Torrey, UT may not look like much when you drive through it. It’s a tiny little town, one of several, where everything’s on the main street. There’s a restaurant. A bookstore/cafe. A general store. a couple local businesses. An art gallery. An RV Park. A few hotels.
But for one weekend every August, this small town is invaded by women from as nearby as Salt Lake City to as far away from Boston, or Alaska for the Women’s Redrock Music Festival. Not just women, of course. The festival bills itself as a festival with “music By women, FOR everyone.”
The festival is held on the property of Robber’s Roost bookstore/cafe, on a spacious lawn with a very simple and very effective stage that has been constructed for such events. The backdrop is striking: The thing about this picture is that it totally is not representative of the festival. For one thing, there is a beautiful blue sky in this image. What you might not know is that August is “monsoon season” in Torrey, so rain is pretty much a fact of life. Which makes for an interesting music concert. It’s one of those concerts where you find $2 ponchos sold at the Will Call booth. In fact when I first arrived in Torrey and stepped out of the vehicle, there was a storm directly overhead. The crack of thunder that I heard was the loudest I’d ever experienced. I can’t imagine a person hearing that and *not* jumping from pure instinct. One of the vendors nearby was setting up her booth and yelled over that she had heard a crack, like a branch had broken. The storm was way too close for comfort.
Yet the storm cleared up quickly, the stage and grounds were set up and the festival went on. Rain came and went over the Friday and Saturday of the show, but that didn’t stop the music. The people who really loved music stayed. They put on their yellow ponchos and haunted the grounds, or kept close to their umbrellas. The real theme that came out of this festival is that music is a hell of a lot more than background noise. When people brave the rain for music, it says that weather is secondary to art. And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty inspirational.
And what a festival to stick around for. According to Women’s Redrock Music Festival veterans, this year’s festival (held August 6,7) was one of the best line-ups. The range of artists varied from local musicians (Marie Bradshaw and her band) to well known national artists (Bitch); folky/acoustic (Blame Sally) to jazzy (Ayo Awosika) to good ol’ rock-and-fucking-roll (Runhoney)
Becky Alter: Confession–I see a solo woman musician with a guitar and my initial impression is: Great. Another folky singer/songwriter musician with great words and music that I could fall asleep to.
The moment Becky went into the song “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree” I knew my first impression was totally wrong. And she rocked out on that guitar. To the point that her guitar’s E-String broke (no, she assured the audience, not her g-string. that was just fine.) The festival’s stage crew was able to help her out-first with a new guitar, which was supposedly a virgin guitar. After a good bit of tuning she launched into a version of “Son of a Preacher Man” that will never, ever be matched by any other artist. Believe me when I say you had to be there. Her rendition was sexy. I’m sure she had every single one of the queer women in her court after that song. After that she gave up on the Virgin Guitar and got a new string for hers. And this is when she really proved herself. Instead of bantering on about something or another while fixing the string, she told the audience she was going to do a Janis Joplin cover, and asked the audience to sing along. And she did. Becky’s voice is made for Janis Joplin covers, she does it so well. She sang “Me and Bobby McGee” the whole way through, without a mistake made. After her portion of the show, I really wanted to go up to her and ask “will you marry me?”
Too bad she already has a partner.
Angie Evans: Even before I officially heard a song by Angie Evans, I was sold. Why? Angie has a sticker that says “I love ice cream, trees, orgasms, Angie Evans, hugs, & feminism.” At the festival, I was one of the few who didn’t know who Angie Evans was. For those unfamiliar with Angie, she’s a queer musician who embraces the butch look, and wears it extremely well. Most of the women-loving-women in the audience were totally taken with her, and when Angie said anything that could be construed in a sexual manner, oh believe me, it was taken that way. Angie is an unapologetic feminist (check out the hot tats! WIN!) and combines her liberal political leaning into music that leans toward jazzy, which is an unusual medium in my experience. For the show, as she was solo-ing it, her music all went from jazzy to full on acoustic style, and she rocked it. Her songs ranged from love songs to songs with feminist calls to action.
If you haven’t heard of Angie, I suggest you take some time to check out her music. Just do it. Don’t worry, this blog entry will still be here when you get back.
Oh yeah. And she signed my sticker. I’m totally sold on Angie Evans.
Runhoney: This band was one of my favorite of the Saturday performances, even beating out the aforementioned Angie Evans. I was actually volunteering for a bit at the Utah Pride Center booth when Runhoney took the stage. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with ‘em. It took as long as it took for them to tune, because just in tuning their instruments, you could tell they’d be a little more rock, and a LOT less folk. And that was indeed the case. Runhoney is an all girl rock-n-roll band made up of Sarah Harmel (lead vocals/guitar), Emily O’Bannon (drums/vocals), Maria Naccari-Beahan (bass) and Megan Jane (guitar). For those of you who know me in real life (or have been following this blog for a while), you know that I have a thing for women who know how to rock. As of late, I’ve forgotten about all girl rock bands, and how much they can kick serious ass. Runhoney put me back in my place of grrrl band worship. They have a great message of rock with enough hooks to get their songs stuck in your head. Think the Dollyrots, but grown up. And a bit more rock. I don’t think I’m going to say too much more here because I’d like to get in touch with the band and actually do an interview. Just make sure you check ‘em out. And if they come to your area, do me a favor and ditch your tendencies to bob your head along to the music. Jump around. Dance like you’ve never danced before. Rock Out. You’ll have a lot of fun. (PS: RH roadie…if you’re reading this, I have a severe crush on you. I totally want your story. And maybe your number… : )
Okay readers. I’ve already spent 1000+ words on this festival and I have barely even scraped at the essence of how amazing this festival was. So I’m going to end with a few more words and then just give you some pictures. Every artist that played this weekend deserves space on this blog. Each musician/band was extremely talented and very grrrl-fueled, which is the kind of thing I like to see. I will see what I can do to get some features done on the artists I haven’t mentioned, so you can keep an eye out for them.
I will say that out of this whole festival, one of my favorite things was the pure, simple act of dancing under the stars of Torrey. On Saturday, the music (thanks to the great band Corday!) went on ’till about midnight and I spent the last two of hours of those literally dancing under the stars. It was beautiful. I hope that everyone who went to Redrock this year had their own experiences like that, and I hope everyone who didn’t go this year, will make plans to come next year. Believe me when I say this festival is NOT to be missed. I don’t care what state you’re in. A couple days away from home is nothing to a beautiful/unforgettable weekend.
Local Musicians Adria Phillips and Leraine enjoy some of the music Women’s Redrock Music Festival has to offer