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Cody Humpherys of Rock the Canyon

Tomorrow, crowds will gather at the mouth of Rock Canyon in Provo for a night of acoustic music.

By Zach Collier

Provo’s outdoor acoustic music festival, Rock the Canyon, returns tomorrow for its third installment. We got to speak with Cody Humpherys, one of the founders of Rock the Canyon, about the event. See who’s playing this year, and how the event got its start.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who are you, and how are you involved with the Provo music scene?

Ever since I moved to Provo, I have been interested in local music. About a year and a half ago I started a folk-rock group called Humphrey. In the time since, I have also been involved in organizing local music gatherings like house shows, cider nights, and my favorite event, Rock the Canyon.

What is Rock the Canyon? How did it get its start, and who is involved?

Rock the Canyon is an outdoor show that takes place in the amphitheater at Rock Canyon trailhead. The scenery behind the stage is breathtaking. Every time we’ve done it, it’s been a magical evening. There is just something about playing music at the feet of the mountains. Nate Garlock originally had the idea a while back to do a show at the amphitheater. Nate, myself, and two friends Isaac Hanset and Dennis Meservy invited some performers and put on the first one about a year and a half ago and it was a big hit. That show had a lot of performers. When Nate went on a study abroad last summer, David Brantley and I organized the second installment, which featured only four acts, including Coral Bones, Claire Elise, Tommy Gunn, and Humphrey.

Who is playing this year? How did you go about contacting them? Do you have any performers that you are particularly excited about?

The lineup this time around consists of Stuart Wheeler of Quiet House, John Lane of Festive People, and Jessica Frech. I’m pretty stoked about this show because it will bring some of my favorite Provo acts together — artists who might not otherwise play together – and will do so in an intimate acoustic setting. I don’t know that there is one in particular that I’m excited about more than the others. They will all bring something unique and really cool to the stage.

The stage at Rock Canyon Trailhead.

The Provo music scene is known for its growing number of venues – Velour, Muse, Gezzo Hall, Audio West, etc. Recently there have been a lot of festivals and grassroots get-togethers popping up as well (Timp Music Fest, The Provo Living Room, and others). How do these alternative types of concerts help the community and provide entertainment in a way that normal venue shows cannot?

Provo is a beautiful place. Two of the best things about this town are the beautiful scenery of the mountains surrounding us and the creative culture that feeds the music scene. To me, there is nothing cooler than putting these two things together. I think bringing people together in a setting such as this to enjoy art and nature simultaneously creates a unique sense of connection in the community. I love going to venue shows here in Provo. I think this event, if nothing else, just creates some variety.

Is it difficult to secure the location every year? What do you have to do to get the space?

The amphitheater is seldom used, which is a shame. However, during the “in-season” months of the year when its warmer, you can call and reserve the space through the Provo parks and recreation people.

What goes in to organizing the event? How many hours do you think it takes, and how do you get power for amps and a PA system out there?

Organizing Rock the Canyon usually consists of talking to the performers, promoting through word of mouth and social media, and securing the sound and lighting equipment for the evening. In the past, we’ve had different friends help us with the sound. Last time, Cooper Brown of One Above Entertainment helped us out and did a great job. This time, our good friends Zach Collier and Alessandro Improta of Reach Provo are graciously providing sound. Luckily there are some electrical outlets not too far from the stage that power our PA and whatnot.

Humphery performing at Rock the Canyon II.

Overall, what is the mission of Rock the Canyon? What do you hope to accomplish?

As far as I can tell, the mission of Rock the Canyon is to create a community and culture of appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. We hope that the event will continue to bring people together and create some positive vibes as people enjoy the music and beautiful scenery.

How has Rock the Canyon changed over the years since you started doing it? What are your plans for the future?

Well, like I said, the first show had a lot of performers. Like I think it had 17 acts or something. Now it takes on more of a traditional format with 3-4 performers. We honestly love this show and the atmosphere it creates, so we hope to keep it going for as long as we can!

What can attendees expect when they come to Rock the Canyon?

If you talk with anyone who has attended Rock the Canyon in the past, they will tell you that there is something really unique and cool about the evening. It’s fun to see performers who are normally backed by a full band break their normal routine and play a set of songs broken down to their simplest form. I think those who attend Rock the Canyon III can expect to experience not only great music, but a great sense of community and appreciation for the concept of creation in general.

Is there any way people can get involved with the event or donate to the cause?

They can come and enjoy the music!

Rock the Canyon is set to take place tomorrow, April 11 at 7:30PM. Warm clothes are recommended. The event is free. You can also check out Humphrey’s live performance of “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes below.

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