DEADWOOD — For those who yearn to know the backstory behind the song, the tales behind the tunes, where the words came from and what the artist was thinking when they set them down to music, the Wild West Songwriter’s Festival returns to Deadwood Thursday through Saturday to help satisfy some of those answers.
Hosted in locales up and down Main Street Deadwood and inside The Deadwood Mountain Grand, nearly 25 hit songwriters will gather together for three full days of performances, panels and parties featuring industry insiders.
“We are bringing back some of the fan favorites, and some new faces too, and with those new faces some different genres of music,” said Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lee Harstad.
With country, pop, rock, and even rockabilly, the Wild West Songwriters Festival is one of the most unique of its kind, also featuring just over 20 local songwriters.
“It has become a favorite for a lot of locals over the years,” Harstad said. “With Deadwood as a backdrop, and these amazing songwriters on stages around town, it’s not hard to realize why. You are hearing the stories behind some of the top songs on radios today, sung by those that penned them. Plus, it’s free. We always try to raise the bar for events in Deadwood, and we do our best to make these events free. Along with our friends at Deadwood Mountain Grand, we bring in the nation’s top songwriters for a weekend of entertainment, and people can come experience it at no charge.”
Harstad said it’s hard to pinpoint one specific draw, or headliner, because there is so much great talent to choose from.
“Whether you are a new country, classic country or pop and rock fan, there’s going to be a songwriter that will draw you in,” he added.
The 2019 songwriter line-up includes: Bridgette Tatus, Alex Kline, Megan Sloane Linville, Liz Huett, Stephen Wilson Jr., Jesse Rice, Stevie Woodward, Dean Alexander, Kevin Kadish, Erin Enderlin, Ashley Ray, Travis Howard, David Devaul, Tenille Arts, James Elliott, Danny Myrick, Ray Stephenson, Amanda Jordan, Bre Kennedy, Justin Wilson, Brandon Jane, Sheena Brook, and Marc Beeson.
Local songwriters in attendance includes: Anna Robins, Sherry Ann Taylor, Jake Elwood, Chris Huisenga, Kenny Feidler, Richard Grewar, Andrew Jandt, Craig Winquist, Harland Allen, Jackson Holte, Lacy Nelson, Cody Henson Hullinger, Tommy Edwin, Raina Wallace, Aaron Nelson, Jack Daniels, Heath Johnson, Tiffany Johnson, Devon Sants, Scott Bellew, and Dayna Jones.
For those who have never attended the songwriters festival, Harstad described it as an intimate look inside the mind of someone who knows how to write a song that will climb the charts.
“A song that people will learn by heart and sing along every time they hear it,” Harstad said. “It is a one-of-a-kind music event that will leave an impression.”
The Wild West Songwriters Festival kicks off Thursday with a welcome reception from 5-7 p.m. at Santana’s Bar & Lounge. Songwriter performances get started later that evening: 7-8 p.m. at Scott Jacobs Gallery; 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Paddy O’Neil’s; and 8:30-10 p.m. at Saloon No. 10.
Friday’s schedule is as follows. Local rounds will be held at the following locations: noon-1 p.m., Santana’s and the Franklin Hotel; 1-2 p.m., Saloon No. 10 and Scott Jacobs Gallery; 2-3 p.m., Paddy O’Neil’s. Performances by hit song makers will be held at the following locations: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Silverado Franklin; 3-4 p.m., Jacobs Gallery; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Santana’s Bar & Lounge; 4-5 p.m., Paddy O’Neill’s; 5-6 p.m., Saloon No. 10.; 5:30-6:30 Silverado Franklin; 8-9 p.m. Main Stage Event at Deadwood Mountain Grand.
Saturday’s schedule kicks off from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Santana’s with a Bring Your Own Demo panel. Local rounds will then be held at the following locations: noon-1 p.m., Paddy O’Neill’s; 1-2 p.m., Saloon No. 10 and Jacobs Gallery; 2-3 p.m., Santana’s and Franklin Hotel. Performances by hit song makers will be held at the following locations: 3-4 p.m. Saloon No. 10; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Silverado Franklin; 4-5 p.m., Jacobs Gallery; 4:30-5:30 p.m., Paddy O’Neill’s; 5-6 p.m., Santana; 5:30-6:30 p.m., Saloon No. 10; 8:30-10 p.m., Songwriter’s Jam on DMG Main Stage.
Harstad said it’s hard to tell just how many people take in the performances.
“But all the venues are completely full during the songwriters rounds. It creates a buzz around Deadwood that’s hard to describe,” he said. “But, yes, this event along with our full slate of events help us achieve our goal of bringing more people to town.”
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