For the past 15 years, the Moab Folk Festival Local’s Showcase has served as a precursor to the annual event. This year, for the first time, two performers are arriving early to work alongside the high school students that will be featured at the event, along with other local talent.
When Melissa Schmaedick debuted the Moab Folk Festival, it was important to her to make a space for Moab residents to perform.
“I wanted to be consistent in my themes of creating a consistent community and ownership of the festival,” she said.
The event will feature many well-known names throughout the town, including Jon Olschewski, frontman and songwriter of funk-rock jam band Stonefed. Brian Coulter, Haley Noel, Melissa Graciosa and Meander Cat, a group composed of Utah natives Jasper Groff, David Mealey and Lenore Mcdonough, will also give performances.
It will also feature performances from Moab students, namely the BEACON String Program, which features 18 students ranging from fourth to ninth grade. The students practice once a week, and have explored pieces in a number of genres, including classical, rock, and samba.
This time, they are preparing a new genre, a jig, with the help of Laura Cortese, a performer at the Moab Folk Festival who arrived early to assist them. Cortese is attending two practice sessions with the students and is also playing along with them during the showcase, in order to provide certain stylistic aspects the piece requires.
Tamara Freida, the BEACON strings coordinator, spoke of the opportunity for the children to play with Cortese, saying, “To work with a real live composer and talk with a real human who does this stuff is really cool for them.”
Freida also explained how the students at first were wowed by the opportunity to see and speak to the person who wrote the piece they’ve been working. The group has been putting a lot of work into preparing for this performance, and having Cortese come to join them for their last two rehearsals has really strengthened the piece. BEACON is excited and prepared to perform alongside Cortese at the showcase.
Another performer also arrived early and will be working with the Grand County High School theater students on their vocals, which will come in handy as they produce a musical in the coming months.
The Local’s Showcase will take place this Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Star Hall. Admission is free, and all donations support the KZMU radio station.