DownRiver Collective is an amalgam of influences from across the roots music world. Blurring the lines between traditional folk and progressive acoustic music, DRC draws on diverse backgrounds to create a sound that is both fresh and familiar. Following the lead of Virginia native John Gray and Floridian fiddler Bailey Warren, the DownRiver Collective has evolved from a three piece folk group to a full-bodied string band with the added help of fellow Belmont University alumni. Connected by a love for bluegrass, Gray and Warren were drawn naturally to vocalist Ali Vance, mandolinist Rico Wallenda, and guitarist Jonny Therrien, who were all members of the same college ensemble. In the harbor of the classroom, the DownRiver Collective began to take shape.
Now, after a pilot run as the original three piece with their debut album Kettleridge, DRC has released three new songs and re-captured two from Kettleridge in a new light. The new music is a reflection of the band’s growth and signals a new sound from the young up-and-comers.
SHANNON BIELSKI is the power-house lead vocal and vivacious fiddle you’ve been waiting for. She began her musical journey at age seven with piano, and a year later, violin. Even at an early age, Shannon had an affinity for singing; she participated in her school’s, and All County chorusses throughout the years. At thirteen, she began learning bluegrass fiddle with Rickie Simpkins, where her classical violin knowledge and experience helped her transition to the aural style of learning. Shannon performed and recorded with a Southern Maryland Bluegrass Band, The Zekiah Swamp Cats, and won a Public Performance Scholarship to attend the world-famous Bluegrass, Country, and Old-Time Music Program at East Tennessee State University. Her dream of having her own band floated in the clouds over the moonlit mountains of Virginia on her final homeward bound drive from Tennessee. Shannon Bielski & Moonlight Drive first gained attention and recognition when they won first place in the 2018 DCBU Mid-Atlantic Bluegrass Band Competition. Shannon has also been recognized for her song-writing talents, taking first place in the 2018 Deer Creek Fiddler’s Convention Songwriting Contest.