Apr 22, 2021 12:06 AM

🎥Sunset Sinners to headline at the Smoky Hill River Festival

Posted Apr 22, 2021 12:06 AM
<b>The Sunset Sinners, from left, Brad Johnson, Tony Bowell, Blake Blackim, and Chris Brungardt, are one of three bands headlining the 2021 Smoky Hill River Festival.</b> Photo courtesy Blake Blackim
The Sunset Sinners, from left, Brad Johnson, Tony Bowell, Blake Blackim, and Chris Brungardt, are one of three bands headlining the 2021 Smoky Hill River Festival. Photo courtesy Blake Blackim

By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
Salina Post

A local band is among the headliners for the 45th Smoky Hill River Festival on Labor Day weekend.

Regional favorite Sunset Sinners is scheduled to bring its Whisky Barrel Rock, a fusion of red dirt country, southern rock, and '70s classic rock, to the river festival Eric Stein Stage at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 5.

Other river festival headliners recently announced by Salina Arts & Humanities include Cowboy Mouth and Phantom Blues Band. Information about those bands appears below.

The Smoky Hill River Festival is scheduled for Sept. 2-5 in Salina's Oakdale Park.

"It should be a cool deal," said Blake Blackim, Sunset Sinners' drummer. "The cool thing for us, I think it gives us exposure to a lot of other folks that probably may not be as familiar with us, that come to the river festival that may not attend some of the other venues we play."

The Sunset Sinners -- comprised of Chris Brungardt, Tony Bowell, Brad Johnson, and Blackim -- will be going into the river festival after releasing the group's first album earlier in the summer, Blackim said. They also are scheduled to play at the Country Stampede in Topeka in June.

The growing popularity of the Sunset Sinners and their music is evident on several levels.

The group's first single and music video, Always Time for One More Beer, has proven to be quite popular. Blackim said the video on Tuesday hit one million views.

Additionally, the Sunset Sinners' music is playing frequently in Australia and Europe, where the group has developed quite a following, Blackim said. One of the group's songs/videos that has garnered quite a bit of attention is Old Glory,  which was released in March 5. Blackim described the song as a patriotic ballad.

"The premise behind the song is three stories intertwined into one about having the courage to sign up to serve the country," Blackim said. "It's a really cool, kind of heavy hitter song and music video. It's not political. It's just about honoring the flag."

The video includes three people who actually served.

"What's crazy is, they're playing it overseas," he said. "There'll be people from overseas that served in like the French military, and they'll be like 'this is really cool what you guys do. We appreciate what you guys do.' It's kind of cool how they do appreciate it overseas."

While the Sunset Sinners' music gets a lot of play overseas, it's a different story in the United States. Blackim explained that the way music gets airtime in the United States is different.

"It's kind of a different ballgame in the United States," he said. "It's harder to get your product disseminated on mainstream commercial radio in the United States because it's just a different animal."

Blackim said that on Wednesday, the band signed on with a music agency/label in Nashville that will help get the Sunset Sinners' music on U.S. radio stations.

"They have numerous services available. The main focus at this point is them taking us and promoting us like crazy. The first song that they're going to work with to get out there is Old Glory," Blackim said.

The other headliners

<b>Cowboy Mouth.</b> Photo courtesy Salina Arts &amp; Humanities
Cowboy Mouth. Photo courtesy Salina Arts & Humanities

A rowdy alternative-rock band from New Orleans that last mesmerized audiences at the 2001 river festival, Cowboy Mouth is back with their high-energy performance and unique blend of pop, big-easy blues, soul, punk, and redemptive rock 'n' roll, according to information from Salina Arts & Humanities. The band is scheduled to take the Eric Stein Stage at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 3.

<b>Phantom Blues Band.</b> Photo courtesy Salina Arts &amp; Humanities
Phantom Blues Band. Photo courtesy Salina Arts & Humanities

An internationally renowned, two-time Grammy Award-winning group, the Los Angeles-based Phantom Blues Band explores everything from Texas blues to Memphis soul, with an injection of reggae for good measure, Salina Arts & Humanities noted in a news release about the headliners. Phantom Blues Band is scheduled to perform on the Eric Stein Stage at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 4.

About the Smoky Hill River Festival

After a year's hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the river festival will feature four live stages, 150 visual artists, 30-plus Food Row vendors, a vibrant Artyopolis kid’s area, and more, according to Salina Arts & Humanities.

The river festival's hours of operation are as follows. Sept. 2 from 4 to 10 p.m., Sept. 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is by four-day festival wristband, which is $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Daily wristbands will be available same-day only at select entrance gates for $10. Children ages 11 and under get in free. Wristbands are scheduled to go on sale on July 26 at more than 40 Salina locations and approximately 20 cities statewide.

Visit riverfestival.com or Facebook.com/SHRiverFestival for details.