We Are On A Mission: Enhance Music Education in Public Schools
We are a mission-driven organization
Our mission is to enhance music education in our public schools and provide scholarship opportunities to university students pursuing a degree in music. The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival is the fundraising tool to fulfill that mission.
In the past four years the RLSWF has donated more than $40,000 to local charities and the Red Lodge Public Schools Music Department.
The mission of Red Lodge Songwriter Festival Inc. is to provide opportunities for people to learn, grow, and heal through music and songwriting. This includes individuals pursuing a career in music through educational scholarships, supporting local school music programs with grants, and assisting the recovery of wounded service members during their recovery. Our programs include songwriting festivals, songwriting classes, music concerts, and music classes.
It is our vision to create a world-class songwriting festival that embodies three key elements: entertainment, education, and exposure. We will attract the very best in songwriters and fans from around the country who want to surround themselves with the creativity of songwriting, mountain beauty, and hospitality of Red Lodge, Montana. Fulfilling this vision will allow us to promote tourism in and around Red Lodge and generate the monetary means to fulfill our mission.
Integrity, keeping to our word, and fulfilling our commitment to our mission are the values we do business by. Creating value for our stakeholders, fans, sponsors, contributors, and songwriters are imperative to the long-term success of the festival and organization.
The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival is a subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Songwriter Festivals Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization.
Our Board of Directors
James Dean Hicks
James Dean Hicks’ is a country music songwriting icon and has been a contributor to our festival since its inception in 2016. He joined our board in 2017 and contributes in many ways, resources talent, judges our songwriting contest and instructs our Master Class. He has been recorded by the biggest artists in the world including Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus, Kenny Chesney, Reba McIntyre and Alison Krauss. He has new songs on a multitude of great artists like Jon Wolfe, Joel Crousse, and Joe Nichols. Some of country’s best-selling performers of all time are also well-represented on the list.
Tera joined our board in 2017. She moved to Red Lodge in 1991, working at Red Lodge Mountain in Central Reservations, then in food service as a cook and bartender. In 1995, she started Red Lodge Ski and Travel and operated that until 2001 when she went back to Red Lodge Mountain to work in the marketing department and special events.
Tera has been a REALTOR® since January 1, 2008, and thoroughly enjoys it. She likes helping people achieve their goals whether they are buying or selling, by providing good, timely information and advice. She specializes in homes and vacant land in Carbon County (Red Lodge, Joliet, Belfry, Bridger, Fromberg) and has established relationships with other agents in the area to refer clients who are interested in property outside her focus areas.
Mike is one of the co-founders of the RLSWF and is currently the board chair and executive director. Mike is an experienced business professional with more than twenty-eight years of supporting and growing businesses. As an experienced business executive and board member of several non-profits, he is able to adapt to the changing environment of the small enterprise world. He has spent the bulk of his career leading businesses and nonprofits through the process of strategic and financial planning in order to build long-term growth and sustainability.
Teresa is a business owner in Cody, Wyoming, having opened Legends Bookstore after retiring from 28 years in the minerals industry. She holds a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and an M.B.A from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce and is an active member and co-chair in the Cody Events Committee. Teresa is a Colorado native but has lived in Wyoming and Montana for more than 31 years. She is married and has one son. She and her husband divide their time between Cody and a second home in Red Lodge.
“As a life-long music lover and the parent of a songwriter, I have a keen interest in helping to bring this slice of the music industry to our remote communities in the West. I think it’s important to provide opportunities for songwriters of all levels the chance to perform, share their stories, and—dare I say—profit from their talent and efforts. It’s also important to help the consumers of music in our communities to more directly connect the origin of the songs they hear to the songwriters. The performance of songs in their most organic form is a win-win for the songwriters and the communities when a festival brings the two together. My many years of experience with project development, budgeting, and organization will aid me in being a contributing member of the board.”
Cari is the owner of a marketing and event-planning company she founded in 1993. Over the last 37 years Cari has successfully created and produced thousands of events mostly for big-tech companies such as Microsoft and others. She also owned a small jingle business in the 90s that produced musical advertising for business in Montana and the northwest. Her expertise is with designing, marketing, and producing all types of events. Cari is excited to become the newest member of the board and to be the co-founder and producer of the Whitefish Songwriter Festival debuting September 2020. Prior to starting her small business in 1993, Cari produced events for multiple nonprofits.
Jayne has been on the board of the RLSWF since 2017. As the finance director she is responsible for the long-term sustainability of the RLSWF. She is an independent business woman handling the accounting responsibilities for many Montana companies in and around the Bozeman area.
The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival was launched in 2015 by co-founders Mike Booth and Cory Johnson. Its original idea was to create a multi-day festival to promote tourism in Red Lodge. The inaugural festival was June 2016 featuring four Nashville 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.
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, and we organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in order to have a bigger impact on the local community. 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 our local 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 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 mountain town of Red Lodge. This coming year 24 songwriters from all over the country will perform 18 shows in 9 venues. We anticipate more than 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.