WINSTON — A little blues, some cowboy poetry and a juvenile version of the classic theatrical production “Little Orphan Annie” are just a few of the acts that will take center stage at this summer’s Riverbend Live! Concert Series.
The 18th annual five-week season kicks off on Independence Day at the outdoor theater in Riverbend Park on Thompson Avenue in Winston with Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials.
A concert organizer, Mo Nichols, describes Ed Williams as a lively Chicago-stye blues man. Williams and his three band members have been together for 24 years.
The Grammy-winning four-member Carolina Chocolate Drops of North Carolina will perform July 11. Organizers describe the group as an appealing grab bag of antique country, blues, jug band hits and gospel hollers. Musicians sing and trade instruments, including banjo, fiddle, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug and even the kazoo. Rhiannon Giddens is the lead singer. Nichols said Carolina Chocolate Drops gets to the “real roots of African music.”
On July 18, Janiva Magness, another blues artist, will take the stage with what Nichols describes as a sultry voice. Nichols said Magness pulls from her difficult upbringing into her performances. Magness watched live shows and listened to recordings of blue artists in Chicago sparking a new life direction and purpose. “It turned her life around,” Nichols said.
On July 25 and July 26, about 40 local children ages 8 to 18 will perform “Annie Jr.,” a show that culminates a six-week drama camp. Annie is determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage. Set in Depression-era New York City, the little girl gets her chance to experience the Big Apple after meeting billionaire Oliver Warbucks.
Rounding out the lineup on Aug. 1 will be cowboy poet and musician Red Steagall and The Boys in The Bunkhouse. Carolyn Dufurrena, another cowboy poet, will be the opening act.
Steagall, who has performed in Winston in the past, is best known for his Texas Swing dance music and is beloved by the Texas cowboys for the time spent with him around the chuck wagon campfires, according to a news release. He is a songwriter and recording artist, whose career spans four decades and multiple countries. He was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 2003.
Nichols said Steagall has performed for presidents and heads of state.
“He is beyond awesome,” Nichols said. “He is one of the top cowboy poets and musicians in the country.”
Dufurrena is also a filmmaker and award-winning journalist, who is a regular contributor for Range Magazine. She lives south of Denio, Nevada, and is a rancher’s wife who uses life experiences in her acts.
“She is a poet and storyteller, and she is going to share her wisdom, giving the woman’s perspective of living on a ranch in Nevada,” Nichols said.
All concerts will begin at 7 p.m. and last approximately two hours. There is no cost to attend. Pets are not allowed. A variety of vendors will be available for evening meals and snacks.
“It’s a very quality show,” Nichols said. “It’s very friendly, very easy going. Bring your blanket, or your lawn chair, and come and enjoy the music.”
•You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.