Countless Music ExperiencesClick on the icons to visit the performer’s music sample libraries
Authentic fife and drum music from the American Revolution, the Civil War, adaptations of Irish, Scottish, English folk tunes, and modern rudimental-style field drumming greet you at the Events Center Bridge and throughout the Festival.
Acoustic Eidolon is what happens when you cross a guitar with two necks and a cello with attitude! Colorado musicians Joe Scott on double-neck guitjo and Hannah Alkire on cello, have graced stages throughout the U.S., Australia, Europe, and Canada. These masterful artists are Festival favorites and continue to captivate audiences worldwide with their signature “new acoustic” sound, sharing boundless possibilities in blending Celtic, folk, world, and Latin influences.
Ad Astra’s Open Mic Jam comes to the Riverside Stage. Sign-up starts at 10 a.m. on Friday to perform for one of four seven-minute slots on Friday evening. Basic instruments will be provided. Come share your jams!
Original songwriter, singer, and teaching artist, Zimmerman brings songs from now and forever ago. Get ready to sing, move, and take songs with you.
Connie Burket talks with Smoky Hill River Festival installation artists to learn more about their practice and the pieces they have at this year’s Festival!
Cowboy Mouth last mesmerized audiences at the 2001 River Festival and is back for a return performance. Their band’s live show is still a high-energy performance that keeps crowds coming back. Their roster is stronger than ever: a lineup of four rock ‘n’ roll veterans, all working together to stir the band’s unique gumbo of pop, big-easy blues, soul, punk, and redemptive rock ‘n’ roll.
Keep your little one moving with the rhythm of the Festival! Join our creative space, where dancers can explore the love of the art of dance, and where creativity and imagination can be explored through the music all around us.
Draper Family Band is led by father-and-son Salina natives Paul and Brandon Draper, who have been performing together for more than thirty years. A 2020 Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Paul pairs his legendary Hammond B-3 chops with Brandon’s diverse instrumental acrobatics for a must-see, high energy performance that combines diverse musical styles including blues, rock, funk, and alt-country.
The festival may be winding down, but this epic dance party is just beginning! Featuring a live DJ, giant bubbles, drumming, dancing, and a few surprise guests… THIS is the place to be!
Swing by Arty’s tent and kick up your heels! Family-friendly DJ, hula hoops, bubbles, and more! Engaging, interactive entertainment for all ages – “Groove as You Grow” encourages children to move n’ groove to the beat while playing, creating, and exploring!
Drums, dancing, puppets, and FUN for ALL ages!
This interactive, high-energy program will whisk you away to South America, Africa, and Australia — where amazing animals are waiting to discover their own unique rhythms! Collect fascinating facts about rare and endangered animals — Cuban crocodiles, jerboas, and more! Explore the exotic sounds and unique histories of the hand pan and didgeridoo, dance, and PLAY ALONG — drums and various percussion instruments will be provided for all participants!
Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for this rhythmic flash-mob experience! When you hear the rumble, be prepared to get your groove on and JOIN IN the fun — percussion instruments are provided for ALL participants!
Duke Otherwise is a playful wordsmith, a spirited performer, a skilled guitarist, and a captivating tap dancer. Using his distinct baritone, he sings hilarious and imaginative songs that all ages delight in together. Duke’s energetic live show is filled with improvisation, audience participation, dancing, and outrageous fun!
Everyday Lights is a group of Salina-based musicians with a love for folk and jazz rhythms. Their unique instrumentation and improvised harmony give them a fresh, creative sound that is best realized in their original music. Their ability to combine a variety of musical styles including folk, country, rock, and bluegrass keeps the audience guessing and looking forward to the next
Falling Walrus rises from a combination of genres oriented around rock and groove; with hard-hitting leads and melodies, you’ll be humming for weeks!
Dennis Porter is sure to keep crowds laughing as he engages Festival fans young and old in a host of entertaining games and activities. Teaching, playing, and having lots of fun is what these shows are all about. Come give it a try!
Music made by the Kansas-based band Haymakers comes from the intersection of blues, folk, bluegrass, country, and more. Dustin Arbuckle, a mainstay of the Wichita music scene, is joined by his band of esteemed bluegrass and folk musicians. With all members adding to the vocal blend, the Haymakers’ unmistakable appeal rests in its universality and diversity.
Have a tree hug with amazing real-life Hedge People! Introducing one of the planet’s most quirky, outrageous, and downright silly walkabout entertainment acts – The Living Topiary! Straight from the pages of a fairy tale, this human-shaped bush comes to life to walk, talk, and cuddle his way around the park.
This roving odyssey returns for the third year, combining a live DJ/turntablist, live drums, and audience participation. This working DJ station will circle the park all weekend and feature, Cash Hollistah, Brandon Draper, Kiko de Gallo, and DJ Carbon, among others. Festival-goers of any age are encouraged to participate in the spontaneous creation of freestyle hip-hop, drumming, and dancing.
Jarabe Mexicano invites audiences on a joyride through a versatile songbook of Mexican folk as well as rock ’n’ roll, Tex-mex, Latin rock and reggae-cumbia. Performing on stringed folk instruments accompanied by lively percussion, Jarabe’s dramatic, harmonized vocals in Spanish and English have gained them admiration from audiences across the country.
Jazz Tangent has performed in the surrounding area for many years. Their repertoire includes many different jazz genres, including straight ahead, fusion, bebop, and Latin. Having performed at the Festival in years past, they are back this year for your listening pleasure.
The Kansas All Star Big Band has emerged! The All Stars include the very best jazz musicians in the state of Kansas. Many of our members are jazz educators from Hays to Wichita to Lawrence and everywhere in between. Several musicians have doctorate degrees in jazz studies or their respective instruments. Coming from military, cruise ship, or professional big band backgrounds, these professional jazz musicians bring to Kansas the very best in big band entertainment! They all have a connection to Hutchinson, KS in some way. Whether they are former students, natives of the area, or highly sought-after talent making a rare appearance, they are pleased to call Hutch home.
“Kidz Bop” albums are comprised of kid-friendly versions of Top 40 radio hits and are sung by and for young children. Join Festival favorites from the Banninger family for this karaoke session just for kids!
KuJo is a songwriter, guitar player, and singer with electric grit and groove sensibilities.
The Kansas Wesleyan University (KWU) String Orchestra performs a diverse array of classical, Latin, pop/rock, jazz, tango, musical theatre, and more. The KWU Jazz Band performs a wide variety of jazz styles from swing to funk, mixing it up with solo and ensemble. They have selected a fun repertoire, especially for the Festival!
Kyshona (Kuh-SHAUNA) Armstrong, a music therapist gone rogue, has a natural gift for using music to tap into emotion. She began her career working in mental-health hospitals and correctional facilities, writing music with her patients, and using it to redirect behaviors and emotions. Kyshona soon found the need to write music independently, to process her daily experiences with clients. Audiences will find a common thread of overcoming, hope, and empowerment in her songwriting and storytelling, showcasing vocal stylings reminiscent of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Al Green.
Steve Treder brings giant bubbles and stilt walking all the way from the California coastline! With the help of a scientifically formulated bubble solution, you’ll witness one of nature’s thinnest and strongest geometric shapes. Performances include the cloud of tiny bubbles, bubble manipulation, bubbles inside of a bubble, giant bubbles, and a person in a bubble!
This rock and blues group is fronted by guitarist and singer Howard Mahan. Heavily influenced by classic rock and jam bands, Mahan has focused on songwriting, collaborations, and recording — having recently toured and recorded with Grammy-nominated musicians. A Salina, KS favorite, Landon Livingston, is a percussion powerhouse who excels in many different styles. Paul Greenlease studied bass guitar and music at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles and has played with everyone, including some of today’s biggest names in blues.
With over a decade of sideshow entertainment industry experience, Martika is one of the most in-demand sideshow performers in the Midwest. From designing stunts to teaching classes and workshops, Martika eats, sleeps, and breathes sideshow entertainment.
Mattson and Weaver a long-time Salina folk duo, will rove throughout the Festival. Look for them amongst the bustle, or take a break for some of their music in an out-of-the-way shady spot.
Children will learn about the importance of staying healthy and how dancing can help accomplish that. Dancers will perform two pieces and hear from the dancers, then get up and dance themselves!
Get to know some of the Festival performing artists, as Cash Hollistah interviews them on the stage. Interviewing artists include Kyshona (Friday) and members of the Haymakers (Saturday).
The Phantom Blues Band is an internationally renowned two-time Grammy Award-winning group. These six men have contributed to blues and rock ‘n’ roll musical history as session players and sidemen with Taj Mahal, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, John Fogerty, Elton John, Gregg Allman, Ziggy Marley, The Rolling Stones, and many more. The Phantom Blues Band explores everything from Texas blues to Memphis soul, with an injection of reggae for good measure.
Post Oak Union is a Salina-based rock ‘n roll and blues quartet formed by musicians from some of the area’s most recognizable local groups. The band has backed up national and international artists. They play a diverse selection of tunes that you know and love, but rarely hear played live.
The Recycle Cycle is a crazy art car made of junk and recycled stuff and travels to teach and tickle the hearts of all.
Friends of the River Foundation’s river puppets are on the loose at the Festival. Watch for their flowing 25-ft River Puppet, as well as Bella Beaver, Bartholomew Bullfrog, and Mr. Great Blue Heron.
Does the River Festival bring back memories of family, friends, performances, art, or creative opportunities you have enjoyed here? Come hear special stories about the Festival or take a moment to share your own memories.
Now celebrating an impressive 137 years, this hometown band plays from the great American songbook and much more.
Led by the inimitable Eddie Creer, this ensemble will display surprising set choices, arrangements, and vocals.
Sally and The Hurts is an Americana Roots band from north-central Kansas that brings award-winning lyrics, beautifully crafted violin, haunting musical saw, and woodsy upright bass to the stage.
Ad Astra Books & Coffee House’s open-mic poetry event comes to the Riverside Stage. Sign-up starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday to perform for one of four seven-minute slots on Sunday afternoon. Share your poetry!
Roll up your sleeves, grab your lab coat, and prepare to experience SCIENCE like never before! Join Professor Conner (an amazing scientist, teacher, and inventor) as he uses rap and hip-hop rhythms to construct a hypothesis and test an experiment. Interactive, engaging experiments for all ages!
StatuEscapade™ Statues are a work of art and more! What looks like a classic Greek or Roman statue when still becomes a modern scene-stealer when moving. Their absurd antics will make a grand impression as they interact directly with guests, then freeze motionless for minutes on end! It is art imitating life and life imitating art and both having a good laugh!
Brooklyn-based SunDub, an inventive and collaborative mix of New York City musicians, offers a classic reggae repertoire peppered with soul and funk selections. Joanna Teters’ commanding and smoky lead vocals blend seamlessly with the super-tight arrangements of the SunDub rhythm section. The result is a standout expression of reggae’s classic undulating pulse and lush subterranean grooves, reinvented for Festival listeners of all ages and fans of all genres.
The Sunset Sinners are four of the region’s finest musicians, playing whiskey-barrel rock and a fusion of Southern & 70’s rock with red-dirt country. The Sinners are super high-energy, performing originals along with Sinnerized classics! The single and music video for their original song, “Always Time for One More Beer” has garnered a lot of attention, with the video going viral throughout the Midwest and Southern U.S. & Eastern Europe. The Sinners also will have the dynamic Taylor Kline (guitar, harp, vocals) join them for a rocking classic ending to the 2021 Smoky Hill River Festival!
Engage with creatives of the Friends of the River Foundation Education Program. These folks perform original works with handmade puppets to help audiences learn about the Smoky Hill River. Watch a performance, then hear about their process.
Bring the whole family to hear Thad’s hilarious original songs and see what the excitement is all about! Join the Marching Martian Marching Band, meet the little green man, flap your wings, and crow with the dancing rooster, Chicken Joe! For this special Festival concert, Thad will play the ukulele, harmonica, washboard, jaw harp, bucket bass, and invisible kazoo! Don’t miss this fun-loving performer, songwriter, and teaching artist!
Mike Silverman, aka That 1 Guy, has set himself apart as a one-of-a-kind talent that rivals any other artist currently in the entertainment industry. With his pioneering main instrument The Magic Pipe, a monstrosity of metal, strings, and electronics, he dynamically creates live music and magic in ways only That 1 Guy can conjure. Expect to see magic integrated into his clever performances. With the addition of magic into his live shows, That 1 Guy has legitimately achieved an all-inclusive audio/visual performance unlike anything many have ever experienced.
Salina’s own horned-based party band always has something new to offer – great vocals, amazing percussion, and a feel-good vibe.
Join host Denny Ray Burn for fun, games, and prizes. Game shows were around when television began and have never gone away. Join the “live studio audience” for all the excitement of knowledge, skill, and chance. Make a match, hit the buzzer, have a lucky guess, or choose the right deal, to go home with great Festival memories and prizes.
The Hooten Hallers are a high-energy blues-rock band known for hard-traveling and wild live shows, with a seemingly endless tour schedule. The myriad of influences in their music incorporates elements of rhythm & blues, rock ’n’ roll, honky-tonk, jazz, soul, and punk, with a thematic penchant for the strange and unexplained. Their live shows take listeners on a seamless ride from raucous blues on the lap steel and bass sax, to sweet three-part harmonies to a romping dance number.
With his legendary trombone skills and a crew of skilled musicians from Kansas City, Marcus Lewis delivers modern jazz for music lovers of all ages at the Smoky Hill River Festival. Notable artists that Lewis has performed with over the years include Aretha Franklin, Prince, Janelle Monáe, and Bruno Mars
Festival favorites Johnna and John Perry interact with the crowd while twisting and turning plastic balloons into artistic 3-D creatures, hats, and more, as they rove throughout Oakdale Park. Even the youngest Festival fans will be the stars, as these balloon masters deliver one-of-a-kind creations to enhance the Festival’s 45th year of arts celebration!
Would you like to perform on one of our stages at the Smoky Hill River Festival? Fill out an application and submit to be considered for next year’s event.