Folk and Bluegrass Festival comes to Salt Lake

Guy Benson, IAMA.

This weekend, musicians from across the states will unplug their electric guitars and turn to more raw sounds.

On Saturday, the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association will host their annual Folk and Bluegrass Festival at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake. The IAMA moved the annual festival several years ago from the mountains in Snowbird to the city.

IAMA’s vice president and board member Bob Cantowine said he likes the new venue in Salt Lake and has seen more audiences attend the festival since their move.

“We get more turnout in Salt Lake than we did up in the mountains,” Cantowine said. “People didn’t like to drive up into the canyon then back down late at night.”

The Folk and Bluegrass Festival has free live entertainment from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For musicians hoping to fine-tune their compositions the festival hosts songwriting workshops as well as a lyrical competition.

IAMA board member Todd Schultz said the finals for the songwriting contest will go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and consist of competitors from all over the country.

“We have a man coming from Alaska, another from Idaho and a gal from Texas,” Schultz said. “There are some locals that made the finals, but we have a lot of other folks from across the country. They are very accomplished. They recorded some CD’s and others write for fun and just happen to be great writers.”

Schultz said 90 percent of the tunes will be original composition.

While the festival contains a small portion of bluegrass music, Cantowine said the majority of the musicians will perform straight acoustic.

“Our headliner act ‘Red Molly’ is the most bluegrass that is going to be there,” Cantowine said.  “It’s more on the folk, Americana side.”

Cantowine said he hopes attendees of all ages will enjoy acoustic music and students will get into acoustic music more.

“It’s good for everybody because it’s pure,” He said. “It’s without electronic enhancement for the most part. You think of a piece of wood, hang strings on it, and you’ve got acoustic music.”

The IAMA hosts acoustic music year-round. Schultz said he hopes that the festival provides an opportunity for more people to access acoustic music.

“It was about promoting acoustic music along the Wasatch front, (and) giving people an opportunity to come hear this music without spending a lot of money at big venues,” Schultz said.

The concert is free to the public. For more information visit

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