Songwriter’s Festival at Jacobs Gallery
For the last seven years, songwriters and artists from all over the country come to Deadwood to play music in businesses on Main Street.
This was our third year being a venue for the local and national talent. In order to be a performance location, we purchased state-of-the-art sound equipment, set up a stage and over 60 seats. We even hire a sound tech, Hudson (in the blue and pink beanie) to monitor each singer to ensure an overall great performance.
The best part about this event is that it’s FREE to the public! I love talking with tourists that just happen to be in town during this unique event. They come in confused as to what this lively event is, then they’re shocked it’s free and then they’re excited because they’re here for it.
How The Songwriter’s Festival Works
During this event, there are performances from Thursday evening to Saturday night. There are two performances every hour at different locations which gives people to ability to hop between the two. When I played tourist on Saturday with Jared and a friend, we hopped halfway through.
The earlier times are Local Rounds and the afternoon performances are National Rounds. Friday night is a famous band at Deadwood Mountain Grand (tickets required); this year the Gin Blossoms played.
Friday, Local Writer’s Round #1
While our first round of artists got situated and began practicing, Scott got to know them and asked questions. (He’s so funny.)
“What type of Taylor is that?”
“Ummm…” said Anna. Poor girl haha.
The first round of singers were Halladay Quist, Anna Robins, and J Shogren.
Halladay drove out from Flathead Lake area in Montana just to be here yet Anna and J are both locals.
Halladay was quite the talent this round. She played all kinds of string instruments; acoustic guitar, banjo, and an electric cello. (I ended up buying her CD at the end; almost our entire team did actually.)
Anna sang about funny stories and vampires, while J played some down to earth tunes.
Friday, National Writer’s Round #1
James has a long career in music and is currently the Chair of the Songwriting Department at Belmont University in Nashville. He has award-winning songs that have been recorded by Steven Curtis Chapman, The Oak Ridge Boys, Newsong, and more. His songs have also been included on 5 Grammy Award winning albums.
Anna Vaus is actually from Poway, CA; not too far from where we’re from. In 2016, she was chosen by Miranda Lambert as the first person to receive the Miranda Lambert Women Creators Fund which awarded her a scholarship to attend Belmont University; James happened to be one of her teachers.
She has a Miranda-like style with her cute twang and clever lyrics. One of her songs are about Judge Judy which made spectators chuckle as they sang along to the chorus.
“Juuuudge Judy! If you got problems, ya she’ll solve em”
Clayton Bellamy is a Canadian singer that won SOCAN Songwriter of the Year Award as well as a nomination for Roots Artist of the Year.
He was entertaining for the crowd to watch. He made them laugh as he forgot the intro to one of his songs and taught us about the technique of mumbling to the melody when you forget your lyrics.
All in all, the three of them together created a great vibe for listeners to enjoy for the hour.
That night, Gin Blossoms played their hearts out and Scott sang his heart out from our seats.
Saturday, Local Round #2
Australian now Hill City local Richard Grewar sang next to 22-year old Rapid City local Sophia Beatty. On the end is Chris Huisenga, our employee Kayla’s boyfriend and they reside in Spearfish.
I was at another venue the first half of their performance so I could show Jared Halladay’s voice while she played at Saloon No. 10.
When we rotated back to the Gallery, Sophia was singing and captivating the audience. Her powerful voice was surprising for such a small girl, but boy could she sing.
Chris charmed the crowd with his voice and his jokes. It was cool seeing him play in the Gallery again. The first time was during a First Friday.
National Writer’s Round #2
Steven Wilson, Megan Linville and New North played during our final round for 2018 (insert sad face).
Steven Wilson has been recording since he was ten years old. He experimented with different types of music and played all of the instruments in his recordings which is a feat in itself.
Next up was Megan Sloane Linville who has been surrounded by songwriters her whole life. Her grandfather wrote songs for Roy Obison, Charlie Pride, and Kitty Wells.
Megan’s first album was produced by John Carter Cash at the age of 19!
This was Krista Marie and Damien Horne of New North third year in a row playing at the Gallery.
We have enjoyed their whimsical and fun music for almost a decade. Being close friends with Krista and her husband Marc has given us the ability to hear them both play at some pretty intimate spots like atop Gretchen Wilson’s ATV from her hit song “Redneck Woman” inside Barbara Mandrell’s in-home shooting range.
Even though the weather was cold and snowy the entire weekend, each venue was full and the streets were bustling.
Overall, I am honored to be part of a community that invites people to express themselves artistically during such an event.
Till next time,