Stars of rock, country, blues and punk will play and talk at ‘anti-festival’ Park City Song Summit

The ‘Ted Talk for music,’ with panels, live performances and more, set for Sept. 7-10.

(Blake Peterson | Park City Song Summit) Ben Anderson, center, founder of Park City Song Summit, chats with Julia Stout, left, the summit's director of event operation), and Julia Rametta, director of business operations.

The Park City Song Summit — which its founder calls a “music retreat” and a “Ted talk for music” — will return for another four-day run of live performances and panel discussions, featuring musicians working in genres from folk to blues to rock.

“We try to celebrate the power and the myth of song through conversations and interactions between artists and an audience,” event founder Ben Anderson said. “We give people an opportunity to see behind the song and to learn more about the artist through conversations.”

The summit — which some have called an anti-festival, because it doesn’t conform to the usual music festival rules — will happen Sept. 7-10 in Park City.

Live performances make up a good portion of the event, Anderson said, but there’s more — both for the artist and the audience.

“Instead of just being another stop on a tour — where you see basically the same 75-minute set that you would hear whether you’re in Omaha, Augusta or Portland — [the artists] get a chance to invite their families, managers and agents to come and enjoy the mountains of Park City,” he said.

A major element of the event are the “Song Summit Labs” — which go on from noon to 5 p.m. each day at their “Lab Tent Village” at The Lodges at Deer Valley — as artists can talk about the power of a certain song, the thought process behind it, and more. Essentially, it’s a mashup between a MTV Unplugged music set and a Ted Talk run by artists.

There also are more relaxed happenings, such as songwriter rounds and artist experiences.

Among the artists scheduled to appear both in performance and in the Labs are: alt-country singer-songwriters Josh Ritter and Katie Pruitt, blues singer and multi-instrumentalist Celisse, folk singer Joe Pug, musician and comedian Fred Armisen, and John Doe, co-founder of the pioneering punk band X.

The artists leading the Labs include country-rock singer Jason Isbell and indie-rock musician Andrew Bird. The acts listed just on the performance side include indie-folk star Father John Misty, blues legends Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite, and Jimbo Mathus, co-founder of the retro-swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Anderson said he’s a fan of big music festivals — such as Coachella in California, Lollapalooza in Chicago and Bonnaroo in Tennessee — but it’s not “who we are. We are truly a summit of song and ideas and a place for people to come and be inspired, and to inspire.”

One of Anderson’s inspirations was when he met with artists who told him Park City would be “a perfect place to have something that has a focus on mental health, addiction and sobriety.” Anderson is himself a recovering addict, and he said he wanted to create an event where musicians who suffer from similar circumstances can have a safe environment. He called it a way to pay forward for the support he received in recovery.

The nature and foliage of Park City in early fall is arguably the best backdrop for this concept, and the summit includes guided meditations and yoga.

“We like to say that in the room where there’s a lot of festivals, it’s a loud and crowded room,” Anderson says. “To be heard, you have to scream at the top of your lungs and paint yourself orange. In our room, we can whisper and be heard because there’s no one really doing this.”

Access to the Song Summit Labs are available to passholders only — there are 500 available — and passes will go on sale to the public on Friday, May 20. Live show tickets will be on sale starting in June, and will take place at various venues in Park City.

For updated information, go to parkcitysongsummit.com.