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Music Blog

Orion Independent Music Festival

by Austen Diamond
- Posted // 2012-01-12 - The Orion Independent Music Festival is out to prove that Park City isn’t exclusively about Sundance during the month of January. OK, that might be a stretch, but founder Steffon Olson does want to make a splash in the local, and international, music scene this weekend.

Now in its third year, the festival’s mission is to provide an opportunity for independent musicians of all genres to gain some traction in the mountain town, and internationally, he says. From Jan. 13-17, the festival will be held at eight venues (including several in Salt Lake City) and will showcase over 30 such artists, including Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Peter Breinholt, Shar and the Luck 7, Holy Water Buffalo (watch "I'm Alright (It's Heavy)" below)and The Blue Trees, among others. Visit the festival Website for a full schedule and more information.

The festival costs $49 for an all-access pass or $10 for each show at the door. All-access passes can be purchased at, but must be picked up at The Spur Bar and Grill (352 Main Street, Park City).

Olson spoke with City Weekly to give a little bit more background on the event:

City Weekly: Does the motivation for this festival comes from frustration as an artist yourself, or is it more than that?

Steffon Orion: Yes, I think it's the general music-buying public's frustration with the major labels, which have become monopolized. However, this is also the most exciting age of music with the advent of the Internet. Now the option has gone from, "We get to hear whatever the major labels think we should hear," to an unlimited selection of independent artists at your fingertips.

CW: Do you think opportunities for local artists, or emerging artists, are hard to come by?

SO: Yes, I think it's always been a volatile career choice, but it can be extremely rewarding if you find more pleasure in the art itself and not the response to the art.

CW: What do you hope to accomplish with this fest? Is it a Wayne's World sort of concept/dream ... living the rockstar dream ... maybe getting Aerosmith to play?

SO: What a classic; that's funny. We hope to become for independent singer/songwriters/musicians/etc., what Sundance has become in the film industry for independent movies.

CW: And does this festival have any affiliation with the Orion Record Shop that used to be in Park City?

SO: No, the festival has no affiliation with the record shop.

CW: Tell me about the festival lineup for 2012, and about why you chose one or two of the artists you did.

SO: Each and every artist/band was carefully chosen, so it makes it hard for me to just mention one. What I would rather do is encourage readers to goto: and listen to and incredible lineup of some of the best independent musicians in the world.

CW: It seems like the genre-leanings are toward folk, country and rock?

SO: We've tried to create a broad-spectrum of genres but as a festival still in its infancy, it's hard to always balance out. Eventually, over time, I hope to see it grow to a larger selection of genres.

CW: Why did you choose Park City and why the week before Sundance? Is it something for the locals?

SO: I would think folks would want to hunker down and chill out before the madness commences. Actually, we are aiming to become an international festival, we're inviting the whole world. A few days ago, we did a broadcast from Utah Musicians Radio that had listenership across the globe.

CW: It seems as though you've struggled in your first year; that is to say, some musicians and staff went unpaid, according to Is this allegation true, and how has your business model evolved since that fledgling year?

SO: Every festival or business starts out with a few bumps. Some of the largest festivals and businesses in the world had to start somewhere. This year will be our most successful yet.

CW: Thanks, Steffon. Good luck with everything.

SO: Thanks, Austen.

Holy Water Buffalo, "I'm Alright (It's Heavy)"

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Posted // January 12,2012 at 15:41

Interesting that Mr. Olson avoided the question about artists, venues staff being unpaid during the first year. Two years later this remains the case and has cast a huge shadow over the festival. Sadly, the only thing Olson has set out to accomplish with this "festival" is to attempt to be one of the biggest con artists Park City has encountered. As a result, very few businesses, individuals, and even the City refuse to work with him.


Posted // November 4,2012 at 15:39 - I was one of the people the founder screwed out of thousands of dollars in the first year when he had be do public relations, radio and TV coverage. He even signed a contract and still never paid his bills. To this day he says he will pay it back, but he's a smooth talker, can lie to your face with a smile. Actions speak louder than words, still waiting to get paid back. I know, I'll have to take a number. So don't support this festival, its not for the artists, its for the founder period.