As festival season draws closer, RiverLink offers an enticing preview. The annual series of free concerts, held monthly, May through October, raises funds for the nonprofit’s programming while drawing attention to the French Broad River.
This year’s lineup, scheduled by Jeff Whitworth of Worthwhile Sounds (he’s a former owner of The Grey Eagle and books for Downtown After 5, among other events) includes a danceable mix of funk, soul, rock, bluegrass and more — and many of the acts are locally based.
“We feel like we have a good formula for success,” says Dave Russell, director of volunteer services. Building on past years, RiverMusic — which is powered by Sundance Solar and depends on the efforts of 80 volunteers per event — aims to attract more people (a previous high number was about 2,800 attendees for Orgone). “And continue our record of no injuries and no arrests,” Russell adds.
Outside food and beverage are not allowed, nor are dogs. Kayaks, however, are: “This is a multimodal event,” says Russell. Festivalgoers are invited to arrive by bicycle, trolley (catch a free shuttle ride leaving from and returning to the Visitors Center on Montford Ave.) or by water — the location has a boat landing and “we love it when people paddle up,” says Russell.
Drawing visitors to the banks of the French Broad River is part of RiverLink’s mission. The nonprofit, founded in 1987, also works to provide public access to the river, reclaim contaminated land for public use and develop greenways and campsites, according the RiverLink website.
This year marks the sixth iteration of the annual outdoor music event. Its seasonal run includes one Saturday date, aka RiverFest — a day of live music, local beer, vendors and the Anything That Floats parade. The first four RiverMusic concerts take place at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza in the River Arts District; the last two will be at Carrier Park. Gates open at 5 p.m., and music kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Info at riverlink.org; to volunteer, contact email@example.com.
2016 RiverMusic Schedule:
• Friday, May 6 — Greyhounds (funk and soul) headline, with Les Amis (members of Toubab Krewe and Zansa) and Major and The Monbacks (rock, psychedelic).
• Friday, June 10 — Friends of Widespread Panic Day, with jams to follow at The Grey Eagle. Bloodkin (rock) headlines, with Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons (rock) and the Randall Bramblett Band (rock, soul).
• Friday, July 8 — Patrick Sweany (blues) headlines, with Aaron Lee Tasjan (indie-folk) and Tim Easton (rock, folk).
• Saturday, Aug. 13 — Happening along with RiverFest, it’s a night of local music. Floating Action (indie-rock, dub, Caribbean) headlines with Sirius.B (absurdist, Gypsy, folk) and Grits & Soul (country).
• Friday, Sept. 9 — Love Canon (bluegrass) headlines with Tellico (Americana) and Buncombe Turnpike (bluegrass).
• Friday, Oct. 7 — Blitzen Trapper (indie-rock) headlines, with The Broadcast (rock, soul) and The Get Right Band (funk, reggae).