Chattanooga Now City Beat: Riverbend a big opportunity for local artists

Chattanooga Now City Beat: Riverbend a big opportunity for local artists

June 5th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The lion's share of attention during Riverbend is directed toward the nationally known musical acts that play there, but it's a big deal for local musicians as well. For many, it will be the largest crowd they will have played in front of, and it's a nice item to have on your resumé.

Among the dozens of local acts set to perform are longtime local favorites Blaze and newcomers Stars of Chattanooga, returning for the second straight year.

Blaze, which started performing back in 1977, is holding a reunion/tribute concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the VW Stage. The show is in memory of lead singer Larry Hilburn, who passed away from cancer in 2009, according to Kenny Malone.

"He was a special person," Malone says. "He had his own sayings and way of doing things. He was quiet, but whenever he did talk, he had something to say whether it was funny or something about music.

"Everyone that is playing played a part in his life, and he played a part in theirs."

Former members of Blaze, as well as Spring Creek, both Hilburn bands, will be performing.

Among those scheduled to perform are Malone, Randy Johnston, Ralph Herman, Terry Holbrook, Rick Byler, David Brown, Kenny Johnson, K.C. Campbell, Frank Magill, Mark St. John and Joey Akins.

Blaze did two other reunion shows in 2005 and 2006 at Riverbend.

While those guys are veterans of touring and performing, the members of Stars of Chattanooga are all relative newcomers.

They will be performing Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the VW Stage.

Originally started as an anti-gang program through the city's old Education, Arts and Culture Department, it's now administered through the Youth and Family Development program in a combined effort between programs offered at Heritage House in East Brainerd and the South Chattanooga Center on West 40th Street.

Performing will be Amber Velbis, Jesse Black, Raulle Kelly, Vanessa Stubblefield, Terrick Thorne, Paul Sealey, Nasir Billups, Wisdom Billups, Kirby Jackson, Alyia Bradford, Ladarius Tate, Shakeema Tate, Johnny Rollins and Ajai McReynolds.

The Stars also will participate in the Artist of the Day outreach concert at Lindsay Street Hall at 1 p.m. Monday with Big James & the Playboys.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.