A few years ago I got together with some of my friends to talk about some of our favorite things. Those things, in short, were: songwriting, Red River, The Motherlode Saloon, The Lodge at Red River, Steve Heglund (the owner of the aforementioned Saloon and Lodge), and people.
“We should put all of those things together,” someone said. “A weekend or something.”
The motion was seconded, the vote was raised, and the tally was unanimous. We were all in favor of doing something– whatever it ended up being.
That’s how The Red River Songwriters’ Festival began.
It started as a tiny gathering. 38 people made their way to Red River, New Mexico to hang out with us. Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Kelley Mickwee, Josh Grider, Brandy Zdan, and myself.
The next year it grew to a 108. The year after we broke into the 220′s.
We set this festival up with the idea that it should remain small and intimate. Friendly and warm. 300 people is as high as we’ll go. The core group of us had some help along the way– Red River’s finest singer and picker Mike Addington joined up. Local legend Rick Fowler played the first year. Ray Wylie Hubbard brought his brilliant show to the mountains for year two. Bruce Robison joined Ray in year three. We watched it grow, and we smiled, laughed, sang, and skied along the way. I don’t think I’m giving away any trade secrets when I tell you that this little festival has become a major source of energy and inspiration for each of us– feelings that we carry with us through the rest of the year.
And here we are– year four. I can hardly believe it.
We have an incredible lineup for you this year. Here’s the rundown:
Jeff Hanna- Jeff is the lead singer for one of my all-time favorite bands, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Triva: the first compact disc I ever purchased was their iconic Will The Circle Be Unbroken. He’s written a ton of incredible songs for the Dirt Band and for others, including the massive hit God Bless The Broken Road.
Matraca Berg- Running down a list of Matraca’s hit songs is like running down a list of some of your favorite country songs of all time. Seriously. Look: Strawberry Wine, You and Tequila, The Last One To Know, XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl), You Cant Feel Bad, Wild Angels, If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me just to name a few. Need I say more?
Lori McKenna- To know Lori’s music is to be moved by Lori’s music. I don’t know if there’s a more powerful songwriter out there, for my money. I find that I connect to her writing in a deeply emotional way. We wrote Rose of Jericho and Sleeping Alone together for my last album. If you haven’t yet seen Lori live, you’ve got to. Preferably in Red River, but wherever you may be– if she’s coming to your town, GO.
Jason Eady- If you’re a fan of country music in Texas, you know Jason already. He’s one of our leading voices in the neo-traditionalist country movement, and people all over the country are taking notice. Chances are, you’ve already noticed too.
And then there’s us– the core group. We’ll be there singing our songs for you all over Red River. We’ll have dinner with you, ski with you, share a drink with you. You know us, and we know you.
If you’d like to join us, the dates for this years’ festival are January 22 – 24, 2015. Tickets and additional information can be found at http://www.redriversongs.com
SEE YOU IN NEW MEXICO!