Tennessee River was formed in January of 2002 with the idea of bringing back and paying tribute to one of the most influential and vocally dynamic country bands of our time â Alabama. Receiving over 150 industry awards including 8 country music "Entertainer of the Year" honors, 2 Grammys, 2 People's Choice Awards, "Artist of the Decade" recognition by the Academy of Country Music, "Country Group of the Century" honors from the RIAA, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and their very own star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame," there is no doubt that Alabama has become an icon in music history. Given that kind of illustrious track record, this is why Tennessee River was bornâto spotlight an incredible band that really to this day has never been recognized by any tribute project to the degree they should be.
Already established as a strong cross-over seven-part harmony project, the members of Tennessee River wanted to showcase their vocals by tapping into a band they felt changed the industry and sparked a whole new era of mainstream country music that appealed to all ages and all walks of lifeâfrom traditional country diehards to hardcore pop and rock fanatics alike. What better choice than Alabama.
Prior to forming Tennessee River, the guys had performed in various country and rock projects, and have been frequently compared to such legendary bands as the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Diamond Rio, and of course Alabama, with their new hybrid of original cross-over musicâa fusion of the rural and urban sounds of modern day country and blues with the spirit of rock 'n' roll, combined with âtrueâ seven-part harmonies that nowadays seem to be either non-apparent or mechanically manipulated (via multi-track recorders and samplers) by many of todayâs modern country artists both in the studio and on-stage. What better way to pay homage to a mega group like Alabama then to truly represent them the way they should beâraw and original just like they were during their unstoppable rein from 1980 till today. Tennessee River combines the essence of Alabama with their own unique sound and live show to produce both a visual and audible feast that is sure to please audiences of all ages.
The band brings together seasoned musicians who have toured worldwide and played with such national recording artists, including Ty Herndon, Restless Heart, Rascal Flatts, Blackhawk/The Outlaws, Lonestar, Lee Greenwood, Chris Ledoux, The Bellamy Brothers, Flynnville Train, Taylor Swift, Sara Buxton, Jason Michael Carrol, Luke Bryan, Carolina Rain, Sara Evans, Dusty Drake, Chris Cagle, Eric Church and Eric Heatherly. Now, playing those hit songs that revolve around love, relationships, and the everyday rituals of life, Tennessee Riverâs tribute to Alabama offers a walk down memory lane with more than a decade of hits that span the career of Alabama and is sure to give audiences a reason to sing along and dance...again.
The band is comprised of lead singer Russ Birtola, bassist Sal Birtola, guitarist Mark Jones, guitarist Mike Rose, keyboardist Kirk Gibbs, fiddle player Michael Ray, and drummer Ben Street. In addition to their Alabama tribute project, the band has been touring the domestic U.S. writing a string of songs that have gained them many admirers through