Updated Wed, Aug 27, 2014 1:33 pm
Dust off those cowboy boots and shine up that buckle: Casa Cantina is going country this weekend.
Columbus, Ohio's River Rock Band takes the stage on Saturday for nearly four hours of "electrified honky tonk," with nods to classic country icons such as George Jones, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.
"Oftentimes, people say, 'Thank you for not forgetting the old country songs," said bassist David Efries. "But we also keep it fresh by doing newer material to keep our younger crowd interested as well."
Although the band formed in 2013, some of the members have been connected for a while. The families of front man/guitarist Conway Turley and drummer Tim Isaacs have known each other for decades, and Turley and Efries worked together just previous to forming River Rock. After discovering keyboardist Brandon Crawford through a Columbus booking agent, the quartet quickly realized they were onto something special.
Since then, they've moved full-speed ahead, playing shows throughout Ohio, West Virginia and even a slot during the 2014 Country Music Association Festival in Nashville. Next month the group will release a new song, "Tattered & Torn," on the Grand Junction label and open for country legend John Conlee at the Belleville Homecoming Festival.
Individual band members have also been singled out. Turley received a nomination for the 2014 Independent Country Music Association "Musician of the Year" award, and the group has been keeping fans updated via their website, according to Efries.
"We're proud of Conway," he said, adding that keyboard-whiz Crawford has also been drawing his share of attention. "He's a honky-tonk-Jerry Lee Lewis-player...he'll knock you out."
For this weekend's show, the band is pulling out all the stops for their Athens debut. Efries said to expect classic and new country, bluegrass, southern rock and blues, plus a few audience requests.
"We've been known to keep things rockin' for more than four hours straight," he remarked. "This will be our maiden voyage in Athens at a fantastic food and music spot. Let the party begin...can't wait!"