With the 30th edition of the Green River Festival coming up July 8-10 in Greenfield, MA with Dawes, Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Shovels & Rope, Shakey Graves and many more, the concert’s producer and Signature Sounds Recordings head Jim Olsen was inspired to look back at the fest’s origins. The first festival took place in 1986 as a free one day event at Greenfield Community College to celebrate the 5th anniversary of local radio station WRSI (now known as The River). The free show was headlined by NRBQ, who are returning this year. The then-unknown band 10,000 Maniacs performed (featuring a very young Natalie Merchant).
The following weekend the Franklin County Chamber Of Commerce held the first Upcountry Hot Air Balloon Festival. The following year the two events merged and eventually became the Green River Festival, which is now known nationally for its merging of bands, hot air balloons, childrens’ activities, and more.
In its now-thirty year history, the fest has earned acclaim from USA Today, Rolling Stone, and NY Times and has hosted Dr. John, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Steve Earle, The Punch Brothers, tUnE-yArDs, Buddy Guy, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Avett Brothers, Norah Jones, and many more. Last year’s fest set a new attendance record with 14,000 tickets sold in 2015. The Green River Festival will take another leap forward in 2016 with the addition of camping at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.
For more information and to buy your tickets, head to the Fest’s website here, and check out some Elmore exclusive photos from the very first Green River Fest in 1986 below!