MOON RIVER Festival 2019 Day Two – Until Next Year!
Lineup: The Brook & the Bluff, Birdtalker, Cedric Burnside, The Suffers, Johnnyswim, The Band Camino, The Wood Brothers, Rayland Baxter, Goodbye Road (feat. Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Johnnyswim, Penny & Sparrow), The Lone Bellow, Brandi Carlile.
Day two of Moon River 2019 rolled around on Sunday. Fans returned to Coolidge Park with new tan lines and wide smiles ready for yet another day of outstanding music. Entering the festival via the picturesque blue pedestrian bridge prior to the first set at 12:30 p.m., the sun shone bright, forecasting a beautiful day.
The Brook & the Bluff
The Brook & the Bluff had the honor to kick off day two of the festival. Bringing laid back vibes, the band provided a sound full of soul, groove, and funky alternative. With nostalgic synths, and effortless harmonies, The Brook & the Bluff had the audience hooked. Their presence on stage brought contagious happiness. Attracting a large crowd for an opener, the band had everyone singing along to songs like “Masks”, “Rush”, and “Halfway Up”. Getting the opportunity to talk to the band, we discussed Moon River’s stacked lineup. When I asked what bands they were looking forward to witnessing, The Brook & the Bluff shared their excitement for Brandi Carlile and Penny and Sparrow.
Johnnyswim is husband wife duo, Abner Remirez and Amanda Sudano. The powerhouse couple is loved for their ability to translate memories and moments into songs with a backbone of two outstanding singer-songwriters at heart with a passion for experimentation. Their musical journey has consisted of songs that incorporate rock, soul, and pop, ultimately molding the Johnnyswim sound. Hitting it big with the release of their Heart Beats EP and single “Don’t Let it Get You Down”, the duo has been swooning fans ever since. Boot stomping, hand clapping, and catchy whistling are just of the few things that make their music so irresistible.
Johnnyswim may have been the favorite non-headliner act for Moon River attendees. As the band came out, the Poplar Stage was overflowing with people. Kicking off their set with “Bridges”, the bass hummed as the crowd roared for the band. The couple coordinated outfits wearing all white with Remirez in a white shirt and jeans and his signature hat, and Sudano in a long flowy white dress and a goddess like purple flower crown. The couple took time to discuss with the audience the positive impression Chattanooga had given them. Arriving to the city a few days early for time to hike, eat, and explore, they mentioned highlights such as a jalapeno corn dog and watching other Moon River artists’ sets.
Entering the crowd to get intimate with the audience, the duo played the beloved, “Home” as Abner Remirez strummed the guitar and Amanda Sudano belted into the microphone. Ending on “Diamonds”, magic was in the air as Johnnyswim departed.
Yet another Tennessee native band, The Band Camino, from Memphis brought the rock to Moon River. Favoring the younger members of the crowd, they resembled that of Colony House’s set last year. Releasing tryhard two weeks prior to playing Moon River, fans new every word to every song to the new album. And this was no exaggeration.
The Band Camino not only brought the rock, but also the hype to Moon River. With the front row losing their minds to the rock outfit, The Band Camino proved that they’re the ultimate package. A group of four old friends, making music that they love and believe in, songs like “Daphne Blue” and “My Thoughts On You” became staple songs in the set and left fans in awe.
The Wood Brothers & Rayland Baxter
Important mentions of day two included Rayland Baxter and The Wood Brothers. With so many amazing artists listed on the lineup, it became hard to choose a favorite. However The Wood Brothers and Rayland Baxter were two sets that pleasantly surprised me (and many other fans).
Rayland Baxter is an artist that has gotten better and grown with every time I’ve seen him perform live. Prior to his Moon River set, Baxter handed out handfuls of free merch, including shirts and vinyl albums.
Sporting acid wash overalls, Colorado socks, and a classic hipster mustache, as he sang “Yellow Eyes”, and “Cassanova” fans couldn’t contain their excitement.
The Wood Brothers emerged on the Poplar stage with minimal instruments but provided a large sound. With just a stand up bass and two guitars, they made performing look easy. The trio, known for their soulful folk, had Moon River attendees feeling at home on the hot summer day.
The band made me want to round up my friends and have a campfire. With Americana roots and a love for folk, choruses of “Luckiest Man” and “I Got Loaded” echoed through the park.
Goodbye Road was a Moon River specialty brought to you by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Johnnyswim, and Penny & Sparrow. For those reading this Moon River recap that aren’t quite aware of Goodbye Road, we’re here to inform you. Take all the best qualities of each of the aforementioned bands and you have the collaborative project, Goodbye Road. Within the set, the artists sang all the songs included on the Goodbye Road EP. Sandwiching their own songs in between, the Goodbye Road segment was all around magical.
Kicking off with “Goodybe Road” (the song), the artists sang in harmony, leaving the crowd in pure silence. Although, the beauty didn’t just stop there. Johnnyswim was first up to share some of their band’s music and performed “First Try”, “Hummingbird”, and “Annie”. Then, it was Drew Holcomb’s turn to sing material off his most recent release “Dragons”. “End of the World” was a fan favorite. Holcomb also treated the crowd to “Tennessee” one last time.
Penny & Sparrow then stole the show with their three song segment consisting of “Stockholm”, “Don’t Wanna Be Without Ya”, and “Gold” mashed up with a slowed down, acoustic version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. You haven’t heard a real harmony until you’ve heard Penny & Sparrow live. Their talent is unfathomable for any listener. Between the intricate lyrics and vocal range of Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke, it’s hard to believe such a perfect sound could exist. The duo joked about borrowing Holcomb’s band, and referred to them as their festival “house band” as they blew the minds of the masses. Ending on “Ring the Bells”, all members of the star studded collaboration were invited back on stage.
The sense of community that was felt throughout the Moon River crowd while Goodbye Road was on stage was one like no other. Goodbye Road made everyone welcome at Coolidge Park. Their lovable music provided for the perfect Moon River soundtrack. All those who attended the set were grateful for the special experience as it was a rarity to have so much talent on one stage.
Closing out the festival was the highly accredited, magical, Americana darling, Grammy winner, inspiration giver, mother of two, and revolutionizing artist, Brandi Carlile. The past two years have set Carlile on a rocket ship speed mission to success. Nominated for six Grammy’s following the release of By The Way, I Forgive You in February of 2018, collaborating with Sam Smith on “Party of One”, forming The Highwomen with Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby, selling out her Girls Just Wanna Weekend music festival, and playing shows around the world is just a slice of what this artist has been up to.
Growing up in the woods in Washington, the artist has been working towards her career since she was fifteen. Fusing country and Americana, Carlile’s sound is addicting. If you have yet to see her live, we rarely say it, but you’re missing out. Experiencing a Brandi Carlile show is a therapeutic and cathartic experience. Be blown away as Carlile and guitar players (and brothers), Tim and Phil Hanseroth, take you to church.
Early in the set Carlile played “Wherever Is Your Heart”, a personal favorite. The passion and energy Carlile emitted couldn’t help but put a smile on every audience member’s face. Then singing “Have You Ever”, a song inspired by her hometown in Washington, the artist depicted wandering in the woods, starry skies, and walking in the woods. It wouldn’t have been a Brandi Carlile show without the significant influence of Joni Mitchell. As Mitchell was a great inspiration to Carlile, she paid tribute to her idol covering “A Case of You” solo on the piano. Quite possibly even giving Joni a run for her money, it wasn’t the only cover of the night. Carlile also slid in “Angel from Montgomery” and “Going to California”. Not only did Carlile sing covers to spice up the night, but she also brought multiple guests to help her sing. When singing “Redesigning Women”, Carlile brought out band mate, Natalie Hemby. For “Crowded Table”, she added The Lone Bellow. And lastly, being the incredibly kind headliner that she was, she invited founder, Drew Holcomb to cover “Angel From Montgomery”. Witnessing so many talented acts bond over their love for music was a special experience. Carlile treated her fans like queens. It would be an understatement to say that fans enjoyed hits such as “The Story” and “The Joke”. All-in-all, Carlile is a performer that continues to blow audience members away which each song she sings. Even for folks who were unfamiliar with her music stayed until the very end. She is an impeccable songwriter and a talented performer.
When it was time for Moon River to come to a close, attendees left cleansed. Having spent 48 hours in the sun, listening to the best music, curated by musical saint, Drew Holcomb, it was not only an entertaining experience, but also a healing one. Moon River showcased some of the best upcoming bands in today’s music scene and also showcased some of the most renowned songwriters. It was a pleasure to attend the annual event and we can’t wait for next year.