Sundance – Rodriguez at the ASCAP Artist Cafe, The Free Design, and Victory! – Days 5 & 6

It’s another early rise, smoked salmon, tea, and the joys of email. A few hours later, I’m off to pick up Rodriguez at 9:30 so we can hit soundcheck at the ASCAP Artist Cafe on Main Street in Park CIty, where Rodriguez will be performing this afternoon. It’s his first scheduled performance of the festival. We get there early and meet the ASCAP staff. All are incredibly helpful and kind. Looking out the green room window, you’re situated about 20 yards from the ski lift under bright blue skies and the sun beating down. It’s a gorgeous day. After soundcheck, Loretta at ASCAP introduces us to Sir Paul’s son James McCartney who is scheduled to perform right before Rodriguez hits the stage. It’s a surreal moment. Before landing in Utah, I didn’t know Paul had a son. He’s cordial and talks Native American jewelry with Rodriguez and his daughter Sandra. They trade CDs. Rodriguez and Sandra stick around to watch James’ soundcheck while I rush off to meet the folks from Sony Pictures Classics who just purchased the Rodriguez doc for North America. Afterwards, I grab pizza/burgers with Searching For Sugar Man‘s Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, director Malik Bendjelloul, and producer Simon Chinn. I wolf down a burger which ain’t bad. Other than that heavenly salsa bar at Chubasco’s, the food in Park City hasn’t been that great. I’ve got no complaints though. This has been the trip of a lifetime. Sugar, Malik, and I search out some wireless — due to my current web withdrawals. We stumble on some complimentary coffee, tea, and web action. Sugar hits a bookstore next door while I head to the ASCAP Artist Cafe for set up.

Soundcheck at ASCAP Artist Cafe

It’s already packed inside with a long line outside. Anticipation builds. It’s great to see all the familiar faces, including Andy from Vetiver, Eric from the Fruit Bats, Tiffany Anders of the Don’t Knock The Rock Film Festival, and Light In The Attic illustrator Drew Christie who’s in town screening his new short Song of the Spindle at Sundance. By the time Rodriguez walks on stage, you can feel the anticipation in the room. The vibe couldn’t be better. He plays “Sugar Man,” “I Think Of You,” and a couple covers, while sharing some wisdom along the way…

The wait for Rodriguez at ASCAP Artist Cafe

Rodriguez at ASCAP Artist Cafe

Do you know the secret to life?
All you gotta do is keep breathing in and out.

The mystery of life?
You never know when it’s going to end.

And love?
Don’t be a silent partner.

I grab drinks with Sugar and Malik, and then stop by Rodriguez’s with Regan and Pete for more celebratory moments.

Rodriguez, Malik Bendjelloul, Stephen Sugar Segerman, Sandra Kennedy, Matt Sullivan, Amanda Kennedy

The night ends with throwing ice balls at a 2-story window in hopes that my roommates open the door before hypothermia sets in. Bless their souls, as they hear my desperation 10 minutes later. That would’ve been a bad ending.

The next morning it’s day six and my last few hours in Park City. I have coffee with Jay Zynczak, the son of Sandra Dedrick from The Free Design. Since reissuing The Free Design’s catalog in 2003, Jay and I have been in touch for years but never met in person. It’s great to finally put a face to the voice. Afterwards, I visit Rodriguez, his family, Sugar, and Malik, saying goodbye and wishing them luck at the rest of the festival. I find it strange parting ways after the momentum and amazing vibes of the past few days. The clock is ticking though. I quickly pack and jump on the shuttle to Salt Lake. At the airport bar/restaurant, I randomly run into Wymond Miles and his wife. Wymond is the guitarist from San Francisco band The Fresh & Onlys who were Rodriguez’s brilliant back-up band during his last U.S. West Coast tour. This seemed too strange stumbling into each other. Don’t underestimate the power of Sixto though. He has a tendency to bring people together. The only other guy who should be here is South African Brian Currin. Brian, we’ll have to meet up one of these days! Anyways, I hadn’t seen Wymond in a couple years. Over beers, we exchange Rodriguez memories. This spring, Wymond’s solo debut comes out on the label Sacred Bones. I’m very much looking forward to that record. On the plane I listen to Cold Fact and am having a difficult time comprehending the events of the last few days. Did that just happen?

I later learn that the film goes on to win two Sundance awards, an Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize. 2012 is looking to be the year of Rodriguez.

Malik Bendjelloul, Rodriguez, and Edward James Olmos, Sundance Awards - Photo Kim Raff _The Salt Lake Tribune