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Song Summit panel says festival’s ‘soul’ influenced by late John Prine

summit 1.jpg
Erika Goldring
Park City Song Summit
The Park City Song Summit audience watches the first panel, or "lab," of the weekend in a tent at the Deer Valley Lodges.

The Park City Song Summit began Thursday with panels and concerts up and down Main Street and around Summit County.

As moderator Jay Sweet introduced the first lab conversation at the Park City Song Summit Thursday, he joked about signs reading “established in 2019.” He said this weekend is the product of years of planning, scheduling, canceling and finally, welcoming dozens of artists to Park City.

Jason Isbell laughs as Warren Haynes tells a story during a conversation about the late country singer-songwriter John Prine.
Erika Goldring
Park City Song Summit
Jason Isbell laughs as Warren Haynes tells a story during a conversation about the late country singer-songwriter John Prine.

Founder Ben Anderson welcomed the audience, asked people to stay off their phones, then introduced country singer-songwriters Jason Isbell, Margo Price and Warren Haynes.

They spent the first hour talking about the late John Prine’s influence on modern country music and their personal lives. Sweet said organizers hoped the soul of the event would draw influence from Prine, who died of COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic.

Isbell, hailing from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, said Prine encouraged him and several artists also in Park City this weekend to embrace their daily ups and downs to write music.

“He understood that the real magic, the real gift and being able to write something that is moving is just really to point out what's already moving about the world and what's already emotional about what's happening to you on a daily basis,” Isbell said. “He had that awareness, and to me, the best songs sound like somebody just turned over the right rock. But John net had never sounded like he was inventing anything; it just sounded like he was noticing something.”

Price shared a story about playing a show while nine months pregnant and meeting Prine. Haynes talked about why he writes music at 3 a.m. and told the audience the story of his only night in jail, a Christmas Eve, when Prine’s “Christmas In Prison” was stuck in his head.

The festival lasts through Saturday with labs lasting into evening hours and concerts from afternoon to midnight. They’re at various venues in and around Old Town Park City and other parts of Summit County.

Individual tickets to some events are still available. The Park City Song Summit is a for-profit event. A portion of proceeds go to sponsors like the Park City Community Foundation and other local and national entities.

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