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@AlleyFest: Your guide to art, music, more at this year's event

By Ryan C. Perry
May 10, 2012 at 2:11 a.m.

A few dozen artists gathered in 1979 in Bank Alley in Downtown Longview to exhibit their work, and 33 years later, the event has expanded in to one of East Texas's premier events.

AlleyFest, an expansion of the original Alley Art Fest, now takes up a few blocks, and organizers say they are hoping 10,000 to 12,000 people attend.

This year, with the hopes of beating the brutal Texas summer heat, AlleyFest has moved from June to May.

"Several years ago, it being in June was never an issue," said Missy Saunders, Longview Main Street Manager. "As it got hotter, the heat became the No. 1 complaint we heard from people."

Organizers, artists and vendors also hope attendees have procrastinating shopping for their mothers.

"It's Mother's Day weekend," Saunders said. "It's a great place to bring your mom."

Admission on Mother's Day is free.

The headlining music act for the festival is the platinum recording band Starship -- a band returning for its second AlleyFest.

"Last time, they had a really strong following and a really strong crowd," Saunders said. "Any time I mention Starship, people say 'Oh, We Built This City!' People know their songs."

This year, bands will be playing all day on the stages. The following descriptions are excerpts from the band's bios.

<strong>AlleyFest Music 2012</strong>


<strong>Bud Light Main Stage</strong>

<em>7 p.m. - Daniel Foster</em>

Daniel Foster has loved country music most of his life. He remembers the day when he was twelve years old and first heard Johnny Cash singing, "Ring of Fire" on the radio. "When I heard Johnny Cash for the first time, I was mesmerized!"

Daniel picked up the guitar for the first time just five years ago, and then he began writing music.

Daniel has a very unique style of music -- traditional country with a hint of early gospel exposure. Daniel and his band mates also cover many classic country tunes, current Texas country hits, as well as Daniel Foster original songs you are sure to love. Daniel is a very colorful and animated performer. Once you have heard him on a mic, you will see his musical passion come to life!

<em>8 p.m. - Miller Row</em>

Miller Row was born when friends Mike Miller and Jon Morrow decided to venture out of the bands they were in to start a project they knew would be special. Soon after, they were joined by friends Thomas McKinney on drums and Josh Farrer on lead guitar to complete the vision they had of what the band could be. Playing East Texas clubs as a cover band with a few originals was not the goal for Miller Row, however, understanding that is what they would have to do to get noticed, they played the clubs building a fan base and raising the money to get in the studio to lay down their original music. Now with their EP finished, they plan on taking the Texas music scene by storm. A Texas sound with a Southern Rock twist, Miller Row is a band to remember.

<em>10 p.m. - Robin and the Bluebirds</em>

The Bluebirds are based out of Shreveport. Female vocalist Robin Beach Black sings Etta James to Emmylou Harris to Adele -- she is Jerry Beach's talented and attractive daughter. Robin performs regularly with the Bluebirds. Her costumes, hairstyles, jewelry and makeup are custom designed for each special event.

Grammy Nominated Songwriter, Louisiana Hall-of-Famer Jerry Beach is the guitarist and vocalist. Bruce Flett is on bass and also sings lead. The Bluebirds were formed in May 1986 by Bruce and Buddy Flett, who were previously with the legendary "A" Train. The group have been booked solid throughout its history, averaging more than 120 performances a year. If you want to hear some really great live music that makes you feel good, come see, hear and dance to Robin and The Bluebirds. NOTE: Robin & the Bluebirds were the ONLY musical group from this area performing at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival .

Saxman Allen Webb and trumpet player Dirty "Redd" Crenshaw both toured with Johnny Taylor. Zeke Seighman is on drums and vocals. Stanton Hoffman is keyboardist extraordinaire. Everyone sings in the band.


<em>6 p.m. - Dazed</em>

Dazed is three young men who have been referred to as young men with old souls. Lance Hampton, guitar and vocals, is 18 years old and has grown up watching bands at AlleyFest. It has been a dream of his to play on the stage at AlleyFest. Drew Theiring, drums and vocals, is 18 years old and is one of the most amazing drummers you will ever see. Caleb Cannon, bass and vocals, is 17 years old and will be one of the top bass players in music. Dazed will amaze the crowd with covers of some of the best bands of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

<em>8 p.m. - Borderline</em>

Borderline is a classic rock/country band that has been playing together for more than nine years. They cover songs that are heartfelt and enjoyed by many people. Such classic artist include Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eagles, Wild Cherry, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, Gary Moore and the list goes on as well, and they also play originals. Their live performance is electrifying and has to be seen to believe. The band consists of founder Rich Eubanks, Tim Voight, Stan Todd and Jeff Eckeberger. The most recent addition to the band is front man Tony McCullough, bringing an even more diverse playlist to the band along with a wildly unpredictable, high-energy audience interactive show.

<em>10 p.m. - Starship - featuring Mickey Thomas</em>

Starship has revamped the band and their show with an expanded set list that includes the multi-platinum hits of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship. This along with the expanded band and the addition of the powerful female vocalist Stephanie Calvert, Starship now delivers a show that includes all the hits songs and classics.

Mickey Thomas is the owner of the soaring voice that propelled Starship through the 80s and 90s. With his soulful and compelling vocals, Thomas has established himself as one of rock music's most recognized stars.

<strong>Methvin Street Stage</strong>

<em>11 a.m. - The Good Time Rounders</em>

With influences ranging from The Band and the Rolling Stones to Ray Wylie Hubbard and Johnny Cash, their sound has been labeled as "killbilly" and even "cowpunk." They take both as compliments, though none can tell you exactly why that is.

Texas Music Association rising star nominee and "Machine Gun" banjo man Nick Brumley splits lead vocal duties with guitar strummer and ladykiller John Fox, while East Texas music veteran Pap Watson adds another layer of acoustic guitar and harmony vocals. Electric guitarist Rev. Dr. Mr. Chris Dean squeezes out telecaster licks ranging from Exile on Main Street Keith Richards to Amos Moses-era Jerry Reed. Driving it all is that magical machine, the dog house bass, powered by the steady hands of Shreveport Bassman Eric Gardner. The final touches come from the genius of multi-instrument wonder Sam Kilpatrick and his bag of tricks.

Cowpunk. Killbilly. Red Dirt. No matter what the label, the name the Good Time Rounders sums up perfectly what these boys are all about.

<em>12:30 p.m. - The Down Home Cloggers</em>

Simply put, clogging at its best!

<em>1:30 pm - Gun Barrel Gray</em>

Daniel Foster's (bio on page 15) search to form a band was started after meeting Mitch Musslewhite, his lead guitar player. Mitch was the anchor musician that he was looking for. As things happen for a reason, Mitch had also auditioned for a former musician friend of Daniel's a week prior to their initial meeting.

Through Mitch, Daniel was reacquainted with Alton Risinger, and Risinger soon joined the band. Risinger enjoys covering "Texas Country" favorites, adding to the range of songs covered.

Later, Darrell and Tina Cook joined the band after answering an online ad posted by Foster. Darrell's experience in the music grind, and skills on the bass added to the bands classic sound.

Amy Beavers, along with Tina Cook provide the band with a beautiful backup vocal sound.

Finally, drummer, Bobby Tacket is the newest member to complete the band. Bobby is excited to be a part of an awesome group of musicians who enjoy sharing their talents.

<em>3 p.m. - Aaron Burton</em>

Aaron Burton is a talented traditional blues man in every sense of the word. He calls Dallas home, and he can be found there playing the blues just about any night of the week.

His most recent released has been described as "combin(ing) Aaron's authentic country blues/roots style with producer Pat Boyack's well established blues rock/soul sensibilities."

<em>4:30 p.m - Darby Warren Project</em>

Darby Warren formed this band in 2010. His desire was to develop a unique and original sound. The kind of music that makes you want to tap your foot and get up and dance.

Darby is a songwriter, plays rhythm guitar, acoustic, stand up bass, electric bass, slide, harp and lead vocals. Darby has been writing music his entire life, but finally decided to share his music by forming, The Darby Warren Project.

Darby said his music may not be mainstream, but it is certainly original. He doesn't want to be just another cover band. He hopes to gather his own following.

Darby initially wanted to form an old-style trio band with a stand-up bass player, but has since added a drummer to complete the sound of the band. Darby said, "I love the stand up bass. It's such a unique sound, a beautiful instrument. I enjoy playing stand up myself, but cannot play rhythm guitar, harp, and sing at the same time. I was thrilled to find a stand up bass player. It's an old style instrument that you just don't see much of anymore"


<em>1 p.m. - Released</em>

Released is the house praise and worship band for Calvary Church in Gilmer.

For more than a year and a half now, this group has bringing Christian music to East Texas in all genres from traditional gospel to contemporary blues. Led by the dynamic vocals of Kim Drum, this band offers a great variety of modern Christian entertainment. Other band members include Cory Fatheree, Larry Richardson, Matt Smith and Chase Follingstad.



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