A New Redrox Backdrop | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly

A New Redrox Backdrop 

The event formerly known as Women's Redrock Music Festival rebrands to emphasize their diverse mission.

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HEATHER FRANCK
  • Heather Franck

After skipping 2020, the pioneering desert festival formerly known as Women's Redrock Music Festival is back, with a new locale and new name: Redrox Music Festival. According to the festival's Production Director Hillary McDaniel, it's a name that better signals the diversity the festival has always had, but also one that rings in a new future as they launch for their 13th year on Friday, Nov. 5.

McDaniel has been attending the festival for years—first as a concert-goer, then playing in some bands, and later as a volunteer. In 2018, while volunteering as Production Director, things became more serious when the festival's founders decided to step down, asking those who were interested in keeping it going to fill in their roles. McDaniel was one of those, and also one of the new organizers who voted to change something that had set the festival apart for its entire existence: its name.

"The history of the festival is that it's always been an inclusive festival," McDaniel explains. "So even though it was called the Women's Redrock Music Festival, they've always had transgender performers, transgender volunteers and staff members, they've always had non-binary people involved."

It's an important distinction, since other "women's" fests, like Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, famously excluded trans women. "We decided to change the name to Redrox. The 'x' just really represents [those] non-binary identities, and we felt it was more inclusive because a lot of the people who come to the festival aren't women either," McDaniel says. And while from the beginning, there have been questions about who the festival is for, McDaniel adds, "I think the 'x' that we chose is really just a variable, it's for anybody who craves this kind of content and who wants to be part of this revolution in music."

However, the town of Torrey—which had hosted the festival for its entire existence—won't be part of this new chapter. The fest was a project of the Entrada Institute, which withdrew fiscal sponsorship in 2019, an act that dominoed into the fest's usual Torrey venue not volunteering to host anymore. "It never was an option for us to not have this festival," McDaniel says of their decision to immediately scout for new potential festival locations.

After some searching, the organizers eventually landed on Springdale, a small town with a population of around 700 at the very mouth of Zion National Park. "We knew it was a town that would be safe for queer performers and for people of marginalized genders, because they had a Pride parade several years ago, and they have a lot of members of the community who are LGBTQ," McDaniel says. They also point out that while Torrey was not originally too warm to the "lesbians from Salt Lake City" who started coming to town, they eventually embraced the festival.

Bringing the Redrox revival to Springdale continues the work of providing community to queer people in rural spaces, while also allowing city dwellers to connect with nature. "I just think it's important for our communities to work side by side to gain allies and demystify who queer people are, to be able to show how much art, talent, music and beauty is in this community," says McDaniel.

Facing a smaller budget this year, they're also focusing less on pulling in big acts. "One of the things I'm passionate about is creating experiences for people that are transformative, and introducing people to bands they've never heard of," McDaniel says. "This year, for the most part, it's musicians and drag performers that are right here in your own backyard." Some of those artists include musicians like Keyvin VanDyke, Courtney Lane, Rainy Dawn, Amanda Barrick, Vengeance Tampon, Marny Proudfit, Talia Keys, and local drag artists like Izzy Lovely, Kay Byee, Madazon Can-Can, London Skies, Pauper Cherry, Mik Jager, Sammee St. James, plus comedy from Natashia Mower.

The lineup's diversity is in step with Redrox's new fiscal sponsor, Rock Camp SLC—a nonprofit that focuses on providing youth of marginalized identities space to thrive in music, in an industry that is still deeply dominated by men and cis artists. "I think it's really important to push those people right to the front, so that you see them that one time and then you're buying their merch, going to their next show and helping them build a scene here with people whose voices just don't get heard, and don't get booked as often," McDaniel says. "That's a big part of the mission of our festival, to amplify these stories, because we really do believe that they're revolutionary. The only thing that I really believe in to make true change in the world is art."

If you want to be part of this new chapter in Redrox history, head to the Bit & Spur in Springdale the weekend of Friday, Nov. 5 - Saturday, Nov. 6. Single day tickets are $30 - $50; area resident, youth and senior weekend passes are $40; and all other weekend passes start at $75. Visit redroxmusicfestival.org for tickets, full-lineup and more info on getting down to their new stomping grounds.

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Erin Moore

Erin Moore

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Erin Moore is City Weekly's music editor. Email tips to: music@cityweekly.net.

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