Park City Song Summit gets to the heart of creativity with a five day event featuring performances and discussions |

Park City Song Summit gets to the heart of creativity with a five day event featuring performances and discussions

Mavis Staples, Anders Osborne and Lori McKenna scheduled to participate

Grammy-winning gospel-music pioneer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples will be among the artists who will participate in the Park City Song Summit.
Photo by Myriam Santos

The inaugural Park City Song Summit will feature an array of performances, panel discussions and collaborations that will not only celebrate the art of songwriting and performing, but the creative process, says founder and Parkite Ben Anderson.

“This is something for music lovers, artists and audiences who want to connect on a deeper level, and raise their voices,” said Anderson, bassist for the Nashville-based jam band Aiko. “To do this we will present artist labs, which are symposiums and Q and A sessions very much like TED talks or Aspen Institute panels. We bring forth artists to talk about all types of creative arts and how they celebrate song, celebrate the creative process behind the songs.”

Festival passes and single-day tickets are now on sale for the event that will run from Sept. 8-12, and they can be purchased by visiting

Participating artists include Gary Clark Jr., Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Andrew Bird, Leslie Jordan, Iron & Wine, Tank and the Bangas and Natalie Hemby.

The summit will take place in 15 venues with capacities that range from 75 to 1,300 people, he said.

“We will present the artists in a variety of ways, from acoustic sets to full band shows,” Anderson said.

Anderson looks forward to the performances, but also to the lab discussions.

The Park City Song Summit is the brainchild of Park City-based musician Ben Anderson, bassist for the band Aiko. The goal of the 5-day event is to celebrate the art and world-changing power of creativity, according to Anderson.
Photo by Angela Howard Photography

“Something that has always intrigued me is the power of song,” he said. “How can something that’s only three minutes long have the power to change people’s lives, and how can an artist take something — a good feeling, a painful part of life, an idea or seeing a sunset — from the proverbial ether and turn it into words and music that ends ups touching our hearts and hitting the very depths of our souls? I love hearing stories about that process.”

Some of the artists on the Park City Song Summit list are only coming into town to speak, not perform, according to Anderson.

“Alison Mosshart of the Chills is just coming in to talk about her paintings, and other things that are outside of music, and Fred Armisen from ‘Portlandia’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ will be here to do stand-up and talk about comedy and drumming and things like that,” he said. “It will be great to have Rich Roll from the Rich Roll Podcast interview Olympic gold medalist Shaun White about how music is a strong medium that inspires performance athletes. They will also talk about the similarities between the pressures of being a performance athlete and being a musician and other artists.”

Another non-musical artist will be rock photographer Jay Blakesberg, who will do two labs, Anderson said.

“One lab will be of his photography of the Grateful Dead, and the other will be about his 40-plus years in rock photography in general,” he said.

Speaking of the Grateful Dead, the Park City Song Summit will feature a lab about Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

“Robert died last year,” Anderson said. “So this will be a great way to honor him, and have the artists talk about how he inspired them.”

Anderson’s band, Aiko, is one of those bands inspired by the Dead, and some of his favorite Robert Hunter songs are “Ripple” and “Comes a Time.”

“‘Wharf Rat’ is also a big one for me as well, because of my personal journey through addiction and recovery,” he said. “There is such an inventory of the fabric of our emotions and lives.”

In addition to the creative process, labs will also focus on social issues such as equity and racism, Anderson said.

“We want to flip the pyramid,” he said. “If we can bring this stuff into the light, expose it, discuss it and bring in some love, then maybe in some small way we can make a difference.”

Two of the big issues Anderson wants to address are racism and the hate aimed at the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s important to me, because as a white heterosexual make from privilege, it’s embarrassing, shocking and disgusting to see what has been happening,” he said. “While I don’t think hatred will ever stop in this world, we can certainly call it out and call it what it is. We can show the generations to come that it is not right and needs to be eradicated.”

Other lab discussions will cover mental health and addiction, said Anderson.

“I don’t want to lose any more friends who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues in the music industry to suicide and overdoses,” he said. “I want to use this event to provide them with resources. We have local nonprofits in the mental health, suicide prevention and recovery community who are charitable partners.”

One thing Anderson wants to make clear is the Park City Song Summit isn’t a festival.

“That is the F-word around here, because that is a different lane that has been well traveled,” he said. “Yes, we stand on the shoulders of some of those types of events, but we are doing something more than promoting a new album or concert. What we are doing is to use our voices, our hearts, intentions and time to make a difference.”

Park City Song Summit

When: Sept. 8-12


Park City Song Summit Performers

• Ryan Bingham

• Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite

• Gary Clark Jr.

• Chad Cromwell

• Mike Dillon

• Daniel Donato

• Fruit Bats

• Bonny Light Horseman

• Father John Misty

• Ivan Neville

• Anders Osborne

• Rising Appalachia

• Mavis Staples

• Brad Walker

• Kamasi Washington

• Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel

Performance and Lab participants

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lori McKenna joins the Park City Song Summit as one of its performers and lab discussion participants. | Photo by Becky Fluke

• Fred Armisen

• Andrew Bird & Jimbo Mathus

• Adia Victoria

• Cedric Burnside

• Tré Burt

• Celisse

• John Craigie

• John Doe

• Devon Gilfillian

• Natalie Hemby

• Iron & Wine

• Leslie Jordan

• Morgan Kibby

• Lucius

• Lori McKenna

• Joy Oladokun

• Preservation Hall Jazz Band

• Josh Ritter

• Jonathan Russell of The Head and The Heart

• Amanda Shires

• Langhorne Slim

• Tank and the Bangas

• Jonathan Wilson

Park City Song Summit Lab participants

• Jay Blakesberg

• Rob Bleetstein

• Mark Borden

• Andy Cruz

• Dave of Dopey Podcast

• Dean Gonzalez & James A. Rota

• Alison Mosshart

• Joe Pug

• Rich Roll

• Jay Sweet

• Shaun White

Park City Song Summit Songwriters-In-the-Round participants

• Dean Alexander

• Kelly Archer

• Kent Blazy

• Blake Bollinger

• Rick Brantley

• Sarah Darling

• Jace Everett

• Shelly Fairchild

• Tim James

• Earl Bud Lee

• Megan Linville

• Bill Luther

• Kylie Morgan

• Dave Pahanish

• Waylon Payne

• Kylie Sackley

• Emily Shackleton

• Kallie Shorr

• Julia Sinclair

• Garrison Starr

• Hailey Steele

• Matt Warren


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