The 2016 Sundance ASCAP Music Café Wraps Up With Sets by Nashville’s Top Songwriters
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January 25, 2016

The 2016 Sundance ASCAP Music Café Wraps Up With Sets by Nashville’s Top Songwriters

Click here to check out interviews and performances from the 2016 Sundance ASCAP Music Café

As the Sundance ASCAP Music Café headed into the home stretch of its 8-day run, some of Nashville’s top songwriters embraced the spotlight. On Wednesday, January 27th, country music hitmakers Josh Osborne, Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley performed as part of a special Bluebrid Café Series set. And Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, who will be releasing his first solo album in February, performed some of his new songs as well as Lady Antebellum songs and a stirring rendition of Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents.”

Critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston, who recently released a new album, Neon Repairman, charmed the audience and performed works from his two-decade career.

On Thursday, January 28th, NewSong Music Competition winner Rachael Kilgour, from Duluth Minnesota, began the day by performing an emotionally powerful set of personal and socially-conscious folk songs that brought tears to many eyes. That was tempered by the effervescent indie-pop of Sibling and the cinematic rock of Oklahoma by way of Oregon’s Other Lives, as well as a second round by the Bluebird Café Series writers, who played to a packed house once again.

On Friday, January 29th, new performances by Genevieve and Moors capped an incredible week. Genevieve performed a set of ethereal pop songs, including "Colors," which was recently used in the trailer to promote the upcoming season of HBO's Girls. Moors, featuring producer HH and emcee Keith Stansfield, performed a set of electrifying rap songs. Stansfield, who is also an actor, stars in Miles Ahead, the Miles Davis biopic which also stars Don Cheadle and screened at Sundance this year. 

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival hosted more than 50,000 attendees, making it among the largest film festivals in the country. This year 160 films were chosen out of 12,000 submissions. What is clear is that nearly every film is enhanced by music, and for those filmmakers seeking the best in new music for their next project, the Sundance ASCAP Music Café scored again.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon and Louise Post and Afghan Rapper Sonita Bring Wide Range of Women’s Voices to Sundance ASCAP Music Café

The fourth day of the Sundance ASCAP Music Café featured two exciting rock groups: alternative rockers Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and Seattle’s mystic rockers Motopony. A Nashville by way of Canada singer-songwriter, Billy Raffoul, who has just been signed to Interscope Records, captivated the Café crowd with smokey vocals and soulful songs. Byron Nicholai, who lives in the tiny village of Toksook Bay on the edge of Alaska’s Bering Sea and who is the star of the Sundance short I Am Yup’ik, performed a set of traditional Alaskan songs and shared stories of his culture to the delight of the audience. Finnish singer-songwriter Peppina joined Motopony at the end of their set to sing a couple of her own beautiful songs. And rounding out the day was a repeat performance by “Locked Away” hitmakers R. City.

Day five delivered a blast of alternative rock and tight harmonies from Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon and Louise Post. A late addition to the Café lineup, Miya Folick performed haunting and gorgeous songs with just an electric guitar and a laptop. While second performances from Nashville-based songwriter Billy Raffoul and the mighty rockers Motopony wowed the crowd, perhaps the most riveting performance of the day was presented by Sonita, the young Afghan rapper who is the subject of the film Sonita, part of this year’s Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition. Sonita rapped in English and Farsi, and utilized video screens to feature her socially conscious music videos and shocking images of abuse to women in her homeland. She capped her set by answering questions from the audience.

On Tuesday, January 26th, ASCAP also hosted its annual Composer-Filmmaker Cocktail Party, 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 of 2016 Sundance Film Festival films. All festival filmmakers, ASCAP composers and Music Café performers were welcome to attend. Click here for coverage.

Sting and J. Ralph, Yoshiki of X Japan, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Tift Merritt and More Highlight Opening of Sundance ASCAP Music Café

The 18th annual Sundance ASCAP Music Café kicked off on Friday, January 22nd with an incredible range of music from some of today’s most exciting and established songwriters and groups. The first day of the Café featured the Afro-folk songs of Naomi Wachira, sophisticated pop from Air Traffic Controller, foot-stomping rock with a Southwestern flair from The Lonely Wild and the country folk and blues of Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear.

The second day of the Music Café featured the rollicking Green River Ordinance from Ft. Worth, Texas [listen to our Audio Portrait about their brand new album, Fifteen] acclaimed singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, NYC hardcore legend Walter Schreifels, the dynamic soul pop of Lissie and a second performance from Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. The day culminated with a very special guest performance by Sting and acclaimed documentary film composer J. Ralph, who co-wrote a song, “The Empty Chair,” for the HBO documentary, Jim: The James Foley Story, which screened earlier in the day. Sting performed “Message in a Bottle,” “I Hung My Head,” “Every Breath You Take,” “The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance” and was joined onstage by J. Ralph for a poignant performance of “The Empty Chair.”  J. Ralph is nominated a Best Original Song Oscar this year for “Manta Ray,” written with Antony Hegarty for last year’s Sundance doc Racing Extinction.

Day three brought one of today’s hottest songwriter duos, R. City, to the Café stage to perform some of their chart-topping hits, including “Locked Away.” Another highlight was a special performance by Yoshiki of X Japan, the subject of a much buzzed-about Sundance music documentary, We Are X. Actor Balthazar Getty and actor/singer Josh Groban were on hand to experience Yoshiki’s performance, which featured a string section.

Click here for more info about the 2016 Sundance ASCAP Music Café