I’ve already touched on how you might explain this year’s Riverbend Festival headliners to your grandparents. But aside from the headliners on the Coke stage, when you really start digging, this year’s lineup offers plenty of opportunities for music discovery and surprises.
The 2017 Riverbend Festival is June 9-17 on Chattanooga’s Riverfront. The festival spans eight days, and tickets are still available.
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Headliners include Flaming Lips, Ludacris, Toby Keith, Boz Scaggs and more. But a quick look at the four other stages shows how deep this year’s lineup really is.
Below are my picks for five under-the-radar performances that might steal the show. The list could be 20 shows long, but I’ve narrowed my focus to a few can’t-miss shows. And I can’t express to you how excited I am for Riverbend this year. I don’t say that every year, but organizers have done an amazing job, and they deserve accolades, kudos and whatever praise you want to loft at them. This is the strongest lineup in years-possibly ever.
What bands/performers are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments.
White Denim, June 11, 8 p.m.
“White Denim is coming to Riverbend? Cool!” was my first thought when I learned the news. The rockers from Austin, Texas, are across the board with their sound. The foundation is indie rock, but they offer elements of progressive jam music, psychedelic rock and plenty of experimentation. The raucous Bud Light stage is the perfect venue to hear them from for the first time. Considered by some to be “one of the best bands of the last decade,” White Denim has seven studio albums and plenty of songs to keep anybody interested. Don’t miss this one when you’re planning your schedule. Watch them perform on “Austin City Limits” below.
The Joy Formidable, June 10, 8 p.m.
Alternative rockers The Joy Formidable were a pleasant surprise addition to the Riverbend lineup this year. Based in the U.K., the Welsh band has managed to encapsulate everything we love about the 1990s alternative rock genre in just three full-length albums. Need a primer before catching them on the Bud Light stage? Watch the band’s full acoustic performance from KEXP below. They do a few songs from their 2016 album “Hitch” and some other tracks. If you don’t like this, we probably can’t be friends. And that’s OK.
Unknown Hinson, June 14, 9:30 p.m.
Hinson has been called “Dracula’s nasty little brother” and is known for voicing Early on the hit animated show “Squidbillies.” Whether you know Unknown Hinson through his music or his work as Early Cuyler, the man is a legend and enigma. Although he’s performed in Chattanooga many times, Hinson will no doubt be at his best with his band and a weird mix of rockabilly tunes at Riverbend on the TVFCU stage. He might be the most talented guitar player at the festival this year, too. He’s much, much more than a novelty act, and his musical talent proves it. Watch him perform the Alice Cooper classic “I’m Unknown” below.
Billy Joe Shaver, June 15, 7:45 p.m.
I had the pleasure of meeting Billy Joe Shaver years ago when he performed during the Nightfall concert series. He’s a leader of Texas-based country music, and you would need to look hard to find a performer who has experienced as much tragedy and heartache as Shaver. The least of that is the fact he performs without two fingers because of a sawmill accident. And yet, at 77, he’s still doing what he loves. His songs have been covered by Bob Dylan, and Shaver is considered a legend of the outlaw country genre. Like Unknown Hinson above, Shaver also lends his voice to “Squidbillies.” He sings the theme song. Watch him perform “Live Forever” below. Is there a more fitting song for Shaver? He’ll be on the TVFCU stage.
The Ragbirds, June 15, 9:30 p.m.
The Ragbirds are a five-piece, female-led Americana band that blends “indie-pop melodies, global rhythms and songwriting styles influenced from all over the world.” From Ann Arbor, Michigan, the band promises to please everyone during their Unum stage performance because their sound is as eclectic as you’ll find. Expect to hear elements of gypsy folk, Latin-infused jazz, rock and Celtic sounds. The Ragbirds released their album “The Threshold and the Hearth” in 2016. Watch them perform “Lemon Grove” below.
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