A year has passed, and thousands of phone calls have been made, as have thousands of emails, texts, meetings, and of course – thousands of work hours. The tiny staff at Friends of the Festival and a cast of over a thousand volunteers are tidying up the grounds and making last minute adjustments to the festival. It is a huge undertaking, but it will be ready, just as it has for the previous 30 years.
I bet Dixie Fuller could hardly sleep last night. He has been doing the biggest concerts in the world for his entire adult life, but I bet his head is plum full of things he has to do today. Oh, we could have Riverbend without him, but I bet it would be a disaster. Eric Church probably wouldn’t have brought a brand new set that has never been used before, packed into 3 tractor trailers. When they found out it was Dixie who is the production manager, their mind was set at ease. This guy knows what he is doing! We better keep him around – and his trusty assistant John Crawford.
We could have the festival without Karen Shostak, too. Unfortunately, the vendors would probably be fist-fighting over their slots and they wouldn’t know the answers to the hundreds questions she gets every day. Oops, I forgot to provide the power for your concession trailer. Oops, I didn’t know you needed a health inspection for every single vendor at Riverbend. I never imagined it requires thousands of hours of work – all year long – to put on a festival of this size. These are things you will never hear Karen say.
The festival would go on just fine without Barbara Agee, too. A symphony can go on without a conductor, right? The Atlanta Braves would have won 14 straight division titles without Bobby Cox, wouldn’t they? He didn’t play, he only managed the team. We don’t need a school crossing guard to get the kiddies across the street – the cars will slow down on their own. Wrong! Have you ever taken the back off an old wrist watch? There are a million little wheels and gears. One of them, perhaps the small one in the middle, is what makes the rest of the gears work right. Barbara is that gear. Enough said.
We could have a festival without Donica Branum, too. Of course, when Eric Church looked at his paycheck, he might wonder why it was made out to the water company and it was only $212.42. Literally thousands of checks and invoices get processed for Riverbend, and Donica makes sure every single one is right, paid on time, and delivered to its rightful recipient. I don’t think we would like Riverbend very much, without her.
Now, Amy Morrow – that’s a person Riverbend could do without. She is the Public Relations Director. Now there is a position that can’t affect the festival operations too much. Wrong again, festival breath. It wouldn’t be much of a festival if nobody knew about it. Besides, Amy has to deal with jerks like me – commonly known as the “media”. But, the radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers get the word out and Amy is the entrance ramp to the freeway of information. Maybe we better keep her around, too.
Mickey McCamish has a job Riverbend really could eliminate. He only deals with sponsorships and marketing. The music will go on without Mickey. Of course, a pin will cost $12,319.91 since the sponsors are what help pay for the whole shebang. Pin sales pay for less than half of the cost. Maybe we better keep Mickey around, too.
How about Patti Meadows and her trusty assistant Gina? They only have to coordinate 1,400 volunteers. That breaks down to 700 each. Anyone that has ever supervised people will tell you that is a breeze. Right!?! They rock and everyone knows it. Better keep them around, too!
Jeff Styles books entertainment for the festival. Anyone could spend hundreds of hours researching bands and finding hidden gems. All it requires is endless patience, the ability to work non-stop for months and months, and have knowledge of the music world that is second to none. Riverbend doesn’t have enough money to pay me to do that the way Jeff does it. Better leave him alone and let him keep finding the great and diverse acts that he gets at Riverbend.
Here is one that could go away – Don Sharpe. He is the director of operations. Actually, he is going way after this year. He’s retiring. It’s about time – the festival has run way too smoothly for too many years. Don is a no-nonsense guy. Yes means yes, and no means no with Don. You want to see turmoil – well, if you are waiting for turmoil after Don retires, don’t count on it. One of the signs of a really good manager is his/her ability to train a replacement. Don has been doing just that. Enter Randy Buckles. He will do great, as he has trained under the best in the business.
Last but not least we have Chip Baker. Chip Baker has done at least one particular thing spectacularly well. He surrounded himself with the best team in the business – the folks mentioned above. That is what being a boss means to an organization.
Now for tonight! What to do, what to do? I know, I’ll go to Riverbend! Who am I going to see tonight? Well, I try to see all of the local acts, as they sound so good at Riverbend with the pro sound systems and sound engineers to assist the bands in getting a great sound. Eric Church is on with his new set at 9:30 p.m. on the Coke Stage. I think I want to watch some of that, too. I will definitely see Cody McCarver on the Bud Light stage at 7:45 p.m. The Meo Mio Stage makes its grand entrance tonight with two great acts – Remembering January and Lil’ Malcom and the Houserockers. Maybe I’ll try a Margarita down there, as that is the only place the public can get one. At 11 p.m., I will check out the VW stage and catch Drive-By Truckers tribute band The Dirty South rock the faces off the Eric Church crowd.
For the entire line-up, go to www.riverbendfestival.com. Just click on “line-up”. You can then sort by day or stage or artist. A cool thingy you can get is a “pointsmap” for your smart-phone. It gives you a map of the festival grounds and who’s playing when and where. It’s free and available by clicking http://riverbendfestival.com/pages/pointsmap.
Don’t forget to check out lunchtime activities as Riverbend stars visit local establishments in town to sing a song or two and sign autographs. For a schedule just click on – http://riverbendfestival.com/pages/riverbend-outreach. Just look on the left side and click on any of the three for schedules, places and times.
For all the 411 on Riverbend, check out my Riverbend Survival Kit at http://chattanoogan.com/2012/6/6/227794/Chattanoogas-Live-Music-Scene.aspx . Just click and away you go!
See you there!
Email Bob Payne at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/davrik2000