"For many years, we have prided ourselves on the eclectic roster for the ASCAP Music Café and by doing so, ASCAP has tried hard to integrate country music as well," Munoz said. "From early on when we had Billy Currington play up the street at the then, Star Bar."
The café has also presented Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark, although their country music outreach is universal, according to Munoz.
"We’ve also had Chris Stapelton, Lee Ann Womack, Brett James and Kelley Lovelace and Jessi Alexander," she said.
The songwriter concept started a few years ago when ASCAP partnered with the Country Music Association (CMA).
"This year, we connected with Erika (Wollam Nichols) at the Bluebird Café through my colleague Mike Sistad at our Nashville office," Munoz said. "We wanted to bring the writers in the round to ASCAP and the Bluebird Café is where it all started. You hear the songwriters sing their songs and hear the stories of how the songs were written.
"It’s so intimate and the three songwriters that are coming are incredible," she said. "The breadth of their catalogs are astonishing and they are loved by ASCAP and the songs will get you straight in your heart, or up out of your seat."
Munoz is happy to see how the ASCAP Music Café has grown.
"It has expanded from when our huge and wonderful production budget got us a stage that was just a carpet," she said with a laugh. "We would pause between the espresso and cappuccino machines so Joseph Arthur could play a set.
"After establishing it and having our staff and incredible ASCAP members and artists pull this off has been incredible," Munoz said. "Each year we try to bring in more artists who are attached to Sundance films and somehow slip in a couple of surprises. So, park yourself at the music café. You will have a great time and meet amazing people."
The 2016 ASCAP Music Café schedule
Friday, Jan. 22: Naomi Wachira, 2 p.m.; Air Traffic Controller , 2:40 p.m.; The Lonely Wind, 3:20 p.m.; Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, 4 p.m.
The ASCAP Music Café, 625 Main St., will offer live music through Friday, Jan. 29 during the Sundance Film Festival. The café is open to all Sundance Film Festival credential holders as space allows. For more information, visit http://www.sundance.org and http://www.ascap.com/sundance.
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In the closing scenes of the about-to-be released documentary “Public Trust,” environmental journalist Hal Herring says this of the battle over public lands: “You only have a right to what you are willing to fight for.”