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Mountain Town Stages gets new leadership

Martin succeeds Randy Barton as executive director Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

For the first time in its existence, Mountain Town Stages is under new direction.

Toby Martin is officially the new executive director, taking over for founder Randy Barton.

"Toby (Martin) has a unique combination of executive skills and a proven creative track record," said Mountain Town Stages President Ed Fraze. "We are looking to him to help grow the organization over the next several years."

Martin has spent more than 25 years of his life working with the entertainment industry.

"I don’t want to seem like I’m 100 years old," Martin said. "But I’ve done so many music productions that it would be silly to list them all."

Martin spent most of his career in Los Angeles, New York and Utah including tours with ABC, Spelling Entertainment and Viacom. About half of those years were spent producing, writing and directing, while the other dozen were with major companies.

He produced television specials for stars ranging from Huey Lewis, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Ozzy Osbourne to sports legends Chris Evert and Dorothy Hamill, according to Martin. While at Viacom in New York, Martin was responsible for bringing MTV shows such as "Remote Control" and "MTV Top 20 Video Countdown" to broadcast. AT Viacom, Martin helped produce and write shows such as the "25th Anniversary of The Twilight Zone," "I Love Lucy retrospectives" and Rod Stewart for HBO.

Martin worked with Hanna-Barbera Productions as the No. 2 executive. There he produced "Scooby-Do," "Yogi Bear" and "The Flintstones." In his short stint in Park City in the ’80s, he ran Sunn Classic Pictures where he finished a couple "Grizzly Adams" movies. Soon after, he purchased the rights to a Stephen King novel "Cujo." Two soap operas he started "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" are still on the air, according to Martin.

Producing shows is not only his life’s work, but also his passion.

"I do love to do it," Martin said. "What’s great about doing music shows is, it’s always electric. I love hearing what people say when they leave. I listen to people in line, and I like just hearing people talk about what a great time they had."

While his resume is filled with movie and television productions, his new role isn’t much different, he says.

"Most of my work has been with talent all of my life," Martin said. "It’s not terribly different, you do everything the same, but without the cameras."

As a producer, Martin would be in charge of organizing talent and casting pictures, often times with little or no help. He will undertake a similar role in recruiting talent to Park City venues. There is more to Martin’s shows than recruiting talent and filming, however.

"When you go and shoot a concert, you can put cameras all over the arena, but you have to make the performers play his or her show. It’s about booking the bands and trying to get them to be everything they want to be," Martin said. "It’s all about, whether doing something for television or live, putting on a show that audiences like. It really is everybody having a good time and wanting to come back for more," Martin added.

After 25 years, Mountain Town Stages is a new challenge for Martin, who was looking for one after leaving the television and movie business.

"I’ve been at it a long time," Martin said. "There’s not too much more I want to accomplish (in that industry)."

Martin said he started to outgrow television and looked for a place to live the rest of his life. In 2004, he came back to Park City to "visit some friends and never left," Martin said. Since he’s been here he’s been heavily involved in non-profit and charity groups.

"I love working in Utah," Martin said. "People have great work ethic and people are smart. It’s a great place to live, it doesn’t’ get any better than Park City."

Directing Mountain Town Stages is another chapter in his life that has energized the entertainment veteran.

"With five stages to fill throughout the county next summer, and the concerts at The Canyons to begin March 11, we have much to do," Martin said.

Although Martin believes Mountain Town Stages has brought a quality music venue to Park City, he believes it can still get better.

"Randy Barton did a remarkable thing to build this," he said. "What Mountain Towns Stage does and the range and amount of music they do, is a great challenge," Martin said. "I think we can really step things up."

Martin’s vision for Mountain Town Stages encompasses a grand scale. He sees unlimited potential, not only for his organization, but for Park City as well. He wants to grow the folk festival into a three-day event and bring in larger acts and produce bigger events.

"I would like to see Park City become another Austin, another New Orleans, a real music mecca for the West." Martin said. "Music and entertainment in the summer would fill the hotel rooms. The bars and restaurants are enthusiastic about it."

Martin says the opportunity with Mountain Town Stages is giving him the chance to combine his unique experience and entertainment industry relationships to help build what he said "is a truly unique organization."

"I’m hoping my experience and my contacts in New York and L.A. will help us achieve this sooner rather than later," Martin said.

Martin will continue to highlight local musicians but will also expand his talent pool.

"We want to bring in bands that they haven’t heard before, that’s what keeps it all fresh," Martin said.

Martin admitted his goals are "perhaps a bit lofty but not impossible." Even though Martin is thinking big, he is still focused on keeping the events catered toward locals.

"I believe Mountain Town is in a unique position to benefit other programs," Martin said.

Martin will coordinate more with other non-profit organizations to use music in raising money. That will start Feb at the Disco Ball, which will benefit multiple sclerosis.

"It’s what an organization should do," Martin said. "This is new and exciting because it’s all live and there are so many events and so many kinds of events. We are just now beginning to think of what else can we do. We’re trying to set up internships for people that are really interested in music and production."

Martin said one of the most vital parts of Mountain Town Stages is providing free concerts. That will continue to be the focus. Ticked events, he said, will also see lower prices.

"There’s a big difference for people between a ticket costing $25 and $15," Martin said.

Martin credits local volunteers that have made Mountain Town Stages a success in the past and he hopes Parkites continue to be involved.

"The support the community has given Mountain Town Stages has been extraordinary, and we hope to show our appreciation by producing even more and better music for everyone to enjoy," Martin said.


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