Family gatherings and Great-Grandmother at the piano provided Alabama born Jenni Wallace her earliest exposure to homemade music. She came under the spell of old-time and bluegrass music in the early '70's and began acquiring a variety of instruments. Guitar came first, but mountain dulcimer, banjo and fiddle soon followed. In the early '80's Jenni played with an Omaha band called 'The Old Time Wood And String Company". It was around this time that she took up the hammered dulcimer. She has played as a duo with Kathy as Wallace & Wood, and in the Rivertown String Band since 1984. Jenni also teaches music lessons on various folk instruments.
Dishwashing squabbles were quelled when Kathy Wood's parents suggested that she and her older sister sing Girl Scout camp songs together to pass the time. In the '50s, she had accordion lessons which was enough to convince her that the accordion was not for her. After moving to Omaha, Nebraska in the late '60s, she was introduced to the autoharp and much later learned guitar and old-time banjo. She and her husband, Jim, have been mainstays of the Omaha Folk Song Society for thirty-eight years and members of Great Plains Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association since its inception in 1976.
Jim Wood, a retired Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was influenced by his Mennonite bluegrass banjo playing roommate in the 1960's. He was also a devotee of Judy Collins in her early club singing appearances in Denver, CO. Jim began building and playing mountain dulcimers in the '70s and moved from there into playing the upright bass, where he is the rock solid foundation for the Rivertown String Band. His historical interests enrich our programs, and he is one fine jaw harp player.
Mindy Hunke grew up with a steady diet of 70's folk music from her parent's turntable. They were greatly surprised when she announced that she planned to play violin at age 10. Reluctantly they agreed to let her try. Her efforts took her to Northwestern University as a music major. Looking to do something "fun", Mindy converted herself from a classical violinist to an adventure-loving fiddler in 2005 and has never regretted it, although she still happily teaches others how to play classical violin.
It was at the Omaha Folk Song Society gatherings that these musicians first came together in 1981. They have been playing music together ever since. Mindy joined the group in 2007.