Couvapalooza rocks out for good cause

It will benefit county schools' music programs

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



If you go

What: Couvapalooza, a rock festival to support music programs in Clark County schools.

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.

Where: Esther Short Park, West Eighth and Columbia streets, Vancouver.

Cost: $18 at the gate, $30 for VIP access.


Post-Palooza Parties:

When: After 10 p.m. Saturday.

What: The Q Nightclub, 704 Main St., will host Varlet, Lunic, Melvoy and Liftoff; Malibu's, 115 E. Seventh St., will host The Gallery, LA Velvet and New Liberty.

Cost: $5 cover.


Lovebomb Go-Go

Anthony John/Vinyl DJ


The Gallery

Peter Chung

One From Many

Oiseau Bleu


LA Velvet

Battle Ground High School Jazz Band

New Liberty



Heidi Hahn-Troxler and her husband, Michael Troxler, really wanted to bring something special home to Vancouver after their second trip to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

But a "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirt and cowboy-hat-wearing stuffed armadillo just didn't seem to cut it.

So, they got a better idea -- why not bring some of the bands back? Not just a recording of the bands, but the actual musicians.

And that's how, just a few months ago, the concept of Couvapalooza was born.

"As soon as we got home from the festival, we thought: 'How can we pull these bands together here?'" Hahn-Troxler said. "That was late March, and we've been going like gangbusters ever since."

Troxler is a financial planner who works with musicians and other clients across the country. This is the second year he's had a booth with his wife at South by Southwest.

The couple convinced eight bands from the fest to come to Vancouver for Couvapalooza. Those bands will be joined by five local performers and a DJ for the daylong event in Esther Short Park.

"For the most part, we're bringing together bands that are emerging talent," Hahn-Troxler said. "They're from all over the country. Lunic, from New York, they've toured internationally and are fairly well known. Liftoff, they're a band out of Vancouver, B.C., they and LA Velvet have been selected to play at the Sunset Strip Festival in California, which is a pretty big deal."

The couple have spent about $16,000 of their own money to pay setup costs for Couvapalooza, and the bands are all donating their time for the performance.

All ticket sales will go to music programs in Clark County schools, and visitors to the festival get to choose which specific school district they want their money to go to.

"Schools are getting their funding cut across the board, and we thought, 'Let's be proactive and also create an anchor event for the Pacific Northwest,'" Troxler said. "We wanted to build a festival but also do it in a way that gave back to the community."

That's great news for her school, said Darcy Schmitt, head of the performing arts department at Battle Ground High School. The school's award-winning jazz band plans to play to support the festival.

"The truth is anything will help right now -- with budgets being cut all the time, we'll even take $10," Schmitt said. "And the great thing about this? We don't have to do anything. We just have to help them get the word out. I hope people will support this. It's an easy and fun way to support the schools."

The event will be family friendly, with the music ramping up in intensity from more folksy acoustic music in the morning to hard rock in the evening. There will also be children's activities, booths supporting local charities, food, and a beer and wine garden.

"I'm always trying to fit 10 pounds into a five-pound bag," Hahn-Troxler said. "So we invited one of my favorite charities, Must Love Dogs Northwest, to have a booth and display dogs for adoption. They'll be selling nonalcoholic drinks to support their cause."

And Northwest Battle Buddies, which provides trained rescue dogs as companion animals to veterans, will get proceeds from the beer and wine garden.

It's the music that should get top billing though, Schmitt said.

"I think they've picked some good quality groups, the music is going to appeal to a lot of different people," Schmitt said. "There's a little of everything. Lovebomb Go-Go, which is opening things up -- they're amazing."

Lovebomb Go-Go is a Portland-based drum and marching band group.

"It's 13 professionals, like doctors and what-not, in a really funky marching band," Troxler said. "They describe themselves as an 'intergalactic marching band -- freaks from outer space.' They're very lively and will get the crowd going."

Some other bands in the show include Melvoy, a high-energy rock band that "will have everybody up dancing"; New Liberty, which sounds "a bit like Guns 'n Roses meets Southern rock," and Varlet, who's lead singer, Lilly Scott, finished in the top 10 in season 9 of "American Idol," Troxler said.

After the concert is finished in the park, Lovebomb Go-Go will lead a procession of festivalgoers across downtown to The Q Nightclub and Malibu's, where some of the day's headliners will perform once again. There's a $5 cover at each venue.

Troxler and Hahn-Troxler said they plan to make Couvapalooza an annual event in Esther Short Park. If they get a good turnout, they could gather up to $90,000 for schools and charities, they said.

"We hope to really build this up," Hahn-Troxler said. "We've already started planning for next year, actually."