Sundance- Sundays in Utah, and 24/7 Beer Heaven – Day 3 & 4

Our delicious Chubasco's meal (and salsa extravaganza)

No screening today so I sleep in, a little at least until we have to pack up and switch condos. I stop by the grocery store to stock up on some smoked salmon (from Federal Way, WA!) and catch up on work – the big thing being a conference call about a box set release for fall 2012. I wish I could spill the beans, but can’t just yet. It’s a beauty. The snow’s starting to fall as I trudge through the white powder with Mel Eslyn and Nate Miller of Your Sister’s Sister, a Lynn Shelton directed film playing at the festival. We hit a late lunch at a tasty Mexican restaurant called Chubasco’s. The 15-deep salsa bar blows minds.  I think Mel may have been in heaven with the mango salsa.

I grab some beer at the 7-Eleven on Park Ave. and quickly discover that this little convention store sells more PBR than any other convenience store in the country. It can’t hurt that they’re legally able to sell beer 24/7. In further weirdness, Utah has their own ‘special’ form of PBR (along with many other commercial beers), a watered down version that’s reduced to 3.2% alcohol. Weird.

The proud home of 24/7 PBR heaven

Sugar and I meet at Rodriguez’s. A couple hours later, we hear a knock on the door and meet Rob Holibaugh, the Sundance projectionist from Thursday’s premiere at the Library Center Theatre in Park City. Coincidentally, he’s staying in the apartment above and comes down to say hello. Great guy. He’s based in West Virginia but every January for the past 10 years he flies into Park City to be a projectionist, seeing over 40 films in a 10 day period. Rob tells us how Searching For Sugar Man brought him to tears on Thursday evening.

Rodriguez trips out at the idea of sharing a bill with Paul McCartney’s son James on Monday at the ASCAP Cafe. Rodriguez’s son-in-law Pete (aka the greatest driver in Utah) pulls up a couple YouTube clips and we hear some James McCartney. The pressure of being a son of a Beatle has got to be tough. That’s a documentary in itself.

The first major snow storm of the season hits that night and Pete kindly gives me a ride home. I say goodbye to both Chris and Megan, two good friends of Rodriguez’s daughter. They made the trip from Detroit for the big premiere but head out tomorrow. More great people.

Time to crash.

The next day I’m up early. I haven’t caught much sleep, primarily due to being so damn high on the magical happenings of the past 48 hours. I head out around 7 AM to total silence with mountains of fresh snow on the ground. It’s a beautiful sight. The big event for the day is a 6:30 PM screening of Searching For Sugar Man in Ogden, Utah. The festival is not only in Park City but has screenings in Ogden and Salt Lake as well. Ogden is a 75 minute drive northwest of Park City. I head out with Regan and Pete. We pull into Ogden, a town of around 80,000 residents and it’s quiet. Very quiet. Sunday nights in Utah are not your typical all night ragers. A few blocks from the theater I spot Heebeegeebeez, a comic book/games store with a small vinyl section. I drool as we drive by.

Heebeegeebeez

My addiction kicks in so I drop off Pete and Regan at a nearby restaurant and race back but don’t find much. They do have a decent selection of original post-punk LPs like Gang Of Four’s Entertainment and enough Barbra Streisand to make even Bob Husack proud. It was cool to see some Jimmy Reed and Lightnin’ Hopkins wax, along with Arthur Lee’s Vindicator. I ask about other stores but the one spot down the street is closed. The bummer of Sundays in Ogden.

After wolfing down too many taquitos at a local restaurant, the three of us walk on over to the theater, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, a breath-taking old movie house built in the 1920s. We walk in and immediately hear the sounds of a live organ player doing his thing at the front of the stage. It’s one of the more impressive movie theaters I’ve ever seen. The room holds 800 and there’s got to be well over 600 by the time the doc starts. Not bad for a Sunday night in Ogden.

The gorgeous inside of Peery's Egyptian Theater

Once again the response goes through the roof with multiple standing ovations, first for director Malik, and then Rodriguez. Both take part in the Q&A, along with Rodriguez’s daughters Sandra and Regan, and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, the man who started all this madness over 15 years ago. It’s amazing to see the response and realize that 99% of the crowd has never heard Rodriguez’s music prior to the evening. A girl in her early 20s passionately asks Rodriguez about his influences when writing Cold Fact and Coming From Reality. In typical Rodriguez fashion, he can’t quite answer it. Not that he doesn’t want to but he’s shy, just about the most humble man on the planet, so he moves around the question, talking about how Malik is the hero here, making such a brilliant film. Rodriguez performs a song in the Q&A which goes down in fantastic fashion.

Rodriguez serenades us

Afterwards, we’re greeted by a sea of the kindest people you’ve ever met. Rodriguez signs autographs and takes photos with some newfound fans. I remember meeting a Dallas couple who drove out from Park City for the screening, even changing their flight home to catch the film. And they missed the Mavericks game!

It’s beginning to seem a bit crazy how the audience response gets better each night. But it does.

Ogden rules.

In two cars, we drive back to Park City, hang out for a bit, and then call it a night.