Riverbend: Gary Allan Gave The “Best He Ever Had” On Coke Stage

Saturday, June 7, 2014 - by Mark Herndon

Gary Allan is a tough cowboy!  After fighting illness the past few days and even cancelling events. As I picked up my media credentials from Bob Payne w/Friends of the Festival,  the word was his performance was in jeopardy to open on the Riverbend Coke stage.  It was serious as his website www.garyallan.com reported Gary Allan's fan club party scheduled for Saturday evening at Rocketown has been cancelled. 

Allan spent two days this week at the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic with Doctor Gaeyln Garrett. The singer is fighting a viral infection that is impacting the strain on his voice, forcing Allan to cancel the fan club party. The strain is temporary and is expected to resolve as the viral infection runs its course.  However, his Facebook posting and Riverbend Festival Facebook posting confirmed a couple of hours prior to taking the stage he was on his way and the show would go on. 

This eased greatly the concerns for Gary’s health and his schedule performance to the opening crowd of fans awaiting him.  About 30 minutes before Gary Allan was to take the stage, Dex (WUSY US 101) and Amy Morrow (Friends of the Festival Marketing Director) were covering last minute details before Dex was to make the introduction to the fans.   

As I completed my walk around the stage, I met and greeted some of the VIP fans and stage hands. Stage manage Alex was accommodating my walk, routine for the most part, and we discussed the stage setting, at the same time he was talking to Gary on the radio.  All the sound checks had been made earlier and, with the tuning of the guitars in the background, taping down a set list of songs for the band and Gary.   Alex was  to have everything ready as Gary and the band made the transport by boat to the stage.  One request I was privy to hear was to make sure there was plenty of Orange Juice on and around the stage….. Alex delivered!!  

It was a great night with the cool weather as David Glenn, WTCV Channel 9 weather and official Riverbend forecaster, put our fears to rest as his pre-stage forecast.  Gary walked down the platform right on schedule with Tough Goodbye…………. Then as the lights were panned across the riverbanks the unbelievable crowd cheered him into his scheduled 90 minutes of songs. He performed more than 20, including Tough Goodbye, Feeling Like That, Man To Man, Pieces, It Ain’t The Whiskey, Send, Smoke Rings, Sand In My Soul, Get Off On The Pain, Songs About The Rain, Radio, California, Every Storm, Bones, Man Of Me, Air Planes … then as the crowd was overtaken by him and his eight piece band to return with Best I Ever Had and Dark Whiskey….. you will notice a couple of new songs to be included in his new studio album/cd in the works.  

Thanks, Gary… after two hours of the best relaxing night as you beat the illness and the earlier threat of storms that moved around the city last night. 

This year becoming one of the official professional photographers for the Festival provides an opportunity to share with the fans and festival interest a different perspective of stage performance.  

(The photo series is Friends of the Festival management (Riverbend Music Festival (https://www.facebook.com/rbfestival )  and www.Chattanoogan.com  ways of keeping festival fans updated with events throughout the week.  Keep checking these sites and the schedule artist on all stages for event information and photos.)

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