Back for a third year, and under a brand new name, we journey to the heart of American music with River Town; a festival bursting with a world-class programme of blues, gospel, country and bluegrass, from across the pond and closer to home.
Three UK greats – Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low – will join forces in a rare trio performance that celebrates their shared love of American R&B, soul and country. We also welcome the compelling singer songwriter Martha Wainwright, R&B powerhouse, gospel legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples plus performances by country-pop duo The Shires with crossover stars Ward Thomas.
Presented by Colston Hall & St George’s Bristol.
River Town kicks off on 19 May with a launch party at St George’s Bristol presenting American music royalty Carleen Anderson, transporting audiences to the Deep South for the start the festival with her astonishingly soulful voice.
Later in July, the festival weekend commences on Friday night with The Shires, who have been sitting comfortably at the forefront of the British country music movement since their breakthrough in 2015, and Ward Thomas, the first ever UK country act to top the national Album Chart. New Orleans funk master Jon Cleary brings his hard driving, soulful, and funky pop tunes to the Lantern, with support from alt-country blues singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah.
On Saturday the mighty Martha Wainwright will return to Colston Hall with her undeniable voice and an arsenal of powerful songs while Jim Lauderdale and My Darling Clementine will be broadcasting their brands of bluegrass, country and soul in The Lantern to deliver the authentic sound of the deep South.
Sunday sees three of music’s most revered artists; Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack & Andy Fairweather Low take to our main hall stage, armed with acoustic guitars, fabulous harmonies, and armfuls of utterly classic songs. Yola Carta of Massive Attack, Chase & Status and Phantom Limb fame performs The Lantern and returns to her first love – country gospel and soul.
Mavis Staples rounds off the four-day spectacular, celebrating her seventh decade as part of the fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop R&B, blues, rock and hip hop. She will be joined by R&B star and soul singer James Hunter, heralded for his talents both as a live performer and perhaps even more so as a songwriter.
More information on all the shows and how to book can be found below, so grab your ticket to River Town today to hear the sounds of the south in the South West this summer.
Check out all of the events happening at Colston Hall via the tabs below.
River Town Launch Party
Carleen Anderson – Cage Street Memorial
Fri 19 May, 8pm, £20-£22 (plus fees)
Carleen Anderson vocals/piano
Orphy Robinson vibraphone
Crispin Robinson percussion
Samy Bishai violin
Renell Shaw bass
American music royalty Carleen Anderson launches the return of Bristol’s Americana weekend this summer at St George’s Bristol. Her mother, Vicki Anderson, was James Brown’s favourite vocalist and her stepfather Bobby Byrd founded the Famous Flames. Now Carleen – who relocated to London in 1990, becoming a Mercury-nominated star of soul and Acid Jazz through The Young Disciples and an epoch-defining solo career – honours her family’s history in Texas and Mississippi with ‘Cage Street Memorial’.
The project – there’s an award-winning album, a book and a stage show as well as a concert presentation – is a moving testament to Anderson’s gospel roots as the daughter and grand-daughter of Pentecostal preachers, and her personal journey from the Deep South to the UK, and thence to Bristol, where her musician son, Bobby, lives.
To hear Carleen Anderson’s astonishingly soulful voice backed by her own keyboards and an all-star quintet in the authentically churchy setting of St George’s is going to be one of the musical experiences of the year. It also acts as the official launch party for Bristol’s Americana Weekend, which follows in July (when we will be closed for building work as part of our capital project), and whose complete programme will be announced on the night.