Carson City singer Beans Sousa is sitting in with The Slade Rivers Band at the Genoa Cowboy Festival May 3 through 5.
Amador County, Calif., resident Slade Rivers and his band are a honky-tonk hillbilly swing band that plays original tunes, plus a mixture of the old school tunes such as Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzel, Ernest Tubb and Merle Haggard songs.
The son of a Navy dad, Slade spent his early years growing up in southeastern Texas taking guitar lessons and learning every song Hank Williams ever wrote. When his family moved back to the West Coast Slade played in several garage bands until schooling called him to northern California and Humboldt State University.
“Humboldt County is where I really started to get serious about writing country songs instead of learning other folks’ tunes,” Rivers says. “Traveling for years up and down Highway 101 to and from school and my folks’ home I was destined to write one of our most requested original road songs called ‘Humboldt County Rain.’”
Other songs include “101 You’re a Friend of Mine, I Haven’t Seen You In a While,” “Do You Still Remember Me, I Remember Every Mile,” and “The Truck Stops, Highway Songs, the Verses and Refrains.”
With several CDs to his credit, Rivers performs shows with band members Allen Frank (aka Tex Pickens) on dobro and Steve Doss (aka WC Slim) on upright bass.
Sousa is the former 20-year sidekick and guitarist of country star Lacy J. Dalton. Sousa is the producer and co-songwriter of Dalton’s popular “Wild Horse Crossing” CD on the Shop Record label, an independent Internet record company where he oversees the sales for independent artists including David John and The Comstock Cowboys, Richard Elloyan, Merle Haggard’s guitarist and songwriter buddy Freddy Powers, and now The Slade Rivers Band.
Both Rivers and Sousa brag that they met each other in an very unusual way.
“Beans and I ran into each other in the summer of 2010 in the middle of the night on the Carson River just upstream from Markleeville. My wife and I were camped a short ways from Beans’ camp when I heard what sounded like a slew of old cowboys singing and playing guitar around a campfire. Being the nosy sort that I am, I wandered down there in the pitch dark and asked the group of men if I could go get my guitar and sit in with them. It was Beans who took the ball, and in a somewhat facetious voice said ‘Sure, if you know any Merle Haggard songs,’” Rivers said. “His buddies kinda laughed at that, and on the walk back to get my guitar I wondered why. Later that night Beans explained to me that he sometimes uses the Haggard comment as a diversion for those other than accomplished musicians that want to sit in with us and play anything other than country songs. It’s meant as a chance for them to reconsider and just sit and listen to the music.
For more information, visit www.genoacowboy festival.org.