Just when you think there is no room for more blues, folk, country & Americana music in this world, another band pops up and proves its undeniable lure and creative spin on what’s already been done. The River Arkansas is one of those bands that fit that genre, but play with crossing and blurring boundaries as to where they fall exactly. Their sound is just another testament to today’s melting pot of genres that go beyond the box of just blues, just folk, or just country.
The band started in 2014 as a solo project by Mike Clark of The Haunted Windchimes from Pueblo, Colorado. Shortly after laying down some tracks, Clark brought in his friend and bassist Macon Terry. After spending some time playing together, they realized there was something bigger there than just one project. Since then, the band has expanded to include a fiddle player Rachel Sliker, Benjamin Gallagher on the piano, and Robin Chestnut on drums. Each of these musicians is a very talented addition to the band. Together, they give off a heartfelt and wholesome sound which resonates with the Colorado lifestyle of mountain life meets pavement.
The River Arkansas has played with other Colorado local gems like Grant Farm and the Gasoline Lollipops. The band has released two albums since 2014, and on May 30th they’re releasing their newest album Any Kind of Weather at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver before embarking on tour to several other local mountain venues including the Jamestown Mercantile, Brues Alehouse in Pueblo, Elevation Brewing in Salida, and Deerprint Wine in La Veta.
Any Kind of Weather is a continuation of the band’s effort to blend folk, country, blues and Americana into a smooth concoction. I had the privilege of previewing the album for BolderBeat in lieu of the album release party this week and here are my two cents: The album is certainly country-forward, if not for Clark’s distinct, heartfelt, growling, and raspy country vocals than most certainly for the fiddle, harmonica and banjo sounds that predominate songs on the album, like “Bury Me,” “Big Bald Buddy,” and “Lady Luck.”
Many of the songs are easy listening, either moving the listener to a gentle sway, or a light stomp of the feet. Tasteful peppering of the piano throughout the album gives the songs depth that a lot of country music doesn’t experiment with. The drums and guitar of the more upbeat songs like “Balloon Girl,” “Gone in the Morning” and “Mona” add a bit of a rock’n’roll vibe to the mix, allowing some of the songs on the album to break away from a heavy country/folk feel and move into the Americana realm. The slower songs like “Cuernavaca,” “SF Bay” and “Slow Down” take on more of that folky-country-blues tune, giving the album a hardy dose of all the goods. Reminiscent of The Band, Sturgill Simpson, and The Sam Chase, fans of country and Americana are surely going to enjoy The River Arkansas’ junior album Any Kind of Weather.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.