Dozens of world-renowned And Up-and-Coming songwriters and musicians— ranging from local Sophia Dion to Blues Travelers' John Popper— unleash folk, country, Americana, rock and soul on Old Town stages this weekend as part of the inaugural Park City Songwriter Festival (September 13 and 14).
The brainchild of locals Ben Anderson and O.P. Rockwell co-owner Scott Thomson along with "Nashville Unplugged" producer Aaron Benward, the festival spotlights the people behind the hits, those who quietly craft some of the world’s most well-known songs. “It’s all about the story, the song and the songwriter,” says Benward. “No smoke and mirrors, no moving lights or a massive stage in the middle of a field somewhere. It’s music at its finest. The raw, the real and the sacred,” he explains. “Festival-goers will get to hear the stories behind the songs that are truly the soundtracks to their lives.”
The two-day event kicks off this Friday with performances, workshops and panels as well as concerts each night from headliners like North Mississippi Allstars, Anders Osborne and Marc Broussard. Co-founder Ben Anderson, who also serves as President of Mountain Town Music, says it just made sense to bring a music festival to Park City for the first time. “There is some big-time talent coming in for this [event] and sharing how they navigate the industry. I love helping people who are interested in music learn how to be a part of it professionally, and this festival will do that for people.”
In addition to the educational and entertainment aspects, PCSF aims to provide information and support for those struggling with mental health and addiction recovery challenges that are prevalent in the music industry. The festival has partnered with Grammy’s MusiCares organization as well as headliner Anders Osborne’s Send Me A Friend Foundation. “If we help one person, if we save a life, or a career or give someone hope, then this effort is a success,” says Anderson, who is also a musician in recovery.
While the lineup includes national acts and songwriters like Rita Wilson and Danny Myrick, it also showcases local performers like Bryon Friedman, Sophia Dion and Shannon Runyon. All festival events happen across five Main Street venues: The Spur, The Cabin, O.P. Rockwell, The Rockwell Listening Room and Flanagan’s on Main. The festival culminates on Saturday night with a performance by John Popper of Blues Traveler at O.P. Rockwell.
“My hope is that music fans get to experience the magic and beauty of a song, the intricate craft of songwriting and the authenticity of a songwriter’s performance,” says Benward. His co-founders agree, with the shared goal of having this festival return and evolve in Park City for years to come.
Full festival line up as well as individual tickets and packages are available at parkcitysongwriterfestival.com. www.parkcitysongwriterfestival.com.