“The people that are helping are doing it because they like it, and out of the goodness of their hearts. These folks really want to be here. Aside from the music and the production, that’s what makes RiversEdge really special. The whole community gets behind it and the people want to be involved. It’s just a special place,” said Helms, who volunteers with the weekly concert series by booking the bands, managing the website, and promoting the shows.
In addition to Helms, other key RiversEdge volunteers include Steve Maxwell, Clint Cole, Peggy Bange and Tami Rose.
Cole helped to produce the concerts in the early years. Now, he uses his talents to create the visual art for the concert promotion. He also takes photos and videos.
Maxwell oversees setting up the venue, which encompasses everything from arranging the tents and clean up to so much more. Bange organizes and recruits all the RiversEdge volunteers, and Rose, who never misses a concert, helps scan the tickets at ticked events.
“Once a week, during the summer, we get to take off the nuisance abatement and garbage collection hat and put on our rock and roll hat. That’s fun for us. It’s a passion project for all of us. It has been from the beginning,” Helms said.
Opportunities for interns
In addition to the volunteers, RiversEdge offers a paid student internship program, which was started by Andy Kirk around 2015. The program has continued to attract students who are interested in a career in the entertainment business. Several of the interns have been from Hamilton, while others are from Cincinnati or Dayton. About five paid student interns are selected each season.
Each year, RiversEdge reaches out to schools such as University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, Wright State University, Butler Tech School of the Arts and others as well as nearby colleges such as Belmont University in Nashville.
Helms said one great things about the internship program is it brings a new perspective and energy to RiversEdge each year. Several of the interns have gone on to careers in entertainment.
“They are interested, they want to learn, and it keeps us engaged. Our team likes to teach, and we all love music, Helms said, “It’s a win-win for everybody. We’ve had great success with the program.”
Kirk has moved on to another position, but Helms said he was instrumental in growing the venue in terms of its production. Rettich, a seasonal employee, now oversees the stage, sound and lighting and he also manages the internship program.
Resident Services group honored by City
The Resident Services Department and RiversEdge volunteer team were recognized by the City of Hamilton in June of 2020 for this innovation as part of Public Service Recognition Week. These individuals were honored by their peers for exemplifying the City’s Core Values in bringing live music to Hamilton.
“The city recognized our department for renovation for doing the live concert pods, being able to safely produce live music, and there were no COVID cases tracked back to RiversEdge. Our department was awarded with the Innovation Award. So, it’s really just a great group of passionate people,” Helms said.
In the height of the pandemic, the Resident Services team adapted RiversEdge concert operations and the viewing format, so that Hamilton residents could safely enjoy the outdoor events. In a time when the health care mandates were rapidly changing, the Residents Services and RiversEdge volunteer team overcame major challenges during a season when other venues cancelled and postponed their events.
RiversEdge has attracted up-and-coming acts like Billy Strings, The Record Company, The Marcus King Band and many more. David Shaw’s Big River Get Down and The Whimmydiddle Country Music Festival, two signature music festivals in Hamilton, were born out of the RiversEdge Concert Series.
HOW TO APPLY
Those who are interested in a RiversEdge internship may email Al Rettich for details and information on how to apply at Al@rettich.com. Applications are due early in April.