Crown guitar festival moves to Bozeman this year

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The Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation’s popular workshop and festival will take a hiatus from its Bigfork location for 2019, with plans to return in 2020.

The event will be staged in Bozeman this year.

The Foundation previously had announced the festival would be moving this year to a new venue, The Nest on Swan River, in Bigfork, and had scheduled the event for Aug. 13 to 17. In a previous press release the Foundation also announced a new festival is scheduled to take place July 31 to Aug. 3 in Bozeman. Crown Bozeman 2019 will go on as scheduled.

A majority of the participants who had signed up for the Bigfork workshops were able to transfer to Bozeman, said Adam Tunnell, director of operations for the Crown of the Continent Foundation and Festival. Others pushed their registrations to the 2020 Bigfork venue. Tunnell added that due to scheduling conflicts some of the workshop faculty slated to teach in Bigfork had to cancel, but a couple were able to transfer to Bozeman’s event.

Since its inaugural event in 2009, the week-long Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop and Festival had been held the last week of August at Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork. That contract expired this year, and the Foundation had already been in contact with The Nest for a couple of years, Tunnell said, working on relocating to that venue. It was also decided to move up the event by two weeks this year to better accommodate students’ academic schedules, since a lot of students were missing their first week of classes to attend the workshop.

“We worked through the initial planning stages with The Nest but found that a couple of our lodging partners were not available or already booked at that time,” Tunnell told the Daily Inter Lake. “Several logistical factors were out of our control, so the operations team and Foundation board decided to step back and take a breather. We didn’t want to put out a product that wasn’t the premium Crown product we are used to providing.”

The decision was made by unanimous consent, Tunnell added.

Over the years the Crown of the Continent Workshop and Festival has supported more than 700 students. The event was co-founded by Flathead Valley resident David Feffer, National Guitar Workshop teacher Andrew Leonard, Feffer’s son William and brother-in-law Mark Noonan.

It has consistently attracted such musical luminaries as Lee Ritenour, Pat Metheny, Jim Messina, Jon Herington, Dweezil Zappa, John Oates and Livingston Taylor and provided a place for guitarists to draw creative inspiration in a non-competitive environment surrounded by the natural beauty of Montana.

Proceeds from Crown of the Continent Foundation activities have benefited entities that support music and the region. According to Executive Director Steve Anderson, the Foundation’s primary focus for financial support the last three to five years has been Montana Public Radio. It has also benefited the Glacier Park Fund, Montana Land Reliance, Montana Public Broadcasting, Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center and North Valley Music School.

According to a study done by Montana State University, in the last nine years the festival’s economic impact to the Flathead Valley has been about $13 million, Anderson said, and the Foundation has raised $2 million in scholarships for musicians in the same number of years. Anderson said the Foundation is projected to raise $100,000 in scholarship money this year.

“Live music in Flathead County has tripled since the festival began,” according to a study done by the University of Montana, Anderson said, with thousands and thousands of people attending the concerts.

“[Taking a year off] was a very difficult decision, but we wanted to make sure to continue an experience that we would be proud of,” Tunnell said. “There will still be lots of Crown events locally, including the Live on Lake Cruise Aug. 10, the Crown Scholarship Showcase Aug. 8 at ThursdayFest! In Kalispell and other fundraising events.

“We will continue to give back to the community,” Tunnell added.

Anderson added, “Our primary focus has always been three things: music education for youth, developing the next generation of musicians and supporting music in our communities.”

Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or community@dailyinterlake.com.

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