Riverbend 2016 is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to secure your wristbands and dust off your lawn chair. Every year, the nine-day festival brings some of the biggest names in country, rock, and pop music to our very own 21st Century Waterfront, and this year’s star-studded lineup is no different. For this exclusive preview, CityScope magazine chatted with four of the 2016 headliners about what we can expect from their much-anticipated performances. By Candice Graham
Singing tunes by the time he was three years old, country music star Brett Eldredge has climbed the music charts to win awards such as CMT Music Awards Performance of the Year, BMI Country Awards Song of the Year, and CMA Awards New Artist of the Year. We spoke to Brett on his 30th birthday about the success he found in his 20s and
his plans for the next decade.
CS: Did you ever imagine that you’d accomplish as much as you have before your 30th birthday?
BE: I’m having a day of reflection right now, looking back, thinking, “Gosh, my twenties treated me really well.” My music career has taken off to a level I never could have imagined. I always wanted it to be like this, but it never happens exactly how you think it’s going to. I wouldn’t change it in any way. It’s a beautiful thing when it works out like this and you can share the journey with people.
CS: What can the crowd at Riverbend look forward to from your performance?
BE: All I ever want to do is get up on stage and bring a show to people that they’ve never seen. I try to bring as much energy as I possibly can. I run around a lot and have a lot of fun and try to make sure everyone in the back is as excited as those in the front. I feed off that energy and I live for that feeling – that high that you get on stage.
CS: Last November, “Beat of The Music” won the BMI Country Awards Song of the Year. Do you have any favorite songs to perform live?
BE: I’ve always loved singing “Beat of the Music,” which was my second No. 1 hit. Everyone gets so pumped up to hear it and it’s just a feel-good song. “Drunk on Your Love” has been one of my biggest hits to date and it’s just crazy to see people in the crowd singing along. But when you get down to it, I would say “Wanna Be That Song,” is probably my favorite of all my songs to sing. It’s a really special one from my new album Illinois.
CS: I heard you co-wrote every track on your new album Illinois. How was the songwriting experience?
BE: I love to write songs and I love even more to sing the songs I write. I sit in a room and map out a story, whether I actually lived it or I want to live it. I always pull from real-life situations or feelings, whether it’s about what it’s like to be in love or feel heartbroken. I find that if I’ve really experienced and lived it, or even if I want to live it, then it’s far more believable on stage.
CS: What’s in store for you in this next decade?
BE: As long as there’s a crowd that’ll show up, whether it’s two people or two thousand, I want to pour my heart out to whoever wants to listen. So for the next decade, it’s all for the fans and for the love of the music, and I can’t wait to see what the next stage and the next crowd brings.
Trampled by Turtles
Sunday, June 12
Coke Stage, 6:30 p.m.
Formed in Duluth, Minnesota, in 2003, Trampled by Turtles got their start playing music festivals in the Midwest. Thirteen years later, the band is still bringing their background in contemporary rock to a more traditional folk and bluegrass sound, and is set to take on Riverbend as a Coke Stage headliner. Mandolin player Erik Berry tells us what to expect.
CS: Riverbend is a large outdoor festival with tons of energy. How does an atmosphere like this affect the show you put on?
TBT: Generally speaking, a Trampled by Turtles show is all about the energy. Personally, I love playing outdoors because I dig the role of the weather, particularly the wind, and if it’s a daytime show you can see all the people in the crowd.
CS: The band has released seven studio albums and one live album – how have your albums evolved over time?
TBT: From Ghost Town to Wild Animals I think you can really hear us improve our technique as singers and instrumentalists, grow more comfortable with the recording process and experience, and expand what we think Trampled by Turtles music sounds like. I definitely think you can also hear our lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Simonett grow as a songwriter.
CS: Out of the songs that fans have really grown to love, do you have any that are your favorites to play live?
TBT: My favorite Trampled by Turtles song is “Keys to Paradise.” Dave could have written that about me. Of course, the big crowd favorite is “Wait So Long,” which I also love to play because it’s a challenge to keep up the speed and intensity without it becoming a train wreck. Certainly the energy of the crowd provides a big boost.
CS: Chattanooga has a lot of Trampled by Turtles fans who are looking forward to your performance. What can we expect?
TBT: We’ve taken a long – for us – break, so by the time June rolls around I expect we’ll be riding a nice wave of having fallen in love with what we do again and we’ll bring that to the stage.
Friday, June 17
Coke Stage, 9:30 p.m.
If you turn your radio dial to a classic rock station and take a cruise through Chattanooga, chances are one of REO Speedwagon’s hits will eventually blare through your speakers. With more than 40 million records sold and 13 Top 40 hits, this band is one of the most recognizable sounds of the ’70s and ’80s. We chatted with keyboardist and founding member Neal Doughty about the classic rock band’s music inspiring a whole new generation, and what it means for a band to stand the test of time.
CS: How do you feel about playing open-air shows? Does it bring you back to your roots as a band?
REO: Well, we’re the Woodstock generation, so it takes us to the place where this whole thing began. We started out as a bar band and will always love the vibe of a smaller room, but when we look out at an ocean of fans singing along, it shows us that this music has become essential within the rock genre. I personally am humbled by this. We just played three very large festivals in New Zealand and it was amazing. I didn’t want to leave.
CS: You released your 15th studio album in 2007. How has your music evolved throughout the decades? How has it stayed the same?
REO: We started out playing straightforward rock and gradually matured. It wasn’t a conscious decision – we play what we feel and the public takes it from there. “Hi-Infidelity” was a turning point because it was more polished and featured a power ballad, but it was never a calculated move to become radio-friendly. Fortunately, a few power ballads mixed with harder rock songs makes a good combination for a live show.
CS: I know your song “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was featured on the hit show Glee. How do you feel about your music really standing the test of time and being enjoyed by a whole new generation?
REO: We can all thank The Beatles for inventing a type of music that spans generations, and the ’80s seems to be when it was finally perfected. We are one of many bands that Hollywood uses to reference that important decade. I feel lucky, because it’s why we can still do big tours today.
CS: The sheer number of songs you’ve released from your first studio album in 1971 to your most recent in 2007 is incredible. Do you have any favorites that you love to perform live?
REO: This sounds like shameless hype, but I like every single one. We have a few hundred songs and have tried many of them live. The fans make it very clear which ones they like and they seem to have a pretty good ear. If I were to make an REO playlist on my iPhone, it would be our exact live set list. The audience is always right.
Saturday, June 11
Coke Stage, 9:30 p.m.
Paving the way for female-fronted rock bands since the ’70s, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This summer, they’re bringing their trailblazing sound to Riverbend. We talked with Ann about what we can expect.
CS: What do open, outdoor shows provide you as a rock duo that you might not get from a smaller, more intimate venue?
Heart: A large outdoor show is wonderful! There’s fresh air and good energy. We will rock it, and we’ll also bring the beautiful ballads we’re famous for.
CS: In 2010, Heart was back in the Billboard Top 10 with “Red Velvet Car.” What made this album stand out?
Heart: Red Velvet Car was the first album where we collaborated with producer Ben Mink. We worked great together! The album is full of imagination and new ideas, yet it sounds like the Heart people love.
CS: How has the music you make evolved through the decades?
Heart: We never want to rest on our laurels, so moving forward we have always tried to push the envelope. Our songs get more interesting, our playing gets better, and the sounds get more crazy and cool. We’ll have a new album out on June 17 and plan to perform the title song “Beautiful Broken” at Riverbend. It’s a powerful rocker, and I’m sure people will be up and digging it.
CS: Do you have any favorite songs to perform live? What makes them your favorite?
Heart: At the moment, I like to perform our song “Sand” and the Led Zeppelin song “No Quarter.” I love to perform so many of our songs. It’s changing all the time.
CS: I know so many diehard Heart fans who are very excited to see your performance. What can they look forward to?
Heart: They can look forward to a great all around rock show. There will be high energy and beautiful emotion. It will be a good day!