By Joseph Ellsworth
A quiet Springville bookstore has recently gained a reputation as a place where serious local musicians showcase their songwriting and performing talents.
The Red Leaf Bookstore, opened in January 1999, sells a variety of new and used books and artwork. But it also features after-hours live music on Friday nights, and has hosted concerts with well-known Utah songwriters like Shane Jackman, Cherie Call, and Joey Dempster.
According to owners Roger and Margy Layton, the store rapidly became a place where local musicians collaborated musically and shared ideas about the local music scene.
“Once the word got out that we were a venue, within two days we were booked for the next three months. Once we started, it had a life of its own,” said Roger Layton.
The store was the birthplace of the Timpanogos Singer Songwriter Alliance, or TSSA, which promotes Utah artists and hosts the Provo Freedom Festival every summer.
“I think it”s safe to say that if the Red Leaf didn”t create a venue for local music, TSSA wouldn”t be what it is today,” said Joey Dempster, local singer-songwriter and TSSA co-founder.
The Laytons have worked to provide a store that not only provides a product for sale, but that also educates and inspires customers and visitors. The live music compliments the store”s other events such as poetry readings, literature discussion groups, and storytelling.
“The Red Leaf really cares about creating a vibrant community, and about making local music a part of that community,” Dempster said.
The store has quickly gained notoriety among musicians and music professionals. According to Margy Layton, when singer Stephanie Smith approached Utah”s Excel Entertainment about a recording contract, the company asked her as a prerequisite if she had played at the Red Leaf Bookstore.
Blues guitarist Willie DeFord said he likes playing at the Red Leaf because it”s a comfortable atmosphere that “brings out a lot of good folks and musicians.”
In contrast to playing venues that host live music as a background feature, The Red Leaf attracts music lovers who like to listen attentively to live music, DeFord said.
Although the store breaks from hosting live music for the summer, it will start up again in the fall.
“It”s a unique opportunity for the artists and it”s fun for us,” Roger Layton said.
The Red Leaf Bookstore is located at 164 S. Main St. in Springville.