David Shaw: Big River Get Down introduces people to Hamilton and to new music

Event takes place at RiversEdge Friday and Saturday with The Revivalists as the headliner.

What started as a vision to bring the City of Hamilton together through music, has grown into something much bigger.

Now, Hamilton not only has a stellar summer concert series at RiversEdge, but two signature music festivals — Whimmydiddle and David Shaw’s Big River Get Down.

David Shaw’s Big River Get Down Presented by Miller Lite will return to Hamilton this weekend with a two-day festival that will kick off the 2022 RiversEdge concert season.

The Journal-News spoke with David Shaw, Hamilton native and lead singer of The Revivalists, and Adam Helms, the producer of the festival, who shared about how the festival has continued to make a significant impact on the City of Hamilton.

“Honestly, this has surpassed the vision I had in the beginning. It’s all of the things that are happening in Hamilton right now, and I’m not going to say this festival is the only reason why all of that is, but I think it is a big piece of that, and it’s wild,” said David Shaw, frontman for The Revivalists.

Shaw first worked with city officials to establish David Shaw’s Big River Get Down in 2015 as an annual event to help give back to his hometown of Hamilton. He continues to take a hands-on approach to seeing it succeed, from working through the details to lining up the bands. Proceeds from the event have been donated to Hamilton’s Fourth of July fireworks and RiversEdge Amphitheater.

Shaw said, “It’s come to life in all facets, from introducing people in Hamilton to new music and new styles they might not have seen, or that might not have come through the city, to bringing more business and tourism to downtown, getting the word out about Hamilton, and that it is an amazing community of artists and good people. There’s a culture here now, so I think that’s really been the thing for me.”


The two-day festival will feature multiple bands, including a solo performance by Shaw on Friday night and a headlining show with Shaw and The Revivalists on Saturday evening at RiversEdge.

“We’ve changed the format this year, so we are going to host a two-day event, a night and then a day, at the amphitheater,” said Adam Helms, director of resident services for the City of Hamilton, and organizer of the festival.

Other artists set to perform at the festival will include The Record Company, Maggie Rose, Judith Hill, Karina Rykman, Chris Gelbuda and the Raelyn Nelson Band.

Chris Gelbuda will kick things off at RiversEdge Amphitheater on Friday, followed by Judith Hill. Shaw and his solo project band will headline the evening concert.

On Saturday, the festival will kick off with the Raelyn Nelson Band. Raelyn is Willie Nelson’s granddaughter.

The concerts will continue with Karina Rykman, followed by Maggie Rose and The Record Company. The Revivalists will headline Big River Get Down on Saturday night.

“We are really excited about all the artists that are playing the festival. We got everybody that we wanted, and that doesn’t always happen. It’s a really special line-up this year,” Shaw said.


Helms added that Big River Get Down is not only a signature event for the city; but it has also become known as a nationally recognized event and people fly in from all over the country to be a part of it.

“We’ve had visitors to RiversEdge and Big River Get Down from all lower 48 states. We’re only missing Hawaii and Alaska…When we announced the dates for the festival, the hotel sold out within 30 minutes,” Helms said.

It’s cool to see all the people come, but it’s not just about the music or the venue, but all the businesses and shops downtown, he said, people can eat and shop before the music starts.

“People come and hang out. They will go eat at Tano Bistro, or to Municipal Brew Works and grab a beer, shop at Sara’s House, and visit the other shops on Main Street…Hamilton has everything right here within walking distance,” Helms said.

He said the festival has continued to thrive as the result of a strong partnership between RiversEdge, The City of Hamilton and David Shaw and The Revivalists. Many other community partners, businesses, and the residents have all been behind it.

2019 marked the fifth year for the annual Big River Get Down and the eighth consecutive year that The Revivalists have performed at RiversEdge. Big River Get Down was not conducted in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. Shaw graduated from Hamilton High School in 2001. He currently resides in New Orleans.

“We’re always talking about ways to try to make it bigger and better, and how to push the envelope a little bit. That’s also what this thing was about. It was about bringing new music, and exposing people to different types of music, and different things in Hamilton that might not necessarily come to the city,” Shaw said.

The festival has introduced the residents of Hamilton to new music and exposed them to different kinds of artists, he said. The festival has also supported up-and-coming acts and introduced them to more people.

“We certainly haven’t touched on all the things we want to do with the festival, and that’s amazing, because it gives us room to grow, and it keeps us creative, and on our toes,” Shaw said.

How to go

What: David Shaw’s Big River Get Down Presented by Miller Lite

When: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Friday and music begins at 6:30 p.m.; On Saturday, doors open at 2:30 p.m. and music begins at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Rivers Edge amphitheater, downtown Hamilton

Admission: Various ticketing packages are available. (VIP tickets are sold out). A two-day general admission pass is $80. Single day tickets are available. The cost of a Fri. only general admission ticket is $40, and a Sat. only general admission ticket is $75.

More info: bigrivergetdown.com and riversedgelive.com

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