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A Wildly Wonderful Time with Wild Rivers

Back on May 6, 2016, I was listening to a Spotify radio station and a song called “Wandering Child” came across by a band I wasn’t familiar with by the name of Wild Rivers. I was immediately hooked. I found their self titled album on iTunes and bought a copy and listened to it over and over again. I reached out to the band via messenger to let them know that I had found their music and that I really appreciated it. That is when my true fandom started. Not only did they reach back out to me, they asked genuine questions about me. I shared where I was from and we found a mutual bond beyond music in basketball. After I got a message about the Thunder, I received a selfie with three of them in someone’s kitchen. This contact with a nobody from Oklahoma who just happened to stumble onto their music one day was enough to make me a fan for life.

If you know me; and if you’re reading this, you most likely do, you’ll know I’m all about seeing bands live. So needless to say, I started watching and bugging them about crossing the boarder from Canada and coming down close enough that I could see them play. Of course that’s no small feat. So I decided to be content in listening to their music and keeping up with them on social media living vicariously through pictures and videos they’d post of their local shows. I was sad to have missed them last year at SXSW in Austin. Ironically I missed going down because I was going to be going to Canada a couple of weeks later and I couldn’t make both trips work.

Flash forward to late 2017 when I saw that they would be coming to Kansas City in February to play at the Folk Alliance festival and then a separate show on the Sunday following it. I looked into Folk Alliance and determined the cost would be too much to just come for the Saturday set and I started looking at the possibility of taking off Monday to come for the Sunday night show. Fortune smiled upon me when it turned out the Monday would actually be a federal holiday meaning I would be off work, and even though weather in KC and the surrounding areas can be quite dicey in February, I bought a ticket and committed to go.

I left Oklahoma around 11 to give myself plenty of time to get there should something happen which would turn the little over 5 hour drive a little longer. I arrived in time to check into a hotel room that I would barely be in and then I drove to find the venue. I’m glad I scouted it out because it was definitely off the beaten path and was also surround by train tracks. In fact I was nervous about getting to it in time because apparently I arrived at prime train traffic time. Luckily I was able to get through and I pulled up to see a van with Canadian plates at the entrance which gave me a pretty good idea I was at the right place. That was confirmed when I saw them walking back outside to get the next load of gear. I rolled down my window and yelled “Wild Rivers!” Luckily they didn’t think I was a crazy person and recognized me.

I left them to see about getting some food; but after driving around and not finding easy access to anything, I decided to head back in case I ran into train trouble. I arrived back and checked in at the counter but I was way too early and the guy at the booth said I could wait outside but I couldn’t go in because they were doing sound check. So I walked back and awkwardly stood outside the door looking in a small window. Khal saw me and waved me in and said I was more than welcome to be in there with them. I sat there and watched them go through the normal sound check stuff just thrilled to finally get to see them. They asked if I had anything I really wanted to hear. I knew they’d do my favorites which are “Do Right,” “Wandering Child,” and “Speak Too Soon” so I said “Mayday” because I had just heard it in the car and it was the first one to come to mind.

After good conversation during and after soundcheck, it was time for them to go get ready for the show. I sat and listened to the opening act and Devan came down and sat with me for a bit, and then one by one the guys came down. I was thrilled that they let me a part of the team huddle before they went on stage and played a show that blew away even my loftiest of expectations. From the opening notes of “Already Gone” to the end of “Howl” I was engrossed in the music. They played all of my favorites including a special edition of “Mayday” with a train whistle solo. They did a few new ones including what I’m sure to be listening on repeat in “Moving Target” and “Week Ago.”

After the show, I stuck around and got to visit with them a little more. They were kind enough to get me a set list and sign it to commemorate the occasion. It definitely made me ready to make it to another one of their shows. Not only to take in the amazing musical experience, but to be able to hang out with my friends again. I’m trying to help them figure out how to get to Oklahoma to visit me, but I’d also love to make it to Toronto to visit them. Considering I have another friend in the area, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. So to Kahl, Ben, Andrew, and Devan, I seriously appreciate you all and cannot wait until our paths cross again. To everyone else reading this, do yourself a favor and go listen to and buy their music!

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