The fall and winter of 2011 was filled with posts of reviews of Riverrock's CD, "Shuddup & Party!". The best of the reviews now appear on the Discography Page.
Our appologies for the long break on the News page. Much has been going on that has kept us away from the website. After Linda Smith passed away (wife of drummer Dan Smith), our good friend Donna Daugherty offered to step in for awhile and make some changes to the website. She did a great job with the home page and a few others, but she had to get back to her family and her work. So, it will take a little while to get back into the swing of things.
Shuddup & Party! (Yeah, that's right)
Riverrock's first full album in over thirty years arrives at headquarters today!
It can be purchased by just clicking the icon at the top of the page.
This was years in the making. It spanned two cities (Kansas City and Raytown). The band picked, grinned, yelled, sang and jammed (with occasional bathroom breaks). And FINALLY, they have produced their masterpiece; "Shuddup & Party!"
There are eight original songs written by each of the band members and four "covers" that have been favorites at the band's shows. And, just like the live sets, there's funny, serious, fast, slow, rock, bluegrass, country, funk, Irish...Hey, it's Riverrock!
Art by Thomas Gieseke
Riverrock mourns the loss of Linda Smith, wife of drummer, Dan Smith. Linda made many of the shows special by her planning and supported Riverrock for 30 years assisting Dan at music and fair conventions, designing promotional material, building his recording studio and just plain being there in her famous, groovy way.
Linda Smith with John McEuen at Dan Smith Agency Recording Studio. Photo by Dan Smith
Riverrock has been a bunch of busy beavers in Dan Smith's Recording Studio. We have a half dozen tracks ready for the new album and they sound WAY groovy (yeah, we're old so we're still "groovy").
A few of the songs have some guest musicians, like Jeff Elsloo of the Retro Rangers, Frank Brown, of the Dixie Cadillacs (and former member of Riverrock) and...wait for it...John McEuen, the String Wizard of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!
There will be lots of original music and a few choice "covers" that have that "Riverrock Touch" in the arrangements.
See the video of Riverrock's acceptance speech from March 5, 2011 and read the script of the speech on the Video Page
Riverrock at KMHoF 2011. Photo by Mike Daugherty
This is the BIG week! On Friday, Riverrock will join in on the “unplugged” show at Paddy O’Quigleys at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence, Kansas as the kick-off for the Kansas Music Hall of Fame induction weekend for the Class of 2011.
Saturday night at Liberty Hall, Riverrock will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and then will perform in the official Hall of Fame Concert.
Be a part of Kansas music history and get your tickets for the Induction Ceremony and Concert on Saturday (the Friday jam is free).
We are proud to announce that Riverrock will be a 2011 Inductee into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame! Thanks to all our fans and supporters who joined the Hall or were already members who voted for us.
My second ride with John McEuen
By Dan Smith
I’ve had several occasions to play music with John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I’ve even blogged about a couple of them (see below). One of my all time favorites was when John McEuen and Vassar Clements were booked into Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino in Central City, Colorado in 1996. The promoter asked John who he would recommend as a band for the week his gig was booked, and he told him to try Riverrock from Kansas City.
Now were to be off the Friday of John’s gig, so John came in a night early and sat in for a set with us, treating the audience to a preview of the big night. I figured John might ask for me to stick around for some washboard work on the Friday show. But, I was surprised that he would ask for me to work the gig as his drummer for some of the set. John brought along a guitarist, a bass player and his very talented son, Jonathan, on electric guitar. Vassar, of course, had met me before and remembered when he recorded on our “Midwest Man” album in 1980 down in Nashville. But, that was a day of overdubs, and we (Riverrock) had already finished with our tracks. This time I’d be live, in concert, with two of my biggest music heroes.
I can tell you that I was a nervous drummer, never quite feeling my groove that night. My washboard was another story. That was the best I had ever played. Even Vassar had a big smile on his face after my solos. I think John, who had worked with me before, expected nothing less. It was a night to remember.
This last Sunday may have topped even that night. The John McEuen Trio performed at Kansas City’s famous Knuckleheads Saloon. John’s partners, guitarist/singer Matt Cartsonis and fiddler Craig Eastman, from California, are much in demand for recording sessions out west, and both make a pretty good living working on sound tracks for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies and TV shows.
After I arrived at Knuckleheads, we did a sound check for the show and then one of my dreams came true when John agreed to sneak up to my little recording studio for about forty minutes to drop some “sweetening” tracks on a couple of my songs that will be part of the new Riverrock album. I mean, I produced a session with a legend. This guy produced “The Crow” for his old friend, Steve Martin, for goodness sake, let alone the fact that he has spent thousands of hours in a recording studio with some of the best producers in the business himself.
I was fortified with pure energy and confidence when we went back down to the club. I didn’t lie to John when I told him my studio was only five minutes from Knuckleheads. But, he insisted that I didn’t try to make it four minutes. John broke one of his Cardinal rules; “never leave the venue once you have arrived”. I appreciate his making an exception. It was a ride I’ll never forget.
But the story doesn’t end there. John’s love for Kansas City audiences goes back to the Vanguard and Cowtown Ballroom days with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Many veterans of those classic venues were in attendance for one of the best acoustic sets I’ve heard in years. John was funny, personable and in top form on every instrument (he ain’t called the String Wizard for nothin’, ya know). Matt Cartsonis was a hit as a story teller and musician, but his vocals raised the roof. Let me just say that I’ve felt a personal loss since the passing of Vassar Clements. After hearing Craig Eastman, I have a new fiddle hero. That guy can do it all. And, I had the best seat in the house; on stage with these music monsters and my washboard. What a thrill.
John McEuen & Dan Smith at Knuckleheads 2009. Photo by Andy Collier
Check out the review of the “Midwest Man 30th Anniversary Edition” CD in the September Village Records Newsletter:
RIVERROCK - MIDWEST MAN 30TH ANNIV. EDITION
This Midwest band from the seventies was all the rage for a while and this Nashville produced recording was legendary in its day. The group has recently reformed and their first project was to get this “lost” classic out on disc, and with a bonus cut to boot. Fans of country rock done right will find more than enough to feast on here. With an assist from Randy Scruggs and Vassar Clements the band came up with the perfect album for its era. The only problem was that in 1980 there was no internet and not a lot of avenues to get their music to the masses. One listen to this and you’ll wonder what other classics are out there that you haven’t heard.
Midwest Man 30th Anniversary Edition CD cover art - 2010 (Original art by Ann Willoughby)
My Ride with John McEuen
By Dan Smith
On one of the gigs I did with John McEuen back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I had the rare opportunity to pick him up at the airport north of Kansas City and drive him to the show at Lodge of the Four Seasons at Lake of the Ozarks. It’s about a six or seven hour round trip. We rode the three plus hours down there while we talked about music, gigging, gear and road stories. John sat in the passenger seat holding a mandolin the entire ride. Sometimes, he would pick a little tune, maybe something he was working on, and ask me what I thought. Or maybe he would tell a joke, using the mandolin as musical background or to deliver the punch line. It was like one of those Elvis Costello interview/jams on the Sundance Channel, only in a Toyota Corolla Station Wagon.
I learned more about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, especially the early years, than I ever hoped to know. And, since he met me originally on a Riverrock gig, he asked how we got started. I told him that Ringo Starr and the Beatles were the reason I became a drummer. Poco was the reason I wanted to play country rock. But, the Dirt Band was the template for Riverrock.
Jim Blanton and I worked for the same inventory company for a couple of years. When we became friends and began to talk music, I confessed to liking country music (before it was cool) and found out the both of us were big Dirt Band fans. Then he told me his roommate, John Mumma, played the banjo and John’s little brother Paul was a flat picker. And then he said he played a little fiddle and mandolin. Well, after a year of getting to know these guys, we grabbed the sound man, Steve Hall, from the band I was in then and taught him the bass guitar. Riverrock was born.
Now, I’ve already written about how John McEuen met Riverrock (see “The Night the String Wizard Sat In”). Why all this is apropos is simple. John has invited me to join him on my trusty washboard when he performs at the Farris Theater in Richmond Missouri on October 17. I can hardly think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than to share the stage with John McEuen. And, since Riverrock is off that night, I plan to be ready in the wings for when he calls me out to perform.
The Kansas City Star Magazine August 16, 2009
by Dan Smith
The night the String Wizard sat in
There have been many defining moments on my road to being a professional musician. Among them are when I went to see the Beatles with my brother Mark; my father, Jack, taking me to buy my first drum kit on my 15th birthday; watching the Who perform at a dance at my high school, Shawnee Mission South; and the night John McEuen came to hear Riverrock.
Jim Blanton, Steve Hall, John and Paul Mumma and I were the original members of Riverrock. One Friday evening late in 1974, we were playing our house gig at Huck Finn’s in the old River Quay. Only a handful of people braved an ice storm to see us that night.
In the middle of one of our bluegrass and country rock sets, the String Wizard of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John McEuen, waltzed in unannounced. We were surprised and quite nervous as he sat to listen to us attempt renditions of music right from his band’s songbook.
He approached the stage to inquire about Jim’s fiddle. It resembled one that his friend Vassar Clements used. Jim bravely invited him up to play it and, egged on by the small crowd, he jumped right up and finished the night out playing on everything we knew.
Afterward, the jam session moved to John’s south KC digs, where we picked and swapped stories until dawn.
In the next 35 years, Riverrock would go through many changes and open shows for dozens of country music’s biggest stars. Our third album, “Midwest Man,” with our new singer, Rick Harrelson, and featuring Vassar Clements and Randy Scruggs, would be a Billboard “recommended LP.” I even developed a friendly relationship with John McEuen and on several occasions would sit in with my trusty washboard on gigs I booked for him when he wasn’t on the road with the Dirt Band.
These days, I spend my time helping the next generation follow their dreams in my recording studio. And I’m back with my old friends John and Paul Mumma in the latest version of Riverrock with our new frontman, Allen Blasco.
Sometimes, after a long day of hip-hop artists or young rock bands down in my studio, I pop in a copy of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” think about that cold night in 1974 and get a warm feeling.
The author (left) with John McEuen at the old Parody Hall in KC in 1988. Photo by Tom Hartnett
Madam President: Janet Smith
Two friends and neighbors lost their mothers this last week. This caused me to reflect on what a loss that is. My mother, Janet, died almost twenty-five years ago. My father, Jack, found a wonderful woman, Mary, who has given him a second chance at happiness. And, all of us in the family have found our way without her, in spite of the pain.
Janet would have been eighty-seven on August 1st (my dad will be eighty-seven on August 14th, yes, she was a cougar). And, everyone in my family, as well as most of the old-time Riverrock fans, will remember that she was the band’s first manager. When we incorporated, we made her president. No one gave more of their time to the cause of promoting Riverrock than my mother. She was our biggest fan.
But, first and foremost, she was a great mother. She raised six children with my father. She suffered the loss of my sister, Kathleen in 1968 and never lost the strength to carry on and support my brothers and sister. Janet would have enjoyed this last quarter century. Indeed, she would be proud of my siblings, Mark, Steve, Phil and Margaret. They have accomplished so much in these last twenty-five years.
But, like everything else, she missed me on TV this week. She won’t be here to read my article about the band in Sunday’s paper. I won’t get the call waking me up early in the morning telling me how great a week this was for me. So, I’m dedicating this week of success to the one person (other than my wife Linda) who would be most proud of me, whether I deserve it or not. I miss you Madam President.
Janet Smith with Riverrock on her birthday, 1975.