The Park City Song Summit, taking place in the Utah town of its namesake from September 7-10 this year, is a gathering for open-hearted troubadours, music fans, people who deal with healings and trauma, and more. It’s an event of radical honesty, redefining what it means to be a musician and why so many artists struggle with mental health issues, addictions and traumas that (for a multitude of reasons) go undiagnosed. .
“I want this event to discuss and bring normalcy and clarity to issues that have too long been swept under the rug or talked about in whispers,” said event founder Ben Anderson.
Due to the unique perspective of the event, Anderson felt it imperative to structure it in a different and thoughtful way. Instead of groups taking turns playing set after set, the Park City Song Summit is built around a number of different programs. For example, there’s Summit Labs, which host artists in conversation with each other to discuss topics often overlooked in the music industry.
In a Summit Lab, Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Warren Haynes and Jay Sweet of Newport Folk will dive deep into the lessons of John Prine – things like “social equality, humor and keeping your soul intact while navigating the world”. ‘music industry’. Fans can purchase tickets to each Summit Lab, which also include a live recording of Andrew Bird Live from the Great Hall. The pioneering YouTube series showcases the creative process across a wide range of arts, with the event episode featuring Fred Armisen.
For fans looking to let off steam, many concerts are must-see events, like Father John Misty on Thursday with support from Bonny Light Horseman and Rising Appalachia. And because the Park City Song Summit focuses on recovery (the charismatic founder himself has been sober for 15 years), the event provides a supportive environment that includes sober green space, guided yoga and meditations, meetings daily 12-step cocktails and handcrafted mocktails.
“There is a way for all viewers to co-exist if we put intention into the process and listen,” Anderson says. “Some of the promoters and producers are very supportive, but I wish more of them would see the artist as a whole person and support them that way.”
The event is as much a gathering place for artists as it is a typical festival experience. It allows artists to explain their processes and dive into the details of their work in a very unique way. Alongside these intimate discussions, the event will host Songwriting Rounds, which allows audiences “to hear the story behind their favorite songs from award-winning songwriters.”
The event has also partnered with a number of organizations that support its core mission. One such group, The Phoenix, is a perfect support system for the Summit.
“The Phoenix is proud to partner with Stand Together Music to bring our programming to Park City Song Summit,” said Scott Strode, Founder and National Executive Director of The Phoenix. “We believe The Phoenix and Park City Song Summit share a single goal: to transform the world through the power of community. Our team is excited to join PCSS as an on-site activation partner this year, helping to facilitate the creative journey of artists and participants through a variety of mental health and wellness activities.
The Park City Song Summit is first and foremost a way for artists to express themselves as human beings. Anderson believes audiences aren’t able to see the souls of artists often enough, which can lead to a lack of empathy. The Summit allows artists to express themselves through both their work and their personality.
“Maybe we can better understand and appreciate their music, but more importantly, understand and appreciate who they are as humans, their challenges, their successes, their failures,” Anderson said of his hopes for the ‘event. “If our participants can understand the humanity that goes into the music, we could all be a little more attentive to each other and be able to coexist better on this planet.”