TrouBeliever Fest, take two.
After last year’s inaugural TrouBeliever Fest, which attracted plenty of big-name artists but not so many fans, the music festival is back this weekend with a new venue, a new focus, and a price that can’t be beat.
The second TrouBeliever Fest takes place Friday and Saturday in Ogden, with headliner Royal Bliss capping a musical celebration that includes Troubadour 77, Billy Dean, Sammy Brue, 3hattrio and much more.
“It’s a festival unlike any others out there,” said Anna Wilson, who with her fellow singer-songwriter husband Monty Powell organizes the event. “We’re bringing a true singer-songwriter festival to Ogden.”
Unlike most singer-songwriter festivals these days, where the artists may be spread out in 20 different clubs around town, Wilson said TrouBeliever Fest has all the artists in one place, outdoors, on a big stage.
“With the other format, sometimes you can’t see two artists you really want to see because they’re playing at the same time in two different places,” she said. “Here, everybody gets a chance to take the main stage and get their moment in the sun.”
Wilson said the festival, which is placing a particular emphasis on Utah artists this year, channels the Bluebird Cafe, the Nashville venue where singer-songwriters not only perform their songs, but also tell the stories behind the music. Indeed, the festival’s tagline reads, “Where the Songs are the Stars.”
“I do think that’s what makes this festival special — not only for the audience, but the singer-songwriters as well,” Wilson said. “They’re used to just playing one song after another at concerts, without much interaction with the audience.”
Wilson said organizers have asked all the artists at the festival to, at the very least, devote a portion of their set to talking to the audience about their songs.
Wilson said she and Powell are feeling “really good” about the upcoming festival.
“There’s a real comfort zone here for the public, Ogden City and us,” she said. “I think this is going to be the start of a big partnership.”
Powell is an award-winning songwriter who’s written a number of hits with and for Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Brooks & Dunn and others. Wilson has performed with Urban, Kenny Rogers, Larry Carlton, Ray Price and Connie Smith, and has written songs for Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire and more.
The weekend begins at 8 p.m. Friday with the T-Fest Acoustic Cafe in The Royal Room @ The Monarch, 455 25th St., in downtown Ogden. Wilson and Powell, Nashville singer-songwriters who also have a home in Huntsville, will host an impromptu jam that evening. And, as they tease in their promotional materials, “You never know who may show up!”
Admission to the T-Fest Acoustic Cafe is $5, at the door.
On Saturday, the festival begins with songwriting workshops from 10 a.m. to noon at The Monarch.
Then, at noon Saturday, the festival moves to the Ogden Amphitheater at 343 Historic 25th St. The day’s lineup includes:
• 12:30 p.m. — Tim Daniels Band. This Utah-based group performs original music as well as covers of old country, soul, and rock ’n’ roll.
• 1:20 p.m. — “Troubadour Tales.” This Bluebird Cafe-style set features Nashville-based songwriters Cheyenne Medders and Rebekah Powell.
• 2:15 p.m. — Kelly Neff. Hailing from Virginia and Florida, Neff will present a special cover-song tribute to classic songs.
• 3:25 p.m. — 3hattrio. This threesome of Hal Cannon, Greg Istock and Eli Wrankle hail from deserts of Southern Utah and describe their genre as “American Desert Music.”
• 4:45 p.m. — Sammy Brue. The popular teenage musician from Ogden, who has been writing songs since the age of 10, plays his original blend of folk and Americana.
• 5:45 p.m. — Billy Dean. A Grammy Award-winning troubadour, Dean has had 11 Top 10 singles and sold more than 4 million albums.
• 7 p.m. — Troubadour 77. This Americana duo features Wilson and Powell performing a tribute to the classic 1970s Laurel Canyon artists who created the Southern California sound.
• 9 p.m. — Royal Bliss. The Salt Lake City band mixes influences like Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash to create a sound all its own, fronted by the raspy voice of Neal Middleton, and backed by Taylor Richards, Jake Smith and Brian Hennesy. The evening will end with an all-star tribute to the music of Tom Petty.
General admission seating on the grass is free, and audience members are welcome to bring blankets and chairs.
VIP tickets, with access to the first few rows of the fixed chair seating, are $100.
Wilson said the festival is also partnering with O1ARTS, with 5% of all VIP-level ticket sales benefitting the Ogden-based arts organization.
TrouBeliever Fest organizers recently created an additional VIP ticket, “for those hardcore true Royal Bliss fans,” according to Wilson. For $25, ticketholders can purchase the “TrouBliss Pass,” which allows access to the VIP section for the headliner’s set only.
“So you can come watch the rest of the festival for free, but then be up front for the headliner,” she said. “And it’s only $25, as opposed to $100 for the VIP seats for the whole festival.”
For tickets or more information, visit troubelieverfest.com.