From left, Sean Harris (upright bass), Haley Fisher (drums), Julie Hugunin (backup vocals), Grace Rosen (backup vocals), Rio Scafone (lead vocals), Mike Boyd (guitar) and Paige Grider (saxophone) are Rio and the Rockabilly Revival.

From left, Sean Harris (upright bass), Haley Fisher (drums), Julie Hugunin (backup vocals), Grace Rosen (backup vocals), Rio Scafone (lead vocals), Mike Boyd (guitar) and Paige Grider (saxophone) are Rio and the Rockabilly Revival.

Photo provided by Rio Scafone


Royal Oak singer, band nominated for Josie Music Awards

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 8, 2021

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ROYAL OAK — Rio Scafone, of Royal Oak, and her band, Rio and the Rockabilly Revival, are nominated for numerous Josie Music Awards, a prestigious award show that honors independent artists of all genres.

The seventh annual Josie Music Awards is slated to take place at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Sept. 18. Out of more than 42,000 artist submissions, Scafone snagged four nominations as a solo artist and one for Group of the Year for Rio and the Rockabilly Revival.

Scafone’s solo nominations include Entertainer of the Year, Rock Artist of the Year, Rock Vocalist of the Year and Rock Song of the Year for her single, “Fire and Brimstone.”

Those who have seen Rio and the Rockabilly Revival perform can attest to the front woman’s powerhouse vocals and captivating stage presence, as well as the entire seven-member band’s high-energy choreography and charisma. The group celebrated 10 years together in August.

The niece of rockabilly legend Jack Scott, born Giovanni Domenico Scafone, Rio has music in her DNA. Some of her first memories include Sunday dinners at her grandmother’s house in Hazel Park and being surrounded by music.

“As early as I can remember, it was music, pasta and meatballs,” Rio said. “My uncle was very, very supportive of me all throughout my life.”

One of the last bits of advice he gave her when Rio asked his blessing to form a rockabilly band and cover some of his songs was to always impart a part of herself and her originality into the music.

“He laughed and said, ‘You don’t need my blessing, but this is what I do want you to do: Promise me to use your own voice and do it in your way,’” Rio said. “My uncle was from a time where, if you were a showman, you earned that title and you worked for it, and so I spent many, many years honing that and rehearsing and pushing myself to try new things.”

Besides her rock chops, Rio has also found success in pop music and professional acting. She has toured and performed across the U.S. and overseas, and she has appeared in “Detroit 187,” HBO’s “Hung,” Hallmark movies and commercials. In 2018, Rio and the Rockabilly Revival won Entertainer of the Year Band (Folk/Americana) at the Josie Music Awards.

“Music feeds me. Music is music, and I love it all,” Rio said. “I just don’t ever want to stifle myself or put myself into one box and say, ‘This is all there is.’”

Rio and her husband, Sean Harris, who plays upright bass in Rio and the Rockabilly Revival, also have a daughter, 12-year-old Sophia Harris. Rio said Sophia’s vocals on “Fire and Brimstone” make the nomination for Rock Song of the Year even sweeter.

“She has what is called regressive autism. She was developing completely normally and hitting typical milestones until age 1 1/2,” Rio said of Sophia. “She could no longer speak, wouldn’t look at us and was completely in her own world, like someone had flipped a switch.”

Rio and Sean worked with Sophia to use sign language, and she grew up in rehearsals, singing harmonies back to her parents when she was 3 years old. When Rio asked if she would like to sing harmonies on the track about a year ago, Sophia said yes.

“Not only did she surpass her own limitations with sounds, being able to wear the headphones and listening to all of the music as a whole, she also sang, and not only was she able to do that, she nailed it with really tight harmonies,” Rio said. “It was such a proud moment.”

Since then, she said, Sophia has been singing more and more, as well as coming into her own as an artist.

Like many bands and performers, Rio said, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in their plans. Despite the entire band being fully vaccinated, Rio said they recently opted to cancel their first live gig out of an abundance of caution.

“This is the longest I’ve ever been off stage, not performing. It’s insane to me,” Rio said. “I have an auto-immune disorder, so I have to be extra careful. It hurt my heart (to cancel). I never canceled a single gig in all of my years of performing.”

She said the band is looking to get creative with finding outdoor venues, turning toward more virtual experiences and taking it day by day until the risk subsides.

“If we’ve learned anything through COVID, it is how fragile life is,” Rio said. “Being a musician is a very difficult lifestyle. You have to really love it in your heart and soul and can’t see yourself doing anything else. I always hope that people find that for themselves.”

She said she looks forward to singing on stage again and the telltale goosebumps that inevitably accompany her performances.

Paige Grider, of Shelby Township, plays saxophone in Rio and the Rockabilly Revival. She has been playing with the band since 2017.

“It’s really intense, and there’s a lot of high expectations. There’s a saying in music: Good enough doesn’t exist,” Grider said. “I thrive being able to reach those expectations, and the exhilaration on stage is so worth all the time (we spend rehearsing).”

A student at Oakland University, Grider is studying music education and plans to be a band director after graduation, while continuing to play saxophone with the band as an outlet.

She said that, during sets, the crowd’s energy mirrors the band’s, and she enjoys the interactive element of allowing the audience to sing into a microphone or members of the band marching around the crowd “New Orleans style.”

One of the highlights of her music career thus far, Grider said, was performing at the Josie Music Awards in 2018 in front of more than 5,000 fellow musicians.

“I actually stand on (Sean’s upright bass),” she said of the performance. “Our rehearsals are usually three hours, and we spent more than one rehearsal just on that song, getting the guitarist to help me on the bass.”

For more information about Rio Scafone, visit riomusic.live. For more information about Rio and the Rockabilly Revival, visit rioandtherockabillyrevival.com.

For more information about the Josie Music Awards, call (331) 645-8336 or visit www.josiemusicawards.com.

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