The Trip – The End of the First Week

The Trip Day #4: Almost nothing to report!

Travel from San Francisco to Nashville via the mile high city of Denver, which has one of the biggest airports I’ve seen. Flew Frontier, one of the budget airlines (you may for every extra including choosing a seat) but it was quite good and on time. Through check in and security at SFO in 20 minutes! A six hour stopover in Denver. Arrived at the gate in Nashville at 11.45pm and at our hotel at 12.30am. Woke up Friday morning just at the end of the football. That result was a surprise. Day 5 we go into Nashville then head down to Chattanooga.

The Trip Day #5: Picked up a rental car at airport and headed straight to Grimey’s Music new store on Trinity Ln. Managed to escape without buying anything (yet) but estimated that there are 8000 vinyl albums in the store. New performance stage there too. Lunch with Anne McCue at Dose cafe in East Nashville. Planned our broadcast next week. Drove to Nashville through lush countryside – no drought here. Checked into the Hotel Bo which turns out to be in a great location – with a pool and an attached 24-hour diner and a bar. You notice the sudden increase in humidity in Chattanooga as it is on the Tennessee River. But it was a very pleasant 82F. Chattanooga is a really great little city of just 181,000 (not even as big as Geelong but looks it). Wide streets, older buildings, trees. I’ve always said that it would be great as one of those high tech cities. House prices are really cheap (US$125,000+).Reported in to Geoff King who was filling in on Off The Record and doing a sensational job. Now it is off to the diner………The Moon River Festival starts tomorrow around midday.

Moon River Festival

The Trip Day #6: Left early for the Moon River Festival and caught an Uber to Coolidge Park by the Tennessee River and were there well in time for the gates opening at midday. The layout of the festival caters for a crowd of 10,000 easily with only two alternating stages (making decisions a lot easier). Actually, there were no decisions that had to be made because we snagged a table that had a view of both stages with excellent sound. The weather looked threatening all day but there was only the slightest drizzle occasionally, though the grounds were starting to get muddy and soggy so they must have had a lot of rain recently.It was nice to chat to people as well and we met Pat, his wife Rachel and their friend Therese all from Knoxville. Like a lot of people you meet here Pat is a musician and has his own band, The Pat Beasley Band. They are okay. Sitting away from people was a good idea in retrospect because we realised where we got back and watched the local late news that they were reporting that no one was wearing masks. Col saw one person wearing one.

Natalie Hemby

The line-up is a mix of artists that we have heard and some that remain completely unknown to us. The two acts that I was most looking forward to did not disappoint at all. Songwriter/singer Natalie Hemby (one of the Highwomen) and Lucius were a class above. Hemby has already established herself as an accomplished songwriter but has a terrific voice and cracking band. She said that, at 45, she was maybe the oldest artist ate the festival but I don’t think so; she is certainly one of the most talented. Amazingly she has had only two solo albums to date.


Lucius – Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig plus band – were really sensational. Superb harmonies, terrific instrumentation (drums, two guitars, bass and occasional synth/guitars). The sound was stunning. You might have seen them singing with Roger Waters’, as I have several times (and that is where I might have discovered them originally). Why they are not HUGE is totally beyond me. Their latest studio album Second Nature, didn’t even chart anywhere! Ridiculous. Of the acts acts on today – and we saw and heard all of them – Daniel Nunnelee and Wild Rivers are worth investigating.

Drew Holcomb

Drew Holcombe and The Neighbors put on a great roots hour (including a great version Tom Petty’s ‘Running Down A Dream’). Holcomb also happens to be the director of the festival and moved it here from Nashville four years ago or so. Greensky Bluegrass were solid, Zach Bryan’s country, which seems a bit more relatable than a lot of rather mainstream from Nashville drew a big response. The National were quite spectacular but too loud and not as subtle as last time I saw them. Still, watching them from the bridge on the way out, was pretty spectacular (even if I couldn’t get a great photo). The hour walk back to the hotel was easy and gave us a chance to have a post-mortem on the event. Lunch consisted of two small vegetable egg rolls ($6) as we were saving ourselves for supper at the diner but when we arrived back it was full so we postponed dinner and have decided to rollout over to breakfast instead!The weather forecast for tomorrow is not good but hopefully we’l get to see Charley Crockett, Leon Bridges, Keb Mo, band of Horses and Hiss Golden Messenger at least.

The Trip Day #7

The weather forecast was not good and it was overcast as we left the motel for the festival. But it looked like we might get through most of the afternoon despite the dire weather prediction for storms. We arrived in time to hear Abraham Alexander and two songs from Sammy Rae and The Friends before things were suddenly cut short at 2.30pm by a severe weather warning and a request to evacuate the park!

As I was doing an interview with Charley Crockett we were able to get into the section across the street in the theatre. Had a terrific interview with Charley then the storm hit for about a half hour deluge. Then we sat and waited……and waited. At 6.30pm The Moon River Festival was officially cancelled for the day due to flooding at the park. At least I got in a great interview with Charley – such a nice guy. Pity we won’t see him playing at the festival but he is in Nashville at Americana so we’ll catch him there.