Riverbend 2017

June 11 – June 17, 2017


By Katie Faulkner

Hundreds of talented artists, both established and up-and-coming, are tuning up to play for crowds of nearly 700,000 festival goers at Riverbend 2017. This nine-day music fest always fills the banks of Chattanooga’s 21st Century Waterfront with country, rock, and pop fans. With only six weeks until the gates open, it’s time to check out the lineup, start brushing up on your favorite jams, and grab your wristbands. In this exclusive Riverbend preview, CityScope® magazine talks to three headliners about what we can look forward to at this year’s festival.

Don Felder

Coca Cola Stage  |  Saturday, June 10  |  7 p.m.

From the hotbed of classic rock talent that was Gainesville, Florida in the 60s, to the sunny coast of California, Don Felder has become a world-wide name. Guitarist for The Eagles for 27 years, Don was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1998. Despite his extensive, successful career, he’ll be the first to tell you that he could’ve never imagined this life when he was just starting out, teaching guitar lessons for pennies an hour to a young Tom Petty.

CS: Can you share a favorite memory from your career with the Eagles?

DF: I think my favorite memory with the Eagles was going into the studio with them to play slide guitar on “Good Day in Hell” and then getting a phone call from Glenn the next day asking me to join the band.  It just came out of the blue, and I was totally flabbergasted by their invite. Then I went into the studio and worked on “Already Gone,” and the energy in the room was electric with excitement from everyone.

  CS: Can you speak a bit about what it means to have been inducted into something as prestigious as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 – Did you ever imagine you’d have such an impactful career?

DF: I don’t think anyone in Gainesville, or any small town for that matter, ever really imagines being bestowed with such a huge honor. We were just kids obsessed with playing rock and roll. We were always pushing each other to raise the bar and see who could pass it. There was lots of competition between us but in a very friendly way.

CS: Duane Allman was the first electric slide guitar player you had ever seen – Can you tell us about that friendship, and the impact it had on you?

DF: Greg and Duane lived in Daytona Beach and played in different bands throughout Gainesville and Daytona. They were always the best band in North Florida, and always won battle of the bands! After gigs in the summer we’d all go grab breakfast and often, crash at their mom’s house. That’s where I got to see, up close, what Duane was doing. He taught me the basics of slide guitar – from how to tune to using a glass medicine bottle. We just sat on the floor and had my lesson. I never tried to copy him because he was so far ahead of me I couldn’t keep up, but I owe him everything for taking the time to teach me the basics.

CS: What do you enjoy about open-air shows like Riverbend, and what can fans expect from your live performance?

DF: I love playing outdoor shows, even more than indoor shows. The sound is always better and if the weather is right, it can be a magical experience for both the artist and audience! My show is always full of surprises. I play a variety of solo songs, some Eagles hits that I co-wrote and recorded, and some surprises that I can’t reveal until that night. I love feeding off of the crowd at every show. It’s like an endorphin high every night. That’s one of the things about performing live that I absolutely love!

CS: This summer you’ll be heading out with Stix and REO Speedwagon on the United We Rock Tour – Are you excited to be working with these guys and be back on the road?

DF: I have so much fun with these guys both on stage and off. The entire group, including the crews, are just great people who love to have fun doing what we are blessed to be able to do. No drama, no hissy fits, just great music and lots of laughs. Of course I’m looking forward to doing that again. Who wouldn’t?

Photo Courtesy of Michael Helms

Old Dominion 

Coca Cola Stage  |  Sunday, June 11  |  9:45 p.m.

This five-man country group is composed of seasoned songwriters who are no strangers to cranking out major hits for other artists – but for the past few years they’ve finally been harnessing their talents to fuel their own wildly popular singles. Filled with clever lyrics, their songs are now topping the charts. “Song for Another Time” took the number one spot on MediaBase and Billboard last year. With all their momentum, lead singer Matthew Ramsey speaks to us about how the sky’s the limit for Old Dominion.


CS: You released your newest single, “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” in March. The theme of this song seems different from some of the things you’ve done before. Is this a transition in style for you guys?

OD: Yeah, that was kind of the point. When we started writing this song, we really didn’t have any idea what it was going to be. The first thing that came out was actually the first line of the song, “I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it.” And that eventually led us to what the song became, which is a little different for us. But it was on our hearts and minds at the time and we hoped that people might enjoy hearing something a little deeper and more meaningful from us.

CS: In a group where everyone is a talented writer and has had success in their solo careers, what is the creative process like for you guys?

OD: You know what, it’s fun! Luckily, we’ve worked together before and we already knew that we worked well together. So when you have five people that work really well together it becomes a vibrant process and there’s a lot of laughing and good collaboration. It’s very comfortable. You feel safe throwing out your dumbest ideas – sometimes you say something that you might think is really dumb, but everyone else can see it for what it is and tell you, ‘No, that’s actually really great.’

CS: Your chart-topping single, “Song for Another Time,” is an amazing compilation of song titles. Can you tell us what it was like to bring that song to life?

OD: Yeah, so we were on the road with Kenny Chesney and we played it at a sound check one day in the stadium, and it sounded so huge. We were actually done recording Meat and Candy at the time, but we had to call the label and beg them to get us on a flight home on our day off to record it, get it on the album, and then fly back out the next day. So it almost didn’t make the album.

CS: What are you looking forward to at Riverbend?

OD: Our live shows are fun! We’re high energy and we love to come out and connect with our fans. We joke with each other on stage and have a good time. We’ll play songs off Meat and Candy, songs off the new album, and some songs we’ve written for other people too. You know, we love Chattanooga, we always have a good time when we visit there. We’ve never gotten to play Riverbend before, but we’ve heard from other people that it’s really fun, so we’re looking forward to it!

Photo Courtesy of Michael Elins


Boz Scaggs

Coca Cola Stage  |  Friday, June 9  |  9:30 p.m.

With a successful career spanning over 50 years, and major solo works like Silk Degrees, Grammy-winning artist Boz Scaggs has massive appeal and a distinctive sound. He is currently finishing an album trilogy, and the second part of it, A Fool to Care, has topped the Billboard Blues Charts. Now working on the third installment, Boz will be kicking off his 2017 summer tour at Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival! Here, the ever-gracious Boz Scaggs talks to us about his musical style and what he’s looking forward to this year.

Can you speak about the evolution of your career and your style, vocally and musically?

BS: One wants to think that he or she is constantly evolving. That’s sort of the nature of creativity. There are certain things artists do that represent who we are – we all strive to have a style. And there’s two sides of that. One is we hope that people recognize who we are by our style or voice, and the other is how we change over time. Each time I write a new set of songs, I’m hopeful that it evolves and is slightly different from the last thing I did. I really feel like I’m a better singer now, with more experience under my belt. I’m definitely a better guitar player. And that’s the goal – to constantly evolve.

  CS: You’ve cited names like Al Green, Jimmy Reed, and Stevie Wonder as major influences. Have you ever thought about  what style you might’ve pursued  if you hadn’t developed your signature smooth sound?

BS: Well some of my favorite musicians were Ray Charles and Bobby “Blue” Bland – and I can’t sing in the same style as them. But I’ve learned things from them about how they did their phrasing, how they chose their melodies, and some technical things as well. But you have to go in the direction that your instrument takes you.

CS: We’ve heard that your latest album only took four days to record at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, can you tell us about the making of A Fool to Care?

BS: Certainly. Well, it only took us four days to lay down the rhythm tracks for this one. But then, once that’s done, I take those basic rhythm tracks to my own work space and add layers to it – vocals, guitar, and some other things. That process takes months. Then we go into mixing and mastering. So it really was a full process.

CS: You’re kicking off your summer tour with us here in Chattanooga (the day after your birthday)! What are you looking forward to about Riverbend and this first show of your tour?

BS: This is going to be a special night for me, because I’ve taken almost six months off touring to work on this new album. I’m going to be getting together with my band soon to start rehearsing and working on some new arrangements. But I feel like I’ve had a huge break from live shows, so I’m really eager to get back in the groove again. There are some new things going on, and I just miss being with my band and crew. I’ve never played Riverbend before, but my time in the area has always been really nice, and I love what’s happening in Chattanooga right now. So this is going to be a big night for me!

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