Review: Sundance 2012 

Recap of the Fest's 1st weekend

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People don’t necessarily come from far and wide for the music at the Sundance Film Festival, but it sure makes for some special experiences beyond film.

On Friday, soul-singin’ Terence Etc.—think of an artsy Ben Harper meets a young, big ’fro-ed Al Green—wooed the Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe. It was the most pleasant musical surprise of the weekend. He played a batch of funky numbers—material to be released later this year—and covers, like “In the Pines” and “Black Betty.” Nance’s film An Oversimplification of Her Beauty premiered this week, as well.

There undoubtedly wasn’t a better guitar player in Park City on opening day than Gary Clark Jr. (pictured), who played Bing Bar’s Spin Sessions. The 27-year-old cut his chops in Texas, and his sound is nasty and fat, an electrical storm evoking Jimi Hendrix. After he played “Don’t Owe You a Thing,” when he said, “Damn, that felt good,” he spoke for everyone.

The Saturday “Celebration on Music in Film” concert with Art of Rap producer Ice-T, along with Chuck D, was touted as the hardest Sundance ticket to get. Alas, I missed a 5 p.m. ticket drop by minutes. But there was no need to sulk, because down at the ASCAP Music Cafe, John Forte played the best set I saw this weekend. It included a genre-bending cast of characters—Ben Taylor, Natasha Bedingfield, among others—to join the ex-Fugee collaborator.

Other highlights included belly laughing on Saturday at some guys from Slipknot announcing they are starting a production company, Living Breathing Films, which will focus on artist psychological movies.

And the premiere of Under African Skies—about the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland—on Sunday was impressive, as was hearing Simon field questions in the post-screening Q&A. Then, getting to shake his hand at the afterparty was especially cool, although it was a doughy, fish-like shake, and I felt a little like a stalker. 

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