Christopher Hawley looks forward to his annual gig at the Access Film Music Festival |

Christopher Hawley looks forward to his annual gig at the Access Film Music Festival

Christopher Hawley has played Access Film Music Showcase since the mid 2000s, and he looks forward to his Park City return this year.
Photo by Mark Cavener

Christopher Hawley Access Film Music Festival, Jan. 28-Feb. 3 The Spur Bar and Grill, 352 Main St.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Christopher Hawley, who leads the Venice, California-based band Christopher Hawley Rollers, has toured the world. He’s played in Europe, Asia and Central America, and is currently on a tour of venues in Taipei.

And while the globetrotting musician has made connections with fans, venues and promoters around the globe, he can’t wait to play the Access Film Music Showcase during film festival week at the Spur Bar and Grill. (See accompanying story)

“I remember my first trip to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival back in the early 2000s,” Hawley said. “While I had toured Utah before, but I decided to go during Sundance with no agenda.”

Hawley played his set at noon on a weekday, then had the rest of the time to himself.

I get to hear stuff that I won’t hear anywhere else, and being around these musicians helps me set my own goals…” Christopher Hawley, singer-songwriter from Venice

“I had nothing on my schedule, and saw one of those places that offers free lift tickets if you take a condo tour,” he said. “I decided to take a tour, but I was clear with the woman who was giving the tour that I was there just for the lift ticket.”

That meeting changed his life.

“The woman eventually became my girlfriend at the time and I found myself going back to Park City seven times that year,” he said. “She also introduced me to a lot of Park City locals, and I got more immersed into the local music scene.”

Local fans consider Hawley one of their own – he just needs to buy a condo or home to make it official, he said.

“The thing is, I would have to sell a lot more CDs if that’s going to happen,” he said with a laugh.

Still, Hawley never passes on a chance to play Access, which will start on Jan. 23 at the Poplar Street Pub in Salt Lake City before continuing to The Spur on Monday, Jan. 28.

The showcase gives him an opportunity to share his music with film lovers and industry professionals from around the world who come to Sundance and Slamdance.

“When I perform solo, I try to do the songs that I’ve recently written,” he said “When the Rollers are playing, it’s about what the group energy is like. I also look to the audience. If they want us to play a sing-along, I have a bunch of songs that will work in such an intimate venue.”

Access Film Music Showcase continues to impress Hawley because of the quality of artists the festival’s founder, Michael “Chicago Mike” Beck, has been able to bring to Park City.

“Every year I go I get to see other artists who come from halfway around the world to play at the showcase,” he said. “It’s so great to connect with people like that, and I have been able to stay in touch with a few international Access artists.”

Befriending other artists has also spurred Hawley to up his own songwriting game.

“I get inspired because the quality of songwriters improves every year,” he said. “I know every time I’m there, I get to hear stuff that I won’t hear anywhere else, and being around these musicians helps me set my own goals. I hope I can be inspiring to others as well.”

Hawley also enjoys being in Park City during film festival week.

“It comes at the starting of the year, and it’s a good place for me to recharge my battery,” he said. “There’s also something about being around filmmakers, producers and people in the film industry who are bursting with passion and motivation for their craft.”

Seeing that passion has inspired Hawley when he makes his music videos.

“Each one of those have been produced on a shoestring budget, and done out of passion and the love of the craft, much like some of the Sundance Film Festival films,” he said.

The songwriter’s most recent project is a live album called “Zona Sur.” Hawley recorded the album at the end of 2017 while playing shows in Costa Rica.

“We did it in a venue called the Bamboo Room, and you can hear the that ‘pura vida’ happening,” he said.

“Pura vida,” meaning “pure life” in Spanish, is uniquely Costa Rican.

“It’s about enjoying life’s simple things,” Hawley said.

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