ONCE a year River Reeves’ family put their lives on hold to organise a music festival.

It is a tradition that began just months after the Viola Beach guitarist’s death and although the format of the event, now in its third year, keeps evolving it remains a celebration of River, the band and the power of music.

River’s big brother Fin described RivFest as bittersweet.

Putting on a festival in River’s memory naturally makes him miss his brother more but at the same time the achievement helps him cope with his loss.

River, his Viola Beach bandmates and manager Craig Tarry tragically died in Sweden in February 2016 after their car plummeted into a canal

Fin, a former Bridgewater High student, said: “With all this stuff, it’s always a celebration of Viola Beach and remembering them and listening to their songs which on the most part is happy, jump around, fun music. But then I’m remembering River as my brother and memories that only I’ve got.

“A big part of it for me is keeping myself busy and keeping the memory alive because the alternative is to sit and think too much about it.

“It’s nice to do something positive out of something that’s so tragic. It is bittersweet. I remember a key moment last year was on the Friday when we were doing the final big set up for the day.

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River Reeves

“We had these huge drapes with this iconic picture that we’ve now got as the charity logo of Riv with his guitar. It was those going up, the sun shining through and Riv’s image that hit me at once. It was a nice thing but it was a moment that reminded me what it was all about.”

This year RivFest will be held in the town centre on July 13 and 14. The first day will feature a showcase at Parr Hall headlined by The Lottery Winners before a multi-venue event all day on the Saturday headlined by Fickle Friends. At this point Fin said his family home in Grappenhall Heys feels more like a festival HQ.

He added: “That’s the way it is with my family. I go home for the weekend, I walk through the front door, I say: ‘What can I do?’ And I’m immediately given a list of jobs.

Warrington Guardian: A few Aerial shots of RivFest

RivFest at Priestley College

“The last few days before RivFest last year was completely manic. The house was full of stuff and my parents were down at Priestley College until the early hours each night making sure everything was set up. It’s exciting but it’s tiring and full on.”

Fin admitted he did not give Viola Beach much thought at first as River had been in bands before that had fizzled out. But then he saw a video of the band’s session for the BBC at Maida Vale Studios and it blew him away.

The 24-year-old said: “I remember sitting on the bed and watching it and feeling dead proud. I didn’t want to give too much away as his big brother but I said: ‘That was pretty cool Riv’. I think he was quite pleased that I was impressed.

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“I knew he was going to go far but this was the first time I’d seen him centre stage and he was blushing. He used to get red cheeks when he played. Here he was my little brother, going places.”

River’s mum Miranda Reeves bought him an acoustic guitar when he was six and Fin was nine.

Fin added: “My mum told me afterwards that originally the guitar was going to be for me but I think it was my grandma who said it had to go to River as he was more musical. I was jealous but Riv took to it like a duck to water and started having lessons at school. He got very good very quickly

“He was obsessed with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. He used to run around the house listening to American Idiot wearing black shirts and red ties with his hair all messy. He just knew that’s what he wanted to do.”

Now Fin and his family want to help other musicians who have that dream through the festival or the River Reeves Foundation, which provides bursaries for promising young artists.

Fin, who works at production company Dock10, also recently shot a video for RivFest headliners The Lottery Winners in the studio where The Jeremy Kyle Show is filmed at MediaCity. A team of about 15 gave their time for free

Fin said: “It was amazing. It kind of came out of nothing. I was asked if I could shoot a video to promote RivFest and it kind of grew from there. A few people from work got on board and took it on as a side project. We wanted it to have a stripped back studio look so you could almost see the cameras and the backdrop was just the studio walls. We wanted it to have the same look as the 70s and 80s music show, The Old Grey Whistle Test.

“Then the band showed up and they couldn’t believe it. The frontman Thom said to me: ‘We’re just a rubbish band from Leigh, what’s all this?’ They were impressed so that felt good.”

RivFest takes place in Warrington town centre on July 13 and 14.

You can buy one or two-day tickets by clicking here.