Singer-songwriter Dar Williams will be featured in a combination concert and book reading on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at Star Hall, presented by the Moab Folk Festival and Back of Beyond Books.
The event is part of a tour to support Williams’ new book, “What I Found in a Thousand Towns.”
The book is billed as “a traveling musicians guide to rebuilding America’s communities — one coffee shop, dog run and open-mike night at a time” and one chapter of the book focuses on the city of Moab.
Over the course of the evening, Williams will sing songs and share parts of the book chapter on Moab. After the show there will be a discussion with the audience and a book signing.
To do research for the book, Williams visited small towns and talked with local officials, small business owners, academics and residents involved in the communities, according to a press release from Williams’ management team.
“Williams muses on why some towns flourish while others fail, examining elements from the significance of history and nature to the uniting power of public spaces and food. Drawing on her own travels and the work of urban theorists, Williams offers real solutions to rebuild declining communities,” said the statement “ … By celebrating the creativity, hard work, and determination of average people who want to build something meaningful, ‘What I Found in a Thousand Towns’ offers a roadmap for other communities seeking to do the same.”
Williams came to Moab to perform and to conduct research for her book in 2015, according to Moab Folk Festival director Melissa Schmaedick.
“I think she chose Moab specifically for its tourist industry and it is kind of re-configured or re-envisioned itself from a mining town into a outdoor activity and nature destination,” said Schmaedick. “ … I introduced her to a number of folks from the community.”
Back of Beyond Books owner Andy Nettell helped proofread the chapter on Moab, Schmaedick said.
“Of course we were delighted to [help produce the event] and also pulled in the book store as a partner because it seems like a natural fit,” she said.
Schmaedick said that she is excited for Williams’ message to be shared with the community.
“She gives a very refreshing perspective on our town and how we are dealing as a community with the tourist industry … There are a lot of underlying tensions right now specifically around the issue of tourism and I think it’s just going to be really helpful for our community to hear an outsider’s perspective that is so positive and so encouraging,” Schmaedick said.
Williams, a well-known singer-songwriter, focuses in her music on everyday challenges of real-life people, especially women.
“In general that’s what folk music tends to focus on, just life and challenges that life brings as well as the joys and the love and triumph and sadness… she has a beautiful voice. She, for me, tends to be more lyrically driven,” Schmaedick said.
The event also fits into the Folk Festival’s mission, according to Schamedick.
“Music tends to be a very versatile and accessible vehicle for people to share information about things that are important to them and I think having this discussion in the format of a concert really is beneficial because it allows us to talk about a very sensitive topic, tourism in our town, in a way that is maybe less threatening and less preachy,” Schmaedick said. “… It’s really about celebrating music as a vehicle for understanding our fellow humans on the planet and increasing compassion for people and raising social and economic awareness.”
More information and tickets for the event can be found on the Moab Folk Festival’s website at moabfolkfestival.com. Tickets cost $18 in advance or $20 at the door and can be purchased at Back of Beyond Books.