Rolling River Music Fest turns 10

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The 10th annual Rolling River Music Fest on July 21 will be five solid hours of music for all tastes.

The free festival, which kicks off at 5 p.m. in the Central Park Bandshell, opens with local youth from Universal Music Center followed by a St. Paul band, Alexander Natalie, consisting primarily of former Red Wing musicians.

The rest of the evening will spotlight three groups with national reputations — fiddler Natalie Stovall, Eric Hutchinson and the Believers, then headliner The Lone Bellow around 8:15 p.m.

"I think the lineup is really going to dazzle everybody in the park," said Scott Jones, representing the Jones Family Foundation, primary benefactor of the bandshell and the festival. Both made their debut in 2009.

For 10 years Scott and Anne Jones and a core team of supporters and sponsors have partnered with the Sheldon Theatre to bring top musicians and groups to Red Wing for the festival.

Selecting the bands is a rigorous process, the couple said. "We listen to all the acts" suggested for the event, she said — on YouTube or in person — to narrow down the prospects. "The group listens to 20 to 25 acts," her husband added.

The chosen acts represent styles ranging from pop and country to folk and Americana.

Kicking off the concert with Universal Music Center students has become a tradition, Scott Jones said. This year, with the addition of Natalie Alexander, the evening will demonstrate a progression in which young people explore musical performance, form bands and then potentially go on to become professional musicians who travel the world.

"We're expecting a very large crowd this year," he noted. "We hope it's the best crowd ever." Ten years ago, police estimated roughly 2,000 people filled the park, which has come to be known as "Red Wing's living room."

The music festival is a free, family-friendly event, the Joneses stressed. Food trucks will be serving a variety of items or people can bring their own picnics, along with chairs and blankets.

After the Universal Music Center students open the show at 5 p.m., the following groups will perform:

Alexander Natalie

(5:30 p.m.)

A five-piece alternative folk band headquartered in St. Paul, Alexander Natalie bills itself as "a musical endeavor borne out of the life experiences of Red Wing native Noah Alexander Topliff." Additional Red Wing musicians in the group are Daniel O'Keefe, Samuel Ketcham and Michael McGough. Rounding out the band is Sophie Warrick.

"Getting the five of them into a room together culminates in a unique brand of alternative folk music deeply centered around honesty," promoters said.

Natalie Stovall

(6 p.m.)

The only returning performer is Natalie Stovall, who was part of the lineup for the 2016 festival, Scott Jones said. "She electrified the audience" with her fiddle, he said, adding that she went out into the crowd and kids crowded around her, dancing.

Stovall and her band, The Drive, play more than 200 dates around the world each year. The Tennessee native, who also is a powerhouse vocalist, made her Grand Ole Opry debut on the fiddle at age 12, and appeared on The Voice in 2017 as a member of Team Blake Shelton.

Stovall was named one of CMT's Next Women of Country and was recently awarded Best Female Artist and Best Music Artist by Campus Activities Magazine. She has been touring with Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots as a featured performer, and recently released two new songs, "Wine or Whiskey" and "Making Out in Cars."

Eric Hutchinson

(7 p.m.)

Eric Hutchinson and his band, The Believers, have toured extensively with a show described as "high-energy ... full of four-part harmonies, incredible musicianship, humility and humor."

An international platinum-selling singer/songwriter, Hutchinson performs distinctive songs that tell funny, moving and one-of-a-kind stories as he travels the country.

He and the band recorded an album that melds pop, soul, reggae, folk and Americana into his unique sound. "Modern Happiness" was rolled out one song at a time, complete with behind-the-scenes videos, live video chats, podcast interviews and more. The music can be accessed through his new project, the E-Hutch Club. In addition, he released "Songversations," a music listening card game available on Amazon, and his single "Rock & Roll" earned him his first U.S. gold record.

The Lone Bellow

(8:15 p.m.)

After bursting onto the scene with a self-titled debut album in 2013, The Lone Bellow quickly became known for transcendent harmonies, serious musicianship and raucous live performances, sponsors said.

The Brooklyn-based trio released "Then Came the Morning" in 2015, and it was nominated for an American Music Award for Best Group. The band performed music from the album on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Late Show with David Letterman," "Conan O'Brien," "CBS This Morning" and "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

Founding members are Zach Williams, guitar and lead vocals; Kanene Donehey Pipkin, mandolin, bass, keyboard and vocals; and Brian Elmquist, guitar and vocals. Their music is described as a "passionate, soulful, acoustic based brand of Americana."

According to National Public Radio Music, "If there's a secret to the warm, wide-open sound of The Lone Bellow, it lies in absolute sincerity and commitment: As playful as their live shows can be, (the three) perform with open-hearted, vein-bursting conviction."