Park City Songwriter Festival and The Cabin will make some music during film festival week
The Cabin and the Park City Songwriter Festival want to offer something unique during film festival week, so they partnered with singer-songwriter J.J. Grey of Mofro to produce a solo, acoustic storytelling performance.
The concert is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23, at The Cabin, 427 Main St. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Junior Richard, The Cabin’s general manager, wanted to work with the Park City Songwriter Festival, owned and created by Ben Anderson, Aaron Benward and Scott “Scooter” Thompson, after the festival’s successful debut last fall.
“The Park City Songwriter Festival did such a great thing that I wanted to open up an opportunity for them to let people know what their program is all about, and give them some exposure during Sundance,” he said. “Sundance is a global market, and while the Park City Songwriter Festival is fairly new, it has the potential to become something huge in the future.”
The Park City Songwriter Festival, which will be held this year from Sept. 10-13, blossomed from Benward’s project, Nashville Unplugged, which he started nearly 11 years ago in Las Vegas. During each performance, songwriters of the hits recorded by artists such as Keith Urban, Garth Brooks and Kathy Mattea, to name a few, talk about where the ideas for the songs came from and the writing process.
“It was about bringing my friends who are the people behind country hits,” Benward said. “It’s about creating moments people will not forget. It’s about the stories behind the songs, and the reasons why songs are born.”
The format for J.J. Grey’s Jan. 23 performance follows the Songwriter Festival format, according to Benward.
“To showcase J.J. Grey in an all-acoustic storyteller format, is exactly what we do in eight to 10 venues along Main Street in September,” he said. “So to be able to do something like this during Sundance is perfect. The Sundance Film Festival is about telling stories through motion pictures, and the Songwriter Festival tells stories through live song. And we feel these two worlds should be married.”
Presenting Grey also brings the Songwriter Festival full circle, because last fall’s event featured musicians who performed with Grey in the Southern Soul Assembly super group, Benward said.
“We presented Luther Dickinson, Anders Osborne and Marc Broussard,” he said. “All we were missing was J.J, and now we have him.”
Booking big names like Grey during film festival week is something Richard enjoys.
“We try to make sure these show are ones you might not be able to see anywhere else in the country,” he said. “I’m constantly trying to bring in new people during Sundance. J.J. has been on my list for a long time. I had been banging on that door and they finally let me in.”
Richard approached the Park City Songwriter Festival creators and pitched the partnership idea, which was a no-brainer because The Cabin is a festival venue, according to Anderson.
“We’re grateful for this opportunity, because the Songwriter Festival is an annual event, and we will be able to announce our first headliner at the Cabin during J.J.’s show,” Anderson said. “We can also give people the dates and tell people what we do at the festival, and let them know why we are unique compared to other festivals around the country to generate more interested in our band.”
Benward said Junior’s call was serendipitous.
“Ben and I had been talking about doing something during Sundance to garner more awareness about our festival and reach potential fans who may want to attend,” he said.
While Anderson has seen Grey with his band Mofro, the Jan. 23 show will be the first time he’ll see the songwriter play solo.
“We are all superfans, and we can wait to see him alone and hear about how these songs came about,” Anderson said. “That makes this night so special and unique, and that’s why we’re thrilled to be a part of this.”
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