Arts News

Red Rock Women’s Fest Jams into Second Year

Last year, the Red Rock Women’s Music Festival drew 400 guests to scenic Torrey, Utah for three days of fun, camaraderie and of course great music from local and national female singers and bands.

This year, festival co-organizer Carol Gnade says she hopes the event (co-sponsored by the Utah Pride Center and lesbian social and civic organization sWerve) will continue to grow and draw at least “500-600 people.”

“We’re selling tickets even better than last year,” Gnade said, adding that she thinks more people will attend this year thanks to higher gas prices that are forcing many Utahns to stay “closer to home” when making summer vacation plans.

Those plans should include the Red Rock Women’s Music Festival, according to Gnade, because of the talent the festival has attracted this year. So far, 15 bands and solo artists are scheduled to perform, including musicians from Utah and from just about every other U.S. region.

Representing Utah are such popular acts as soulful Utah Pride 2008 performer Mary Tebbs, blues/rock/jam band Sister Wives, alternative folk rock trio Lost by Reason and City Weekly’s three-time Best Folk/Acoustic Artist Stacey Board, who with Melissa Warner and Jamie Dalton makes up the Stacey Board Trio. Another trio, this one specializing in folk, rock and funk, will also take the stage during the festival. This is Gearl Jam, which consists of Tebbs and Utah musicians Leraine Hortsmanshoff and Fireston, Colo.-based Kathryn Warner. Like Tebbs, Hortsmanshoff and Warner will also give solo concerts during the three-day festival.

These Utah crooners will be joined by a diverse set of musicians from outside the Beehive State. These include the award-winning “folk and roll” duo Wishing Chair (Miriam Davidson and songwriter Kiya Heartwood) and Boston-based folk-pop singer Edie Carey. A few, like Stockholm, Sweden’s Victoria Lagerstrom and South African singer-songwriter Karma-Ann Swanepoel (former lead singer of the platinum-selling band Henry Ate) even hail from across the Atlantic Ocean.

Headlining this year’s festival will be Melissa Ferrick, the owner of indie label Right on Records who has released 11 CDs. Her latest In the Eyes of Strangers features a number of high profile musicians including Daren Hahn (drummer for Ani DiFranco, Eels and Break Mechanics), keyboardist Julie Wolf (Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams) and Tegan Quin (of Tegan and Sara).

The diversity of performers — American and international — is an attempt to appeal to a broad range of age groups and tastes, said Gnade. It is also, she added, an attempt to showcase more incredible talent in the field of women’s independent music, a field that the Red Rock Women’s Music Festival is trying to nourish.

“Essentially what we’re trying to do is create a venue for women’s independent music,” said Gnade. “Ultimately [we’d like to make] it the Sundance of women’s independent music, a place where we’ve built a reputation for nurturing new musicians.”
While the festival’s goal is to showcase female musicians, Gnade added that audience members of all sexes are encouraged to attend.

“We’re trying to say that it’s music by women for everyone,” she said.

And the festival’s venue, she continued, is one of most beautiful in Utah.

We have this very intimate venue we love under the cottonwood trees in Torrey, Utah, on land surrounding a bookstore and coffee shop,” she said. In addition, the festival has a new stage this year and what Gnade called “better sound equipment.”
With the festival’s growth, however, comes the need for more volunteers, Gnade added.

“We have a pretty good need for volunteers, even though we’re a small festival in comparison to Utah Pride and other things like that,” she said, adding that the music festival is in great need at this time for people to serve beer and wine, and for people who can handle clean-up duties. “We really have a strong commitment to making sure we don’t upset the environment too much, so a lot of clean up needs to be done,” she said.

For more information about the festival and performers, or to volunteer visit

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