Riverfest 2015: A Guide to Local Bands

You’ve heard the buzz about the big names coming to Riverfest this year: Sheryl Crow, 311, Girl Talk and more. But what about the local talent playing in this annual shindig? We’ve highlighted them by date, stage, and time so you can pick your favorites and give our local musicians some love.

Friday, May 22

Over on the Miller Lite/Arkansas Federal Credit Union Stage Just Sayin’ will open for Kris Allen and Sheryl Crow. The eight musicians behind the name identify themselves as a high-energy, classic rock cover band. Hailing from Benton, the group plays versions of classics from the Eagles and Marshall Tucker, to Three Dog Night and Bad Company, among others. They start their set at 6:30.

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If you want a little more twang, head over to the Stickyz Stage at 6:30. The Salty Dogs, a four piece legend of a band that has called Little Rock home for some time, will rock your country socks off. There’s a certain harmony in the swing of the songs, a certain beat that’ll have you tapping your foot.
Keep your cowboy hat on for Swampbird, directly following The Salty Dogs at 8. These young dudes present country riffs that feel both folk and whiskey-dipped, as well as a hard rock attitude you’d find at a good party. They’ve got new music, they’ve got new energy – show them some love.

Saturday, May 23

The Bud Light Stage offers a busy program on Saturday. Up first is Brothers & Company, a group composed of two sets of brothers plus one friend. Identifying as contemporary alternative rock, the musicians met in college and continue to play now, calling Benton their home. Influences include the likes of Coldplay and the Kings of Leon. Catch them at 1.

Following Brothers & Company, American Lions goes on at 2:15. This group spans genres – indie, rock, folk, and even country – but they put on a heavily energized show, every time. They’ve been around since 2010 and call Conway their hub. With one full length album behind them – “Love and Hope in the War Times,” they’re pumping out shows in Central Arkansas and beyond.

The line-up at the Miller Lite/Arkansas Federal Credit Union Stage starts at 3:30 p.m. with a raw, soulful bout of rock from Stephen Neeper & The Wild Hearts. With influences from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Wilco (a great combo if you ask me), you are guaranteed a rocking’ good time; and, there is no way you can listen to this set without dancing.

Country artist Adam Hambrick follows Stephen Neeper & The Wild Hearts at 4:45 p.m. The singer/songwriter grew up in Mississippi, spending time at the piano with his family singing church hymns. After heading to Arkansas to attend UCA, his 10-song project, “Fighting from the Ground” hit iTunes in 2010. His newest project, “Wheels or Wings” is a pleasant blend of pop and country and will find a way to seep into your mind and stay there.

The Stickyz stage is jam packed of goodies, starting off with North Little Rock’s own People’s Republic of Casio Tones at 12:30. The group is an upbeat blend of pop and grunge, with subtle Southern/folk undertones.

Open Fields will follow Casio, with their sexy-four part harmony and some serious creativity on the synthesizer. The Little Rockians begin their set at 1:45.

Move Orchestra will pick up at 3. The electronic classical music four-piece hails from Fayetteville, and has some pretty relaxing, yet upbeat experimental grooves. If you want to chill out in a dance-trance, head down to see their set.

From there, 2015 Arkansas Times Musician Showcase winner Ghost Bones will play at 4:15. The band brings a solemn rhythm section illustrated with a skill-honed mysterious, offbeat mood. Front woman Ashley Hill puts on one entertaining show.

The later shows Saturday night on the Stickyz stage – Bobgoblin and The Whigs, are regional acts hailing from Dallas, Texas and Athens, Georgia respectively. Bobgoblin brings some star-studded bass beats in the name of power pop, and The Whigs harbor the feel of a true rock and roll band. Follow The Whigs advice: “Get off the internet and see a rock show,” and don’t miss any of these acts.

Sunday, May 24

Starting with the Bud Light Stage, the music picks up the beat with Weakness for Blondes, a Little Rock band intent on bringing the rhythm with dueling guitar riffs building off the bass and drums. With lyrics full of (mostly) funny stories, you’re guaranteed a good time.

Following will be The Irie Lions, a Fayetteville-based reggae sensation. Think keys, congas, bongos, and one funky bass.

Head over to the Miller Lite/Arkansas Federal Credit Union Stage to hear more tunes and see local Charlotte Leigh kick off her set at 3:30. If main stream pop that’ll make you dance with a touch of country is your thing, don’t miss this one.

Following Charlotte, Austin’s folk/rock The Roosevelts are up at 4:30. If you like beards, and of course, the mandolin, these guys are for you.

At 6 p.m. Back Road Anthem is scheduled to bring one serious country-rock show before country stars Sam Hunt and Jake Owen take over the stage for the night.

Don’t forget to check out Stickyz Stage on the final night before the fireworks with

Little Rock’s Big Still River starting the action at 1:30. Think bluegrass and moonshine with stellar guitar picking … and don’t forget, of course, “Our Kin Saw.”

Following at 2:45 is Dead Soldiers, the Memphis-based country, bluegrass, and honkytonk music group infused with a hint of soul. Don’t leave your seats, as John Paul Keith, another Memphis-based country musician, takes the reigns at 4.

Next up, is Little Rock favorite, Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass, whose voice is unlike any other. He’ll knock you down with his lyrics in the almost indefinable mix of folk, blues, and rock he brings to the stage. Faucett has been around a while, and his library shows it. Amble on down and see the great tunes he has to offer.

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Riverfest 2015: A Guide to Local Bands