Nashville Unplugged and O.P. Rockwell hosts online contest to benefit local songwriters |

Nashville Unplugged and O.P. Rockwell hosts online contest to benefit local songwriters

O.P. Rockwell and Nashville Unplugged want to help local musicians who haven’t been able to book performances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Park City-based venue and Las Vegas-based songwriter storytelling program that began hosting in-the-round performances on Main Street in 2018 are starting a songwriter contest and fundraiser, according to Chloe Johnson, a member of the O.P. Rockwell marketing team.

Songwriters can enter the contest by following O.P. Rockwell and Nashville Unplugged Official on Instagram and submitting videos of them performing an original song they wrote via direct messages to either handle, Johnson said.

“We also want the songwriters to tell us about the stories behind the songs, because that’s what Nashville Unplugged is all about,” she said.

Nashville Unplugged, which was founded in Las Vegas by singer and songwriter Aaron Benward more than a decade ago, presents in-the-round concerts performed by songwriters who wrote hits for superstar country artists including Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire and Keith Urban, to name a few, Johnson said.

The songwriters not only perform the hits but tell the stories that inspired them, she said.

“We’ve learned about some profound and sometimes very heartbreaking stories,” Johnson said. “So we thought it would be neat to take that concept to the local level and learn what inspired these upcoming artists.”

Songwriters can enter up to three songs a week, and once the song is submitted, the songwriter should post the video on their Facebook and Instagram page and use the hashtag #nashvilleunplugged.

“Every Sunday, starting on April 12, we will announce judges who are Nashville-based songwriters,” she said. “The judges will choose the songs that hit them the hardest and we’ll send them $100 to help them with what’s going on right now.”

The idea for the contest is another way for the musicians to connect with their audiences.

“Since no one can perform live shows, we thought it would be a great time for us to hear from upcoming singers and songwriters, because we have time,” Johnson said.

In March, O.P. Rockwell streamed nightly performances by local solo artists from the Rockwell Room, but had to close because of the Summit County Health restrictions surrounding COVID-19, so the venue worked the artists to evolve the livestreams, which still run from 7-8 p.m. each night, according to Johnson.

“Thanks to everyone being super adaptable, and we’ve kept the live stream going,” she said. “The performances are now streamed from the artists’ homes on their Facebook pages, and we share them on our O.P. Rockwell page.”

In addition to the songwriters contest fundraiser and the live streams, O.P. Rockwell is planning other events to host once the COVID-19 ban on social gatherings is lifted.

“We will throw three parties that celebrate events that people in the community have missed because of the ban,” she said.

The events include a group birthday party, graduation party and ski-themed party, she said.

Both events will be split in two, with the all-ages celebrations held upstairs in the Rockwell Listening Room, and the parties for ages 21 and older taking place in the downstairs bar, Johnson said.

“We aren’t able to announce the dates because, obviously, we don’t know how long the ban will be in place,” she said. “But we’re planning these so we can hit the ground running.”

The songwriters contest, livestreams and upcoming parties are ways for O.P. Rockwell and venue owner Scott “Scooter” Thompson to connect with local residents, Johnson said.

“Since our venue is on Main Street, we do cater to a lot of out-of-towners, and sometimes the locals can feel lost in the shuffle,” she said. “We are sensitive to our residents, and Scott will dive into anything that ties back to the community and unites the area.”

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