photo by Amanda Morgan
The Treefort Music Fest is a five-day, indie rock festival held at numerous venues throughout downtown Boise, Idaho. Since their first festival in 2012, Treefort has grown to be one of the most popular festivals in the Northwest. They are also one of the most diverse indie-rock festivals I've seen in the area.
"Treefort has always been focused on diversity and that is absolutely intentional. We strongly believe that diversity of people, gender, genre, thought, culture, and background is very important in communities and the music industry... Treefort is committed to amplifying and supporting emerging artists, and exemplifying that diversity and inclusion can and should be at the forefront when organizing music festivals." said Marissa Lovell, publicist for Treefort told me recently via email when discussing the diversity of the festival.
Treefort Diversity Stats
Of the 16 speakers at Music Talks 12 are women which is really rare to see. They only have two obvious BIPOC speakers so there is a lot of room for improvement in that area.
Of the 407 bands announced on the Treefort website, notable women and BIPOC acts include Japanese Breakfast, The Marías, Lake Street Dive, Dawn Richard, Christian Scott aTunde Adjust, Built to Spill, Larkin Poe, Mdou Moctar, J. Worra, Joshy Soul, Haley Heynderickx, Pell, Y La Bamba, and Wajatta. Please note there are definitely some assumptions being made about gender identification here but due to Treefort not collecting this data from artist we can't say with absolute certainty. I believe this data would be really helpful to track their diversity efforts and hope it is something they integrate in the future. It would also give artists an opportunity to have their pronouns known before arriving, something I think is a great sign of respect.
Update 9/14/2021 - Treefort was able to get back to me with more rough estimates on their diversity stats.
180 bands are fronted by women or have women in the band
50 bands are fronted by people of color or have people of color in the band
The History of Treefort
According to the Treefort website, "The ideation of Treefort Music Fest was planted in September 2011 and as the initial groundwork started budding, the co-founders brought on seven key members of the Boise community who became the roots of Treefort and known as the Founding Team (John Betts, Stephanie Coyle, Matt Dalley, Jeni Rose Larsen, James Lloyd, Phil Merrell and Lisa Simpson). It started off as a one-day festival which quickly turned into three and by the time the inaugural event came around in March 2012, it was technically four days long."
Since 2012 Treefort has grown from 137 bands in 13 venues to 442 bands in 37 venues in 2019. The 2020 Treefort Music festival was canceled, just like every other festival, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 they will have xxx bands across xxx venues with 12 different "forts" ranging from Alefort to Kidfort to yogafort, offering a wide array of activities to partake in. You can even attend educational talks and learn skills to uplevel your music career. (I'm hosting a panel about working in the music industry on Friday, September 24 at 10:30 am)
The Women of Treefort 2021 Spotify Playlist
This is our second year creating a playlist of the women playing Treefort festival. Check it out below and be sure to subscribe to Papercut on Spotify to discover amazing women in music from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.