Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – Riverbend 2014 Bessie Smith Strut

Day 3 Review

Monday, June 9, 2014 - by Bob Payne
Rusty Wright Band - My Pick Of The Strut
Rusty Wright Band - My Pick Of The Strut

The weather at Riverbend last night may have been as nice as I have ever seen. The music was pretty darn good, too. I got to hear the A Z One band and that started off the night with an A+ grade. Robert Randolph and his Family Band played to a huge crowd at the Bud Light stage, which seemed to enjoy their music more than they enjoyed the band’s timekeeping skills. (They started late)

Up the hill at the Unum stage, Rusty Wright gained a whole slew of new fans, with his smokin’ hot guitar and great blues songs. Look for him tomorrow at the Strut. His stage manager Bob Willie said it ranked in his top 10 acts of all-time at the Unum Stage. Hayes Taylor, stage manager at the Bessie Smith Strut said it was also one he was looking forward to seeing. Clare Dunn provided the guitar lessons next to another great crowd.

50 years after the Beatles invasion of the USA, the WannaBeatles invaded the Unum Stage to as many fans as I have seen up there in many years. They played 4 billion Beatles hits and the crowd loved every minute. Note to promoters and festivals – book this band if you want a happy, big crowd.

Buddy Guy was – well, he was Buddy Guy. He is just special and he also drew one of the largest Sunday night crowds in many years. All in all, it was a beautiful evening.

On tap for tonight – The Bessie Smith Strut on MLK Blvd.

You may know her as Prince’s guitar player – yes, that guitar player, but Andy Allo is a whole lot more than a killer guitar player and pretty face in Prince’s band. Her album “Superconductor” was produced by Prince and features Trombone Shorty and other guest musicians. Andy Allo appears on the Bessie Smith Hall Stage at 7 p.m.

Prior to Andy Allo taking the stage, Blues and Soul artist Nikki Hill begins at 5:30 p.m. After seeing and hearing Nikki Hill, I am betting that most folks will say, “Where did she come from and where has she been?”

The great Bobby Rush, one of the Blues genre’s greatest names, appears on the Bessie Smith Hall Stage at 8:35 p.m. With over 50 years in the blues world, Bobby Rush may be the biggest name to have never made the top ten lists of blues players by many accounts.

On the Trestle Stage down the MLK Blvd. just a bit, Big James & The Chicago Playboys begin at 5:15 and the Rusty Wright Band comes on at 6:45 p.m. Following Rusty Wright, Boukou Groove takes the stage at 8:15 p.m.

If you didn’t pre-buy your admission to the Strut, you can buy at the gate for $10, or $7 with a Riverbend wristband.

Riverbend’s Artist of the Day is Big James & the Chicago Playboys, playing the Lindsey Street Hall at 1 p.m.

Star seats still remain for Justin Moore, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and Young the Giant. Buy them at the main gate when you enter the festival for $20 each in addition to your general admission wristband. I sure will have them for Saturday night, as the Star Seats give a great view of Chattanooga’s best fireworks display, including the spectacular Market Street Bridge waterfall extravaganza.

See you there!

Bob Payne grew up in Chattanooga and graduated from Baylor School. He is the Entertainment Editor for the and assistant talent buyer for Friends Of The Festival.

Email Bob Payne at or

Bob Payne
Bob Payne
- Photo2 by NottaBeatle

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