The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival was launched in 2015 by co-founders Mike Booth and Cory Johnson. The original idea was to create a multi-day festival to promote tourism and celebrate the art of songwriting in Red Lodge, Montana. The inaugural festival was June of 2016 featuring four Nashville hit songwriters and six songwriters from Montana and Wyoming. We hosted ten shows attended by about 500 people throughout the weekend. Fortunately we still managed to operate in the black and donate a little more than $1,000 to local charities. The feedback from fans and supporters encouraged us to keep going.
“Your going to do this again next year.” was the common statement form fans and local business owners.
Leveraging the success of that first festival—and with the support of the local business community—we were able to host a second festival in 2017. The same year we re-organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in order to have a bigger impact on the local community and add the talent of a board of directors. We added more shows, songwriters, and a songwriting contest to the festival.
The third annual festival in 2018 was a breakout year with the addition of a Master Class for songwriters, more shows, sponsors, and fans. We sold out shows on Thursday and Friday nights and had standing room only in the bars and restaurants for the Rising Star songwriters. We estimate more than 1,000 people attended our shows over the three-day festival. This success allowed us to award our public school’s music department with a check for $10,000.
Over the four years of our festival we have had some of the greatest songwriters in country music grace us with their talent, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame members Even Stevens, Kostas and Hugh Prestwood, hit songwriters Tony Lane, Anthony Smith, James Dean Hicks, Brice Long, Brett Jones, Helen Darling, John Pierce, Wynn Varble, Rob Crosby, Will Robinson, and Karen Staley have all played our stage. Thousands of fans continue to buy tickets and come to Red Lodge annually for this incredible event.
Unfortunately we like the rest of the country was effected by COVID in 2020 having to cancel our festivals
In 2021 we are adding two new festivals to our organization, the Whitefish Songwriter Festival in Whitefish, Montana and the Yellowstone Songwriter Festival in Cody, Wyoming. Building on the success of the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival we aim to have similar impact on the local tourist economies and music education in those two communities. In total we will produce over 70 songwriter shows in 20 plus venues supporting over 60 songwriters from across the country.
Come help us realize our vision of creating a world-class songwriting festivals that attract the very best songwriters and music fans from around the country.
See you in 2021.