Gwenifer Raymond is a Welsh multi-instrumentalist, originally from Cardiff but now residing in Brighton, England. Gwenifer began playing guitar at the age of eight shortly after having been first exposed to punk and grunge. After years of playing around the Welsh valleys in various punk outfits she began listening more to pre-war blues musicians as well as Appalachian folk players, eventually leading into the guitar players of the American Primitive genre. Gwenifer has since been playing her own moody and often-times manic original American Primitive styled compositions on guitar and banjo around the UK and US.
In 2017 she signed to the multi grammy award nominated label Tompkins Square, and released her first single ‘Sometimes There’s Blood’ in October of that year, with her debut album ‘You Never Were Much of a Dancer’ released the following year.
Toby Hay is a guitarist and composer from near Rhayader in mid Wales. Inspired by history, people and landscape, Toby writes beautifully evocative guitar instrumentals that effortlessly transport the listener to the mountains and rivers of his homeland. Twice nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, Toby has toured the UK and Ireland extensively over the last few years and has built a reputation as a captivating live performer.
Now in its fifth year, River Town brings the music of America’s heartland to the south west in a summer celebration of roots and Americana music. With a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, 2019’s series is packed full of performances from global icons and rising stars.
In 2019 the River Town series takes place at venues across Bristol including St George’s
Bristol, The O2 Academy, SWX, The Winston Theatre at Bristol University SU and The Crofters Rights,
and also makes its first foray into Bath with two performances at The Forum. With artists including k.d. lang, Lucinda Williams, The Shires, The Mavericks, Keb’ Mo’ and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, it’s the most ambitious programme yet.
River Town began in 2015 under the banner of Bristol Americana Weekend and under a co-producing partnership between Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol presented Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Larkin Poe, Police Dog Hogan, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham and many more outstanding artists of American roots music.
The festival returned after wide-spread acclaim in 2016 to feature Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the now internationally famous The White Buffalo.
In 2017 we launched the festival for a third year under the new name of River Town and showcased some of the finest blues, gospel, country and bluegrass, from across the pond and closer to home in Colston Hall, St George’s Bristol and for the first time in O2 Academy. Three UK greats – Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low – joined forces in a rare trio performance that celebrated their shared love of American R&B, soul and country. The compelling singer songwriter Martha Wainwright performed along with R&B powerhouse, gospel legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples. Plus performances by duo The Shires with crossover stars Ward Thomas brought country-pop to Bristol.
In 2018 the festival expanded across the city as part of our Colston Hall Presents programme, showcasing events taking place in venues across Bristol during the Hall’s Transformation project. In it’s fourth iteration River Town’s line-up featured music icons Graham Nash and Rosanne Cash alongside The Barr Brothers, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The White Buffalo.