The return of live music has begun, and it. feels. good. In the before times, KAXE/KBXE hosted a KAXE Mississippi River Festival in our amphitheater for 15 years. That festival brought the likes of Slaid Cleaves, Mary Gauthier, David Wax Museum, The Jimmys, Whitehorse, Lydia Loveless and a whole host of others to the banks of the Mississippi. Due to what was 2020, we were unable to have the festival last year, and as booking time came around this year, things were still very uncertain so we decided to cancel it again this summer.
Fast forward a few months, a 'normal' return to life is feeling more likely, bands are dipping their toes back in to booking shows, and the City of Grand Rapids had an idea. The concept was to hold an event in the heart of the town that could help support some of the hardest hit industries (restaurants, breweries, hotels, performing arts center, etc) while also giving the town something to celebrate after a very difficult year. Thus, the Grand Rapids Riverfest was hatched and we got to work.
This event is one of the most collaborative projects I've been involved with, including staff from the City of Grand Rapids, Visit Grand Rapids, The Reif Arts Council, KAXE/KBXE, along with United Way of 1000 Lakes, the Downtown Business Association and other entities and individuals from the community. The various groups involved found grants, pooled resources and money, and found local sponsors to help make this vision a reality.
And now let's discuss the music, and talk about a stacked lineup! There is great representation from Minnesota musicians like Annie Humphrey, Charlie Parr, Superior Siren, Faith Boblett, The Brothers Burn Mountain, Wild Horses (a new group from Jed & Ariana LaPlant!), Christopher David Hanson, Sugar on the Roof, Aaron Clafton, with special VIP sets with Actual Wolf and Corey Medina & Brothers. Oh wait, did I forget one? TRAMPLED BY TURTLES. That's right, they're making their return to live music and the Grand Rapids Riverfest is their first date back in their home state! Then we are going to top that MN goodness with acts like Langhorne Slim, Kathleen Edwards and Yonder Mountain String Band! (And yes, I've used my daily allotment of exclamation points.)
I know what you're thinking, and you're right, this is a different kind of festival than the ones we've put on the past. And we feel so fortunate to be involved in something of this scale, to help create a lineup like this, and have the opportunity to work with so many in the community.
Big thank you to all who have been involved so far, and of course to our sponsors! Woodland Bank, Grand Rapids State Bank, Paul Bunyan Communications, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), Lake Country Power, Affinity FCU, Grand Rapids GM, L & M Supply and Burggraf's Ace Hardware. It's the local people and business who make things like this happen.
Tickets are available at www.gr-riverfest.com. See you there!