Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

My Photo
Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Riverbend Remembrance

Mountain Dew Or Die!!

Eric SWG posted a story about attending the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, TN. I had the pleasure of attending Riverbend back in the early 90's, when the band I was working for played a gig there.

It was June of 1993. The band I roadied for, called Killbilly, was on a summer tour all over the Central & Eastern US, and we'd been booked into several festivals.

For a band that played mostly in bars, festivals were a welcome addition to the tour. They paid a lot more, usually, and you got a much larger crowd. This was a huge plus for CD & T-shirt sales, and as roadie & "swagman", I got a cut of the gross sales. Usually, a festival meant you played on a big professional stage & had a real lightshow setup as opposed to a tiny riser in the back of a hole-in-the-wall club lit by a 60 watt bare bulb. As a scheduled performer, you got assistance with the load-in & load-out, and usually there was a greenroom with food & free drinks.

The band was scheduled for two 90 minute sets, one just before dusk, and one after the featured artist finished. I recall joking afterwards that Killbilly not only opened for Glenn Frey & Joe Walsh, they closed for them, too!

After the first set finished around dusk, the crowd drifted off towards the main stage and the other attractions. The band had a couple hours to kill, so beers were opened, and we grabbed some chow and hung out on the stage. It was great to look out at the lights of Chattanooga, and hear Frey & Walsh play "In The City" and other great songs from the Eagles & The James Gang & their solo stuff.

I got to see one of the most spectacular firework shows of my life that night. When it hit full dark, the rockets started flying up over the big steel girder bridge across the river and exploding above the water. A long stretch of sparkler fountains were lit on the bridge, making a shower of white sparks that looked like a burning waterfall. As the show reached a climax, they shot off dozens and dozens of salutes, the charges that just make a thunderous report and bright flash. There were so many detonating in the air you almost felt your heart skip a beat as the compression waves pounded your chest. I can only imagine what an artillery barrage is like, but this would have served for the soundtrack.

The crowd was fired up after the fireworks show and Frey & Walsh tearing up the main stage, and migrated over to the stage as the guys burned through their second set. Killbilly was Thrashgrass, Country Punk, a unique mix of mountain music and electrified mayhem. The Tennessee crowd ate it up, and screamed for more. I sold a sh!tload of 'Lone Star Posse' shirts that night with Killbilly's skull & crossbones "Uncle Baldy" logo...

It was a great night, one I remember often. If you get a chance to go to the Riverbend Festival, don't pass it up!