Barry and Lord Taco spent some time with the folks who turned a rainy Moon River Sunday into a memorable impromptu concert at a Chattanooga concert venue. It's a case study in timing, luck, thinking outside of the box and building relationships. In about two hours, organizers were able to move a half dozen artists and 3,000 fans to a city-owned venue. And, the staff showed up to make popcorn, too.
Moon River co-founder Drew Holcomb, AC Entertainment President Ted Heinig, and others join the show to discuss the memorable weekend.
Listen now or watch the full chat via Consequence. Then make sure to like, review, and subscribe to The What Podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and follow the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our shows.
Topic: Moon River
|24:10||Moon River co-founder Drew Holcomb jumped on a Zoom call with Barry and Lord Taco to describe how his idea, which said half in jest, to move the rained out Sunday portion of the festival moved to a city-owned venue in less than three hours.|
|27:40||It might sound easy, or without consequences, but moving a major festival in mid-stride is not without risk. Barry and Lord Taco talk with the people who made it happen.|
|33:20||AC Entertainment President Ted Heinig tells us some of the things that go into deciding to cancel a festival because of the weather.|
Welcome back to the What Podcast.
This is a podcast that we started in 2018, originally to talk about the Bonnaroo Music
and Arts Festival.
And it has grown into much, much more.
It's a music about festivals in general and music in general when we want to.
Plus, we kind of talk about whatever else we want to.
That's Lord Taco.
You'll notice again this week, not with us is my co-host and co-founder along with
Russ, Lord Taco and I, Brad Steiner.
I need to come clean, I guess.
Taco last week, I kind of said he was busy.
The truth is, Brad's kind of been on a hunger strike ever since he made that list of demands.
What was it?
Four weeks ago about who he wanted.
Oh, that's right.
He made that list of demands back in August 24th of who he wanted to see at next year's
Chief among them Rage Against the Machine and the Wild Hearts got a whole list and he's
been on this hunger strike.
I don't think he's had any red meat since.
I'm pretty sure he's not eaten any red meat.
Pretty sure he's not had any red meat yet.
That's making those demands.
Yeah, he's waiting on a response.
He wants to be heard.
Anyway, he's not with us, but as we told you last week in talking with Matt Carney that
we, Russ and I, both attended the Moon River Festival here in Chattanooga.
It got rained out on Sunday and they were able to pretty quickly pivot and come put
together an impromptu concert at our Memorial Auditorium here in Chattanooga.
Depending on when you want to start counting, it was either four and a half hours or two
and a half hours.
I think the first phone call went out about four or four thirty.
Even four and a half hours has got to be a record as far as starting from scratch and
then getting a full production team together and throw on a concert.
That first phone call just kind of said, hey, can you guys start talking about it?
In about six, I think they decided it wasn't going to happen because it looked like it
was going to clear up.
Then three minutes later, it was happening.
That's where the two and a half hours comes.
When you really think about it, it's not just unlocking the doors and saying, here you go.
They had ushers, they had security, they had everybody, food vendors, everybody that would
normally be there for a fully planned show.
They just showed up out of nowhere.
It's a lot of behind the scenes to make that happen and it was pretty neat to hear them
talk about how this all came together so quickly.
I think another really, really valid point that they make, and you're going to hear the
interviews, Russ and I, if you don't know this show, Russ is his real name.
We call him Lord Taco.
I go back and forth.
If that confuses you, I apologize.
But you'll hear we talk with... Let me set this up real quick if I can.
We started this show in 2018, Brad Steiner and I did with Russ.
Russ is the web designer, the technical guy, the producer.
He's the one that makes it all work.
Brad and I are typically on camera lately because we've gone through YouTube, Russ, because
I mean, look at that punim.
I mean, you got to have that punim on camera, right?
He's been joining us, but we started it.
I have for 35, 36 years at the Chattanooga Times Free Press as an entertainment reporter.
Brad is a radio guy, he's done it for 21 years, 22 years, something like that.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
We've been going to Bonnaroo since almost the beginning, 16 years.
We noticed that throughout the year, even when August and whatever, January, February,
we were talking about it and we figured there were probably other people doing the same.
We were fascinated by the logistics of it.
We love the inside baseball part of it.
And so we kind of half jokingly said we should do a podcast for about two or three months,
leading up to the 2018 one and we've been doing it ever since.
We love the inside baseball stuff is my long way around.
You and Brad conceived and founded the show and then just invited me if I could help out
with some of the website and technical stuff.
And I said, sure.
I said, you know, and I got a free Bonnaroo ticket of it.
And I thought that'd be it.
I didn't think we'd still be doing it five years later.
I didn't think I would end up on the show.
Yeah, well, it works.
It works out.
So you and I, we did find there's a lot more to talk about than just the bands and just
And so Russ, we have a website, the white podcast dot com.
You can look at all of the artists and industry people that we've had as guests.
And when I look at it, I'm stunned.
I mean, it's been a lot of fun and a real learning.
I mean, from Ashley Capps, AC Entertainment, the founder, founder of AC Entertainment and
co-founder of Bonnaroo has been a guest.
Jeff Quay are quite impressive.
It's yeah, we've had promoters, radio people.
I mean, it's Ed O'Brien, Radiohead, Bristan Moroney is among our favorites.
We've just had a bunch.
You can look at the list and I say that just in case you're new to the show, you know,
you're wondering who these two guys are and who cares.
But it's the inside baseball part that I really wanted to bring up because that's kind of
really what we got into with this episode.
I mean, it's way inside baseball.
We talked with Ted Heinegg, president of AC Entertainment currently, Drew Holcomb, co-founder
of the Moon River Festival.
We talked with Nick Wilkinson and Courtney Keene and Sam Fort.
They're the folks over at Memorial Auditorium that made it happen on Sunday.
And I want to point out, you know, that sounds like it's Chattanooga centric, but I think
it should be interesting or could be interesting to anybody anywhere because, you know, you
all have theaters in your hometown and there's festivals everywhere.
And I'm not saying they can all happen like this.
I'm not saying they could even do it again here.
The stars lined up for them, like you said, to be able to it's not just opening the door
and turning on the lights.
They had 18 bartenders show up.
Think about that on a Sunday who got the call after six o'clock.
And the other thing I was going to say, and it comes up in the interview is it's a heck
of a risk for the artist.
I mean, they didn't show up with all their production and their own sound guy.
They didn't even get to do sound checks.
So I mean, think about that.
The last thing they want to do is suck.
Basically, I mean, I don't know how else to put it.
Yes, because the PR from that would be worse than cancellation.
I didn't know he sounded that bad or whatever, you know.
He didn't play my favorite song or whatever.
I mean, think about it.
Yeah, there's a lot that could have gone wrong.
And they also, we pointed out a little bit.
I don't think we made such a big point in this particular set of interviews because
I think I added some of it out.
But the seat, I got to quit doing that.
I did that on the last show.
I don't know why.
Russ and I were laughing.
It's not like my dentures were falling out because I don't have dentures.
So I'll try to quit doing that.
But C3 and AC and Drew and Live Nation basically are going to refund people's money.
If you bought two day tickets, they're going to refund half.
And that also includes your fees.
If you bought one day Sunday tickets, they're going to refund that, which is pretty remarkable.
And I think that's what really sort of, I don't know, is the two things.
It was the Sunday show and the refund because we got the refund notice first.
And I didn't expect that at all.
No, they don't have to do that.
I don't think anyone did.
That's a big shout out to C3 and Live Nation who can make that sort of thing happen.
But as part of our show, when Bonnaroo canceled last year after the hurricane came through,
there was a lot of social media chatter that people didn't get their refunds for months
and months and months.
And so there wasn't a lot of communication.
So they kind of took a PR hit.
This is essentially the same folks.
I mean, Drew Holcomb is different, but it's essentially many of the same folks that do
And quite honestly, they learned a lesson, right?
I mean, obviously.
I think so.
But you know, we've been somewhat critical over the last few years.
I mean, if there's something that needs to be pointed out that could go better, we've
pointed it out.
So that's right.
But then on the flip side, when something goes very well and they do something great,
we want to highlight that.
Talk about it.
And I think that's what this is.
You're going to hear I mean, Brad has said many, many times on this show that we you
know, while we're I mean, I'm a newspaper journalist.
He's a radio guy.
This is a podcast.
We can be critical, but we're also big, big fans.
We love music festivals and, and that sort of thing.
So we try to straddle that line, I guess.
So if there's moments of bloviating or going too far, you know, forgive us, but we're fans.
But also, I think we try to ask good questions.
And if we don't know the answer, we try to go to the source.
And I really think that's what we did here.
So I'm glad we did it.
I mean, kudos to them.
I mean, I woke up Monday morning and thought this is a good story.
I want to I want to I want to talk about this until I reached out to Ted Heinegg, who I
expected to, you know, for whatever reason, to legitimately say I can't can't do it now.
You know, got to run through this, this person and that person.
And we were on the phone with him, Andrew Holcomb, an hour and 15 minutes later.
That about right?
Yeah, it came together very quick.
It usually doesn't go that fast.
No, it doesn't.
It's usually a lot of back and forth and when can you do it?
And yeah, let me get through this guy.
And so so PR person was on an airplane and made it happen.
And thank you to her.
Thank you to Ted and Drew.
And then the next day, similar, we were on the phone with the folks over at Memorial
on a zoom call.
So you're going to see two zoom calls.
And I tried to edit between the two.
So if there's if it's not the slickest production, you know, again, we tried to do it as quickly
as we could because I mean, we're scrambling to to get this content out because we think
And honestly, that's why Brad is is not here.
He's got a lot going on where he is with his work.
But yeah, Taco and I wanted to get it done.
And thank you.
I mean, you jumped on there too, for both of those zoom calls.
I'm glad you did.
And it was kind of it was a high point because we left Sunday.
You know, we had three band interviews scheduled Sunday.
And you know, when when the word came down that, you know, this isn't going to happen,
I was a little disappointed that we had stuff that we could talk about and didn't get to
And then it turned out that we actually had did have a lot to talk about.
Yeah, we were able to move quickly and get this out.
We were lined up to talk to Ben from Band of Horses and Sammy Ray and Wilderado folks.
And we were very excited about it.
And, you know, not trying to complain.
And so this is the point of this conversation is we go it's a deep dive with Ted and Drew
what was going through their minds, why they canceled the reasons behind it.
You know, the whole almost a blow by blow kind of thing, starting at about what, two
That was interesting.
And then and then the folks from the Tivoli Foundation, which runs Memorial, jump in and
the series of events for why that worked is is pretty fascinating.
So I think it has a little bit of everything.
It has a behind the curtains kind of what's it like to run an event like this?
What's it like to make these kinds of decisions?
And just the honestly, the dumb luck of everything that fell into place from guys like Leon Bridges
showing up and borrowing someone else's guitar.
Yeah, such a great detail, right?
And there's so many things that they talk about that if one thing had gone wrong, it
would have like, right, pulled the thread out and unraveled and the bottom would have
It wouldn't have happened.
That's a great way to put it.
I think things did come together.
And there was a lot of those one things that that could have killed this whole idea.
I'm glad you mentioned that, too, because one thing we didn't mention in the interview
and even in last week's show that I wanted to point out that that we that we didn't talk
about but we didn't miss these kinds of things have happened elsewhere.
I mean, Bonnaroo last year when the hurricane hit, we had many roos.
We had many events.
You and I, you were involved in two of them, maybe three, three at this point.
I mean, it happens where people pivot, they rally, they set up a stage in a sound system
I don't want to I don't want to dismiss that.
It happens all the time.
You know, even even on Sunday, Drew and Ellie Holcomb went out into a crowd with a guitar
and played for an hour.
JP Sachs did the same.
I mean, that happens.
And I don't mean to dismiss that.
This is a little bit different because we're talking about a municipal building, a city
auditorium that holds three thousand people and four or five, five or six artists that
were scheduled to play that Sunday showed up and did a mini concert.
And this wasn't just yeah, it wasn't just people just showing up and playing a guitar.
There was there was a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger than that.
And again, that's not to diminish in any way.
The many roos that happened.
I mean, you know, our friends Darla, I mean, Carla and Daniel with the Roobus and Lindsey
and all those people that did that huge mini roo just outside the Manchester area and even
I know the the Bonnaroo folks were were instrumental in providing what a generator and maybe some
So I mean, yeah, that's another example of stuff thrown to get there at the last minute
and it all comes together.
So it's not unprecedented at all.
And like I said, I don't want to diminish those happening.
And I think Drew even mentioned Brandi Carlisle did similar at another festival.
So it happened.
This was just just an I don't know, not unbelievable, but unusual circum set of circumstances.
And it just it fascinated you and me.
So we want to talk about it.
And they were willing to jump on the phone and the zoom and talk to us about it.
So yeah, and you can tell by their conversation that they were just as excited to pull this
off as we were to see it happen.
That's a great point.
Yeah, they're all fans and, you know, they work in it, but they're also, you know, just
as much excited about live music and shows and stuff as we are.
So yeah, it's neat that they could they could pull it all off.
I would I talked with Ted Heinegg yesterday, I think.
So two days after we did the initial interview and we were just kind of talking about it
again and rehashing.
And I said, you know, I'll put it this way.
Maybe the the thing that sums it up for me is Sam, who was the technical basically the
production guy at Memorial, who was on vacation and was not supposed to be back until Monday
and just happened to be in town on Sunday.
And his comment was, it was the most exciting thing I've been a part of and I would have
been mad had I missed it.
That's kind of what sums it up.
And who could say that about their job that I would have been mad if I had missed some
work working on a Sunday night when I should have been asleep or fishing or whatever.
That's a good point.
So it's about about a 25 minute.
It's not hopefully not too, too long.
And I hope you guys will watch it because I have a feeling it's something we're going
to be talking about and referencing and and all of that for future events and and festivals.
So I guess without any more, here we go.
Well, let me go ahead and set things up if I can.
First of all, thank you both for joining us and Taco and I were there Saturday.
We got to interview Wild Rivers and Matt.
And then I was there Sunday until I had to evacuate.
But I saw I saw Maggie Rose and then some of Sammy Ray.
I wanted to I got to hug and howdy with Ted Drew.
We never got to actually speak, but I did want to commend you on your three legged race
Pretty sorry that my my son's backstage birthday party was right in the middle of your wild.
Oh, it's awesome.
And I listen.
It was great.
It makes it.
It's so great.
And I had forgotten that your son was born four years ago this weekend.
Although I mean, that was makes it even even better.
But so for people listening and I don't know how this show is going to work out because
like, like what you guys did during Moon River, we've we're sort of adapting.
I just think what you guys did was so amazing that we wanted to talk about it.
So I reached out to people and they made it happen very, very quickly.
So that's why we're talking.
So we'll jump in.
But I'd like I'd just like to start because I just think Drew deserves so much of the
credit here for coming up with the idea to have an amazing show at Memorial.
Just it took it took what was a really tough day and turned it into something that that
for sure is a Moon River highlight for the rest of my life.
I was there Ted at Bonnaroo when they emptied the site, what four or five years ago.
That's a unique situation where you can have 80,000 people literally go back to their cars
and their tents, kind of hunker down and then clear everything and then bring them all back.
I was there at Four Castle and I think 18 or 19 with Sam Smith when he was on stage
and the Gus Nato came up.
I've never seen a storm like that.
Had to clear the site and you guys had to adapt and get everything ready for Sunday,
which you did.
But this weekend on Sunday, you had to clear the site.
Looks like everything was maybe going to get going back around 6, then 6 15, 6 30.
We get the notice that everything is canceled for the night.
Hour later, I get a phone call from Nick Wilkinson over at the Tivoli Foundation said, hey, I
think we're going to put this concert on at Memorial Auditorium.
I'll know more in about five minutes.
The actual first call was around probably, it was probably about the same time you called
Was that about three or four?
I'll look at my phone here.
Like 4 30.
Yeah, I was actually, I was getting ready to go to Moon River.
I was having dinner with my wife.
We had no kids.
We were going to try to have a nice kind of relaxing lunch and the rain came and then
I just dismissed it like, oh, well, they'll be fine.
This is a blow ride over.
We'll be good.
Then got a call from Ted.
It's probably the same time Sam did.
I realized, wait, something's happening here.
They're way too busy to be bothering with me right now.
Then obviously he said, hey, would it be possible if we had to somehow make something happen
here, if we could possibly move it to Memorial Auditorium, would you guys be willing to do
I said, sure.
We'll figure it out.
Don't know exactly how that'll work.
Does that set the stage?
Am I missing?
That's kind of the very, very basics.
Now, what we want to do is how did that happen?
Because it doesn't just happen.
It's not like the old cartoons or whatever where somebody says, hey, I've got a barn.
Let's go throw a show.
Stuff has to move.
Stuff has to happen.
If you guys don't mind, take us through how that happened yesterday.
Ted, you want me to roll first?
Why don't you take it?
You take the fun stuff, Drew, and then I'll handle the unfun stuff.
Ted could go into the bigger decisions about what happened with the festival.
Around five o'clock, that cell was on top of the festival, leaving the first cell.
The second cell, I can't remember which one it was.
There were a couple of them.
We were getting rained on really hard, and then it stopped.
There was obviously a lot of conversation happening about what that storm had done to
There was some chatter about whether or not we would be able to go on.
In the meantime, Ellie and I ran out.
There were tons of people out by the gate.
Ellie and I went out there with just a guitar.
Played for about an hour just for all the people who were standing there waiting to
I literally, while playing, I had no idea what was going to transpire.
As soon as I got off, as soon as I went back inside the green room area, artist area, I
got word that they were canceling.
Previous to going out there and doing that, I had floated an idea to my manager, Paul,
and to Brian Benson, another one of our partners, one of Ted's folks.
Hey, worst case here is the memorial auditorium open?
We just throw an acoustic show if worst case happens here.
It was kind of said honestly a little bit in jest.
At that point, I was pretty confident we were going to be able to restart.
No, Sam called me.
I thought he was joking because I knew he had just gotten back from his trip.
I was like, oh, this is a joke.
I get off.
Fast forward an hour, hour and 20 minutes later, I get off.
I get word that we're going to have to cancel.
Brian comes into my dressing room and he's like, were you serious about helping put this
I said, yeah, absolutely.
I want to try to do something.
A lot of frustrated people.
You can't control the weather, obviously, but also there's all these, the memorial doesn't
hold as many people who are at the festival.
We are getting word that a lot of people had left for the day just because of the forecast.
We just thought we can try to throw something together here.
We sent an immediate word out to all the managers of the artists who were on site for the day
and got a head count.
The first head count we got was Local Natives were immediately in.
Sammy Ray said she would like to do it.
JP said yes.
As a matter of fact, he had already gone out to play as well out in the parking lot for
I'm glad you mentioned that because I saw that too.
That's pretty cool.
That's really sweet.
Then we were still waiting for other acts.
There's obviously, when you're putting on a festival, bands and stuff, it's really complicated
because people have a show.
There's a reason why production and changeover takes long because it takes a long time to
I just want to throw a huge shout out to the artists who are willing to do this because
they knew they were walking into a dumpster fire of last minute throw and go, not the
way you want to sound, not the way you want to look, not the scenario that's a dream,
but also taking advantage of the fact that, hey, these people love this music and a lot
of them traveled here to play.
In Local Natives, especially, they were so great because this was going to be their last
show of the year.
To do what they did is a big, big, what's the word?
Risk is one word for them.
The last thing they want to do is put on a bad show and have people leave.
Yeah, I think it was risky.
I think it was risky on everybody's part.
There's a lot of moving variables there as far as the quality of the sound.
People are using, there were some guitars that people had never played before that were
just brought in because they needed some guitars because a lot of these artists gear is on
Every variable was, Leon Bridges was downstairs being like, I'm going to guess I'm going
to figure out how to play guitar again.
He's down there with Abraham and they're just rehearsing, going through.
We're shuffling all this stuff around downstairs, trying to give them their space so they can
get it together and rehearse and put on a good show.
Man, I don't know what happened, but the sound quality of everything was great.
I was on vacation in Colorado for the past 10 days fishing and had been driving in a
car for over 24 hours.
I got to Chattanooga at 10 45 a.m. Sunday, went to sleep, woke up.
I was like, I'm going to take a shower.
I'm going to go eat.
I knew I had Moon River passes.
I'm just going to give them to somebody and make their day because I just need to relax
and chill and then look across as I'm coming out of the shower, look across, see that the
phone's going off and it's Ted.
I was like, oh man.
I was like, hey man, how's it going?
He's like, hey, we're going to move Moon River to Memorial.
What do you think?
I was like, do what?
I didn't even know it was raining.
So I look outside, I'm like, oh, this is bad.
But thank goodness, like right before we had a, before I got on vacation, Phillips P.A.
was sitting up at Memorial and there was still some lighting that was gelled.
And right before we left, the guys were like, should we take this down and like get it all
I was like, you know, let's just some going on vacation.
Let's just leave it, you know, so that way if something happens, I don't know, just the
stars really kind of aligned to make that work.
That would have been two and a half hours.
There's no way we could have gotten that P.A. up.
So the P.A. being up and then Philip Jones from PLJ Audio just like absolutely.
I mean, he's probably the one that saved it more than anybody.
Like he just, I called him and was like, I need an audio engineer.
I need five ledges.
I need an amp rack.
Can you be here in 15 minutes?
And he's like, I'm going to call him.
And just threw it together.
It happens all the time, right?
He mixed it on the fly.
We did hardly any sound checks.
Some people didn't even show up.
Like Drew's call me being like, we need this.
There's going to be like start out with three people.
Then it's five people.
Then it changed.
You know, Leon showed up.
People just kept coming through the door.
It was pretty wild.
It was a really exciting, fun night though.
So then Abraham Alexander reaches out to me on Instagram who he his set did get to happen
early in the day, right before the chaos began.
Yeah, I saw a little bit of his set.
Yeah, he was incredible.
He basically said we had not heard back from Charlie or Leon's Charlie Crocker or Leon's
And he had gotten sort of the impression that they were not going to be able to make it
work for them.
And you know, cheers to Abraham because he reached out to me on Instagram and said, hey,
I'd love to play a couple songs and help out.
And also I'm trying really hard to get Charlie and Leon to come because they're all three
And so we got worried about halfway through the show that Charlie was, we got worried
at the beginning of the show that Charlie was coming.
And then we got worried about halfway through the show that Leon was on his way.
And it was just an absolutely magical night.
And the artists were so gracious to do that.
And the fans came in.
I mean, they were lined up outside the building by the thousands.
I don't know how many people it holds in there, but there had to have been three thousand
people in the room.
Yeah, that'd be twenty five hundred.
I don't know.
But it was definitely like it was incredibly emotional.
It was difficult.
It was this weird mixture of disappointment from the day.
But also this unique thing got to happen literally once in a lifetime for everybody in the room.
I called Nick Wilkinson at six oh three p.m. last night.
And I said to Nick, hey, we want to you know, Drew wants to do a Drew Hulkman friend special
show with the memorial.
Can we make this happen?
I might have said, please, you've got to make this happen.
And Nick and Nick's all Nick said to me was you got it.
I think he might have said, buddy, you got it.
He says, buddy, he's just like, you got it.
And then he's like, I got to go.
And he hung up.
And that was it.
And we were all kind of walking through just to see what what the everything looked like.
And thankfully, the place is in great shape.
Like Sam said, the equipment was up.
I mean, we just had it cleaned.
I mean, it was really, really looked sharp.
So I was like, well, everything looks right here.
That was it.
I was like, Nick, and I texted him like we got to do doors at eight thirty and I mean,
what an amazing, amazing team that they in two hours and twenty seven minutes were able
to assemble a staff have concessions to sell to people, get their ushers in place.
Like it was a whole different team of people that Memorial Memorial uses the Moon River.
And they got their team together and executed the night.
And I thought I thought they were just superstars.
Ted, I feel like I need to ask this and I probably should have asked it at the front.
And we might move it move it around.
But because I know people are going to want to know what are the sort of things that you
think are the things that go into making that decision that go no go type of decision.
And I don't know if you can answer that in a minute or two, but it's not it's not easy.
I'll answer it quickly.
I mean, it's like going back to what Drew was saying, like there there's a group of
us who work on this festival for a year.
Like today we're already starting to talk about artists for next year.
What are we going to do that's going to make it better next year?
So it's just really it's devastating when you're faced with making a call to not move
forward with something for the safety of the fans and the staff and the artists.
It's just really hard.
And it's for me, it was a little emotional.
But at the end of the day, like I thought, I don't I don't think I know our team made
a really hard call.
It was painful, but it was primarily based on the conditions of the site.
It was flooded in a lot of areas and a lot of key areas that we needed to access for
both for patrons and for ADA, et cetera.
And the fact that we're getting weather forecasted, we're predicting additional storms that would
have rain and light and the site, the site was not able to load those fans back in.
And not to be dramatic, but I watch a lot of those music festival documentaries and
had just watched both Fire Fest, which is I think a real lesson in what not to do in
And then also like the Woodstock 99 one.
And I just I just think sometimes the best decision is the hardest one at the time when
you're going to have to tell people who have planned on this for months and months and
just so much joy coming to Chattanooga to experience this with Drew and all the artists
to tell them you can't do it.
But but when you know you're making the right decision for the safety of everybody involved,
you know, you just think about, well, what would happen if you put 5000 people onto this
site and then at night you can't see where you're walking.
We're trying to do the right thing.
I think that's the best way to say it.
And then to speak to Chattanooga, one of the amazing things is just when you're in a community
that really wants you.
You know, this this whole community has embraced this festival.
And you know, I feel and the staff feels very, very wanted here.
And the attitude in Chattanooga is whatever you need, we want to do it.
You know, and I think it starts with having a great mayor like Tim Kelly, you know, who's
calling me just to ask me what I need in the middle of everything on Sunday, asking what
he can do to help with moving the show to Memorial.
Everything I need is what he told.
Same with Nick over at the Memorial and then same with Drew and Paul and his team.
And so all of a sudden that gets taken up from underneath them because of the weather
And so we, you know, all of a sudden, sort of all hands on deck, we're getting the everybody
over, getting security moved over and taking over the details of sort of the logistics
of how it pulled off.
But as we're setting up, we've already I've already so Ellie and I make our way, I pull
up at 715 Memorial and the staff there is working like crazy to try to set up some monitors
and mics and we're getting as many lines run as we can.
You know, it's totally fishing fishing for a compliment for Chattanooga, but it doesn't
happen everywhere like this, does it?
You don't get that kind of cooperation among so many different partners, or at least not
that I've seen.
Is that overstating?
No, I don't.
I don't think it's overstating at all.
I mean, if you know, if if Drew doesn't lead the charge on putting this together because
he cares so passionately about his fans and the Moon River fans and their experience,
if our team isn't there to really support Drew's vision and our vision for what we want
this to be and become a Chattanooga, if the city and Mayor Kelly isn't 100% all in and
supporting what we're trying to accomplish, if Nick Wilkinson at Memorial doesn't want
to work that night or doesn't want to put the effort into bringing his team in, it doesn't
happen like it did yesterday.
And then there are all of the, you know, incredible people that are in each of those teams who
had to work really, really hard and extra hard to pull off something that took a lot
So it's really a hats off to everybody for making it happen.
There's a lot of things that had to come together.
Like normally these, you know, in my experience, a lot of these bands, they come in on their
bus, they get there however, you know, hour before and they leave.
But these guys were around and willing to, wanting, not just willing, but they wanted
to perform, right?
So, I mean, how does all that happen?
Well, I also want to just to acknowledge some of the artists that weren't able to play,
you know, some of these folks, once they found out their set had been canceled, they made
their way back to Atlanta or Nashville.
Like Kev Moe was already back in Nashville by the time because his show was supposed
to be at 3.30.
And that's normal, right?
Yeah, totally normal.
That's my point.
I know for sure that other folks had still been in town.
We probably would have had them, they would have, you know, gotten up there as well.
But I think, you know, it also, you know, there's some practicalities as well, like
the kind of music that plays at Moon River is, you know, it's just, it's sort of a song
You know, these are all like, it's not, it's not a huge, like, while a lot of these acts
may have production, this is not a big production heavy lineup.
It's a, it's, there is a lot of production involved, but it's mostly because it's a lot
of people with a lot of instruments.
So you know, Charlie, getting up there and singing a couple songs on acoustic guitar
is manageable in this sort of throw and go format.
And he's willing, he and Leon being willing to do that, or Abraham, JP, me and Ellie,
I mean, all of us were playing basically solo acoustic sets, but really like local natives
and Sammy Ray being willing to jump up there with like horns and drums and five vocals
and have no time to sound check.
I mean, absolutely unheard of.
I mean, this is like the kind of stuff you do when you're like a brand new band trying
to like play an open mic night and it's a total cluster.
All these bands have earned and deserve sort of a better situation than that.
But at the same time, I think they also realize the sort of gravity of the gravity of the
opportunity that all these people, you know, Ted and I have talked about many times before
people come to Moon River, come to Chattanooga from all over the country.
And so we know that a lot of the people who are there, they booked flights to get there
and they've got hotel rooms that night and they're not doing anything with the shows
They have no plans.
And so I was inspired in some part years ago.
I can't remember when it was pilgrimage had a really tough year one year with rain and
had to cancel everything.
I remember my friend of mine who we all know and love who's played Moon River Brandy Carlisle.
She pivoted that night and put on like, I think she did like two or three shows at a
small venue and like basically had an online sign up.
If you have a wristband, you can sign up and try to pull something off.
Just try to like, you know, pick up the pieces, make some, you know, the old, you know, make
lemonade out of lemons.
So I think that the spirit of Moon River Festival is, you know, it was amazing.
I was so prepared for when we announced I was looking at social media like this is going
to be a comment section is going to be a dumpster fire.
And while we certainly had detractors, I was amazed at how many people recognize the complexity
that if anybody on this whole property wants this festival to happen more than me and Ted,
they don't exist.
You know, we wanted this thing to go on more than anybody else in the team.
And everybody's been so much work security vendors.
I mean, there's production, there's so bands, there's so many people who've made plans to
have this thing happen and we can't control these external circumstances.
And that's just the nature of outdoor events.
So to see the, you know, whether like you said earlier, whether it's the memorial or
whether it's the security staff that put a bunch of them in a van and drove over to help
run security at the venue.
I mean, it was like just wild to see it all happen.
But I think it's the spirit of the festival.
Hey, this is about music.
This is about a community.
This is about this place.
And a lot of people worked really hard to come here as fans.
Let's see if there's anything we can do to salvage what was honestly like a real like
my two o'clock to six o'clock was about as depressed and sad as I've been in a long time.
And it's you know, it would have been easier had it been like a, you know, a four hour
But it was these like pockets of chaos.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
You know, yeah.
And so you're just like, man, you think we're going to get to have it and we don't.
And then it pours and it's just like all this difficult situation and people were upset.
We know we get that and trying to do our best.
Like in the fact that Ted and his team were willing to do the refunds was just a home
run from from from a sort of like Ted said, taking care of our people and the Moon River
You know, while there's always you're always going to get first timers and newcomers who
are just there because they like particular acts in the bill, the general spirit of Moon
River is definitely a unique vibe.
And it's a unique community that comes together and loves this place, loves this kind of music,
loves the people.
And you know, I think that's Ellie and I love music.
We love what we love, like the audience is part of the band in some ways.
You know, it's like an extension of the experience.
That's why people go to live shows.
So I think that that spirit hopefully sort of flows in every direction with everybody
I mean, I thought Leon sounded great.
All of his songs came across really well, his guitar work was really good.
You know, Drew and Ellie are just great.
They couldn't have been better people to host, you know, a little pop up.
So that's something Nick, you said to me yesterday when we were on the phone that if Drew and
Ellie aren't there to act as emcees, it would have been a cluster.
I mean, it's such it makes Moon River so unique that you have basically a hosted event that
you know, by doing that, that, you know, last minute pivot here.
I mean, if you have, I mean, there's other great festivals and obviously C3, AC, they've
been a part of all of them.
But I don't know of any of them that have like, you know, a host like Moon River does.
So they were able to step into that role and kind of make it seamless and make it seem
like I mean, I know Drew was obviously saying how much time and effort they do put into
this and obviously they do, but they're obviously just incredible, just talent and professionals
because they could just jump right in and it almost looked like they had planned this
for months and months.
I mean, if you were to attend, if you thought it was like, this was like almost pre orchestrated
So there you go.
If you stuck through it all the way to the end, I hope, I hope you understand why, why
Taco and I are so interested in this.
There's a, it's way inside baseball.
It's a little bit inside baseball.
I hope it gives an insight into the thinking behind these festivals.
And I mean, one of the points that Ted makes is, you know, there was standing water, but
it was going to be even different once the lights went, once the sun went down, you wouldn't
be able to see where you're stepping.
I hadn't given that a thought, you know, I hadn't either.
And there's a lot of this that you don't immediately think about.
You think, Oh, we just got to get it open and let people in.
Well, like you said, I mean, there's ADA, there's, there's a lot of reasons why this
would have been a bad idea.
I've, I've been involved in, we had a hundred team baseball tournament once we got rained
There's a lot of decisions and a lot of angst.
You don't want to cancel it.
You don't want to cancel it.
You definitely don't.
There's so many things.
You don't want to make the wrong decision and have consequences from that.
So that's still really pretty cool to me that so many people and so many things came together
like they did.
So, um, all right, well, I hope you guys enjoyed that and thank you.
Uh, we're next show.
We're going to have the interview with wild, um, wild rivers and, uh, taco you pointed
out before we got on here today that, uh, rumor season is, is kind of, kind of, kind
of catching up to us.
It's kind of creeping up.
I mean, if you look at the calendar, we're not, uh, but a few months away from, well,
January, which is when the lineup comes out.
So usually about this time, yeah, you start getting, um, whispers of, you know, bands
that might have a gap in their tour dates around that time.
And, you know, hopefully Brad can be on the next show cause he's probably got more inside
contacts to, uh, to talk about what, you know, what he's hearing.
Well, I'm curious to see.
We know who he wants, right?
I mean, we have that in, yes, we have that in very clear terms.
I don't think there's any doubt on who he wants.
So yeah, he's made his demands.
He's, he made his list of demands very clear.
So we'll see how that works out, but, uh, I haven't given it much thought as I never
Um, not like he does and some other people, but I do know it's a, it's time.
So that'll, we'll have the, like I said, the wild rivers and then we'll probably start
talking about that.
And, and he's got a bunch of, go ahead.
Oh, well, I was just going to say, you know, we're still healing from the previous two
years of lineups that were announced and then changed and then canceled.
And so it's, it takes time to get excited again because you don't want to get that feeling
of disappointment again when it doesn't happen.
But I'm starting to get excited again.
Yeah, I know.
Isn't it funny how it's like, well, it's like anything, surgery, childbirth, whatever your,
your brain tends to forget how painful, but we kind of mentioned, um, not that I've had
Let's be clear.
I don't know what that's like.
I just heard, um, but we kind of tiptoed around it right at the end of, uh, I think that show
back in August, um, that the lineup this year at Bonnaroo needs to, it needs to be pretty
I think that's the key is, is to get people back, to, you know, get it back to the festival,
back to those levels of, you know, where they're selling out and people are excited and people
want to go because it's all about the lineup.
It's the lineup or nothing.
Well, that and, and, uh, and, uh, the, uh, the, um, experience.
That's why I think the moon river thing was worth us talking about.
Cause like I said, that was, it was a bad deal, you know, nobody wants to cancel that,
but they handled it right.
Not, they did.
Not everybody went, but they still handled it right.
I haven't heard too many negatives.
So you know, and again, it's some of the same people.
So hopefully we've, we've turned that corner of the last three years, which, you know,
I don't know who to, I don't know if there's blame for any of that.
It's just the way it happened with a pandemic and a flood.
I mean, a hurricane, you know, who sees that coming?
It was just a bad collection of events.
So that's it.
I think that's it.
Um, hopefully, you know, we, what we presented was the edited down version of those two conversations
um, why don't maybe we'll just put the full conversation on YouTube, maybe just as an
So if you want to hear more, if you liked it and want to check it out, then you can
go listen to the full thing, but hopefully we gave it a good concise presentation.
There's a little bit more in this episode.
A little bit more in there.
Um, yeah, glad to do it.
All right, taco.
Have a great weekend.
I'll see you soon and uh, thanks again for being so flexible and being able to jump on
and I enjoyed hanging out last weekend.
It was fun.
It was fun to hang out again, even though it was cut, cut a little short.
Yeah, it was cut.
It was fun.
As we said on the last show, seeing some of our Bonnaroo family with uh, Charlotte and
Daniel and Lindsay.
It's always, yeah, it was almost like a Brinestone mini reunion.
It was Brinestone, who is by the way, right now he's uh, he's on his way to that Pearl
Jam concert, isn't he?
I have no idea what he's doing, but I think so.
The one he bought two sets of tickets for two years ago and he's, yeah, it was supposed
to be like his birthday weekend two years ago and then of course it got canceled and
postponed and now it's finally happening.
So he's good for him.
He's kind of a big Pearl Jam fan.
We know that.
So I, I hope it, it won't be.
I started to say, I hope it exceeds his expectation and hope, but it won't be.
There's no way it won't.
Can't wait to hear from him.
Well, thank you guys.
Thanks for listening and we'll talk soon.