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BARRY COURTER: Lisa, amazingly Riverbend is here, and there is a lot to talk about, but I have to share a funny story first. My close personal friend (that's a phrase friends of TJ the DJ will know) called the other day to tell me he would have the honor of introducing Juice Newton and Exile on Saturday on the Unum Stage. He'll also be signing copies of his book, "The Jett Age -- Flying With Tommy Jett."

Anyway, first thing he says to me is: "I saw you the other day, and you've put on a lot of hair." Hey now, that's funny.

LISA DENTON: Ha, that's real funny. I thought it looked like you'd spent some quality time with the Flowbee lately. I figured it was part of your prep work for camping out at Bonnaroo, except the timing was off. Bonnaroo's not until next weekend, and by then you'll need to tame the mane again.

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Lisa Denton and Barry Courter

Sometimes when we're at our desks, it's like sitting across from Einstein. I guess using a Flowbee to cut your own hair makes you a "shear" genius. It's not a bad problem to have. When my girlfriends ask about you, they say, "How's Barry? How's his hair?" So you've got that going for you.

BARRY: It's about all I have going for me, so yeah.

LISA: But back to Riverbend. One of the big changes this year is having two acts on the Coca-Cola Stage. The big name Friday night is 3 Doors Down. If they're smart, they'll do their cover of "That Smell." You can't go wrong with a Lynyrd Skynyrd song at Riverbend.

But the real don't-miss act of opening night is St. Paul & The Broken Bones. This soul band out of Birmingham can really rock.

BARRY: There are several really good acts that should not be missed this year, but St. Paul tops the list. Many Chattanoogans will remember they sort of burst onto the scene a little over two years ago at Track 29 as part of an early Scenic City Roots show. They've since played Bonnaroo and will open for the Rolling Stones on Tuesday in Atlanta and later in Buffalo. If you like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Al Green or any of the other soul singers with big voices, you'll love Paul Janeway and the Broken Bones.

LISA: Completing the Coke Stage over the weekend are War and Martina McBride on Saturday and Leon Russell and Merle Haggard on Sunday. Then it's over to M.L. King Boulevard on Monday for the Bessie Smith Strut. Then "Sweet Tea Night" at the riverfront with Matthew West and other Christian artists performing Tuesday.

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Kaleb Menzel, right, and Austin Nolan set up fencing Thursday around the Coca-Cola Stage while preparing for the Riverbend Festival.

BARRY: This is the first year the festival is presenting a second featured act on the Coke Stage, and I hope it goes well. The festival in the past had to pass on acts that fell into a price range that didn't fit the festival's budgeting format, and hopefully this fixes that issue.

Wednesday night's pairing of Doug E. Fresh and Rick Ross and Melissa Etheridge is easily the most unusual. Fresh pretty much invented the human beat-box technique of making percussion and rhythm sounds with his mouth. Etheridge added a little hip-hop to her latest album, but she is known as a first-class singer/songwriter in a traditional rock sense. It should be a fun night.

LISA: Riverbend always reminds me of that old Yogi Berra quote: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." But if you are looking for alternative programming, remember that Nightfall will be going on Friday at Miller Plaza with the A.J. Ghent Band. Ghent is the former frontman of the Col. Bruce Hampton Band.

And Polk and Sequatchie counties both have bluegrass festivals. The Linsdale Bluegrass Festival near Benton is Saturday, while the Coke Ovens Bluegrass Festival in Dunlap is Friday and Saturday.

Oh, and I almost forgot that the first rehearsal of the newly formed Signal Mountain Women's Chorus is Thursday night at Mountain Arts Community Center. They're looking for "All the Signal ladies, all the Signal ladies" and other Chattanooga-area women too.

Get event details every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at www.chattanooganow.com.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354. Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

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