“I’ve come to know Rivertown (formerly the Farm Fresh Bluegrass Band) since returning to California in 2004. We share the same hometown (Garden Valley), along with a love of music that is both creative and new, as well as authentic and timeless. They’re a delightful group of young people, whose band name suggests how they approach music. Start with a tradition (in this case, bluegrass music), the roots of which run deep into our shared musical landscape. The sounds of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Reno and Smiley have been studied and planted in their band sound. The resulting crop is tended with care, and pollinated with their own unique take on life. Here’s a traditional sound, full of fresh creative flavor. Rivertown, certified great music by yours truly,… Keith Little, 2007.”
Living in a northern California river town has its advantages. Everyone knows everyone, and chances are if you know someone they play music. That's how we started Rivertown -- just a bunch of teenagers who liked hanging out and playing music together. We're not teenagers anymore, but we still like hanging out and playing music. The music itself is straight from the rural backroads of gold country, sometimes sun-soaked and lazy, sometimes rugged and driven, but always refreshingly real. Like the river that runs through our town, sorta. Bad analogies aside, we're excited to be playing music and living life. We'll see you out there!
Rivertown was established in 2010, but the band's roots go all the way back to the 1940s when bluegrass music was created with the groundbreaking music of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. As kids in the 1990's, the various members of the band were introduced to bluegrass music through local radio stations and festivals. In particular, the Kids on Bluegrass program at the California Father's Day Bluegrass Festival was a big inspiration and later that year at the Plymouth Bluegrass Festival we were making "instruments" out of strips of bark with baling twine "strings". We were all very inspired by the Cherryholmes performance at the Wolf Mountain festival, too. In 2003, current band members Sam, Abby, Ruth and Steven, as well as two others, formed Farm Fresh Bluegrass Band as a high school 4-H project. Farm Fresh was well received and continued performing all over California for the next seven years. Some highlights included performing at the Plymouth Festival, the Good Old-Fashioned festival, spending several fall seasons playing in Apple Hill every weekend, releasing a CD in 2008 and playing at the CBA's Father's Day festival in 2010. In late 2010, the band officially changed its name from Farm Fresh to Rivertown. Rivertown is working on building a new repertoire and has begun working on a new recording project. You can expect to hear plenty more about Rivertown into the future.
Sam Hoel plays mandolin, guitar, bass and does the emcee work for the band. Sam has been strongly influenced by the mandolin playing of Bill Monroe, Chris Thile, Adam Steffey, Sam Bush, David Grisman, Kym Warner, and Ricky Skaggs. He also writes songs for the band, including the song Life of Pain featured in our music video. Sam is always reaching for new creative sounds and energizes the band to keep trying new arrangements and styles. If he has any extra spare time, he also tries to play basketball and not get dunked on too often. If the band were to have an awards ceremony, he'd probably win the award for Most Diverse Ipod Playlist -- take a ride cross country with him and you'll hear from Cadillac Sky, Dire Straits, Robert Earl Keen, Del McCoury, Peter Tosh and about 900 of his other favorite artists.
Abby Costa plays fiddle and sings some great harmony as well. Abby has been playing for over twelve years and is influenced by such great fiddlers as Richard Greene, Stuart Duncan, Andy Leftwich, Kenny Baker, Jason Carter, Bobby Hicks, and Chubby Wise. She has also done studio work and performed with other bands on the side. Abby adds a lot of feeling to Rivertown's music with her soulful and creative playing, plus she allows the band to invade her house for band practice on a regular basis and that takes a big soul too. Abby wins the Rivertown Band award for Most Likely to Succeed at Getting the Band to Get Organized and Practicing Already Because its Getting Late. That's an important award for this particular band.
Steven Costa is our banjo player and sound man. He plays three finger Scruggs style banjo, and gives the band that solid bluegrass sound with his traditional playing. He also sings some songs for the band, including Jim and Jesse's Standing on a Mountain and the elegant and ever-popular Pig in a Pen. Steven has extensive experience doing sound and often does sound for other events as well as Rivertown performances. He has set up a studio and he is recording us for our first Rivertown CD project. He has been collecting some great microphones to get our sound just right. Steve is hands-down winner of Most Likely to Spend Ten Minutes Tuning award, and has received an Honorable Mention Award from the Society of Brawny Biceps Banjo Players Association. (BBBPA)
Ruth Thornton plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin and really almost any instrument you can hand her. Her bubbly happy personality is reflected in her voice and her positive, upbeat song choices. She is also our most prolific songwriter and has written a lot of great originals that we are performing. Ruth loves horses, yellow labs, 4 wheeling, singing, selling real estate, and Thi not necessarily in that order. :-) Ruth wins the Most Likely to Sing a Song That Guy Singers Can't Sing Harmony On Because It Would Be Awkward. Trust me.
Adrienne Hoel joined the band on the bass in 2009. She sings like a morning lark, and can sing harmony to the sound of a washing machine with combat boots clunking inside. She also plays the flute, tin whistle, and recorder, for when Rivertown plays St. Patrick's Day gigs. She is married to Sam, and she is studying fashion design at Sierra College. She is our designer and artist and has saved us from numerous potential fashion faux pas like the red jumpsuit idea. Don't ask. Adrienne currently hold awards for Best Dressed and Best Dresser of Fashion Incompetent Band Members.
Kimberly Hoel has joined the band to lend some vocals and guitar to the mix. She has been influenced by singers Emmy Lou Harris, Hazel Dickens, Patty Griffin, Lovell sisters, Kasey Chambers, Gillian Welch, Buddy Miller, Chris Stapleton, Brian Simpson, David Mayfield. and many other awesome vocalists and songwriters. She loves singing slow sad old ballads and is actually writing some good ones of her own. She wins the award for Most Likely to [SQUIRREL!!!!!] During Band Practice.
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