Utah's Newest Music Festival Aims to Create Intimate Experiences on the Big Stage
You don’t need to see the packed stadiums or crowds of screaming fans to understand that music is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. We all have that song we adore and sharing musical tastes often leads to an instant bond. What many music fans might not realize, however, is how often their beloved song didn’t originate with the artist that turned it into a hit. In fact, household names -- from Elvis Presley to Beyoncé -- aren’t responsible for writing any of their own material, let alone their most popular songs. Though there isn’t anything inherently wrong with an artist singing songs written by someone else, the very personal nature of songwriting and music can get lost. And while there are certainly singer-songwriters who have risen to super-stardom à la Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, there are dozens of others who only play intimate venues for smaller crowds. So how do you bring those songwriters and their storied songs to a wider audience? That is the very question critically-acclaimed singer-songwriters Anna Wilson and Monty Powell asked themselves a year ago. Their answer was founding their own music festival. Thus, TrouBeliever Fest was born.
Set to take place at Snowbasin Resort from August 3 to 4, TrouBeliever Fest is a different type of music festival, aimed to bring the intimacy of the experience you might have at the famed Bluebird Café in Nashville to the next level. Headlined by Grammy award-winning artists Emmylou Harris and Rodney Cowell, the intention is to make the “songs themselves take center stage and be the stars.” In other words, the festival will be a tribute to the unsung song-writers and a place where the story behind the words of cherished songs can be told by the person who knows their meaning the best. Or as Wilson puts it, “like reading the album from cover to cover, but as a live experience.” A few of the other notable world-class songwriters who will take the stage include David Pack, former lead singer of Ambrosia, best known for writing “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman,” Richard Page, formerly of Mr. Mister and Ringo’s All Starr Band and writer of “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings,” and Jim Peterik, founder/singer of Ides of March and formerly of Survivor, who co-wrote “Eye of the Tiger.”
And who better to put the experience together than two singer-songwriters who bring first-person knowledge to the table? A Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominee, Powell has penned chart-topping hits for Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Brooks & Dunn among others while the also critically acclaimed Wilson has recorded and performed with the likes of Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Rogers, Larry Carlton, Ray Price, and Connie Smith and penned songs for artists ranging from Lady Antebellum to Reba McEntire. “The impetus and inspiration emerged from the Bluebird Café experience we had with our band Troubadour 77,” said Wilson. “The songwriters tell the story of their songs. Usually it happens with just piano or guitar vocal, but we did it in the context of a full band and it was really resonating with the audience. Our thought was, how cool would it be to have a festival where you could translate this intimate experience to a larger stage and let that authentic interaction happen?”
Wilson and Powell have been working on the festival non-stop since last summer when the idea first came to them. Part of the challenge is, of course, maintaining the intimacy with the songwriter on the larger stage, something they aim to do through production value, including video walls and songwriting workshops. The hope is that after the first year, the festival will grow, perhaps expanding to additional cities within three to five years, becoming a sort of traveling concert experience. Similar to bluegrass festivals, the hope is that TrouBeliever will be a very interactive festival for guests and a space where musicians can collaborate with like-minded people. “Our goal is to go beyond just a concert experience, especially with the educational component of songwriting workshops,” says Wilson. “People who are interested can submit MP3 tracks and their lyrics then get invaluable tips and tricks of the trade from a veteran songwriter.”
Unlike behemoth festivals in the style of Coachella, TrouBeliever wants to provide a space where the artists can bond with their colleagues and create. “We’re trying to blend everyone together throughout the festival,” says Wilson. “This will be an opportunity for organic, authentic, and real time collaboration. You never know when a magical moment is going to happen.”
TrouBeliever is also partnering with Habitat for Humanity to spotlight a good cause. Wilson, who wrote the international theme song for the nonprofit, has a longstanding relationship with the organization. “They understand the power of song to convey a message,” says Wilson. “It also fits our vision for the future of the festival. We’d want to partner with them at a number of locations across the country.”
The best way to enjoy the gorgeous mountain setting of Snowbasin is staying on the mountain and those wishing to make the most of the fest can find lodging options at private homes, condos, traditional camping and VIP “Glamping” at Snowbasin, local campgrounds, or hotel rooms located in bustling Ogden. Tickets to the festival are $50/person and can be purchased here.