The Riverbend Band is returning to the Wood County Fair with new songs and a show that has been in greater demand than ever before.
The Riverbend Band plays a wide range of country cover hits with classic rock hits for good measure. The show is built around well known dance-able songs that work with their light show.
“Once again we’re coming back to the fun we have every time we go out there. It’s always a good time,” keyboardist Brian Fendley said.
This will be their third appearance, having played the fair in 2018 and 2019. The pandemic canceled the Wood County Fair show in 2020.
The band is a favorite throughout Northwest Ohio. While the pandemic shutdown did cost them some gigs, they made good use of the time and those efforts are now paying off as the world opens back up.
“We kept knocking away. We did lose a few shows,” Fendley said. “While we were off we just kept practicing and learning new material. We just maintained our social distancing at our practice facility and kept poking away at it, to be ready to go when everything was lifted. Now, here we are.”
He said that most of the venues they used to play at have already booked them and they are “roaring back.”
“Our show schedule, which was affected by COVID, now that restrictions have been lifted it’s really nice to be back in front of live crowds again and doing the conventions and private parties. We’re really looking forward to coming back to the fair again. It’s always a good time,” Fendley said.
He said that along with the new material, the light show is also bigger.
“That way people are not just coming to listen to the music, but they are also getting some kind of visual effects,” Fendley said.
He said they enjoy the fair because they have built a following, which is local to where all the band members live.
“At the fair, a lot of people get to come out that don’t normally see our show. We try to keep it family oriented, so people of all ages can see what we do, while keeping everybody involved, as we always have,” Fendley said.
With the regular returns some have started calling them the “fair house band,” and the band members would be “OK with that,” and more than comfortable playing different stages.
“It’s nice to know that we are recognized and to be included every year in the venue,” Fendley said.
The band plays primarily classic and contemporary country, with some classic rock thrown in the mix.
Fans can expect to hear hits by Jon Pardi, Tom Petty, Poison, Santana and ZZ Top, as well as country music favorites Brooks and Dunn, George Jones and Johnny Cash.
With more than 300 titles in their catalogue they will play requests.
“One thing — there’s almost always some Johnny Cash,” Fendley said.
A five-piece band, all from Northwest Ohio, Riverbend formed in 2010. The veteran musicians have all played together, off and on in various incarnations, for more than 15 years.
“We have a very broad sound arrangement because of the keyboards,” said Fendley.
In much the way some guitar players will have multiple instruments lined up and ready to go, Fendley does that with keyboards. He has had as many as six, each with distinct sounds, ready to fill out a piece that might need a little bit of a fiddle, banjo twang or ghostly lap steel guitar sound resonating under the melody. Those many options help the band hit a variety of tunes.
He said the other secret is having a strong harmony.
Jim Roe plays lead guitar and “Doc” Westondorf is on bass guitar. He got his nickname, and maybe his strong hands, from years as a chiropractor.
The newest member of the band is longtime friend Jeff Dierker, laying down the beat with his drums.
Riverbend Band will likely do three longer sets for the Aug. 7 show, for fewer breaks and less down time and intermissions.
Live interaction with the audience is very important to this band. Expect to see Dallis Lusk, lead singer with the rhythm guitar, walk right into the crowd.