Guitarist Christopher Hawley returns to Park City during Film Festival week

Since 2001, guitarist Christopher Hawley has enjoyed performing in Park City and makes it a point to return at least once a year. (Photo by Aaron Fallon)

When Sundance and Slamdance come to town, the city comes alive with musical energy.

Some of these musicians make it a point to schedule their tours to coincide with Film Festival week.

One of these artists is Christopher Hawley, a California-based guitarist who is known for his love of resort towns.

Hawley’s love for Park City began after playing the now defunct Mother Urbans in 2001, and has continued to return time after time.

His shows will start on Jan. 22 at Bistro 412, On Jan. 23 he’ll be at the Corner Store at Deer Valley, and continue Jan. 25 at Mojo’s and end on Jan. 26 back at Bistro 412.

For the past two weeks, Hawley has been on tour in Brazil, so The Park Record sent him some questions via email to talk about his music and his return to Park City

Park Record: What attracts you to ski towns and places like this?

Christopher Hawley: Ski towns are places where people come together to share a love of playing in the snow, among other things, but also an appreciation of Mother Nature, a healthy lifestyle, adventure, music, and especially in Park City, open-mindedness through film and art.

PR: Why did you choose to play the guitar?

CH: My dad asked me if I wanted to take guitar or piano lessons when I was a kid, and I was studying classical guitar for about a year when, at age 13, I broke my leg playing soccer and could do nothing but play guitar for a whole summer. My first paying gig was playing classical guitar for a teacher and his soon to be fiancée as he proposed to her over an intimate dinner.

PR: Who were your influences?

CH: My biggest influences are Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Little Feat, and "Hot Dog the Movie." I’ve jammed with members of the Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and actually at Sundance a few years ago Stewart Copeland from the Police, and John Popper from Blues Traveler. During college in Boulder, Colo., I got my first taste of touring nationally with a psychedelic jam band called Mucis, which broke up after two albums.

PR: What were your early goals and ideas for your music?

CH: I started writing songs right away and my first goals, besides being able to play lead guitar like Clapton, slide like Duane Allman, and sing and write like Lowell George, were to craft songs that brought as much joy to listeners as my favorite songs brought to me.

PR: Have your goals changed over the years, and if so, what are they now?

CH: I love touring so much that when I got recruited to be on Survivor a few seasons ago, when the casting director approached me at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, the shoot dates conflicted with a mountain town tour I had booked, so I opted to go on the road. Also when Hans Zimmer, who has scored just about every major movie soundtrack you’ve heard recently, personally asked me to work for him, I turned him down so I could maintain my touring schedule.

PR: In order for you to reach your full potential as a songwriter, what is the biggest challenge you face time after time and how do you conquer it, or have you?

CH: The biggest challenges for me are probably the same challenges that everyone else faces- the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that I can only physically be in one place at one time. I’m still working on these issues, and I’ll let you know if I make any progress.

PR: Are the songs you write extremely autobiographical? If so, is there anytime you feel you may be revealing too much of yourself or is that part of the craft?

CH: I try to write with universal appeal in mind rather than in a confessional style, but a couple of tunes come to mind, like ‘Bank Robbing Man’ that relates a first-hand experience. Another one is ‘Wrong Guy,’ which is about mistaken identity on one level and giving the benefit of the doubt on another.

PR: Are you working on a new album? If so, how did your 2010 album "Comes Around Again" affect your direction with the new songs?

CH: After that album, I wanted to record some acoustic sounds, so I put out ‘Rise and Shine.’ Right now I’m working on another acoustic record with one of my songwriting buddies, and also just starting to record some more electric songs with the full band.

PR: What ideas do you have for the future?

CH: The immediate plan is to do some more ski-town dates this winter and, hopefully, come back to Utah in the spring.

I would like to continue my weekly and monthly residencies at westside venues in Los Angeles, possibly return to Europe in May for the first time since our last tour there in 2010, and head back to Brazil in June and July to play shows during the World Cup. It’s challenging, and I sacrifice a lot, but I feel absolutely blessed to be connecting with people worldwide though music.

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Skate with Santa at the Park City Ice Arena 

Santa Claus returns to the Park City Ice Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the annual Santa Skate! Don’t forget to bring your ski or bike helmet to wear while you’re on the ice. Complimentary skating and rentals. 

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