Chattanooga Now Roots Fest vs. Thunder on the Rock

Chattanooga Now Roots Fest vs. Thunder on the Rock

Memorial Day weekend festivals draw crowds to LaFayette, Monteagle

May 22nd, 2014 by Lisa Denton in Chattnow Music

Roots Fest Friday night headliner: Dirty Guv'nahs

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Over Memorial Day weekend, two longtime festivals offer music lovers in the region a chance to let loose, get down, rock on.

Both Roots Fest and Thunder on the Rock are scheduled Friday through Sunday, May 23-25. Both originated in 2007. Both offer an array of bands. Both are held in remote areas where there's little chance of disturbing the neighbors. Both provide camping.

The similarities may end there, though.

Roots Fest has more of a hippie vibe -- think dreadlocks, Birkenstocks, hiking boots, sundresses. Organizer Ada Barnes describes it as "a gathering of good souls."

Thunder on the Rock doubles as a bike rally, so the camping contingent is more of a leather-clad crowd -- think do-rags, studded boots, blue jeans.

But with "foot traffic" (those who don't camp out) accounting for half the turnout, Thunder's head honcho, Rodney Kilgore, says biker stereotypes don't really come into play.

"It's really not a rowdy bunch," he says. "You get some real bikers, but there's also doctors and lawyers, all kinds of people."

Here's a quick rundown of how the two events shape up individually, based on input from Barnes and Kilgore and information on the festivals' websites.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.


Bring the kids?

Roots Fest: Sure! Kids 12 and younger get in free, and there are activities designed just for the wee folk.

Thunder on the Rock: Don't even think about it. You must be at least 18 and show a valid ID to enter. According to the website, the rule prohibiting the 17-and-younger crowd, including infants, is strictly enforced.

Extracurricular activities?

Roots Fest: Bonfire, face painting, body painting, drum circle, art exploration, children's tent, ballgames, waterslide, Slip'N Slide, spikeball, cornhole and Hula Hoops.

Thunder on the Rock: Bike show, biker games, beer trucks, Daisy Dukes and bikini contests, plus Circus Una, an all-female, aerial thrill show featuring a motorcycle rider and trapeze artists balanced on a wire.

Noise level/curfew?

Roots Fest: Music on the main stage ends by 11:30 p.m. A DJ tent and drum circle continue after that. The family campground is farthest away from the stages.

Thunder on the Rock: Everything calms down by midnight, Kilgore says.

Pets allowed?

Roots Fest: There's no official ban, but animals are discouraged because of the crowd size. Those who do bring their animals must keep them leashed and clean up their messes.

Thunder on the Rock: Nope. As the website puts it, "Bikers have been known to eat pets for midnight snacks; therefore we request all four-legged animals, reptiles, birds, etc. stay home."

Summed up in three words?

Roots Fest: Music, "framily," positivity.

Thunder on the Rock: Music, bikers, charity.

If the festival had a movie rating?

Roots Fest: PG to PG-13."Once the kids go to bed, it might get a little more crazy," Barnes says.

Thunder on the Rock: "It's broken up," Kilgore says. "G in the front, R in the back."

Big Gun, an AC/DC tribute band, will play at 9 p.m. CDT Saturday.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


¦ What: Thunder on the Rock Music Festival & Bike Rally.

¦ When: Friday-Sunday, May 23-25.

¦ Where: 5118 Brawley Road, Monteagle, Tenn.

¦ Admission: $40 first 1,500 tickets sold in advance, then $60; additional charges for some vehicles or extra camping time.

¦ Phone: 931-703-2720.

¦ Website:

The traditional Thunder on the Rock biker parade from the festival site into Monteagle, Tenn., is scheduled at 8 a.m. CDT Saturday.

The traditional Thunder on the Rock biker parade...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


Note: All times Central.

Friday, May 23

5 p.m. Marlow Drive

7 p.m. Legacy

9 p.m. Groove Holler

11 p.m. Geneva

12:30 p.m. Daisy Dukes or bikini contest

Saturday, May 24

3 p.m. Hour Late

5 p.m. Contagious

7 p.m. Padlock Grin

9 p.m. AC/DC tribute band Big Gun

11 p.m. Jack Russell & Great White Band

12:30 p.m. Daisy Dukes or bikini contest

Sunday, May 25

2:30 p.m. Afflicshun

4 p.m. Hour Late

6 p.m. JD Cable & the Empty Bottle Band

8 p.m. Hillbilly Sins

10 p.m. Davey Smith

Roots Fest Saturday night headliner: Honey Island Swamp Band

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


¦ What: Roots Fest.

¦ When: Friday-Sunday, May 23-25.

¦ Where: Cherokee Farms, 2035 Old Mineral Springs Road, LaFayette, Ga.

¦ Admission: $45 three days, $35 two days, $20 one day in advance; $50, $40 and $25 at the gate; free for children under 12.

¦ Phone: 423-645-9699, 423-332-2243.

¦ Website:



Friday, May 23

4:30 p.m. The Iscariots

5:15 p.m. Under Great Lights

6 p.m. Decibella

6:45 p.m. Milele Roots

7:45 p.m. Machines Are People Too

9:30 p.m. The Dirty Guv'nahs

Saturday, May 24

11 a.m. Bilet-Doux

11:25 a.m. The Reigns Band

12:05 p.m. Medicine Tree

12:45 p.m. Valleys of Neptune

1:40 p.m. Ono Fauna

2:25 p.m. Marlow Drive

3:20 p.m. Mdahts featuring Floami Fly, Moondogg Sikes and Siri A

4:20 p.m. Hot Damn

5:20 p.m. The Average

6:15 p.m. Rick Rushing & the Blues Strangers

7:15 p.m. Glowing Bordis

8:15 p.m. Strung Like a Horse

10 p.m. Honey Island Swamp Band

Sunday night headliner: Donna Hopkins Band

Sunday night headliner: Donna Hopkins Band

Photo by Photo by J.T. Alessi

Sunday, May 25

11 a.m. Danimal Planet

11:45 a.m. Scarlet Love Conspiracy

12:30 p.m. The Vino Takes

1:30 p.m. The Great Barrier Reefs

2:25 p.m. All Things Green

3:35 p.m. Ryan Oyer

4:30 p.m. Amber Fults & the Ambivalent Lovers

5:25 p.m. Jon Wimpee

6:30 p.m. Freddy's Finest

7:45 p.m. Donna Hopkins Band



11:30 a.m. Spoon

12:30 p.m. Brother Eroc & B Spaz

1:30 p.m. Wallin

2:30 p.m. Jung

3:30 p.m. Chaney

5 p.m. FaReel


11:30 a.m. Era-step

12:30 p.m. KG

1:30 p.m. Moonchild

2:30 p.m. Tommy L

3:30 p.m. KRRS-24

5 p.m. Bridge Burner Club featuring Brandy Womac