Take Me to the River: Pomeroy Concert Series Kicks Off June 19< < Back to
Pomeroy’s annual Rhythm on the River concert series returns this Friday with Detroit soul band Laura Rain and The Caesars. This year’s free weekly series, which takes place at the Riverside Amphitheater, is featuring a mix of blues, soul and Americana from national and local acts.
WOUB’s Mark Hellenberg caught up with Jackie Welker, Rhythm on the River organizer and proprietor of the Court Street Grill, Pomeroy’s home for the blues.
MH: It’s been a while since we chatted about the events surrounding your place, The Court Street Grill, and all the summer happenings in Pomeroy, sponsored by the Pomeroy Blues & Jazz Society. Every year–and I believe this is the 16th–you put on great, free weekly concerts right on the banks of the Ohio River: the Rhythm on the River summer concert series. When does it begin this year and who is slated to kick it off?
JW: Yes, 16 years for the Rhythm on the River. Rather remarkable when I think about it! Laura Rain and the Caesars from Detroit will perform June 19 at 8 p.m., that’s the first of the series this year. Laura Rain oozes old Detroit soul. She often gets compared to Aretha Franklin. I feel she’s very Amy Winehouse-ish at times also. Old soul; very hip and modern at the same time.
MH: Who do you have booked for the subsequent concerts?
JW: Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers on June 26–rockin’ slide guitar from Columbus, Ohio. The Mark May Band on July 3–soulful blues-rock from ex-lead vocalist for Dickey Betts, also from Columbus. KEESEY, from Athens, Ohio, on July 10. KEESEY features singer/songwriter Chris Keesey on vocals and a wealth of local talent behind him. It’s been a while since we’ve had a true hometown band on Rhythm on the River, but these guys are dynamite! The Rhythm on the River shows will end with the Bumper Jacksons from Washington D.C. Retro swing, roots and Americana from this bunch…very talented and entertaining.
MH: Are these rain or shine events? When do the concerts start and how do you manage to present these events free of charge?
JW: Yes, rain or shine. If bad weather occurs, we’ll do everything possible to host the show outside. If the bad weather persists, we’ll move it inside to comfy confines of the Court Street Grill. Every Friday show starts at 8 p.m. sharp and runs for 90 minutes. Free’s not always easy, but we manage. Sponsorship money and private donations help tremendously as does the “pass the hat” on the Friday evenings. Also, the Big Bend Blues Bash we host every year in July doubles as a fundraiser. The ticketed admission price at the gate helps us pay for the festival itself, as well as all of the free Rhythm on the River shows we do each year.
MH: Can you describe the Big Bend Blues Bash and who do have on the docket for this year’s Bash on July 25-26?
JW: This year marks 15 years for the Blues Bash and I feel it may be our strongest lineup to date. Eric Gales will headline this year. He’s hot off last year’s Experience Hendrix Tour he did with Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Johnny Lang and Eric Johnson, just to name a few. We also have soul/blues great Johnny Rawls, Chicago blues giants and ex-Bob Marley/Peter Tosh band members in The Kinsey Report, as well as guitar phenoms Chris Duarte and JD Simo. The Blues Bash is basically, and simply, a weekend long concert…. brews, barbeque and tunes, all in downtown Pomeroy, right on the Ohio River. Truly a great weekend to be in this quaint river town.
MH: For being a somewhat small venue, I’m amazed at the big names that have graced the stage at the Court Street Grill. I know musicians who play there rave about it, myself included. What’s been happening at the Court Street Grill and what do have in store for the summer months?
JW: The Grill is still a hot spot, I’m proud to say. The Gas House Gorillas just played again to a packed house. Albert Castiglia will be back this September, as well as a few others. Yeah, a bit small, but I like to think we’re not much different from the original joints in Chicago, Memphis, etc. And remember, it’s better to have a small house full than a big house empty.
MH: I know the Grill has a website, as does the the Pomeroy Blues & Jazz Society. If people want to find out more information about all these events, where should they go?
JW: Visit pomeroyblues.org for updates on our shows and most things blues in the mid-Ohio Valley. The Big Bend Blues Bash has a page on Facebook and they can always visit the Grill’s site at courtstreetgrill.com. I look forward to seeing everyone on the river this summer!
IF YOU GO:
2015 Rhythm on the River concert series, Riverside Amphitheater, Pomeroy, Ohio
All shows at 8 p.m., free admission
June 19: Laura Rain & The Ceasars
June 26: Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers
July 3: Mark May Band
July 10: KEESEY
July 17: The Bumper Jacksons