Fire starters

Rollin' on the River's 2015 opening acts

The Mark Sexton Band opens for Beso on July 17 at Wingfield Park Amphitheater. ROTR opening bands take the stage at 5 p.m. every Friday in July.

The Mark Sexton Band opens for Beso on July 17 at Wingfield Park Amphitheater. ROTR opening bands take the stage at 5 p.m. every Friday in July.


All ROTR openers take the stage at or around 5 p.m. in Wingfield Park.

Paisley Brain Cells

Fancying themselves the “oldest band in town,” this psychedelic funk-rock quintet has more years under its belt than many young musicians have been on Earth. Back in 1991, at 7 a.m., following an all-night gig at the now defunct Zephyr Lounge, the name Paisley Brain Cells came to guitarist Chip Billharz while recovering at the bar. With the endurance and passion to fill the Zephyr's dawn-till-dusk slot, Paisley Brain Cells are unweathered by the stage, devoted as ever to delivering mind-bending and exciting rock performances to Reno's audiences.

A little more than two decades have instilled countless stories and personalities into the sound of Paisley Brain Cells, who like to let their music take its own pace. These laid-back dudes never write set lists, instead letting each show grow organically, so that every time you see them, it'll be a different experience.

Twenty-four years and counting, Paisley Brain Cells show no sign of slowing. A balance of covers and originals make up the band's repertoire, and Billharz promises to take his audiences on a “musical adventure.”

Max Volume

Something of a local celebrity, Max Volume is a DJ on Reno's classic rock station KOZZ, and his eponymous band has opened for many big acts in rock music. However, Max Volume —born Glenn Bailey—will appear in Rollin' on the River as a solo acoustic act. Fans of his band's signature amplified energy should have no reason to fear, however, as he promises his acoustic show will be an intense assault of finger-picking, soaring leads, harmonics, and open tunings—every bit as epic as his work with the group.

Volume's formative acoustic experience came about by accident. One time when Steve Morse, of Kansas and Deep Purple fame, headlined at the Pioneer Center, his opening act was delayed. He passed his acoustic guitar to Volume, who kept the crowd going.

“I killed it!” said Volume.

Mark Sexton Band

Kicking off a set with a heavy bass and guitar groove, the Mark Sexton Band strives to make an impact on audiences with their classic funk-rock sound. Ever since the musicians were younger than legal drinking age, they've set about crafting a style to call their own, and now, after eight years, Sexton feels they've arrived.

The band has shared stages with Macy Gray and Dumpstaphunk, and exercised their chops for years on the road. The young quartet promises their feel-good funk and soul inspired jams will get the crowd in the mood for dancing.

Reputable figures in the national funk scene Alan Evans atnd Larold Rebhun helped MSB compile their latest release, Young and Naive in 2013. Since then, they've worked on polishing their live set, putting it to video in collaboration with acclaimed local filmmakers Reno Sessions.

“We pay attention to detail,” said bassist Alex Korostinsky. “We do our best to bring you the best funk and soul around.”

First Take

As Dizzy Gillespie once said, “It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” First Take, as implied by the name, expect their players to know what this means right off the bat. A fairly rigorous set of expectations stand behind this jazz trio, who often conscript musical mercenaries to their cause.

“I found that my gigs became a constantly changing mix of the area's finest players, which means that no matter who's playing the gig, they have to get the song on the first take,” said saxophonist Rick Metz.

First Take play jazz, but are influenced by a variety of artists, from Frank Zappa to Tower of Power. Summer concertgoers can expect vocal classics from the Great American Songbook, sharing the tradition of the American-born art form that channels everyone from Duke Ellington and Count Basie to Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

Guitar Woody and the Boilers

Like any great blues band, Guitar Woody and the Boilers tell it like it is. The name itself speaks to their humility, seeing as front man Woody Soules used to work on the steam boilers at a local hospital. This band's sound isn't limited to the blues, however. It shows skill in many styles, including soul, classic R&B, jazz, country and even Cajun stomp.

Performing at Rollin' on the River holds special significance for Soules and his band. Once upon a time, they played at Wingfield Amphitheater's grand opening. Since their inception in 1991, the Boilers have opened for names such as Elvin Bishop, Edgar Winter, and John Lee Hooker.

“We have a family-like relationship with each other, which is very special,” Soules said.

“Twenty-five years together, playing over 500 gigs,” said bassist Bob McNamara. “We have infectious fun!”