James Nash, the guitarist/singer/songwriter who founded The Waybacks, didn't appreciate his roots in bluegrass until he moved from Nashville to attend college in California.
"I certainly didn't go to the Bay area to find Americana," said the 36-year-old Tennessee native. "I came out here to go to college, met a girl and stayed."
Tonight, the San Francisco-based band, which formed nearly a decade ago, will return for a second appearance at the Riverbend Festival. This time, instead of playing on a side stage as they did in their 2006 debut, the musicians will headline on the Coca-Cola Stage with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, John Cowan, Joan Osborne and Jens Kruger.
The performance, billed as a Mystery Rock Revue, will showcase a well-known classic-rock album, but which one remains a secret until the opening notes. Friends of the Festival commissioned Nashville artist Jim Gray to create the charts specifically for the show.
In an earlier interview with the Times Free Press, CSO Music Director and Conductor Robert Bernhardt said he is excited to be part of this symphony first, pointing out that the symphony and guest artists will be stretching their usual boundaries.
The Waybacks have done full-scale versions of classic-rock albums in the past, including "Led Zeppelin II," but never with a symphony.
"I'm flabbergasted that we're getting to do this," Mr. Nash said. "It's surreal."
The guest artists will add a rich dimension to the performance, he said.
IF YOU GO
* Who: The Waybacks, John Cowan, Joan Osborne and Jens Kruger with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.
* When: 9:30-11 p.m. today.
* Where: Coca-Cola Stage.
"We try not to take what we do onstage too seriously. We're serious about our music but not too serious about ourselves." -- James Nash of The Waybacks
Ms. Osborne, best known for the 1995 pop hit "One of Us," is "a wonderful person and very talented," said Mr. Nash.
Mr. Kruger, banjo player for the Kruger Brothers bluegrass trio, is "a phenomenal musician."
Mr. Cowan has a voice that's been "kissed by an angel," Mr. Nash said. "He can do things with his voice that I could never do."
Nashville bassist/composer Byron House, who produced The Waybacks' latest CD, "Loaded," describes the band as "superb musicians with keen sensibilities and seemingly boundless creative energy."
Their live shows, he added, "are just a ton of fun."
That's a Waybacks trademark, Mr. Nash said.
"We try not to take what we do onstage too seriously. We're serious about our music but not too serious about ourselves. Hopefully that comes across in our show."
SUNDAY June 13
9:30-11 p.m. The Waybacks, Joan Osborne, John Cowan with CSO
Bud Light Stage
5-6 p.m. Choo Choo Chicks
6:15-7:30 p.m. Otis Taylor
7:45-9 p.m. Lyfe Jennings
6:30-7:45 p.m. Steel String Session
8-9:15 p.m. Kenny Neal
9:30-11 p.m. Soul Rebels
Tennessee Lottery Stage
5:30-6:45 p.m. Troy Underwood
6:45-7:45 p.m. The Pool
11-12 p.m. DJ Mays
Tennessee Valley Credit Union Stage
6:15-7:30 John Lathim & Company
7:45-9 p.m. Slim Pickin's
9:15-10:30 p.m. Scott Holt