Local singer-songwriter Bill McGinnis enjoys international Access with Park City showcase
Bill McGinnis at the Access Film Music Showcase 5 p.m., Jan. 31 The Spur Bar and Grill, 352 Main St. accessfilmmusic.net
While many international singer-songwriters come to Park City to play the Access Film Music Showcase during the Sundance Film Festival, founder Michael “Chicago Mike” Beck schedules local artists to play as well.
Bill McGinnis, a singer-songwriter based in Park City, has performed at Access, which is held at the Spur Bar and Grill, for the past six years. This year, McGinnis will play at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31. He will perform with Alice Wallace, a country singer from Los Angeles, and Gigi Love, a longtime member of Salt Lake City’s music community.
“Our singer and songwriting community is part of a larger community that goes through all 50 states and over the oceans,” McGinnis said. “Access is a wonderful opportunity to have players from that larger community come to our town. The people who come here are very talented. There are some great players and writers who come through. I get to see new artists and reconnect with longtime friends.”
Seeing those friends who return year after year is inspiring, McGinnis said.
“I’m a family guy, and I stay and play around town while these people tour the world,” he said. “I really appreciate the fact that there is a set time during the year where I get to see them, hear them and catch up. It’s like a family reunion.”
McGinnis also enjoys the status of having played a music showcase during an event with the profile of Sundance.
“There’s the razzle dazzle of it all” he said. “People seem in awe when they find out I played the Access Film Music Showcase during Sundance.”
McGinnis usually has an idea of what he’s going to play when he steps onto the stage.
“When I’m in a singer-in-the-round situation, a lot of times I’ll play three or four songs within the hour,” he said. “So if someone sings a ‘my dog died and my boyfriend left me’ song, you don’t want to play a ‘my pickup truck broke down’ song. You want to go in another direction, and I have a bag of songs that I can draw from.”
McGinnis said Access is another way for musicians to get their music to new audiences, and they never know who will be in the audience.
“Every little bit helps,” he said. “I have a friend, Amy Speace, whose booking manager scheduled her to play at a coffee shop at 1:30 in the afternoon, after lunch … she thought no one was going to be there. But she played and Judy Collins’ manager was there to hear Amy play her song ‘Weight of the World.’”
Collins recorded the performance and took Speace on tour, McGinnis said.
“A same kind of thing happened in Kerrville Festival with Steve Seskin,” he said “Bethany Yarrow – daughter of Peter Yarrow from the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary – heard Steve play ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’ in a song circle.”
Yarrow told her dad that the song would be perfect for his education nonprofit, Operation Respect, McGinnis said.
“The next day, Peter went and scoped out Steve and the song became the theme of the project,” he said. “So you never know who’s going to be sitting in the room when you play. The Access Film Music Showcase is like that for me. It ups the odds a little bit.”
Although performing at the festival can be fun, McGinnis said the musicians who take the stage need to feel a sense of professional responsibility.
One year, he said, three local musicians got so drunk their songwriter in the round turned into a sloppy jam.
“Being unprofessional does our music community more harm than good, because the artists who come play at Access from around the world are vested in their performances,” McGinnis said. “This is serious business to them, so if you want to go get drunk or stoned and get on stage and play Joe Rock Star, do it somewhere else.”
An earlier version of this story misstated the performance date as Wednesday, Jan. 30. The correct date is Thursday, Jan. 31.
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