Roll call

Meet the bands playing this year's Rollin' on the River concert series.

Every summer since 1995, we at the Reno News & Review celebrate good music with our Rollin' on the River concert series. These free concerts take place every Friday in July at the Wingfield Park Amphitheater on the river. All of the concerts start at 5:30 p.m. You can check renorollingontheriver.com for more details.

Tapwater

Portland-based TapWater aims to bring “musical inspiration from around the world back home to your front porch,” mixing American folk with international rhythm. As part of a summer tour that takes them from Alaska through Northern California and home again, TapWater will play Rollin’ on the River on July 7.

1. How do you describe your music?

Honestly, our music is all over the map, literally. We mix a lot of roots Americana stuff with music from the African Diaspora, mainly Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Nigeria. Our producer, Steve Berlin, once said that we are the greatest schizophrenic band ever—in regards to our genre fluid approach.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

We call our style “World Twang,” for better or for worse. Quite frankly, I find myself getting frustrated by genre distinctions at this point. Distributors will often give you a very limited selection to choose from when preparing to upload music to places like Spotify and iTunes. You almost have to consider yourself pop, rock or country if you are a band like TapWater. We have elements of all those genres, but we would never distinguish ourselves as such unless we are forced to.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

We have been really lucky as a band and have gotten to collaborate with some of our heroes, like Spike Nealy from James Brown’s band, Lee Oscar from War, and, mainly, Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. Steve has produced many projects for us, including our new album Shoebox Photographs. Can’t say enough about Steve. He’s a humble legend—absolutely brilliant and kind. … I’d love to one day write a song with Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes or Oliver Wood from the Wood Brothers. I feel a kindred connection with both despite having diverging styles. Oh, and Mason Jennings, too.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

I very much associate Reno with one of my favorite people, Scott Pemberton, who I toured relentlessly with for about six years. Scott and I played many a show here with different iterations of the band and had ourselves some mighty fine times, some of which I probably shouldn’t discuss.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

So far, my go-to summer jam is actually a playlist comprised of all the songs that The Band played at Woodstock. TapWater was hired by an amazing festival in Pennsyltucky this summer called The Dam Show. The whole festival is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and all the bands playing will be covering different artists that performed at the original Woodstock. We are psyched to be a part of it and really pleased we get to be the band that gets to be The Band.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

A wise man once said that taste is the enemy of art. I definitely have my ideas as to what makes a good song, but they often seem to differ from what the general American populous seems to fall in love with. A great song need not hide behind fancy, modern production. At its core, I think a good song simply needs to move its listener, whether that means transporting them somewhere they’ve never been, right back to a nostalgic place from their past or maybe just inspire them in some way. I’m sure you could write a whole doctoral dissertation here, but those are the first things that come to mind.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

I only know of a handful of songs about Reno. As much as I love when songs discuss place, I can’t say I love any of these songs. All you folks reading this that are local to Reno probably wouldn’t mind schooling me, nor would I mind the schooling. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can write a half decent song about Reno. I do think Nevada as a whole is ripe and ready to be written about in all its lonesome, tumbleweed glory.

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

Despite my dad suggesting I not put it on the album, I disregarded his advice and released it with my high school band, the Raging Hippies, on our first full length record. The song is called “I Hate Being A Musician,” and it’s downright egregious. Do yourself a favor and don’t look it up.

Reno Hivemind

Equal parts electronic music experience, visual arts display and dance performance, Reno Hivemind blends tribal beats with psychedelic synth for a sensory-stimulating live show. They will play Rollin’ on the River on July 26.

1. How do you describe your music?

Psychedelic sacred bass.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

Genres are a fun way to explore meaning within the creative process.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

CharlestheFirst. He is a hometown hero for cinematic electronic [music].

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

Community. We feel so connected here everywhere we go, grateful to be a part of our growth and expression.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

Enigma Beats’ latest album.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

Sincerity, conviction and risk.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

“Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard.

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

Wow, I used to write folk music, and I hope nobody ever finds those tracks.

The Sextones

Hometown soul machines The Sextones have taken their smooth grooves overseas in the last year, starting last July when they spent a month playing a string of shows in Europe. The band members returned from their second month-long European tour in April and will play Rollin’ on the River on July 12.

1. How do you describe your music?

I’ve been trying to keep it simple lately, but still feel like I can express a unique sound. “Analog Soul from the High Deserts of Reno, Nevada” is our current phrase. We love recording to analog tape, which is a sound unto itself that can dictate a certain vibe. Also, an artist’s environment is partly responsible for influencing a genre. The terroir of Reno and the West Coast has definitely played a solid role in our music.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

It’s easy to say soul and rock, but every member of the band brings their own special musical flavor to the table that you can hear in our music. If you dig deep, you can find a musical lineage in all of our playing. I think genre distinctions are a natural way to help listeners navigate through the endless sea of bands, but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

Our tastes are so varied that we would ideally love to collaborate with anyone who has inspired us. I would love to work with Sly Stone, but only ’70s Sly Stone—that’s him in his prime. This list is actually pretty long, there are so many incredible musicians out there making beautiful music. Cory Henry, BadBadNotGood, Vulfpeck would, of course, be fun. So many others.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

When I hear the word “Reno” a few things come to mind. Reno is our hometown, and we have a deep connection to our city. However, I see Reno as a city that is trying to re-find its identity. … The developers in Reno have no sense of taste and architecture, and it truly shows when you step back. All of the old buildings stand in contrast to the new, boring ones. Developers need to understand that “old is gold” and try to make our city beautiful rather than tearing down historic buildings like, say, I don’t know—the Mapes.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

Summer jams go through phases. Music is very much a mood and nostalgic medium, and every summer is different. This summer it’s all about jazz and Afro-beat. Antibalas has been a pretty consistent summertime jam.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

A good song is something that can, first, truly connect emotionally to someone. After you have created a piece that has emotional connectivity, you can look under the hood and see what is really happening inside the song. Usually, it’s the melody that carries the weight of the music followed by harmonic content and groove. If you can nail all of this together in the right ratio, then I don’t care what the genre is, you have yourself a good song. … There are so many variations on what makes a good song, but to me these are the building blocks.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I truly dislike songs about Reno. If Reno happens to get referenced, then that’s another story.

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

I would say the music we start writing as musicians has a few more rough edges than the music we currently write. So, hopefully, over time, those rough edges appear less and less.

The Snakeboy Johnson Band

“Snakeboy” Johnson got his start in the blues scene of the Bay Area during the ’70s and early ’80s before moving to San Diego where he and his band at the time went on to open for musical greats—including being part of the final appearance of Albert King. Snakeboy recently moved to Reno from Austin, Texas, and will play Rollin’ on the River on July 7.

1. How do you describe your music?

We are a Texas-style blues, rock and soul band, with our own taste of originality.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

Genres—in my opinion [it’s] soul music. Ask Jimi Hendrix what that means, “genres.” I play all types of them. I just choose to play from my soul.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

I have collaborated with many musicians from many countries. It makes you a better person, musically, and enhances one’s perspective on life.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

I am very new to this area. So far, I see very diversified people here. Reno has many types of people and musicians here, and now it is my home.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

A couple of “go to summer jams” … we are currently in the studio for the next CD, so we’re focused on that at this time

6. What do you think makes a good song?

A life experience and a cool groove, because we all have one.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

I am new to Reno, so to be honest, I have not heard one yet. But my ears are open.

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

Probably all of them [laughs]. I don’t consider myself as a lyricist. People write things at a certain time that may or may not make sense at that time, that doesn’t mean that it is a bad song when you go back and think about [it] later. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. … My worst song that I wrote? Well, I’ll keep that to myself, unless someone tells me.

Jonny Rolling Band

Jonny Rolling is a Reno native who received a guitar for his 10th birthday and in the following years became a self-taught, multi-instrumentalist interested in everything from folk-punk to hip-hop. He’ll be “Rolling” on the River on July 12.

1. How do you describe your music?

I’d call it a collection of audible frequencies that sound like how I feel about stuff.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

If I had to put a genre name to it, I’d call it indie millennial pop. On a good day, there’s elements of rock, hip-hop, jazz, blues and funk to it. But honestly, it’s just pop music inspired by the maybe-not-so-low-key dystopian world we live in that I make on my own and with friends. [Genres are]not very [important]. Someone once told me there’s no such thing as bad music. I suppose that’s true, and really you just wanna hear something that sounds like what you’re feeling or what you want or need to be feeling.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

Probably someone like Ryan Tedder. He’s the lead singer of One Republic, but he’s also one of the most decorated producers ever and has worked with and made hits for a bunch of people. I like the idea of being an artist/musician but also still being a producer and helping other people make music, so someone doing that on the highest level would be cool to collaborate with, I guess. It’d be more like me geeking out over him. So, throw J. Cole and John Mayer on the list too.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

I think of the life I’ve lived here. There are ups and downs to it, and that’s my opinion of this place. It’s like family, and you don’t ever really hate your family, but sometimes you do. They still facilitate your growth and make you who you are, so you make the best with what you got—but you still love them.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

“You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates hasn’t failed me yet.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

I think a good song is anything that’s honest for the artist who made it and that benefits someone who listens to it. It can be a million people or one person, but at the end of day, music is communication.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

“Get Down!” by Jonny Rolling. *Finger guns at the camera.*

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

It was called “Move On.” It was, like, a musical theater song I wrote for my pop-punk band that wasn’t nearly as clever as I thought it was and actively made me cringe when I listened to it a few months ago. And also now, thinking about it.

Mojo Green

Mojo Green has electrified stages all over the West Coast with their towering funk sound, with their full horn section and down-and-dirty danceability. Catch their brass in all its glory at Rollin’ on the River on July 19.

1. How do you describe your music?

Our music is high-energy, horn-driven soul funk.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

It’s hard to lock us into one specific genre. We dabble in funk, blues, soul, rock and reggae.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

I’d love to collaborate with Lettuce. In my opinion, they are one of the baddest funk groups on the scene today.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

For me, Reno brings Tahoe to mind. I moved down to Reno years ago from Tahoe. Artown is the next thing to come to mind.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

Any Jamiroquai song.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

A simple, catchy hook that someone can hear once and start humming back to themselves after.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

Our song, “Whatcha Got.”

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

That’s a tough one because the crappy songs tend to fade away and not get played.

Werewolf Club

Starry-eyed ’80s synthpop is alive and well in Reno—but it only comes out at night. Just kidding, but lunar charts do predict that when hometown band Werewolf Club takes the Rollin’ on the River stage on July 19, it will be under a full moon. Coincidence? You decide.

1. How do you describe your music?

We play dance-y, upbeat tunes and hide behind too much reverb, [with] loads of synths, catchy guitar lines and vocal harmonies. Hopefully, music that you’d want to listen to while driving with the top down flying off a cliff into the sunset.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

Unintentionally, we have a lot of ’80s influence, although it makes sense since we’re fans of bands like Tears for Fears, New Order, Gary Numan, etc. Along with more modern synthpop influences like Future Islands, STRFKR and Tame Impala.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

It would be amazing to work with Chris Coady, a producer from New York who has put out some of our favorite albums. Locally, we’d really like to collaborate with Pete Barnato, Spitting Image and/or Skew Ring.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

The people here come to mind first. Everyone knows each other, you can always count on not being too lonely if you take a trip to your local watering hole. There’s a ton of support in the community, which is always comforting.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

Solange’s “Losing You” couldn’t be a better summer song. Still can’t get sick of it and always makes you feel real nice.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

Writing good songs for us means relying heavily on cohesion within the band. We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with each other in a way where we essentially finish each other’s’ musical sentences. We’ve been focusing a lot lately on writing hooky vocal melodies and connecting the parts in between with creamy synth lines.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

I don’t know many songs about Reno specifically, but there’s a lot that remind me of it. “Faded in the Morning” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra comes to mind.

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

I think we’d all agree that our first EP is probably our least favorite of the music we’ve written together, hence why it’s not available to listen to anywhere anymore. The songs were definitely an important stepping stone in our development as musicians, but I don’t think any of us can get through a whole song on that CD without cringing.

The Novelists

True to their name, The Novelists value storytelling in their episodic lyrics and signature four-part vocal harmonies. The band has played venues and festival stages all over the country over the past two years and will play Rollin’ on the River on July 26.

1. How do you describe your music?

We are storytellers, and our music covers a wide dynamic range within the rock-folk-pop umbrella. Sometimes the scene calls for a whisper-quiet soundtrack, while other times the right mood is full tilt rock and roll. Regardless of the intensity of the song, our music always features dual lead-singing and four-part harmonies.

2. Does it fall under any specific genres? How important are genre distinctions to you in 2019?

We aren’t concerned with genre distinctions at all. We certainly hope that the music we write and perform moves the listener, but we write it as a means of our reflection—reflection on our own lives as well as observations of the world around us. People can and will respond to the music in a variety of ways. Some will hopefully find value in what we do, but it won’t be for everyone, and that’s OK.

3. Musician(s) with whom you’d most like to collaborate?

There are so many. Each member of the group would have their own answer, of course, but mine would be Chris Thile, Bruce Springsteen, Glen Phillips, Ben Folds, Ani DiFranco, Anaïs Mitchell, Steven Page, Ed Robertson and Joanna Newsom.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the word “Reno”?

A burgeoning arts and culture scene, beautiful summer evenings at the river, a thriving university and generally friendly people. This city has given so much to our band, and wherever we go we’re always proud to call it home.

5. What’s your go-to summer jam?

I always rock Pearl Jam’s “Ten” when summer hits. It was summer time when I discovered the record and it always feels like the perfect thing to listen to when the weather gets hot.

6. What do you think makes a good song?

Honesty. Music is therapy for me, and I don’t seem to benefit when the song is disingenuous. I have found that I can become immersed in music from any genre, as long as it is written and performed sincerely.

7. What’s the best song about Reno?

I’ll have to go with “Hang On St. Christopher” by Tom Waits. There are some specific references to Reno itself and the surrounding areas, and Tom just captures a grit and a vibe that screams “Reno.”

8. What’s the worst song you ever wrote?

It would hard to pin point the very worst song I’ve ever written as pretty much all of my first batch of songs were pretty terrible. Like anything else, you get much better with practice.