Silver Star Cafe’s Park City Limits dinner concerts will support local and regional artists this year
Music series has evolved over the years
The Silver Star Cafe’s live Park City Limits dinner concerts are back on track, and like last year, the schedule will be filled by local and regional artists, said Lisa Ward, who owns the eatery with her husband Jeff.
“I did make that decision that we weren’t going to bring in any touring artists this year, because it’s important for us to support our local artists who lost their tours and festivals due to COVID-19 last year,” Ward said. “Some of our artists work other jobs full time and play music on the side, and that’s great, but others, like Michelle Moonshine and Andrew Wiscombe, a married couple with three little boys, who are trying to make it as full-time musicians lost their income last year. So, supporting these people and helping them get onto their feet is a commitment we can do.”
Park City Limits performances run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, and usually start at 7:30 p.m., Ward said. (See accompanying schedule for this season’s performances).
“Occasionally we’ll start a little earlier for the first three weeks at the start of the season because it does get a little too cool for those people who are dining on the patio,” she said.
Regardless of the time, the restaurant, which has appeared on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” was busy last weekend during the slate of shows.
“We’re not starting off slow this year,” Ward said. “I get the feeling that people are ready to get out. They’ve been cooped up for a year and have been away from their favorite restaurants and live musicians.”
Park City Limits started in the early 2010s, a couple of years after the Wards opened the Silver Star Cafe, as a community concert called Plazapalooza that was held every Thursday night, according to Ward.
“It was a way of introducing people to the Silver Star as a community, and we would present full bands and it was open to the public,” she said. “People could bring their coolers, picnics, kids and dogs and enjoy the music.”
The event grew so much in popularity that the Wards had to rein it in, Ward said.
“We decided to convert it into a singer-songwriter series, and for the first couple of years it was just us having one or two artists on the stage each week,” she said. “They were mostly folk musicians and other local artists whose work we enjoyed.”
“Since we were working all the time and couldn’t go out to see live music anymore, we thought why not bring the musicians here,” Jeff Ward said.
Over the years the music series has developed into more of a dinner show, rather than musicians providing background music while diners enjoyed their meals, Lisa Ward said.
“People began coming for the music,” she said. “They started wanting to sit and hear the band.”
To make sure the offerings weren’t repetitive, Ward knew she had to mix the genres.
“We’ll have jazz, bluegrass, folk and European folk and everything in between, so people who were staying in town and came to dine often would have different experiences,” Ward said. “I think the experience resonates with people because all the artists we work with are so authentic. In fact, some people come to dinner just to see certain artists every time they perform.”
Creating the Park City Limits schedule is a challenge, but Ward has come up with a working routine over the years.
“We are fortunate to work with about 40 different artists at different times, so when I’m mapping things out, I reach out to them and ask the dates they are available,” she said. “Then I’ll go to the calendar, and look for special events and holidays to see what type of music would be appropriate for those times.”
The space is ideal for solo artists, duos and trios, but on occasion, Ward will book a quartet. Other times, she will book a solo artist she knows from a larger band for a night.
“If I see that one of the artists in a band that has a unique style, I will bring them in for a solo or duo show to give them a different project to try out,” Ward said. “For example, Andrew Nelson, who plays acoustic guitar for us on Thursday nights, is the guitarist in Pixie and the Partygrass Boys.”
In order to book an artist for the right night, Ward has to keep their schedules in mind.
“They are busy people, and some of them play much larger venues than our little place,” she said. “So there are times when I can’t get someone at the times I would like to.”
Ward also has to make sure the style of music fits the season.
“There may be an artist who is a little too loud for our indoor winter performances, but they might fit in our summer outdoor performances on the patio,” she said. “So I have to approach the schedule from a big picture and then take it down to the little details and decisions to make the puzzle pieces fit.”
Throughout the years the Wards and musicians have created strong friendships, and some of the artists have decided to exclusively perform at the Silver Star Cafe.
“I think that has to do with the fact that we treat the artists the same way we treat our guests and our staff,” Ward said. “The first time they walk in the door we greet them with a glass of water, we take their order for dinner, sit down and catch up with them and take the time to get to know them as human beings.”
Some of the artists, such as Michelle Moonshine and Morgan Snow, are more than just local artists.
“Michelle competed on ‘The Voice’ last fall, and Morgan has opened for Sheryl Crow,” Ward said.
The opportunity to continue Park City Limits in a socially distanced way during the coronavirus pandemic has been rewarding for Jeff Ward.
“We were hopeful and pleased to see the popularity, and I think this is confirmation that we put together a combination of elements,” he said. “Lisa came up with the idea that the setting, interaction with the guests, the food and live music are the four legs of our business table. I think we are surprised and pleased at how much that resonates with everyone.”
Lisa Ward confirms that sentiment, and said guests have told her that the some of the performances remind them of the times they got married, lost loved ones or experienced other life-changing moments.
“We never know what is going on in our guests’ personal lives,” she said. “But sometimes just having them in a space where something intimate is happening can make a real difference in helping them deal with whatever it is they are dealing with. We never know how the music will reach people, but we just try to create an environment where the music can nurture them in some way.”
Lineup is subject to change
• 13 — Michelle Moonshine
• 14 — TBA
• 15 — Take Five Jazz Trio
• 20 — Drew Fink
• 21 — TBA
• 22 — Triggers and Slips
• 27 — Brooke Mackintosh
• 28 — Backyard Revival
• 29 — TBA
• 3 – Casey Morgan
• 4 — Hot House West
• 5 — Michelle Moonshine Trio
• 10 — TBA
• 11 — Take Five Jazz Trio
• 12 — Small House Strings
• 17 — Michelle Moonshine
• 18 — Backyard Revival
• 19 — Triggers and Slips
• 24 — Brooke Mackintosh
• 25 — Red Rock Hot Club
• 26 — TBA
• 1 — David Burchfielcd
• 2 — Backyard Revival
• 3 — Take Five Jazz Trio
• 4 (Special holiday show) — Michelle Moonshine Trio
• 8 — TBA
• 9 — Elliot Goldman and Gabriel Pramuck
• 10 — Hot House West
• 15 — TBA
• 16 — David Burchfield Trio
• 17 — Mister Sister Trio
• 22 — TBA
• 23 — Nathan Royal and Jack Dwyer
• 24 — Turtle Dovin’
• 29 — TBA
• 30 — Small House Strings
• 31 — Red Rock Hot Club
• 5 — Brooke Mackintosh
• 6 — TBA
• 7 — Triggers and Slips
• 12 — Andrew Nelson
• 13 — Mister Sister Trio
• 14 — Hot House West
• 19 — TBA
• 20 — David Burchfiled Trio
• 21 — John Flanders Jazz Trio
• 26 — Nathan Royal
• 27 — Elliot Goldman and Gabriel Pramuck
• 28 — Take Five Jazz Trio
• 2 — Andrew Nelson
• 3 — Michelle Moonshine Trio
• 4 — Small House Strings
• 9 — Casey Morgan
• 10 — Mister Sister Trio
• 11 — TBA
• 16 — TBA
• 17 — Hot House West
• 18 — John Flanders Jazz Trio
• 23 — TBA
• 24 — Red Rock Hot Club
• 25 — TBA
• 30 — David Burchfield
• 1 — Take Five Jazz Trio
• 2 — TBA
• 7 — Drew Fink
• 8 — Michelle Moonshine Trio
• 9 — Backyard Revival
• 14 — Michelle Moonshine
• 15 — Mister Sister Trio
• 16 — John Flanders Jazz Trio
• 21 — TBA
• 22 — David Burchfield
• 23 — Elliot Goldman and Gabriel Pramuck
• 28 — TBA
• 29 — Turtle Dovin’
• 30 — Small House Strings
For information, visit thesilverstarcafe.com.
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O.P. Rockwell’s summer concert season has begun.