Organizers of the 2016 Canadian River Music Festival rolled out their lineup this week for the Saturday, May 14 event, featuring festival headliner, the Randy Rogers Band, along with an intriguing mix of other bands, ranging from the genre-defying musical melting pot of the Mavericks to the alternative roots rock melodies of Amarillo’s City Will Shake.
Now in its seventh year, the one-day festival is just hitting its stride, having established its reputation for mixing well-known headliners, like Stoney LaRue and Robert Earl Keen, with those just on the verge of discovery. It has expanded to two outdoor stages and the crowd of music fans that finds its way to this little Texas Panhandle town has grown each year, as well.
This year’s performances will kick off at noon with City Will Shake, which relies on a two-lead vocal approach to songwriting, with generous amounts of harmonies, rounds, and counterpoint-styled melodies. All the while, the music takes a nod from Texas’ rich history of blues, folk, and peppers it with elements from punk and hard rock to create a fresh sound.
Shane Smith and the Saints will take the stage at 1:30 pm, unleashing a spirited, four-part harmony sound that music fans can’t quite put their finger on, but have no trouble putting their hands together for. Hints of folk, rock, country and Americana all shine through an aggressive, rootsy fiddle beat stew that’s connecting with students, hipsters, bikers, roughnecks and songwriter buffs at every stop. Although Springsteen long ago cornered the market on gritty, high-energy live performances, the band takes a back seat to no one in grinding out great live shows at legendary venues across the Southwest and beyond.
The Ballroom Thieves started out in Boston, Massachusetts, and when they step on the festival stage at 3 pm, will likely claim the title of the farthest-traveled band. On their debut album, A Wolf in the Doorway, the Thieves find themselves taking the very idea of roots music and creating ways to make its associated sound progress, while making its encompassing spirit glow by blending acoustic styles and folk conventions with the rich harmonies of modern hymnals and delta blues grit.
Country rock singer Bonnie Bishop will shake the afternoon nap out of the sunstruck crowd at 4:30 pm. After a successful career on the Americana and Texas music circuits—including included four albums, critical acclaim and a nomination for Vocal Performance of the Year at the Lone Star Music Awards—Bishop came off the road and moved to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career. Three parts Gavin Degraw, Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, with a splash of Grace Potter and a shot of Robert Earl Keen, Bonnie’s affecting lyrics and musical prowess underscore her ability to encourage and validate the listener. Her stories of survival and redemption, often weighted subject matter, find their way into empowering and anthemic songs fit for anyone’s personal theme song playlist. Her sixth album, Ain’t Who I Was, will be released on May 27.
As the sun edges closer to the horizon, Houston-born Charlie Robison will bring his own brand of Lone Star music to the festival stage. Robison writes from a perspective that draws from and speaks to larger matters and issues within human experience and life in these times. After contributing to albums from Alejandro Escovedo and Kelly Willis, Robison made his solo debut in 1995 with Bandera, following up three years later with Life of the Party. He and his younger brother, Bruce, teamed up with fellow-Texan Jack Ingram in 2000 for Unleashed Live, and for a second studio effort the following spring, Step Right Up.
The stage will light up for The Mavericks at 7:30 pm. From their earliest shows as a garage band playing the punk clubs on Miami Beach, this band has had a knack for getting people to groove. Drawing on a mix of classic country, cow-punk and standards, Malo and company left South Florida, bringing their rhythmic fervor and Latin machismo, along with Malo’s lush baritone, to the world. In 2013, after numerous years as a band, multiple gold and platinum albums, world tours, breakups and reformations, The Mavericks recorded their critically-acclaimed album, In Time. With the new release of Mono, their eighth studio album, last year, The Mavericks find themselves making the most relevant music of their career.
In the final act of the evening at 9:30 pm, the Randy Rogers Band will return to the CRMF stage, following their 2012 performance, which drew a crowd of nearly 2,000 to the show at Canadian’s Jones Pavilion. A staple of the Texas country scene since the early 2000’s, the Randy Rogers Band has racked up three top 5 albums over that tenure, and will likely have another one with their newest work, Nothing Shines Like Neon, if it doesn’t reach #1. The Randy Rogers Band is arguably the preeminent act in all of Texas country right now.
All of this fine music comes with a price tag of just $25 for an all-day pass. General admission presale tickets go on sale April 1 and may be purchased online at www.canadianrivermusicfestival.com until midnight on Friday, May 14. After that, all tickets mus be purchased at the festival gate for $35 cash. Children 12 and under attending with a ticketed adult will be admitted free.
While the music may seem ample nourishment for the hungry soul, festivarians can expect a variety of fine dining fare from event food vendors, as well. The Record will report more on that and other event details as the date approaches.
For now, festival organizers are inviting individuals and businesses to help make this year’s event possible through their sponsorships of this event, which brings hundreds of visitors to the community each year. It’s easy to pitch in. Find out more by contacting the event organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org. This year’s CRMF board members are Randy Acosta, Wes Avent, Anna Booze, Tiffany Carpenter, Kate Estrada, Charlie Mann and Rob Talley.