RiversEdge preparing for 10th anniversary concert series in Hamilton: What to expect

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

RiversEdge Amphitheater is gearing up for a big season in 2021 as it celebrates 10 years of bringing live music to the community.

“We started the concert series back in 2012, and that was before the RiversEdge Amphitheater even existed. That first year, we did concerts on the show wagon, and we did shows downtown and in the surrounding downtown area,” said Adam Helms, Hamilton’s director of resident services.

Early shows were performed at Bailey Square, in front of the courthouse, and a majority of shows were performed under the McDulin Parking Garage. RiversEdge started performing shows at the amphitheater in 2013.

The concert series is designated as a nonprofit fund that was established at the Hamilton Community Foundation in 2012. From 2012 to 2019, a vast majority of the concerts were free general admission. The pandemic in 2020 made RiversEdge change their approach with the capacity being reduced to less than one-third of the normal capacity in an effort to produce events in accordance with the state mandates.

Due to the reduced capacity, RiversEdge had to charge attendees a nominal admission fee for concerts, ranging from $1 to $11 per person.

“We ended up producing fourteen shows in 2020, and 12 of the 14 shows were sold out. Most encouragingly, we proved that we could safely produce live outdoor events as not a single case of COVID was traced back to RiversEdge,” Helms said.

Since its inception, RiversEdge has attracted concertgoers from 48 states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, and three different countries.

“When Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill opens, we’ll have an even greater opportunity to expose RiversEdge concerts to a wider audience,” Helms said.

He said given the current circumstances, RiversEdge is planning to utilize the socially distanced, paid admission format in 2021 until further notice.

“When we announced the paid admission format, some people thought we were exploiting the situation to make a profit; that could not be further from the truth. At best, the paid admission/limited capacity format is a break-even proposition for us,” Helms said.

The first-ever band to perform at the RiversEdge Concert series was 90 Proof Twang, and they have played at the RiversEdge Concert Series every year since. Scotty Bratcher is another artist that played that first year and he has played RiversEdge every year since.

“It was really challenging to get artists to come to Hamilton in those early years, but as we’ve grown, talent agencies are now seeking us out as a place for their artists to come and play when they are coming through the Cincinnati area,” Helms said.

“A lot of that is a credit to the hard work of the volunteers and the people who help put on RiversEdge, and a lot of it can be credited to David Shaw and The Revivalists involvement with RiversEdge. David Shaw and The Revivalists have also been here every single year since 2012.”

The venue has also attracted up-and-coming artists like Billy Strings, The Record Company, The Marcus King Band and many more. The Whimmydiddle Country Music Festival and David Shaw’s Big River Get Down, two signature music festivals in Hamilton, were also born out of the RiversEdge Concert Series.

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