GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis will again be the setting of a progressive regional musical movement that is celebrating its first year and third regional music event on Court Street on Saturday, September 8.
Ohio River Live was born when a group of Gallia County residents banded together a year and a half ago to help promote tourism and economic development. Members of the grassroots Ohio River Live group set out to develop an annual music festival featuring a major headliner plus popular regional acts.
Gallia County residents Rick Van Gundy, Matt Johnson (Gallipolis City Commissioner), Steve Marxen, Jimmy Wiseman (former Gallia County Chamber of Commerce president), Shayna Chapman and Mark Ward were the founders of Ohio River Live. They represent a cross section of the community ranging from business leaders to musicians to governmental leaders.
“The intent is to provide a fun event here in our town that promotes tourism, possibly bring some people from outside our community … but provide an outlet for our people to able to hear some live music without having to travel,” Wiseman explained when the group was still getting off the ground.
According to the committee, one year later, that goal is being realized as the festival continues to grow and the word continues to spread.
“We’ve noticed that there have been quite a few out-of-town visitors to our events,” said Marxen, now secretary of the ORL committee.
“We are really glad for that [visitors] and for the dedicated local and regional residents who support these events,” said ORL committee president Rick Van Gundy.
The third annual Ohio River Live event will feature Elizabeth Cook, who recently graced the David Letterman stage and has performed hundreds of times at the Grand Ole Opry. She owns the stage with a unique blend of country, bluegrass, mountain music and rock.
Making a return to the Ohio Valley for the event after headlining it last year is singer/songwriter Matt King. King wowed a crowd of die-hard music lovers last September, as temperatures soared around 100 degrees. He quickly made a place for himself here in Gallipolis, and comes back again and again.
“Your hometown welcomes me like one of its own,” said King in a Friday interview with the Sunday Times-Sentinel. “And musically, I feel like the people relate to me there. It’s a special place.”
Also performing Saturday are local bands Open Rail and Stillwater.
StillWater is a band that was formed in 1992 by the brother duo of Kevin and Kent Jolley. The band’s early beginnings were rooted in classic rock and country, but the brothers decided to broaden their musical scope and incorporate some contemporary rock and heavy metal music into the band’s musical scope. Rusty Ballinger was added as a lead vocalist and the band thrived in the tri-state area. After years of doing their own thing, and with the addition of BJ Rocchi behind the kit, StillWater is planning on doing several reunion shows this year and hopes to rekindle the magic of 20 years ago.
Open Rail is a progressive bluegrass band based in Gallipolis, Ohio. In 2010 the band was selected to be the Historical Ariel Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Center’s home band. After a lengthy stint with the Ariel, the band has been focused on performing all over the country. Perry Cardwell plays upright bass. Don Titus plays banjo. Roger Pup Harrison is the lead vocalist and guitarist. John Cardwell provides vocals and mandolin. Brian Ison provides vocals and guitar.
“Elizabeth Cook and Matt King, paired with Gallipolis’ own Open Rail and Stillwater will be a truly exceptional show,” said Mark Ward, production manager for Ohio River Live. “We are thrilled to have such an incredible lineup, and I definitely think this is a ‘must-see’ event.”
Other performers will include Bill Hawks and Joe Simms.
Another notable point about this year’s festival is that the price of admission has been cut in half.
“We listened, and we lowered our ticket prices. We’ve heard what the community wanted, and we did that. So come on out! It’s going to be a great show,” said Marxen.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by going to the Ohio River Live web site www.ohioriverlive.com. The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 11:3o p.m. Saturday, September 8. Gates open at 3 p.m. Food, beer and merchandise available for purchase. Bring lawn chairs. No Coolers allowed. ID is required to purchase beer. Kids ages 10 and under are free.