The Road To The Sawtooth Valley Gathering




Photo courtesy: Sawtooth Valley Gathering

There’s nothing that brings a community together quite like a live outdoor concert.
Ketch’em Alive, Hailey Rocks, and the Summer Music Festival in Sun Valley are all great examples. It was at just such a concert—when James Fowler saw The Wailers perform in Ketchum—that inspired him to found the Sawtooth Valley Gathering.
“I’ve always been a live-music fan and seeing the town come together was so cool and inspiring,” said James, who lived in the Wood River Valley at the time. “I wanted to help make those moments happen.”
James first started making those moments happen when he served on the board of directors for the old Northern Rockies Folk Festival. After both that event and another annual outdoor concert in Stanley ended, James realized there was a musical void and those special moments weren’t really happening around here anymore.
So he rolled up his sleeves and decided to found the Sawtooth Valley Gathering in Stanley. Now on the road to its ninth year, the annual musical festival keeps getting stronger.
“That first year I was sleeping in my car and doing everything I could to put it on,” James said of his labor of love. “But we now get a lot of community support and it’s become a really special event. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it makes a lot of people happy, so it’s worth it.”
The original festival lasted two days, had 14 bands on a couple of stages and about 500 people attended.
This year’s Sawtooth Valley Gathering will be June 20-23 and will feature over 30 bands on five stages scattered throughout Stanley. Around 2,000 people are expected to attend. It’s the perfect kick-off to another glorious summer in the mountains.
“People are really excited about the lineup this year,” James said. “We are able to bring in some bands that wouldn’t come here otherwise. It’s cool to bring such high-quality music to Stanley and the Wood River Valley.”
This year’s lineup includes bands from the East Coast to the Bay Area, from Seattle to Salt Lake City, as well as several other Western states. This year will also include the “Road to the Sawtooth Valley Gathering,” which includes shows in Boise and Ketchum.
On April 20th, Floating Witch’s Head will be playing at Whiskey Jacques’ on Main Street in Ketchum. Tickets are just $10.
A second local show on the Road to the Gathering is planned for Whiskey’s on May 18th, with a possible show in Hailey on May 11th.
“We’re still growing in our own way,” James said, citing all the great help he gets from the Sawtooth Brewery, Kasino Club, Stanley Bakery/Sawtooth Hotel and Mountain Village Resort.
“I wouldn’t be here putting this on without the help of some very special people,” said James, whose newborn daughter will be at her first Gathering this year.
“This event is really a family thing for me,” he said. “And I’m just really happy to be able to share these special moments with so many great people.”

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