Walking into Fork Fest, you can feel the excitement in this enchanted atmosphere. Art Dye Park in American Fork has been transformed for the all-day music and arts festival with three stages themed after the outdoor elements ― Lake, Mountain, and Forest.
Twenty-seven bands and myriad artists have come together to share their talents in person ― something they haven’t been able to do for more than five months due to COVID-19.
“We want to support local artists and enable human connection in a way that is safe and enjoyable,” said Festival Director and President of the Harrington Center for the Arts, Summerisa Stevens.
The innovative festival offers the option to livestream the concert, and while it’s not the same vibrant thrill as experiencing it in person, artists like Ryan Innes appreciate the venues that are getting more creative in their offerings. “The love of music from the listeners is not going to die,” says Innes. “We just have to find a new way to engage and interact.”
Innes, who has been featured on NBC’s The Voice and Songland, has made his full-time living off music since 2012. Eight years ago he was working as a waiter at Red Robin when he got the opportunity to do a regular gig at the Montage in Deer Valley.
“I hated it, I hated my life,” states Innes. “I knew it was because I was meant to do more than just that, and I just hadn’t taken the leap yet. Then I got the call from the Montage.” The pay was just enough to make the transition, but Innes had to invest in gear and create a four hour music set. That was a difficult transition, but this past few months has been even harder.
Hearing Innes’ smooth vocals resonate from the Forest Stage, you wouldn’t know that when he finally got to play live again for a private audience on July 30th, his fingers remembered the notes, but his voice wasn’t used to the routine any more. “I didn’t realize how much of my practicing came from not only practicing, but from doing so many gigs,” Innes admitted. “I’m still trying to catch up.”
Full time musicians of five years, the band Foreign Figures has used the time between gigs to explore new aspects of their sound.
“This pandemic upended all the plans we had for this year, and now, in hindsight, it was a blessing for our music,” said bass player Seth 78. “We have been able to have the time as friends and co-collaborators to really turn Foreign Figures into what it needs to be ― fully expressing our individual artistry and music instead of trying to find just one sound with one singer.”
If you’ve heard Foreign Figures play over the past five years, you can tell that the time spent honing their artistry has been worthwhile. However, it doesn’t pay the bills. With Fork Fest proving that live music is still very much alive, it’s now up to the fans to support their favorite artists.
“If you see an artist hustling, meet them in the middle,” Innes said. Attend their concert, whether live or virtual, buy their new song, stream it, rock their merch, and share it with friends. That small effort will help artists continue to be able to create beautiful music, and make more events like Fork Fest possible. As the crowd unites in singing along with Foreign Figures, it’s clear that fans have missed the connection live music brings.
Attendee Elise put it best, “Having a summer day filled with music and art is what my heart has been yearning for!”