Monday, June 15, 2015

Riverbend Music Festival: a First Experience


Since a boater friend introduced us to the CMA Festival in Nashville, we've been going to it almost every June. Yes, we love it that much, and we're not even country music fans! But this year, thanks to our boat neighbor Glenda, we stayed in Chattanooga and went to the 9-day Riverbend Music Festival. So how did we like Riverbend?
Coke Stage
TN Aquarium in the background
You name it, we fry it
Riverbend opened with a bang, with an electrifying performance by 3 Doors Down on Friday, followed by the talented entertainer Martina McBride on Saturday. Both concerts were awesome, and we had a mighty great time. 
On Monday, it was the Bessie Smith Strut. It sounded like a huge block party complete with blues music and southern food, like fried chicken and barbecue, all things we love, so we had to go. Not knowing that the Riverbend tickets were no good here (entrance fee was $10 a person, and nowhere was this advertised), and you couldn't bring your water with you.  The rain made the decision for us. We couldn't envision ourselves eating barbecue with one hand and carrying an umbrella with another, squished amongst the crowd. We left and drove downtown to get our share of barbecue at Sticky Fingers, in a comfortable setting, watching the rain come down. On the way home, the rain quit, and we stopped to take this picture of the Tennessee River at the boat ramp across from Sullivans Bait and Tackle (Daymark 439.5)
Tranquility after the rain
We later learned that Bessie Smith was a legendary blues performer in the 1920s, and that HBO had just released the film Bessie (played by Queen Latifah) last month. Smith was a native of Chattanooga.
Last day of Riverbend, around sunset
This past Saturday was the last day of the Riverbend Music Festival. We were disappointed with the rock band Stone Temple Pilot. The music was way too loud for our taste, and judging from the audience's reaction, they weren't thrilled either. We thought we could escape the heat by coming to town around sunset (temperatures were in the low 90s), but it was still hot and muggy. We did not bring our chairs this time, so we wandered around to find a good vantage point for the fireworks later. 
Looking at the boats on the waterfront from the left side of the Coke Stage
Looking at the waterfront from above Ross Landing 
We walked all the way down to where the boats were docked and up the stairs to find 8TRK playing 70s and 80s music at the TVFCU stage underneath a bridge. This was a cozy stage with tables and seats, and with a few fans blowing, the air was a tad cooler. The music was better too.

Artsy tables at the TVFCU Stage
The grand finale was the fireworks. We watched them outside the festival gate, from the TN Aquarium grounds.

In conclusion, Riverbend was a fun experience. But if we have to choose between Riverbend and the CMA Festival in Nashville (they both happen on the same weekend in June), we would choose the latter. Nashville is a bigger city with lots more live music venues and restaurants. Also, many concerts set up on outdoor stages are free.

What's your favorite music festival?

Updated: 5/30/20

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