ALTON - For Tyler Armstrong, it means a lot to be the opening band at the Mississippi River Festival.

Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

Armstrong, the guitarist for the band FEEL, loves the history of the Mississippi River Festival (MRF). FEEL will open the festival this Saturday, June 22, 2024, and Armstrong can’t wait to share the iconic stage.

“It’s quite literally the most successful music festival there has ever been," Armstrong said. “In a hippie-dippie way, it was a lot of peace, love and music. It was just a very huge moment of togetherness, and that’s kind of what it feels like with this Saturday as well, just trying to drive a community and get people to come together.”

Armstrong explained that there were “hundreds and hundreds of shows” played at the MRF during its original run from 1969–1980 in Edwardsville, which he called “pretty insane.” Originally started to promote the new Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus, the MRF quickly became a cultural touchstone for many people in the Riverbend community.

The festival has been renewed by Nick Bifano, Zack Johnson, the City of Alton and REX Productions. Armstrong said he believes there’s “a lot of intentionality” behind the decision to restart the MRF. While the 2024 MRF will not be the same as the 70s, he thinks it will still be a fun experience that’s just as legendary as the original festival.

Article continues after sponsor message

“I think that’s what’s unique about this year and this continuance of this era and the older era of the MRF is that it has that spirit,” he explained. “It’s being run and put together by people who are respecting the older generation and respecting the original 11-year run, but also taking into consideration that it is 2024 and things have to be done a little bit differently. So that’s cool, too.”

Armstrong noted that there are “a lot of gatekeepers” who have expressed concerns about the differences between the original festival and this year’s MRF. He encourages people to enjoy the festival and take the opportunity to listen to new music. While the festival is not exactly the same as its 1970s counterpart, he believes there are still a lot of similarities between the two.

“Anyone who chooses to accept it, it can be a full-circle thing,” he added. “It’s just different. But you can still have the same spirit of togetherness and peace and just shut the world off for a bit and just go and see music.”

Armstrong is also excited because his band FEEL is influenced by bands from the 60s and 70s. He considers the MRF to be “this area’s Woodstock,” and he looks forward to taking the stage and sharing this experience with today’s community.

“If people can come together, I’m not going to say it’s going to change the world, but it could change your day. It could change your week or your outlook on the younger generation or the older generation,” he said. “We’re all on the shoulders of giants and if we can come to the MRF and celebrate that, I think it’s just a really easy opportunity for some peace and some serenity in moments where there doesn't seem to be a lot of that going on.”

For more information about the Mississippi River Festival, read this article on or visit and the official Mississippi River Festival Facebook page.

More like this:

Jun 20, 2024 - Organizers of Mississippi River Festival Talk History, Process and Why They Believe in Renewing the Event

Jun 17, 2024 - Mississippi River Fest to Combine New Vibes and Nostalgia

Jun 4, 2024 - New Mural Commemorates Mississippi River Festival and "Art-Forward" Alton

Jul 11, 2024 - Commentary: Mississippi River Festival Reborn: A Night to Remember

Jun 24, 2024 - MRF Organizers Plan for Years of Continued Success