Monday, June 9, 2014


Sunday morning, June 8, we met at our usual transportation hub, Casa de Burbank, to pack Nathan's van and leave for Chattanooga. Showing up were 3 WannaBeatles and our trusted pal Lucy who helps out with merchandise and photography.  

WannaBeatle David was in a separate car with his wife Alice. He works every Sunday morning as worship leader at a church in Mt. Juliet, and since he didn't have to take his drums on this gig, he could drive from there.

This was the big day, going to play Riverbend.

We got to Chattanooga first, checking in at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel for our passes, then driving through downtown to get to the Unum stage on the east end of the riverfront. David pulled up behind the stage a few minutes later. We both got parking places behind the stage and began to unload.

It wasn't the big stage we had imagined. But it was big enough.
          Nathan with Hofner on Unum stage, setting up
David & ALice - amor verdadero 
              Taylor, Brian and Bob - in the monitor tent

The stage was equipped with backline, meaning we didn't have to bring drums or amps. This allows bands to change quickly between sets. There were three bands scheduled to play on the Unum stage that night, with fifteen minutes between the end of one and the start of the next. That was a lot less time than we were used to.

But it worked out fine, because we had a great sound company attending to the details of our setup, helping us with move gear, and providing secure space on the side of the stage for us to keep our gear and instruments ready to plug and play.

After sound check, we took a stroll through the festival and parts of downtown Chattanooga. The Unum stage is located just under a pedestrian walkway that connects the contemporary Hunter Museum to downtown. 

                               Hunter Museum
            Another view (the building itself is a sculpture)
                  Yellow beam sculpture outside museum
                    Cartoonish sculpture outside museum
                  Horse sculpture outside museum
                   Hunter Museum viewed from below

As we strolled down the road toward the center of the festival, we came upon a series of incredible sand sculptures being constructed.
                     Sand sculptors at work
                   Wizard of Oz characters in sand 
  Carving the images of the CocaCola Stage headliners  - 
   Buddy Guy already completed, Toby Mac in progress. 

We picked a nice riverfront restaurant called BLue Plate Diner to eat, where we were served by an enthusiastic waitress named Maddie. After dinner, we serenaded some of the other wait staff by singing "Nowhere Man" in harmony a cappella. 

Then back at the stage area, we had a trailer for a changing room and place to rest. There I got to meet some members of the Rusty Wright Band, the first band on the bill. They're from Flint, Michigan, already well-established in the Great Lakes region, currently touring the south to spread their name --"plowing the field," as the agents call it. 

Rusty is the leader, a big blues man with a grey beard and long white hair, and his wife Laurie plays rhythm guitar and sings.  They have their own label and have released four CDs. They also did an hour long DVD for a a PBS station at a college in Michigan, which gets played on PBS stations around the country, stimulating interest in those other areas. 

As Rusty explains, Flint, Michigan is so rough it makes Mississippi look like a resort. One of his songs is called "I Ain't From Mississippi." The band is tight, well-seasoned from the road and festival gigs. They play strong blues grooves, and use tight figures for seamless transitions between songs. Rusty plays great blues guitar.

                             Rusty playing blues
                         Rusty wailing on his Epiphone

The second act on the bill was Clare Dunn. She's a 
no-nonsense tall blonde woman with an aqua telecaster and a big soulful voice. Her band was a simple trio, mostly playing the modern rock that passes for country these days. At her sound check, her song of choice was "People Get Ready," and she sounded fine. Her songs are tightly constructed and radio friendly, with hot guitar solos woven in. 

With her stage presence, confident singing and playing, tight band, commercial songs, and strong rock sensibility, she comes across like a female Keith Urban. It was no surprise to hear that they were from Nashville. It was a very polished professional act.
                         Clare Dunn at Riverbend
                     Clare with Alex on his Epiphone

It was interesting that both bands that went on before us had a woman playing a Telecaster. And they both had guitarists who played a black Epiphone Sheraton. That's the same guitar I played in the WannaBeatles until last summer when I replaced it with a blond Epiphone Dot, which is basically the same guitar in a different color.

So I bonded with Rusty and Alex over our Epiphones.  

Hanging out back in the trailer, Dennis asked David for help tweaking some guitar sounds for his GR-55. That part was not so interesting for Alice.

At about 8 pm, we got dressed for the show and met Bob Payne, the man who booked us at Riverbend. Bob is quite a music guy in Chattanooga. He writes music reviews for, one of the oldest and most successful online city newspapers. He was recently made entertainment editor.
        WannaBeatles with our Riverbend patron, Bob Payne

So we did our 90 minute set, with only a few glitches, and lots of good crowd energy. By the time we ended with "Hey Jude," they were singing along loud enough to remind us of why Paul wrote that ending in the first place. 

Then at the merch table afterward, we met lots of fans who loved us. We were inundated with friends of Maddie, the waitress we'd met at Blue Plate Diner that afternoon. 
    Maddie and her friends and their excitement for the show 

We were overwhelmed by the response. After we packed up, we continued to be blessed by new messages on Facebook which we read in the car on the way back to Nashville - like one that said "AWESOME-AWESOME AWESOME."

The day was over, and what an awesome day it was for us! We can't wait to go back. Thanks Chattanooga, and Riverbend for a great place, great time, and great show.

Bloggin' Bryan 9jun2014

1 comment:

  1. We sure enjoyed meeting you folks & visiting with you before your performance. We really enjoyed your show a lot - everyone around us could tell we liked what we were hearing as all five of us were happily bellowing along with you at the top of our lungs on every song (in three and four part harmony, of course!) Thanks for the kind comments. We all wish you much continued success & hope our paths cross again.