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Moon River Festival Returns to Tennessee This Weekend: Our Lineup Highlights

Folks, we’re heading south this weekend! We’re excited to be attending Tennessee’s Moon River Festival in Chattanooga, a two-day festival that has boasted past lineups with artists like Brandi Carlile, The Head and The Heart, Hippo Campus, and more. Presented by Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, the festival got it start in Memphis in 2014, and quickly outgrew the space the event was being hosted at.

The short but sweet lineup boasts 22 sets from various artists including The National and Leon Bridges, each respectively headlining Saturday and Sunday, Band of Horses, Zach Bryan, and many more. Check out some artists we recommending checking out in Coolidge Park below. The best part is, there’s no schedule overlapping!

Natalie Hemby, 2:45-3:30PM
Genre: Country
RIYL: Kacey Musgraves, Hailey Whitters

I know what you’re thinking: “Kristin, country music?” Yes. Once in a blue moon, I do find myself surprised when I realize there’s an artist I enjoy whose music is so authentically country. It’s rare, but it does happen. I discovered Natalie Hemby when The Highwomen‘s self-titled album came out in 2019: a quartet featuring Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie. (Think Boygenius, but country). Hemby’s 2021 album Pins An Needles lamented her as a true artist, opposed to her credits as a songwriter in Nashville, including song credits like “A handful of tracks on Kacey Musgraves’ Grammy-award winning Golden Hour (“Butterflies,” “Velvet Elvis,” “Rainbow”), the tracks “Always Remember Us This Way” and “I’ll Never Love Again” from the movie A Star Is Born featuring the one and only Lady Gaga. 

Briston Maroney, 4:30-5:15PM
Genre: Rock
RIYL: Wallows, The Greeting Committee

Knoxville-Native Briston Maroney will feel right at home in Chattanooga this weekend. Maroney, who got (somewhat of) a big break when he auditioned for American Idol at 15-years,-old, managed making it to the top 30 before being eliminated. Maroney later headed to Nashville to study music at Lipscomb University for a brief time, eventually dropping out. In 2018, Maroney was signed with Canvasback Music and Atlantic records, releasing a single titled “Freakin’ Out On The Interstate” which ended up certified Gold by RIAA in 2021. He released his debut album, Sunflower, in 2021, and recently released a deluxe version. Maroney is also producing and performing at his own festival in Nashville later this year.

Lucius, 6:15-7:15PM
Genre: Pop
RIYL: Alabama Shakes, JOSEPH

Coming from someone who considers Lucius as a bucket list band to see live, I will be personally offended if you get the chance to see them and don’t take it. Brooklyn-born, LA-based four-piece Lucius have been quietly making incredible pop music (seemingly) under-the-radar for several years now, contributing their unique, effortless harmonies to a handful of indie artists like Jeff Tweedy, Dawes, and The War On Drugs. Oh, did I mention they sing on this Harry Styles song?

Wilderado, 2:45-3:30PM
Genre: Indie Rock/Americana
RIYL: The Lumineers, Mt. Joy

Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-bred band Wilderado released their debut, self-titled album late last year, despite creating music together since 2015. 

The band, who has had stints opening for artists like The 1975, Mt. Joy, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, have been touring since their formation, and would use the majority of their touring funds to return home and record more music. It’s also how they’ve developed such a dedicated fanbase. I just caught Wilderado’s set opening for Mt. Joy last month, and they definitely know how to put on a show. Described as having an “easy blend of indie and rock with an American twang and electric fair,” Wilderado is just as likely to “court your average indieheads and as they are country fans,” we wrote in this review on their tour stop in Chicago earlier this year.

Local Natives, 5:15-6:15PM
Genre: Rock
RIYL: Dr. Dog, Spoon

Local Natives has been touring the country for the past several weeks, (assumingly) gearing up to release a new album, following their last release Violet Street in 2019. These are the first dates they’ve been playing since pre-pandemic (minus a stand-alone show at The Greek theater during the late summer of 2021 in their hometown of Los Angeles), and it’s safe to say that their festival performances always pull a large crowd. Local Natives have released four albums over the span of twelve years, collaborating with artists like Aaron Dessner, most known for his work in The National (and of Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore fame), Moses Sumney, and David Byrne.

JP Saxe, 6:15-7PM
Genre: Singer/songwriter
RIYL: Dermot Kennedy, LAUV

If you’ve never heard of an artist whose biggest song has nearly 900 million streams on Spotify alone, I’d be questioning why you’re on this website (not to be rude). JP Saxe’s “If the World Was Ending” ft. Julia Michaels is in fact this song, and Saxe, who is the grandson of a multiple-nominated and Grammy winner János Starker, has made his mark in the singer/songwriter community with his heartful lyrics and boyband charm, reminiscent of early Ed Sheeran and James Bay, circa 2014. Though I prefer his collaborations with Maren Morris (“Line By Line”) and “Golf On TV” with Lennon Stella, it’s almost a given that JP Saxe’s massive commercial appeal will draw a large crowd on Sunday evening.

More info on Moon River can be found here.

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