By Kim Barto Meeks
The former Rives Theatre is taking its shows on tour across Henry County this month.
Two concerts originally scheduled for November at the historic theatre in uptown Martinsville have had to find new homes after a Sept. 8 fire rendered the building a total loss. November’s show dates and bands will remain the same, but the live music will now come to venues in Axton and Bassett as part of a concert series that organizers are calling “Rives on the Road.”
Arts at the Rives Theatre (ART), the nonprofit behind the theatre’s live music series, recently announced its Saturday, Nov. 2 concert will be held outdoors at Pop’s Farm in Axton. The show is a co-bill of Asheville, N.C. bands Town Mountain and Jon Stickley Trio.
Next up on Saturday, Nov. 30, jamband BIG Something will perform at the Heritage Conference & Event Center (formerly Bassett Country Club).
“There isn’t a singular venue in Martinsville-Henry County that’s a perfect fit for every show, nor available for every concert date we need, so we’re going to use multiple venues in MHC over the coming months,” said Johnny Buck, executive director of Rooster Walk Inc., the parent company of ART.
“We think ‘Rives on the Road’ is going to be a really fun experience for our local music fans,” Buck said.
ART has not publicly announced shows after November, but Buck said they do have more concerts planned at various locations for both 2019 and 2020.
“We’ll be taking Rives on the Road over the coming months, trying to figure out which venues are the best fit for different shows, and which venues our fans are willing to travel to for a show,” he said. “We’re excited about it. We’ve looked at a lot of potential venues in MHC, and I think our fans will be impressed with all of them. Each one offers something a little different and unique.”
Pop’s Farm in Axton will be familiar to Rooster Walk fans as the site of the music and arts festival held annually each May. The bands performing Saturday night may also bring back memories, as both have played the Rives Theatre and Rooster Walk before. In fact, Town Mountain co-headlined Rooster Walk I in 2009.
Town Mountain, known for its hard-driving bluegrass sound, has toured internationally and performed with the likes of Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys, Tyler Childers, the Del McCoury Band, Greensky Bluegrass and Yonder Mountain String Band, to name a few. They made their Grand Ole Opry debut in 2016.
Jon Stickley Trio (JS3) brings a genre-defying, instrumental sound influenced by a wide range of musical styles, including bluegrass, EDM, punk, rock, prog and grunge. The band showcases the rapid-fire solo skills of flat-picking guitarist Jon Stickley and fiddle player Lindsay Pruett, as well as the innovative drumming style of Hunter Deacon.
Tickets for the Saturday, Nov. 2 show are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the concert. ART season passes will be accepted.
Though outdoor temperatures are projected to dip to the mid-30s this weekend, on-site camping will be available Saturday night to concertgoers for $10 per vehicle and $25 per RV or tow-behind camper. On-site parking for non-campers is free of charge.
The gates at Pop’s Farm will open at 4 p.m. Saturday to on-site campers and at 7 p.m. to non-campers. JS3 will take the stage at 8 p.m., followed by a full set from Town Mountain. A food truck will have dinner items available for purchase, and beer, wine, water and soft drinks will also be sold. Patrons are welcome to bring lawn chairs and coolers, but no outside alcohol is allowed.
On the opposite side of the county, BIG Something will play the ballroom of the former Bassett Country Club on Saturday, Nov. 30. The Burlington, N.C. band has played the Rives twice, nearly selling out the venue, and performed at Rooster Walk three times. Described as a six-piece powerhouse, BIG Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk, and improvisation and has become one of the nation’s hottest up-and-coming jambands, according to Buck.
Advance tickets are $20, or $25 purchased at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the concert will start at 9 p.m. The venue, the Heritage Conference and Event Center, is located at 1230 Oak Level Road in Bassett. ART chose this location in part because its proximity to the highway makes it easier for BIG Something’s sizeable out-of-town fanbase to attend, Buck said.
At the band’s Thanksgiving show at the Rives Theatre in 2018, “probably 60 to 70 percent of the crowd was from out of town,” Buck recalled. “The Heritage will be a great venue for this show because it’s just off the 220 bypass, which is great for the out-of-towners.”
The center has “a great dance floor and bar room,” he added. “We’re really excited to show the out-of-town visitors and all of our local fans what a great event space we have in Bassett.”
For more information about ART, including upcoming concerts, visit www.rivestheatre.org or follow their Facebook page.