Artists return to support new series

River Whyless

Halli Anderson, vocalist and violinist of River Whyless, enjoyed her return to the
Columbia Theatre after performing about a year ago at the Ghost Light concert venue.
River Whyless has since been on tour and have released a new EP.  
The Lion’s Roar / Megan Ferrando 

North Carolina’s Indie band River Whyless returned to the Columbia Theatre to begin the New Artist Concert Series. The series premiered last Tuesday, March 24 with Denton Hatcher and the Soapbox Blues opening for River Whyless for the second time. 

Both bands previously played at the theater’s Ghost Light concert venue, similar to the New Artist Concert Series in that it offers a stage for rising musicians.     

Unlike the Ghost Light, the New Artist Concert Series takes place on the big stage of the Columbia Theater, providing a larger experience.

“The bands sound so much richer and fuller in here,” said Roy Blackwood, director of the Columbia Theatre. “I was excited to hear the sound and capability of what the theatre can do with a band of this quality so I’m really pleased with the kick-off of this whole series.”

While the seats were not packed, both Blackwood and the artists were pleased with the turnout. The audience ranged in age, and many who saw the band at the Ghost Light nearly a year ago returned to see them perform on the big stage.

“The crowd was equally receptive both times, which is positive for us, and they came back, which is doubly positive,” said Halli Anderson, singer and violinist for River Whyless. “The word has spread since the Ghost Light show. I can feel it. I’ve seen it on our social networks, and I saw it tonight. That’s good. We’ve only played here once so to see the same come out on a Tuesday night on some new idea, that’s good.”

Since River Whyless’s performance at the Ghost Light last year, they released a new EP this past January and continued touring. 

Recently while on tour, the band played a small gig in a town where a man is trying to revive the culture and music in that town. This experience reinforced Anderson’s desire to provide music and also help in beginning the Columbia’s New Artist Concert Series.

“There was a gig earlier in the tour that we almost canceled because we were worn out and it was a very small gig, we’ve never been in the town before,” said Anderson. “We heard that the owner was trying to curate events. He was really trying to bring music and culture into his town, and money or no money, people or no people, that idea is why we started playing in the first place.”

Anderson saw this same idea in the New Artist Concert Series. She commented on the authenticity of this new series and how it is a place to truly enjoy new music.

“There’s a great group of people here and they’re trying to create a space where people can come and listen, and not get really drunk and talk through the whole show,” said Anderson. “It’s a place where people come to see an act, and I am in full support of that. That’s how this feels, and that’s what we want to be a part of. That’s what we search for as musicians. We want to be heard, and they’re creating this space for that to happen.”

According to Blackwood, the new series offers a unique venue to Hammond they have never had before. 

The series will continue with Maybe April, a country-folk trio, April 14. To learn more about the New Artist Concert Series, visit