A little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll and whole lot of entertainment.
America’s River Festival, featuring two nights of live music, will descend upon the Port of Dubuque Friday-Saturday, June 21-22.
This year marks the 15th for the festival that got its start in 2004 as part of the Grand Excursion — a multi-week festival that extended from the Quad Cities to Minneapolis.
Since then, much has evolved for the event, which has included a multitude of offerings throughout its history. But live music has been at the heart.
“When we first started, I think our goal was to be something for everyone,” said Keith Rahe, president and CEO of Travel Dubuque, which organizes the event. “As we evolved, we realized that what people were really coming down to the Port for was for the live entertainment.”
In recent years, America’s River Festival has shifted its focus from a “something-for-everyone” event to one that exclusively features live music, catering to up-and-coming talent emerging from the Nashville music scene, as well as classic rock acts. This year, the lineup leans on well-established artists spanning the country and rock genres.
Among them, Blackhawk and Clint Black will perform Friday night, with Pure Prairie League and Marty Stuart & His Marvelous Superlatives and the Steve Miller Band headlining Saturday night.
“I’ve been wanting to get the Steve Miller Band for a while now,” Rahe said. “Traditionally, we’ve held our event earlier in June. We pushed it back this year to enable us to get them.”
Local talents including Elizabeth Mary and the Upper Main Street Jazz Band will entertain audiences before the headlining acts take the stage.
“Dubuque is becoming known as an entertainment destination,” Rahe said. “Most festivals like ours don’t last beyond five years. That we’ve been able to go for 15 just shows the great support we have in this area.”
Elizabeth Mary: The Dubuque-based singer and songwriter mixes elements of country, blues and pop.
Blackhawk: The country outfit has sold more than seven million albums. Its debut spawned the hits, “Goodbye Says it All,” “Every Once in Awhile,” “I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” “Down in Flames” and “That’s Just About Right.” Additional chart-toppers include, “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No,” “Like There Ain’t No Yesterday,” “Big Guitar,” “Almost A Memory Now,” “There You Have It” and “Postmarked Birmingham.”
Clint Black: The country star’s debut album, “Killin’ Time,” produced four consecutive No. 1 hits. He has more than 30 charting singles — 22 of them reaching No. 1 — from 12 studio albums and compilations.
Upper Main Street Jazz Band: The Dubuque-based band performs a mix of jazz, big band, swing and pop hits.
Pure Prairie League: Blurring the lines between country and rock, the group began building its legacy in the 1970s and 1980s with hits like, “Amie” and “Two Lane Highway.”
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives: The Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter known for a string of country hits — among them, “This One’s Gonna Hurt You” and “Hillbilly Rock” — made a name for himself performing with the likes of Johnny Cash and Lester Flatt. With 18 studio albums embracing an eclectic fusion of rockabilly, honky-tonk and country, Stuart also is known for his vast collection of music memorabilia.
Steve Miller Band: The 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is best known for the 1970s hits, “Joker,” “Jet Airliner” and “Fly Like an Eagle,” alongside his band. The group has released 18 studio albums, six live albums, seven compilation albums and approximately 30 singles. Collectively, the Steve Miller Band has amassed record sales exceeding 60 million copies.
Friday, June 21
5 p.m.: Gates open.
5:30 p.m.: Reserved seating and Bud Light Party Pit opens.
7 p.m.: Elizabeth Mary.
8:30 p.m.: Blackhawk.
10 p.m.: Clint Black.
Saturday, June 22
5 p.m.: Gates open.
5:30 p.m.: Upper Main Street Jazz Band; reserved seating and Bud Light Party Pit opens.
7 p.m.: Pure Prairie League.
8:30 p.m.: Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives.
10 p.m.: Steve Miller Band.