Kelly &The River Band came together much like a mighty river, as many streams and creeks merge to become one great tributary. The meeting point was Little River United Methodist Church. Kelly Campman (lead/background vocals, keyboard) traveled south from Pennsylvania leaving family, friends, a thriving music studio, teaching career, and a band behind. Bart Griffin (bass, background vocals) moved east from Tennessee having been a stage musician in bands and theatre. Also moving south was Erik Stair (drums, percussion), having had a record contract to play metal. Eric Freeman’s (guitar, background vocals) path led him to the wild blue yonder settling in Little River after a stint in the Air Force. John Bove (woodwinds) migrated south from Brooklyn, NY bringing his flute and saxophone along for the ride.
The band in its current form did not happen overnight. For fifteen years, the band used several different names and hosted a revolving door of singers and musicians. The one constant was Kelly. She did the job that LRUMC hired her to do in 2006 as band leader for the contemporary service. Eventually she became Music Director for the church, directing the traditional choirs and leading the contemporary band, which was nothing if not diverse. The group listed a roster of members from teenagers to retirees.
When its current line up became set, it wasn’t long before their talent was noticed. Kelly was approached by a church member who donated funds for the band to use to record an album. Due to busy work and family schedules, and because Kelly had not written any music since moving to SC in 2006, the idea went on the back burner. A few years later, another couple in the church matched the first donation. It had been since 2005 that Kelly had released her first album with her band Clockwise Scarlett in PA and she knew it was time to release some new music.
Kelly had longed to write more songs and the spring of 2020, with the pandemic and its quarantine, gave her more time than usual. She spent the spring and summer writing and ended up with ten original songs. She introduced them to the band and they agreed it was time to record. In June of 2020, they went to Atlantic Coast Recording Studio and began working with Ed Dennis as their sound engineer. Ed is kind of a throwback, and a huge fan of organic sounds. He mixes a minimal amount of digital recording media with old school analog equipment. This provides the warm live sound that the band was looking for and can be heard on the album. Ed can also be heard playing pedal steel and guitar, along with Chad Hammer on cello.
Kelly & The River Band will release their debut album Make It Happen on June 26, 2021.