We are a mission driven organization. The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival is the fundraising tool to fulfill that mission. Our mission is to enhance music education in our public schools and provide scholarship opportunities to University students pursuing a degree music education.
In the past three years the RLSWF has donated over $20,000 to local charities and the Red Lodge Public Schools Music Department.
The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival was launched in 2015 by co-founders Mike Booth and Cory Johnson. It’s original idea was to create a multi day festival to promote tourism in Red Lodge. The inaugural festival was in June of 2016 with 4 Nashville Songwriters and 6 songwriters from Montana and Wyoming. We hosted 10 shows that were attended by maybe 500 people throughout the weekend. Fortunately we operated that first festival in the black and were able to donate a little over $1,000 to local charities. The feedback from fans and supporters also encouraged us to keep going.
Leveraging on 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. That same year we reorganized the organization into a 501-c3 non profit corporation in order to make a bigger impact on the local community. We also added 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 realized sell out shows on Thursday and Friday nights and standing room only in the bars and restaurants for our local songwriters. We estimated over 1,000 people attended our shows over the three day festival. This success allowed us to award our public schools 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 and Hugh Prestwood, hit songwriters Tony Lane, Anthony Smith, Kostas, 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 for this incredible event.
The future is bright for our little festival in our quaint little mountain town of Red Lodge. This coming year 24 songwriters from all over the country will perform 18 shows in 9 venues. We anticipate over 1500 fans will attend these shows. We are opening our grant program to all public school music departments in Carbon County Montana and have added a scholarship fund in honor of long time supporters Dave & Carol Kirby.
Come help us realize our vision of creating a world class songwriting festival that attracts the very best songwriters and their fans from around the country. See you in June.