River Whyless teams up with Student Yosef Club for Welcome Back Concert

Michael Bragg

River Whyless, the Baroque folk group that formed at the university in 2008 – then as Do it to Julia – has released a full length album, performed at music festivals and at venues across Boone.

But on Friday, the Asheville residents will set up on Duck Pond Field to perform at the Student Yosef Club’s Welcome Back Concert. The concert will include a free concert by River Whyless, free food from area restaurants and a chance to sign up for the club.

River Whyless’ guitarist and vocalist Ryan O’Keefe participated in a Q&A with The Appalachian discussing the band’s progress, recent experiences and their feelings about returning to the original group’s birthplace – Boone.

For more information on the concert, visit goasu.com or RSVP at StudentYosefClub@appstate.edu.

Q&A with Ryan O’Keefe


The Appalachian: How has the band as a whole progressed or changed since the release of “A Stone, a Leaf, an Unfound Door” ?
Ryan O’Keefe: It’s funny to think of progression after “A Stone, a Leaf, an Unfound Door.” It’s definitely happened, but we have never been asked about musical progression after the release. We are really excited for fall to come. I’m staying in a cabin just outside of Asheville for the winter. A band has to balance touring and writing. It’s difficult for us to write as a group on the road. There is just no time and definitely no space. We all have to find little moments alone while traveling to work over new pieces but most of the songs are built in our heads while we are driving or something. It’s definitely a different approach to writing than any of us have done before. Sitting in a space for hours and just spilling out music doesn’t happen so I feel that the songs are even more thought over. Ideas change and mold depending on the landscape, people and emotions that surround you. It will be fun to be home and piece it all together.

TA: Since changing the name of the band, do people still mistake you guys as Do it to Julia?
RO: I don’t think people mistake us for Do it to Julia. A lot of people bring it up but I think most people know the band changed its name. Now, in saying that, I don’t know if those people know what we changed it, too.

TA: How did you get involved with this performance on Duck Pond through the Student Yosef Club? What’s it like for the band performing at and returning to the place where they went to school and formed?
RO: We are really excited about the Duck Pond show. Everyone in the band attended and graduated from Appalachian State. Alex [McWalters] and I ran Track and Field and Cross-country for Coach Curcio and Coach Weaver, so our emotional ties with the school run deep. So when Leigh Morrow, the promoter and fellow App State athlete, called the band and asked us to play it was a no brainer. It will be fun to walk around a bit and check out some old spots. Halli [Anderson] and I played our first show ever in Crossroads Café in the Student Union. I think Crossroads is still around but you never know with all the construction that happens at that school.

TA:You guys recently played at Music on the Mountaintop for the second time. How was that experience?
RO: Music on the Mountaintop was great as always. We saw some great bands, camped and lay in the grass with some good friends. It doesn’t get much better than that.

TA: Are there any plans right now or talk of coming back to Boone after this performance at Duck Pond?
RO: There is some talk about coming back to Boone after the show. I don’t know when just yet, but keep your eye out later this fall.

Story: MICHAEL BRAGG, Senior A&E Reporter