ASCAP Music Cafe gives a tuneful flair to the Sundance Film Festival |

ASCAP Music Cafe gives a tuneful flair to the Sundance Film Festival

Demitri and Michael Lerios, l-r, are Fox Wilde, who will perform at Thursday and Friday, Jan. 30-31, at the ASCAP Music Cafe.
Courtsey of Fox Wilde

What: ASCAP Music Cafe

When: Jan. 24-31

Where: 751 Main St.

Cost: Free for Sundance Film Festival credential holders


Loretta Munoz can’t believe the ASCAP Music Cafe will celebrate its 22nd year as a partner with the Sundance Film Festival.

“It really does seem like just a few years ago that we started our humble roots with a request and a plea to the Sundance Institute to open a platform for us to bring new and original music to the festival that went beyond tentpole events such as premieres and opening and closing parties,” said Munoz, assistant vice president of membership of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. “Music goes hand in hand with filmmaking. With Sundance telling us to have at it, we’ve become a beautiful cornerstone event that we cherish.”

The mission of the ASCAP Music Cafe, which will start at 2 p.m. every day from Friday, Jan. 24, through Friday, Jan. 31, at 751 Main St., is to expose ASCAP artists to the filmmaking community, according to Munoz.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our members to show off and play their beautiful music to attendees who are just as adventurous and anxious to hear new music as we are,” she said. “We all work very hard to bring new, unique, loved and legacy artists together into an eclectic program that celebrates synergy of music and film.”

The lineup includes bird and the bee, Barry Zito, ZZ Ward and the fictional character of Derek Smalls, formerly of the band formerly known as Spinal Tap. (See complete schedule below).

“I love how bird and the bee’s music fills up a space,” she said. “It’s very joyful, and it takes you to this magical place.”

Zito is known to the sports community as a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher for the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants and co-writer and singer of “That Sound,” which is the theme for the Minor League baseball team Nashville Sound.

Munoz, who was raised in the Bay Area, was already a fan of the Oakland A’s when Zito joined the team in 2000, and her father was a huge fan.

Zito published his memoir, “Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Chasing Fortune and Fame” in 2019, Munoz asked his manager to connect them.

“I asked him if he would sign his book for my dad, and he did,” she said. “Then we began talking about him coming to Sundance, and it’s going to be great to hear Barry in this other world of his.”

Ward is someone Munoz has been watching closely for the past few years.

“She has been on our list for a while, and we’ve come close to getting her a couple of times, but the timing didn’t work until now,” Munoz said. “She’s a badass and soulful musician, so we’re super excited to be able to bring her to the stage.”

Smalls is known in the independent film world thanks to Rob Reiner’s 1984 mockumentary, “This Is Spinal Tap.”

The film follows Spinal Tap, a fictional British heavy metal band featuring guitarist Nigel Tufnel, lead singer and guitarist David St. Hubbins, and bassist Derek Smalls, respectively portrayed by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer.

Shearer will revisit Smalls for two ASCAP Music Cafe performances on Jan. 30 and 31, and Munoz is ready to do some headbanging.

“For years, we’ve been trying to see if we could get the whole band to do a ‘mockuformance,’” she said with a laugh. “But they have all been doing different projects.”

Munoz has known Shearer for years through singer-songwriter and actor, Judith Owen, an ASCAP Music Cafe veteran, whose back-up musician was Shearer.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and Munoz was able to attend one of Shearer’s concerts he performed as his alter-ego.

“It was hilarious, fantastic, bombastic and a brilliant spectacle,” she said. “After the show, I had a couple of minutes to talk with him and I said, ‘What about Derek Smalls and Sundance,’ and his manager started talking with me and we were able to make it happen. I’m so thankful and excited about this.”

Munoz is also excited for the other ASCAP Music Cafe artists such as Ron Artis II, Ruen Brothers and Lizbeth Roman.

“I work with amazing and creative colleagues who are dedicated to music and are fans of music, and we all come in with new tastes, suggestions and ideas for the performances,” Munoz said.

The ASCAP Music Cafe schedule starts each year with a blank piece of paper and stacks of Post-It notes, Munoz said.

“We go through our gigantic wish list, and find who is available,” she said. “Then we pull in (musicians and composers) for the films that are going to be at the festival later on, and see who can perform.”

The biggest challenge is selecting artists that can play in the cafe’s intimate environment at Rich Haines Gallery.

“The music that is performed needs to engage everyone,” Munoz said. “We also have to manage the expectations of the artists who will play, because we want to present them in the best light for music fans, new media platforms and filmmakers.”

The 2020 ASCAP Music Cafe schedule

Friday, Jan. 24

2 p.m. — Matthew Koma of Winnetka Bowling League

2:45 p.m. — Ron Artis II

3:30 p.m. — LÉON

4:15 p.m. — Aaron Lee Tasjan

5 p.m. — Cyn

Saturday, Jan. 25

2 p.m. — Rain Phoenix

2:45 p.m. — Ron Artis II

3:30 p.m. — Aaron Lee Tasjan

4:15 p.m. — Matt Berninger of The National

5:15 p.m. — Matthew Koma of Winnetka Bowling League

Sunday, Jan. 26

2 p.m. — Rain Phoenix

2:45 p.m. — Joseph Arthur

3:30 p.m. — Ruen Brothers

4:15 p.m. — James Bourne

5 p.m. — Matt Berninger of The National

Monday, Jan. 27

2 p.m. — Joseph Arthur

2:45 p.m. — Joe Robinson

3:30 p.m. — Colter Wall

4:15 p.m. — James Bourne

5 p.m. — Ruen Brothers

Tuesday, Jan. 28

2 p.m. — Jamie Drake

2:40 p.m. — Lizbeth Román

3:20 p.m. — Stephen Kellogg

4:05 p.m — Alex Lilly

4:45 p.m. — the bird and the bee

5:30 p.m. — Barry Zito

Wednesday, Jan. 29

2 p.m. — Lizbeth Román

2:45 p.m. — Jamie Drake

3:30 p.m. — Stephen Kellogg

4:15 p.m. — Samantha Sidley

5 p.m. — the bird and the bee

5:45 p.m. — TBA

Thursday, Jan. 30

2 p.m. — Jobi Riccio

2:45 p.m. — Fox Wilde

3:30 p.m. — Steven Dayvid McKellar of Civil Twilight

4:15 p.m. — ZZ Ward

5 p.m. — Derek Smalls formerly of the band formerly known as Spinal Tap

6 p.m. — TBA

Friday, Jan. 31

2 p.m. — Fox Wilde

2:45 p.m. — Derek Smalls formerly of the band formerly known as Spinal Tap

3:45 p.m. — Steven Dayvid McKellar of Civil Twilight

4:30 p.m. — ZZ Ward

5:15 p.m. — TBA

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the first day of the ASCAP Music Cafe.

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