It is said that you can’t go home again, but even if we don’t physically travel there, many of us keep track of hometown events via local newspaper websites. This is precisely how I discovered plans for a new festival, Ohio River Revival in my hometown of Ironton, Ohio, while browsing the Ironton Tribune online. The Ohio River Revival on Saturday, June 29 turns out to be more than a festival. I caught up with organizer Bob Delong, the man behind the now defunct Appalachian Uprising Festival, to get the lowdown on this new event.
Hi Bob, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Tell us about the inaugural Ohio River Revival Festival (TORR). What is your long-term vision for the festival?
Thank you for taking the time to help us spread the word! It will be an annual event in Ironton. Our vision is to make this one of the premier events that highlights our local arts and artists, by drawing visitors from all over the word to our beautiful town for the best entertainment and hospitality you can find, thereby revitalizing the economy of this great region and attracting families and business to call this home.
TORR is a certified nonprofit. What is the charter for that organization?
Our mission/purpose is to Revitalize Ironton Ohio.
I love the series of promo Press Room Videos Recordings. Tell us about the artists.
A local cable/internet provider Armstrong Cable wanted to do this, and via Sarah Simmons at The Ironton Tribune we were all connected. So everyone thought it would be cool to have a live music series that highlights the talent in the region with the backdrop being the printing press room of The Ironton Tribune. So far we have had about 11 local, regional, and nationally touring bands participate, and we have several more in the works. The series will not be exclusive to string bands as we have Jam Rock Band, Fletchers Grove, and several others coming up soon.
You used to run the quite popular Appalachian Uprising Festival. What became of that, and what have you been up to, prior to starting TORR?
The Ohio River Revival shares the same vision that I had when I created The Appalachian Uprising. We want to create a platform for local artists and musicians to be able to share their art to unite the community, and to give an outlet to feel accepted outside of the drug culture that wreaks havoc on our area.
Since Appalachian Uprising I’ve lived in North Carolina and worked as a respiratory therapist. Suddenly last year I felt a strong calling to make another event, continue the vision, and move back to the town that I love and do my part to make it better.
How are you able to make this a free show featuring Town Mountain and other great talent?
Because of the socioeconomic status of most families in the area, I knew that making it a free show would make it more accessible for them. No worries about buying tickets, just bring your family and friends and enjoy the show. We will have domestic and craft beer for sale to offset some of the expense, as well as the support of many Ironton businesses and individuals.
You have some great sponsors and community support. How did that come about?
The support from local and regional business and media has been phenomenal! I have never experienced this kind of energy from the whole community for an inaugural event. The business owners and the citizens I talk to were hungry for this type of event to draw positive attention and commerce to our area.
It’s great to see bluegrass music in river towns like Ironton helping to revitalize the historic downtowns. Did I read there is a new downtown jam as well?
Our plan is to make this a sort of traveling festival up and down the river to revitalize other towns in need. And yes, we have started a summer series: Bluegrass Jam on Market Square. We had one so far on June 1st and it was a great success, and the community came out in support. We are going to make this a monthly event downtown.
Thanks for your time and efforts Bob! So sorry I can’t make this one but I’ll read about it in the Tribune.
We wish you could make it! And thank you again for helping spread the word!
Copy editing by Debbie Benrubi.