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Summer Tunes on the Riverwalk

Bank of Idaho River Concert Series swings into August and beyond

Published online: Aug 02, 2019 Articles, Discover It Parks and Recreation, East Idaho Outdoors, Education And Arts, Events, Family Fun Guide
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The Idaho Falls Arts Council’s River Concert Series has become a summer tradition; nights of music and community along the Idaho Falls Riverwalk, that are beloved by audience members and bands alike. The River Concert Series, now sponsored by Bank of Idaho, has become a hallmark event for many local bands that return each year, but this August there are some new faces along with old favorites.

The month kicks off on August 6th with the farthest-traveling band to ever play a River Concert. The Powell Brothers call Houston, Texas home but were eager to add Idaho Falls to their tour hitting dozens of cities. Fronted by brothers Taylor and Blake Powell, the band combines elements of “folk-rock, rootsy soul and country” and their new album draws on their hometown experience following Hurricane Harvey.

“Hurricane Harvey definitely changed a lot of things for us,” explains Taylor Powell, “The plans we had been making for the previous few months were completely wiped out. As we were tearing down our childhood home, there were definitely many moments of despair. But as they say, when you are going through hell, keep on going. Looking back, it actually wiped the slate clean and gave us an opportunity to do something much greater than we had planned before.”

The Powell Brothers are followed by another new face to River Concerts, but not to the area. Teton Skye, performing August 13th, are a local band who pull on the rich traditions of Scottish, Irish, Welsh and American acoustic folk music. Eric Laing, who plays mandolin, guitar and provides vocals, said their music “ranges the span of Celtic folk tradition, from pieces that have their roots in the medieval era, to their tuneful great-grandchildren of today”. In the words of fellow vocalist Liz Clark, they are “trad, plaid and dangerous to know”. This summer they have already made stops at the Malad Welsh Festival, Utah Scottish Festival and Idaho Falls Farmers’ Market. They also recently released their first album.

On August 20th, the River Concert Series welcomes local musician Danny Heslop to the stage. Heslop is a singer-songwriter who blends genres from funk to folk and more, saying “what I love about jazz is that it's universal sounds coming from many genres. You can’t define it unless you call it world music.” His experience is just as wide-ranging as his influences. As well as performing and recording music, he recently released a book of transposed songs for ukulele and a series of videos for beginners to learn to play the instrument for themselves. Danny was named Best New Artist at the Utah Music Awards in 2016 and was Idaho’s Favorite in the NPR Tiny Desk Contest in 2017.

The Bank of Idaho River Concert Series ends, as it usually does, with local favorite the Mike Banks Quartet. Banks hand selects the last date for his band each year, ending the series on a high note. This year their performance will be August 27th. Banks himself provides the vocals and bass, but also serves as a major supporter of all local musicians. Although, he is a dedicated member of the Eastern Idaho Jazz Society, Banks also likes to branch out into blues and rock sounds.

“The River Concerts are not a money-making operation for these bands [the concerts are free to the public and bands receive a small stipend], they do it for the love of the community,” said Brandi Newton, Executive Director of the Idaho Falls Arts Council. “We hope that the atmosphere and exposure add to the appeal for them as well. Some that were skeptical at first have become regulars who are eager to sign up each year.” Become a series regular yourself with these four great concerts and enjoy summer nights along the Snake River filled with music.

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