Traditional bluegrass band River Bend will perform Saturday, Jan. 23, at Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to JAC.
ALTON — As the waters recede, the River is rising … River Bend, that is, a traditional bluegrass band that will be performing Saturday, Jan. 23, at Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway.
Formed last year, the group is made up of area musicians who are passionate about a classic, “High-Lonesome” bluegrass sound and includes Matt McGibany of Alton (fiddle, vocals), Dustin Greer of Alton (guitar, lead and tenor vocals), Kris Shewmake of Godfrey (five-string banjo, bass vocals), Will Miskall of St. Louis (upright bass, tenor vocals) and Andy Novara of St. Louis (mandolin, guitar, vocals).
All proceeds from the concert will be donated to JAC.
“Jacoby is a great resource for artists of all media,” McGibany said. “We like the venue and we just want to give back to the community, plus we’re all enthusiasts of buy local and local bands.”
“We are thrilled by Matt McGibany and his River Bend band’s instinctive generosity to share their traditional bluegrass artistry for the benefit of Jacoby Arts Center and for the enjoyment of our whole community,” Jacoby Board of Directors President Dennis Scarborough said. “This is going to be an evening of great music, a celebration of homegrown talent, and a tribute to the giving culture that is creating a renaissance in downtown Alton.”
Bluegrass, these days most often seen as a country music subgenre, actually began as a conglomeration of Scotch-Irish fiddle tunes, traditional Welsh music and turn-of-the-century African-American banjo and jazz influences.
“It’s a real melting pot,” Greer said. “It was one of the first types of music that really combined the black and white genres together. We are all drawn to bluegrass, and it seems like there is a bit of a void in a traditional bluegrass band around here, aside from the Harmans (Family Bluegrass Band).”
“There is a definite niche that needs to be filled,” McGibany added. “Traditional bluegrass is a cultural thing as much as it is a musical thing. There is some of the heritage and traditional way of life that is reflected in that sound.
“For us, it is a ‘carrying on’ of that tradition. In a technological age where things move fast and come and go every month, we are after something with substance and meaning that tells the story of the human condition.”
Choosing a pure bluegrass sound over popular tunes “Orange Blossom Special” or “Rocky Top,” River Bend credits influences such as Bobby Hicks, Buddy Spicher, local performers Cecil Tinnon and Kevin Liley, Paul Tinnon (Cecil’s father, who served as Alison Krauss’ instructor), Don Mitchell, Sandy Weltman, Bill Monroe, Tony Rice and Earl Scruggs, among others, for the shape of its sound.
River Bend also will be performing March 12 at The Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, opening for the Del McCoury Band and Sierra Hull.
River Bend is giving away a pair of tickets to the Sheldon show during the Jan. 23 performance. For more information on the band, visit www.riverbendbluegrass.net.
“We feel very fortunate to have such an opportunity as opening for bluegrass legend Del McCoury,” McGibany said. “The best way we can think to express our gratitude is by giving something back and that is what we are doing at the JAC show Jan. 23.”
Tickets for all Jacoby Arts Center performances are $10 unless otherwise noted. Tickets can be purchased online at http://jacobyartscenter.org/events or at the door. Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis and doors open 30 minutes in advance. Cash bar and edibles provided by local chefs and bakers.
The mission of the Jacoby Arts Center is to nurture and promote the practice and appreciation of the arts through education, exhibits, cultural programs and community outreach initiatives. Jacoby Arts Center is a nonprofit organization. The center is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.