In 2006, Don Bailey closed Three-1-Three, his music club in downtown Belleville, leaving a hole in a once-vibrant live music scene. "I always enjoyed Belleville and the music scene, from Uncle Tupelo to Fragile Porcelain Mice," says Bailey. "I booked over 2000 bands at the 313 Club, and I noticed touring regional and national bands had not been coming to Belleville as much as they did in the past.
"I didn't want the beautiful downtown Belleville landscape and music fans to be lacking great music, so me and some very passionate friends joined together to revamp the Mississippi River Music Festival in 2011."
This weekend, three downtown Belleville venues - The Ground Floor, Blue Agave, and Margaritas - will host a total of twelve bands each night. It's not just local bar bands, either. While the Metro East is well-represented in the eclectic line-up that includes everything from delta blues to death metal, yogic folk to electronica, Bailey's reached far for his line-up.
"Although it's the first year of our project we've worked hard since April to bring the best variety of talent we could gather on a small budget. Some of the acts we're booked with help from our friends at Sonicbids in Boston, Massachusetts. We've also worked with local music enthusiasts to help bring in Midwest acts. We have a very broad genre of music and hope the festival to be a success as we would like to carry on next year and years to follow making the event bigger and better for the music fans and wonderful talent."
Each bar is charging a $5 cover, but wristbands are available for $10/night that allow you to move between all three venues. See the line-up and sample some music below.
Margaritas 8:40-9:25 Michael Clay Mills (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
9:45-10:30 Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes (Dallas, Texas)
10:50-11:35 Betty (Neoga, Illinois)
11:55-12:40 Blue Cut (Bloomington, Indiana)
1:00-1:45 Sweet Betsy (Dayton, Ohio)
The Ground Floor 9:10-9:55 Kate Hansen and The Violet Heist (Nashville, Tennessee)
10:20-11:05 Luke Wade & No Civilians (Fort Worth, Texas)
11:30-12:15 The BOB Band (Millstadt, Illinois)
12:40-1:25 Tinhorn Molly (Kansas City, Missouri)
Blue Agave 9:25-10:10 We Live in Public (Columbia, Missouri)
10:35-11:20 The Muhrs (Belleville, Illinois)
11:45-12:30 Man Eating Tiger (St. Louis, Missouri)
12:55 - 1:40 Youniverse (Memphis, Tennessee) Saturday Margaritas 8:40-9:25 Sully (Mascoutah, Illinois)
9:50-10:35 Dada Veda (Urbana, Illinois)
11:00-11:45 The American Freedom Machine (Louisville, Kentucky)
12:10-12:55 M. The Mighty Quinn (Columbia, Missouri)
The Ground Floor 9:10-9:55 Cameron Burnette & The Ghost Ballerinas (Nashville, Tennessee)
10:20-11:05 Paper Anchors (Springfield, Missouri)
11:30-12:15 Dive (Belleville, Illinois)
12:40-1:25 The Vanilla Beans (Belleville, Illinois)
The Blue Agave 9:25-10:00 Evil Has a Twin (Chicago, Illinois)
10:30-11:10 Flat Dark Earth (New Holstein, Wisconsin)
11:40-12:20 Elbow Threw Hammer (Alton, Illinois)
12:50-1:30 Animated Dead (Belleville, Illinois)