By Bethany Ward, Staff Writer—
Moon River Music Festival, a recent but valued asset of Tennessee’s music culture, took place on Saturday and Sunday, September 7-8 at Coolidge Park here in Chattanooga, Tennessee and was a huge success.
Moon River was founded in 2014 by musician Drew Holcomb from the band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and it has since grown into a nationally known event. The lineup of bands plays very American music—most with a southern twinge—such as The Wood Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
“There are so many artists that love what they do and the music they produce,” said 5th year Moon River attendee Molly Stelling. “It’s a folky, bluesy, sway back and forth kind of music.”
Stelling also added that her favorite band was The Oh Hellos, an American folk-rock duo from Texas. Other artists included Moon Taxi, an indie-alternative rock band from Nashville, and Rayland Baxter, an alternative country musician from Tennessee.
The festival sold out on February 14, nearly seven months ago. Its popularity is growing by the year, and even more so now that it is being held in Coolidge Park here in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Moon River has been one of the highlights of my year every year I’ve attended,” said Stelling. “I make sure to buy my ticket as soon as I can.”
The festival has local food vendors such as Clumpies Ice Cream, High Grounds Coffee Company, and Pizza Nova. It is also family-friendly with an area sectioned out with a carousel, splash pad, and “Treehouse Stage” for Kids’ Yoga, book readings, and sing-a-longs.
“There are so many young, college-aged people that know all the bands and every song which makes it so much more fun,” Lee University student Natalie Gallon said. “The energy is electric…every band has been in perfect rhythm with each other and the audience is moving. It doesn’t matter that its a million degrees.”
The Tennessee Tavern teamed up with local distilleries and breweries and served cocktails and craft beer. There is also a “Lookout Lodge” in the Outdoor Chattanooga building with TVs streaming college and NFL football games, along with a sports bar and comfy furniture to kick back and get a break from the heat.
Drew Holcomb’s original intention for the festival in 2014 was to show off some of the artists that he’d met on the road and bring them to his hometown of Memphis, TN. The festival soon grew too big for Memphis and was moved to Chattanooga in 2018, where it has continued to grow, as this year showed. It is now partnered with AC Entertainment and earned a Pollstar Awards nomination for Best Festival Under 30,000 Capacity, alongside other entries such as the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores.