In its 14th year, River City Music Festival welcomes old favorites, new faces

Friday, October 1, 2010
Grace Askew

The River City Music Festival kicks off today with performances by everything from local favorites to out-of-towners.

The festival will take over Main Street at 6 p.m. today and Saturday and have entry gates at Broadway and Independence Street. People who just want dinner at a restaurant on Main Street or to see the art in local galleries for First Friday will not be charged an entry fee. Music lovers who are there for the bands can see non-stop shows in every type of music venue on Main, a few on Spanish Street and an outdoor stage on Water Street.

The weekend music event was established by the City of Roses Music Heritage Association in 1996. Local rock group Drivin' Rain performed at the inaugural event, then known as the City of Roses Music Festival, and headlined the festival for several years thereafter.

Drivin' Rain front-man Timexx Nasty said more than the festival's name has changed over the years.

While the first festival was more about national acts and big stages, he said, "it's mostly all local bands now, and most of them are cover bands.

Ninth Life

"In the past we opened for bands like Tora Tora, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Money, Christopher Cross, Classic Rock Allstars, Lee Oskar (of WAR) and others at the Cape music festival on big stages," Nasty said.

But Clay Slipis of Ninth Life sees the River City Music Festival as an opportunity to showcase and support local music. Slipis has played drums for 22 years and has been involved in the festival for several years with different bands. This year he will perform at the festival for the sixth time, his third year with Ninth Life. The band will play Friday at Bel Air Bar & Grill and Saturday at Breakaways.

Slipis said the local talent and community fan base keep not only the festival, but music in local schools, alive.

"It is for a great cause, raising money for scholarships and to music programs for local schools," Slipis said.

Kirby Ray has been a part of the Cape Girardeau music scene since the '80s. His metal rock group Emaciation has played the annual downtown music festival for 13 of its 14 years.

Emaciation at the River City Music Festival. (Laura Simon)

"We have always been excited to play our hometown fest with such talented bands," he said. "I am proud to say we have played the fest with so many great bands over the years."

Ray -- who in the festival's history has not only performed, but worked as a booking agent, stage manager, volunteer and supported the festival as an emcee on local radio station 99.3 FM -- said he appreciates the opportunity to be involved.

Emaciation's members "are honored to support the fest and hope to play it for many years to come," he said.

And though Drivin' Rain missed the last few festivals, concertgoers can expect them to rock Saturday at Dockside along with Emaciation.

"Drivin' Rain does so many shows on the road that it's nice to come home and play for our local friends," Nasty said. "We will give you 100 percent rock 'n' roll mayhem."

The 2010 festival will bring in a few new bands as well. Grace Askew, Black Rock Revival and Jeremy Stanfill will all travel north from Memphis, Tenn., to play the music festival -- their first gig in Cape Girardeau.

The artists are represented by LaDonna Marie Booking, a company owned by LaDonna Marie Grubb, who grew up in Marble Hill, Mo. Grubb said she remembered her father's band playing in one of the first music festival incarnations. She originally had called Buckner Brewing Co. about booking one or two musicians but found out about the festival being held in October.

"When I told everybody what the festival was and how it's to raise money for music programs, they just loved it," she said.

Money from the River City Music Festival is put into scholarship funds and given to schools and churches who need help with their music programs.

Tickets for the festival are $8 each day and available at the gates.

Pertinent address: Broadway and Main Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Independence Street and Main Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

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