Tennessee River Jam

Will Dakota (left) and Keith Burns will be the featured attractions for a 2 p.m. show Saturday at The Breakers as part of the Tennessee River Jam.

A singer-guitarist who reached country fame with the group Trick Pony, an up-and-comer from North Dakota, and an Alabama boy who’s a throwback to the outlaw country music days of the 1970s should make for a spicy Saturday as part of the Tennessee River Jam at The Breakers Marina.

Sandwiched around the main event at Paris Landing State Park are two shows at The Breakers — Keith Burns and Will Dakota bring their tour in for a 2 p.m. concert, and River Dan will perform for the folks who still haven’t had enough music at 9 p.m. 

Burns came to prominence around the turn of the century with a group called Trick Pony. As the lead guitarist for the group, he, along with bandmates Heidi Newfield (lead vocals and acoustic guitar) and Ira Dean (bass guitar). They worked together for four years before getting a record deal in 2000 from Warner Brothers Records.

The group had four singles in the next two years that made it into the top 20 on the country charts — “Pour Me,” “On a Night Like This,” “Just What I Do” and “On a Mission.” Burns co-wrote “Just What I Do,” which was nominated for a Grammy award.

Between 2001 and 2003, Trick Pony received eight nominations for Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards, and the group was a winner in 2001 for top new vocal duet or group. Burns left Trick Pony in 2007, just prior to the group disbanding, and he moved on to team up with singer-bass player Michelle Poe in the duo Burns & Poe. 

A native of Jonesboro, Ga., Burns says he wanted to be on stage since he was a young kid, idolizing Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond. His first taste of success came as a songwriter, with some of his tunes being recorded by Joe Diffie, Sammy Kershaw, Hootie and the Blowfish and Moe Bandy. 

Right after high school, he started playing honky tonks around Atlanta, eventually fronting the house band at Copper Dollar Saloon, where he caught Diffie’s eye. He could be considered a protege of Diffie, since he has toured with Diffie and played bass with his band. Burns’ current solo tour includes young Will Dakota, who moved from Bismarck, N.D. to Nashville. The two call their summer tour “Turn Up the Heat.”

Dakota describes his style as country and Americana music. He played tennis and soccer in high school, but decided music was his true love and Nashville was where he should be. In addition to his tour with Burns, Dakota also performs with the Will Dakota and Friends shows every Sunday night at Betty Lou’s Lounge in Nashville.



River Dan was born in Montgomery, Ala., and first played the banjo as a teen. Through the years, he has picked up a wide variety of other stringed and percussion instruments as he has gained popularity across the South.

Proudy declaring himself as a lover of the late Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, River Dan emphasizes the Southern flavor in his singing, songwriting and musicianship. 

Also a harmonica virtuoso, he has toured endlessly across America and has cut albums “Substance Abuse and a Woman on the Loose” and “Baby Blues.”

Admission to the River Dan concert is $10, while the daytime show featuring Burns and Dakota is free.

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