Student Voice


September 29, 2023



Bluegrass festival brings local, national talent to River Falls

April 4, 2013

Dead Horses
The bluegrass band Dead Horses performs on the corner of Main Street and Maple Street in River Falls. The band will be playing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday, April 5, at Shooterʼs Bar. (Submitted by Maranda Mahr)

The Third Annual Roots and Bluegrass Music Festival will be rocking River Falls this weekend.

The festival will be held in various venues around the community and will take place April 5-7. Some of the venues include Bo’s N Mine, Coach’s Bar & Grill, Mainstreeter Bar & Grill and Johnnie’s Bar.

Junior’s Bar & Restaurant will be highlighted as the “Main Stage” of the event. Every venue will also be in walking distance of each other.

In addition to the music, to which event coordinator at the River Falls Chamber of Commerce Maranda Mahr (a UW-River Falls alumna) said, “We have national, regional and local acts,” there are plenty of other events going on throughout the day.

According to the Bluegrass Music Festival’s website, there will be free mandolin and banjo workshops, a free “jam session” and a bluegrass themed lunch.

There will also be free carriage rides downtown, and an Antique Road Show type event at Riverwalk Art & Antiques. On Saturday April 6, there will be both a singer/songwriter competition, which is new to the festival this year, as well as a flatpick guitar competition. Both events will be held at the Riverview Hotel & Suites.

In order to put everything for the festival together, Mahr said the committee in charge had to do a lot of advertising. The committee consists of people from the River Falls Chamber of Commerce, as well as Junior’s Bar & Restaurant staff.

Brickhouse Music also helped with the planning.

Mahr said that last year the audience at the festival was about 1,000 people. She added that about 500 people were from around the community and the other 500 people were from the surrounding areas, including Chicago and Southern Wisconsin. However, she also said that the attendance has changed from year to year. Though she expects numbers to be about the same this year.

Mahr said there are a couple of ways to get more people to attend this music festival. One way was by offering a free ticket to a performance when someone stays at one of the hotels in town. Another way was with the Pioneer Press offering weekend deals, and Mahr also said that a lot of the venues are free to attend.

“We’re trying to make River Falls a destination location,” Mahr said.

She said a lot of the businesses around town are providing local deals and the venues are excited for this festival.

One group that will be performing at the festival is a group called ‘Jumbo Ya Ya.’
Dan Newton, who plays accordion in the band, said that this is the band’s first year performing.

Newton had been contacted a couple of times before, though the timing never worked out. He said he is excited to play, though in regards to the festival he said “I can’t figure out why people haven’t gotten it on their radar.”

He also mentioned that the group had played a few gigs down at Junior’s before.

The band formed in 1991. The band got their name from a “Name the Band” contest, Newton said.

When they could not use any of the suggestions from the audience, the band found the Cajun French slang term ‘Gumbo Ya Ya,’ which meant that everyone is having a good time. They changed the “Gumbo” to “Jumbo” to keep the big fun mentality.

‘Jumbo Ya Ya’ will be performing at Bo’s N Mine from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. Other bands that will perform at the festival include The Greencards and Pert’ Near Sandstone. The Greencards performance is one that requires a ticket to attend.