RiversEdge to celebrate 10th concert series, growth into Hamilton staple

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The RiversEdge Concert Series will celebrate its 10th season in 2021 and growth from a traveling set of performances to anchoring an amphitheater.

“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.

“RiversEdge has also played an integral part in fostering development around the amphitheater as the estimated annual economic impact of the RiversEdge concerts to the greater Hamilton community exceeds $1 million,” Helms said.

The RiversEdge 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 admission fee of $1 to $11 per person for concerts.

There were 12 sold-out shows in 14 during the season.

“RiversEdge was one of first concert venues in the world, in the entire world, to put on a show, and safely produce live music. I know we were only one of two venues in the area that did live shows this year,” Helms said.

The financial support of the community, including individuals, support from small businesses and corporate sponsors will help RiversEdge maintain nominal admission fees, making the concerts accessible to a greater number of people.

Individuals may give an online donation to the Hamilton Parks Conservancy through the Hamilton Community Foundation website at hcfoh.fcsuite.com. Various corporate sponsorship levels are available, ranging from $500 to $6,000. Many businesses in Hamilton have supported RiversEdge, such as IBEW Local 648, Wilks Insurance, Fort Hamilton Hospital, Courtyard Marriott, Molson Coors/Miller Lite, The Casual Pint, Fitton Center and Wings on Brookwood.

“Our promise to corporate sponsors and the greater Hamilton community is that we will return to primarily free general admission shows when we are given the ‘all clear,’ in an effort to provide the greatest exposure for our sponsors and the greatest accessibility for the community,” 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 RiverEdge. 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.

“If you look at where RiversEdge is, geographically on a map of Hamilton, it is smack-dab in the middle of the city. It is a central gathering place in the city,” he said. “That’s been our vision from the outset. It’s like, hey, this is right in the middle of the City, this should be the place where people from all over the community, from all walks of life, can come together and enjoy each other’s company.”

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