SUNDANCE PART FOUR: The 2017 Sundance ASCAP Music Café Strikes a Chord with Filmmakers and Fans Alike

By Erik Philbrook, Editor in Chief  •  January 26, 2017

The Sundance Film Festival announced its winning films on Saturday, January 28th, bringing to a close another phenomenal showcase of creative vision from around the world. Everything was in abundance at this year’s fest, including 119 feature films, over three feet of snow and eight days of incredible live performances at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café. The Music Café continued to entertain SRO crowds on its final two days. Performers included Alabama-based singer-songweriter Wilder Adkins, who won the opportunity to perform at Sundance after winning the Newsong Music Competition in New York City in December of last year, acclaimed Nashville-based singer-songwriter Peter Bradley Adams, Jim and Sam, who are on a unique tour which finds them performing in a different venue everyday for a year, singer-songwriter Lee DeWyze, the winner of the ninth season of American Idol and whose song “Blackbird” is featured prominently in The Walking Dead, up and coming R&B singer-songwriter Brent Faiyaz and the sonically adventurous instrumental group The Album Leaf.

The Sundance ASCAP Music Café was a major part of a wild 10 days, which included the inauguration of a new president, record snow fall, a relatively massive Women’s March down Park City’s Main Street and the palpable buzz around some films which will go on to move people on screens around the world. ASCAP was once again proud to partner with the Sundance Film Festival to celebrate the role music plays in the art of filmmaking and to provide festival attendees an opportunity to discover the music of world-class songwriters and composers.

ASCAP Brings Together 2017 Sundance Composers and Filmmakers

On Tuesday, January 24th, ASCAP hosted its 2017 Sundance Composer-Filmmaker Reception, an exclusive after-show event at the Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe in Park City, Utah. The event was a celebration of ASCAP composers and filmmakers with work at the festival. All filmmakers, ASCAP composers and Music Café performers were welcome to attend.

SUNDANCE PART THREE: Nashville Writers JT Harding, Rivers Rutherford and Brett Young Are a Hit at Sundance ASCAP Music Café

On Wednesday, January 25th the Sundance ASCAP Music Café took on a Southern accent as the Bluebird Café presented a special set featuring some of Nashville’s top songwriters, including Brett Young, J.T. Harding, and Rivers Rutherford. Young is one of country music’s breakout stars of the past year with his own hit “Sleep Without You;” Harding has written #1 hits for Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker; and Rutherford has written hits for everyone from Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, while also having his very first cut recorded by American legends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson as The Highwaymen.

Country music shared the spotlight with other musical genres on the Café stage on January 24th and 25th. Antonique Smith delivered as solid set of powerful R&B with a socially conscious message. She invited to the stage the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., who passionately spoke to the audience about the need to fight harder than ever to save the environment. Niia performed twice, giving the audience a taste of her dark and moody jazz-inflected songs which will appear on her Atlantic Records debut this year.

KOLARS, a husband and wife duo from LA, raised the roof with a blazing set of rock songs driven by fiery guitar work and percussion. Acclaimed Utah-based singer-songwriter Josh Kelley delighted the audience with a second set of his hits and new songs. Zac Clark, who performs and records with Andrew McMahan and the Wilderness, delivered a stunning keyboard-driven performance of gritty pop songs.

Peter Bradley Adams, who is set to release his sixth solo album this year, played dark, rootsy and resonant songs. And Lee DeWyze, whose song “Blackbird” is featured in The Walking Dead while his song “Weight” is featured in TV’s “Elementary,” wowed the crowd with his big voice and bluesy, passionate music.

With two days left to go, the Music Café is seeing a record turnout as word continues to spread at the festival about the not-to-be-missed experience to be found at ASCAP’s musical hub on Main Street.

SUNDANCE PART TWO: Michael Franti, Antonique Smith, Lalah Hathaway and Fantastic Negrito Bring a Heavy Dose of Soul to the Sundance ASCAP Music Café

On Monday, January 23rd, the Sundance ASCAP Music Café was by turns a church revival and a house party. Grammy nominee Antonique Smith kicked things off with her soulful songs, including powerful acoustic covers of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me.” Lalah Hathaway, who is nominated for two 2017 Grammys captivated the crowd with deeply-resonant R&B songs. Fantastic Negrito, from Oakland, California, who is nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, delighted the audience with politically provocative songs. And wrapping up the day, the energetic and inspiring singer-songwriter Michael Franti turned the Music Café into a house party and got the whole room dancing and singing along to his uplifting music.

Also on the day’s lineup was a return performance by acclaimed New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams, and a special set by accomplished musicians and composers Samora and Elena Pinderhughes. Samora composed the music for the 2017 Sundance documentary Whose Streets.

SUNDANCE PART ONE: Josh Kelley, Southern Avenue, Rotana and Clare Bowen Kick Off 2017 Sundance ASCAP Music Café

Musical stars rose inside as snow fell steadily outside the 2017 Sundance ASCAP Music Café on Friday, January 20th. The 19th annual event, a core program of the Sundance Film Festival, featured a dynamic and eclectic group of singer-songwriters and bands throughout the festival’s opening weekend.

Opening weekend performers included: Surf-wop trio SadGirl; acclaimed Utah-based singer-songwriter Josh Kelley; multimedia artist Nakhane Touré, who is the star of this year’s Sundance film The Wound; Stax recording artists Southern Avenue; LA’s alternative pop/rock band Rooney; R&B/soul sensation R.LUM.R; Canadian folk/pop singer-songwriter Andy Shauf; the provocative singer-songwriter Rotana, from Saudia Arabia; New Zealand’s Marlon Williams; composer Ernst Reijseger, who scored the music to the Sundance film Walking Out and Clare Bowen, star of CMT’s Nashville, who is preparing to release her debut solo album this year.

Film composers with music in films at this year’s festival visited the Café to mix and meet with performers. They included Bear McCreary, who scored this year’s Sundance films Colossal, Unrest and Rebel in the Rye, as well as Will and Brooke Blair, who scored I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. The first days of the Music Café entertained full houses from start to finish and was an exciting start to ASCAP’s eight days of live performances from some of today’s best emerging and established artists.

Read more about 2017 Sundance ASCAP Music Café performers

Read more about ASCAP composers at Sundance 2017