Music at The Sundance Film Festival

Music at The Sundance Film Festival

 While maybe unbeknownst to the general public, Sundance Film Festival is not exclusively about the silver screen and the Hollywood scene in winter wear. It’s also a hotbed of musical activity!

The festival has a long, long history of music-related films, ranging from last year’s epic Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip to Knitting Factory Entertainment’s own Fela Kuti Documentary Finding Fela.

We’d never want our readers to not be in the know, so here are some of the biggest shindigs taking place on the flipside of this international cinematic event. It may seem ornery of you to skip out on a single film, but if you can’t make space for Joan Jett, then what’s the purpose of life? As Sundance has become the Coachella of film festivals, admission to most of these is space available with a Sundance credential.


A Celebration of Music and Film
Saturday, January 20, 7:00-10:00 p.m. The Shop (1167 Woodside Ave, Park City)
This year’s rendition of the Festival’s premier music event presents an evening with Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer Joan Jett. In celebration of the documentary premiere for Bad Reputation, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts will take the stage at The Shop in Park City for one night only. Jett has been a trailblazer for women in the music industry, from her glam rock anthems with The Runaways to her pioneering punk performances with the Blackhearts. A beacon for multiple generations of rock musicians, Jett is not to be missed in concert.


BMI Roundtable, “Music & Film: The Creative Process”
Sunday, January 21st, 2:00-4:00pm The Shop (1167 Woodside Ave, Park City)
The roundtable explores the role of music in film. Focusing on the relationship between composer and director, participants will discuss what goes into creating a successful film score, the ingredients of an effective composer/director relationship, the Sundance Film Festival experience and more. The roundtable is open to Festival credential holders. This year’s panelists include Director of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program Peter Golub, composer Jeff Beal and director Lauren Greenfield (Generation Wealth), composer Paul Cantelon and director Susan Lacy (Jane Fonda in Five Acts), composer Miriam Cutler and director Kimberly Reed (Dark Money), composer Craig Wedren (A Futile & Stupid Gesture), composer Laura Karpman (Half The Picture & Inventing Tomorrow), composer Heather McIntosh and director Amy Scott (Hal), composer Jongnic Bontemps and director Mel Jones (Leimert Park), composer Kris Bowers (Mr Inbetween), composer Dustin O’Halloran (Puzzle), composer Sam Bisbee and director Rudy Faldez (The Sentence).


BMI’s Snowball
Tuesday, January 23rd, 8:00pm The Shop (1167 Woodside Ave, Park City)
BMI’s Snowball has historically showcased a phenomenal mixture of buzzworthy and iconic artists at the Festival. A stellar lineup of talented BMI singer-songwriters are on tap, including Rita Wilson, Morgan Saint, Craig Wedren and Skyler Day.


ASCAP Music Cafe
The Sundance ASCAP Music Café will be located at Rich Haines Gallery (751 Main Street, Park City, UT) and is open to all Festival credential holders (21 and older). Performances begin each day at 2:00pm. Featured performers at the 2018 Sundance ASCAP Music Café include: Madison Cunningham, Dark Rooms, Brett Dennen, Elliot Root, Michael Franti, Ethan Gruska, Mr Hudson, Ruelle, Striking Matches, The Score and NewSong Competition winner Crys Matthews. A special “CMA Songwriter Series” lineup on January 25 and 26 will include Big Loud Records new artist Jillian Jacqueline, award-winning songwriters, Steven Lee Olsen, and Tenille Townes.

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And inside the Sundance screening rooms, there’s no shortage of music related films this season. Here, courtesy of the Sundance Institute, is a selection of what you can find.

U.S. Dramatic Competition
BLAZE / U.S.A. (Director: Ethan Hawke, Screenwriters: Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen, Producers: Jake Seal, John Sloss, Ryan Hawke, Ethan Hawke) A reimagining of the life and times of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw music movement. He gave up paradise for the sake of a song. Cast: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton. World Premiere

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Blindspotting / U.S.A. (Director: Carlos López Estrada, Screenwriters: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs,
Producers: Keith Calder, Jess Calder, Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs) A buddy comedy in a world that won’t
let it be one. Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones. World Premiere


World Cinema Documentary
MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. / Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Loveridge, Producers: Lori Cheatle, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey) Drawn from a never before seen cache of personal footage spanning decades, this is an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist and musician who continues to shatter conventions. World Premiere


Hearts Beat Loud / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch, Producers: Houston King, Sam Bisbee, Sam Slater) In Red Hook, Brooklyn, a father and daughter become an unlikely songwriting duo in their last summer before she leaves for college. Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette. World Premiere

Juliet, Naked / United Kingdom (Director: Jesse Peretz, Screenwriters: Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Phil Alden Robinson, Evgenia Peretz, Producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel , Albert Berger , Ron Yerxa, Jeffrey Soros) Annie is the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan, an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe. When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s celebrated record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to an encounter between Annie and the elusive rocker himself. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby. Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd. World Premiere


Documentary Premieres
Bad Reputation / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Kerslake, Screenwriter: Joel Marcus, Producers: Peter Afterman, Carianne Brinkman) A look at the life of Joan Jett, from her early years as the founder of The Runaways and with her first meeting with collaborator Kenny Laguna in 1980 to her enduring presence in pop culture as a rock ’n’ roll pioneer and feminist icon. World Premiere

Believer / U.S.A. (Director: Don Argott, Producers: Dan Reynolds, Heather Parry, Sheena M. Joyce, Robert Reynolds) Imagine Dragons’s Mormon frontman Dan Reynolds is taking on a new mission to explore how the church treats its LGBTQ members. With the rising suicide rate among teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the Mormon Church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path for acceptance and change. World Premiere


Special Events
THE KING / U.S.A., Germany, France (Director: Eugene Jarecki, Executive Producer: Steven Soderbergh) Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire. Cast: Alec Baldwin, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, Ethan Hawke, Van Jones, Mike Myers. North American Premiere


New Frontier
BattleScar / U.S.A., France (Lead Artists: Martin Allais, Nico Casavecchia, Key Collaborators: Arnaud Colinart, Raphael Penasa, Andrew Geller, René Pinnell) New York City, 1978: When Lupe, a Puerto Rican-American teen, meets fellow runaway Debbie, the Bowery’s punk scene and the Lower East Side become their playground. This coming-of-age narrative explores identity through animation and immersive environments as Lupe’s handwritten journals guide users through her year. Cast: Rosario Dawson.

Chorus / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Tyler Hurd, Key Collaborators: Chris Milk, Megan Ellison, Justice) Crystals, lasers, monsters, and heroines. Transform into fantastical female warriors in this social virtual reality experience. Six people can band together to battle evil in this epic journey of empowerment, all orchestrated to the song “Chorus” by Justice.

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Masters of the Sun / U.S.A. (Lead Artists:,, Taboo, Key Collaborators: Pasha Shapiro, Ernst Weber, Sara Ramaker, Eddie Axley) In 1983, Los Angeles was spared from utter destruction driven by an ancient evil. The ghetto became ground zero for drug epidemic that transformed citizens into soul-sucking zombies through Z-Drops, until a ragtag crew used one weapon to take their city back: hip-hop. Cast: Rakim, Queen Latifah, Jason Isaacs, Stan Lee, KRS-One, Slick Rick. This is supposed to be available to the public simultaneous with its Sundance debut, but details are murky.

The Federals


Mimosa Music: The Music Series of Dreams

Once upon a time, you had to choose to between checking out talented musicians, or indulging in your deep and completely natural desire for brunch. No longer must you face down this challenge. Yes, thanks to music supervisor and KCRW-DJ Gary Calamar, we can have it all in Los Angeles (or at least at The Federal in NoHo).

On Sunday, January 21st at the Federal North Hollywood, Prima Donna will be playing a show with The Two Tens. It’s as solid a pairing as music and french toast. Prima Donna are straight outta the San Fernando Valley and bring a steady force of punk and glitter rock. They go nicely with The Two Tens, who have been serving old school style punk rock to Los Angeles since 2014.

The music part is from 11AM-2PM and is free, so you have plenty of time (and
budget) to get your brunch on. Committed Cheapskates? They have free bagels.

The Federal Underground Long Beach

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Thurs, Jan 25, 2018
Honoring the nearby annual music equipment convention, Federal Underground presents the NAMM Jam w/ Spank & Friends with Special guests Smith Forrester, Tre Way and The Now Generation plus a DJ set by DJ Qwess Coast.

The show is at 9:00pm, and is
$16; discounted with NAMM badge.

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Thurs, Feb 1, 2018

Chas Bundick meets The Mattson 2: “JBS,” Star Stuff was one of our favorite records in 2017, so this one’s going to be special. The support is from Pom Poms with their new record Turn You Out and Alvin Piranhas is an added treat. Doors open at 8:00pm and Tickets are $15.

The Federal Underground: 102 Pine Avenue Long Beach, CA 90802

Featured Artist: Thomas Buttenschøn


Can songs save the world? For Danish musician Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn-born HIV-positive in 1985-the answer is yes. Director Tyler Q. Rosen is ambushing Park City to screen his film DOIN’ MY DRUGS, which tells Thomas’ story and his ongoing crusade to use music to wipe out AIDS in his native Zambia and beyond.


In the US and much of the West, AIDS/HIV has diminished in importance-and nearly disappeared from public awareness. However, in African and elsewhere, AIDS remains a scourge that kills hundreds every day. DOIN’ MY DRUGS aims to raise awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia- a country of 16 million people where more than one million are HIV-positive or have the disease. Zambia’s situation is mirrored throughout the developing world.

The film follows Buttenschøn’s personal transformation from child victim to renowned musician to adult activist. It chronicles his early treatment, the subsequent loss of both his Zambian mother and Danish father to AIDS, his own near- death experience, his rise as a pop star in Denmark, and the emergence of his passionate crusade to help eliminate the stigmas surrounding HIV/AIDS- still very strong and a tremendous impediment to public awareness and public health in Africa and elsewhere.

A married father of two small children, Buttenschøn has kept his HIV in check and his family virus-free, by “doin’ his drugs.” He recognized that his native Zambia remains trapped in a horrific and senseless AIDS crisis. While a significant percentage of the population there is infected with HIV, many antiretroviral drug treatment programs which can keep the virus dormant,”a near zero virus load” as Buttenschøn says, are widely available through government programs for free.

Zambia’s plight inspires Buttenschøn to use his music, his fame and his personal story of survival and triumph to confront the stigmas and help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Visiting the country-where it’s almost impossible to talk about HIV and AIDS in private, let alone in public or in the media- Buttenschøn speaks out: to individuals, to congregations and to huge audiences in person and in the media. He then recruits some of the leading music artists in the country to join him, and together, they mount a performance-“ticket for [HIV] test”- that sets him off on his goal of spreading the message across the globe.

denmarks got talent pic

Thomas to be a judge on Denmark’s got talent, where last year’s winner was a 10-year old rock drummer

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Music at The Sundance Film Festival