Local artists chosen as Wild West Songwriters Festival finalists

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Wild West Songwriters Festival is a regional contest for aspiring musicians. Recently, they announced their fifteen finalists, with two of them hailing from the Dakota News Now viewing area.

Songwriters from Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota were selected as finalists. The grand prize for the festival is $2,500 and the chance to participate in the “National Songwriting Rounds.” For two Sioux Falls residents, it was an honor to be selected.

Cooper Dixon’s songwriting has taken off in the last two years. The extent of his musical knowledge and interest was in choir and music production. When he started learning to play the guitar, it opened up new possibilities for Dixon. He’s released two solo songs onto streaming platforms and is working with a friend on a new music video.

“I feel like I’m a mix of all the songs that I like or all the artists that I listen to,” Dixon said. “I’m all over the place. I love jazz music, folk music, I’ve been listening to a lot of Zach Bryan lately, but I wouldn’t say I’m exactly like any artist or trying to be like any artist. I just want to share the story that I have.”

Noah Schmitt also didn’t really come into his own until recently. All of his immediate family plays an instrument and Noah grew up playing bass guitar, but slowly learned guitar when he went to college. He and his brothers started out playing for worship services, county fairs, and small gatherings. Now, he has been able to perform solo at locations in Sioux Falls and even was an opener at the Levitt. He and his brother are recording songs and hope to release an album.

“I’ve always been drawn to it, so it’s like my free time, my downtime, I’m like ‘I just want to play music.’ Playing guitar, chilling out, that’s kind of like a nice quiet place for me to destress. You know, call it medicine,” Schmitt said.

Both Dixon and Schmitt found out about the contest when they were tagged on one of Wild West’s social media posts by a mutual friend. It took some convincing, but both musicians felt that they had nothing to lose. Being selected as a finalist came as a welcome surprise.

“I’m able to take so many songs that I’ve written with people from this area and be able to represent what we’ve made in Sioux Falls,” Dixon said. “I get to share my story and share what I want to show through these songs in Deadwood.”

The festival kicks off on October 12. Cooper and Noah both said they feel good about their chances, but regardless feel honored to be selected.