Couvapalooza rocks a good cause

Expanded festival aims to use music to support music in schools

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter


photoOne From Many

Couvapalooza's organizers have never been afraid of thinking big.

Heidi Hahn-Troxler and her husband, Michael Troxler, launched the music festival last year after visiting the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. They figured if that area could have a big music exhibition, why not Vancouver?

If you go

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

• When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17.

• Where: Outdoors at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.

• Cost: $25 at the gate, $15 with a military ID, kids younger than 12 free with a paying adult. Monitored parking available at Clark College's Red Lot accessed from Fort Vancouver Way for $3.

• Info: Event website.

Admittedly, the dream of bringing a dozen or so national acts to Clark County for a rock fest seemed daunting, but the couple pulled it off, despite a few weather-related hiccups that led to smaller crowds.

Pre- and post-Palooza parties

• What:Parties and mini-concerts before and after the Couvapalooza showcase.

• Where:Pre-Palooza party at Malibu's, 115 E. Seventh St., with nine bands playing short sets. Post-Palooza parties at Malibu's and Cascade Bar and Grill, 15000 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.

• When: Pre-Palooza party starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16. Post-Palooza parties both start at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17.

• Cost:All events are $5 cover, free for VIP ticketholders.


• Everclear.

• Smoochknob.

• Winchester Rebels.

• Secret of Boris.

• Remington.

• One From Many.

• Bond & Bentley.

• Foreign Talks.

• Dylan Jakobsen.

• The Background.

• Peter Chung.

• Seth Myzel.

• Bella Folly.

• Battle Ground High School Advanced Jazz Band.

• 7th Street Jazz Band.

• In My Car.

That didn't stop them from aiming even higher this year. So they convinced their friend Art Alexakis and his well-known band, Everclear, to headline at their little-festival-that-could.

"I met him at an event where I was ushering celebrities, and we hit it off," Troxler said. "I reached out to him and said 'this is for kids and keeping music in their lives' and he said he wanted to be involved."

All proceeds from ticket sales at the concert go to support music programs at Clark County schools. That's one of the main goals of the festival and always will be, the couple said.

"The money helps cover sheet music, instruments, clinicians, things like that," Hahn-Troxler said. "We really want to make and keep our area as a much stronger place for kids musically."

Alexakis loved the idea, and in turn he reached out to his friend, Donnie Rife, the founder of Smoochknob, one of the biggest acts in the Portland area right now. Through that connection, Rife and his band agreed to be the second headline act at the show.

"The reason we're participating, I have two kids, a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and I thought it was a worthy cause," Rife said. "There's actually lots and lots of good buzz growing around the country for this event. It's a great way, without a tax or lottery, to support music by using music."

Last year, the event was held in Esther Short Park and drew only about 350 people. Part

of that was due to a 100-degree weather spell followed by a downpour on concert day, Troxler said.

"This year, we're hoping for somewhere between the 2,000 and 3,000 mark, and better weather," Troxler said.

It may draw an even bigger crowd than that, especially since Everclear hasn't played a gig in the Portland area for at least two years. Plus, the festival is getting a lot of notice over the river in Portland, Rife said.

"I think we'll have at least 5,000 people this year," Rife said. "And next year, maybe we'll have three big headline acts."

This year, the event will be held on the Clark College campus, with a capacity of about 20,000, Hahn-Troxler said.

"Could we get that many? We'd love to have that problem," she said. "That would be great for the schools."

Last year's event raised $3,400. Hahn-Troxler said she'd like to see that number grow rapidly.

"Every penny that went in for ticket sales went right back out to the schools," she said. "We covered the overhead ourselves. We just believe in this so much."

Another goal of the festival is to promote up-and-coming bands from the region and the nation. The 16-band lineup includes acts from Texas, California and, of course, Clark County.

Returning this year is One From Many, a Portland-based band with a lead singer from Battle Ground, and Foreign Talks, a young band from Vancouver that's rapidly growing its fan base, Troxler said.

"Foreign Talks has been getting a lot of attention lately, including from MTV," he said.

The Battle Ground High School Advanced Jazz Band, which benefits from proceeds of the concert, will also help kick off this year's event.

And other acts include Secret of Boris, Remington and The Background from Dallas, and Winchester Rebels from Santa Barbara, Calif.

"Each of these bands are really high quality, including those that are local," Troxler said.

The festival also aims to support Clark County businesses. Food and beer vendors are all local, the couple said.

"The local businesses will benefit, the community will benefit, it's a win-win for all," Troxler said.

And it's kid-friendly. There will be craft vendors, kids' activities, hula hoop demonstrations, an aerialist and an area where kids can try playing various instruments.

Families should bring a blanket or low lawn chair, sunscreen and other items for a day outdoors. Pets and outside food and drinks aren't allowed.

Eventually the couple would like to expand the festival into a multicity tour for the bands — with each event sponsoring schools in each community.

Is that another big dream?

"It takes meeting the right people to make these things happen," Troxler said. "We'll get there."

For his part, Rife said he can see something like that, too.

"I think it's a great idea," Rife said. "I think it's something that can be done all across the country. In a way, it's the people who benefit from music programs in schools finding a way to give back to those programs."

Sue Vorenberg: 360-735-4457;;