See a Recap From the 2020 Sundance ASCAP Music Café

By: Jan. 27, 2020
See a Recap From the 2020 Sundance ASCAP Music Café

The 2020 Sundance ASCAP Music Café kicked off on Friday, January 24th with a special introduction by Peter Golub, Director of the Sundance Film Music Program and performances from a dynamic group of some of today's most accomplished songwriters and composers. Cuban-born composer Jorge Aragón and Gene Back (formerly of the group The Books) started the day off with a beautiful set of instrumental music. The two originally met last year at the Sundance Composers Lab. Then musical force of nature Ron Artis II from Hawaii delivered a powerful solo acoustic set highlighted by masterful guitar work and deeply soulful songs that earned a standing ovation. Swedish Pop singer-songwriter León brought some contemporary European cool to the stage while Americana troubadour Aaron Lee Tasjan, out of Nashville, delivered a set of left-of-center songs that were by turns poignant and provocative. And CYN, an emerging artist who is signed to Katy Perry's record label, capped the day with a captivating set of songs, several of which will appear in film projects in 2020. Several film composers stopped by the Music Café as well including Amanda Jones, who scored this year's Sundance short Baldwin Beauty and who also has music in the new BET series Twenties, and Bear McCreary, who scored this year's Sundance doc Crip Camp, which was produced by Barack and Michelle Obamas' new production company.

Matt Berninger of the lauded rock band The National hit the stage on Saturday, January 25th and performed songs from his upcoming solo album, Serpentine Prison. Melodic, moody and muscular, Berninger's new songs held the Music Café audience rapt through a powerful 45 minute set. Rain Phoenix delivered a mesmerizing suite of songs from her album, River, a tribute to her late brother River Phoenix. And Bandits on the Run, a Brooklyn collective, sang beautiful three-part harmony during their set while utilizing a variety of instruments, including cello, guitar and accordion. Returning to the stage for second performances were Ron Artis II, who brought the house down with his band and the crowd to their feet with a blistering set of blues, rock and soul shot through with his guitar playing fireworks, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, an acclaimed singer-songwriter-guitarist who has been winning over fans across the country with his arch lyrics and rich heartland folk and rock songs. ASCAP film composers stopping by the Café on day two to talk about their Sundance films included Alex Somers (Miss Americana, Charm City Kings) and Jay Wadley (I Carry You With Me).

Joining the festivities on Sunday, January 26th were the Ruen Brothers, a dynamic brother duo from the Northern England (currently residing in the US) who pack a musical punch with high-energy acoustic roots rock driven by train rhythms, Henry Ruen's high-octave voice and Rupert Ruen's rockabilly guitar work. Also on board was Joseph Arthur, a prolific singer-songwriter known for his powerfully emotional songs, his side projects with fellow musicians such as Peter Buck, Dhani Harrison and Ben Harper and Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament. And James Bourne, a songwriter who has achieved great success writing for major label artists such as The Jonas Brothers as well as highly-acclaimed musicals, performed songs from his forthcoming solo album.

The Music Café was standing room only throughout the weekend as filmmakers and music fans experienced the thrill of new musical discoveries and beloved artists in the heart of one of the world's premiere film festivals.

Watch a recap here: