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Watch videos of some of the 2020 Riverbend Festival's headliners at the end of this story.

Mavis Staples, Ohio Players, Ashley McBryde, Darius Rucker, Cody Jinks and Blackberry Smoke are among 16 acts that will headline the revamped and reconfigured 2020 Riverbend Festival.

The four-day festival is set for May 27-30 and will feature 32 acts, plus street performers.

Other acts performing are Brothers Osborne, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Here Come the Mummies, Ray Wiley Hubbard, Samantha Fish, The Cadillac Three, The Record Company, The Revivalists, Todd Snider and Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue.

Songbirds Guitar Museum partnered with Friends of the Festival this year to produce the 39-year-old festival. President Johnny Smith said organizers set out to get the best available acts and to try to create pairings each night that "make sense and make for a fun night," adding that the goal was to book the 16 acts with the idea that they could all be considered headliners.

"Ashley McBryde was named New Artist of the Year at the CMA's this year," he said. "Mavis Staples is iconic, not just a superstar. I've become a big fan of The Record Company and The Revivalists in the last several weeks."

Tickets, which will be $65, go on sale Friday, Dec. 13. Group and corporate discounts will be available.

Riverbend headliner lineup

Mavis Staples

Ashley McBryde

Blackberry Smoke

Brothers Osborne

Christine "Kingfish" Ingram

Cody Jinks

Darius Rucker

Here Come the Mummies

Ohio Players

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Samantha Fish

The Cadillac Three

The Record Company

The Revivalists

Todd Snider

Trombone Shorty

First staged in 1982, the festival is the city's largest music festival, but it failed to change with the growing festival scene over the years, officials have said. It began seeing declining revenues in recent years so organizers made significant changes last year in an effort to turn the tide.

Most significantly, it doubled its admission price to around $90, reduced the number of days from nine to four, did away with its corporate partnerships and went exclusively to radio frequency identification — or RFID — wristbands for admission and purchasing.

It also moved from early-to-mid-June to May 27-30, and announced in early November that the iconic, but beleaguered barge stage would be sunsetted.

Festival Executive Director Chip Baker retired after two decades at the helm in October and was replaced by longtime director of marketing and sponsorships Mickey McCamish.

Smith and his team at Songbirds were brought on to use their expertise in booking acts and social media to bring the event more in line with current large music events. They have been involved in the production of the festival in recent years.

Smith said the decision to get rid of the barge, which put the artists 40 feet in the air away from the audience, was made both because it was not a good music experience for fans or musicians and it had become expensive to maintain and insure.

"It was tired and needed to go," he said.

The new Coke Stage will be a "superstructure stage" similar to those found at other large festivals and will be located under the Olgiati Bridge. The Bud Light Stage will be at the corner of Riverfront Parkway and Chestnut Street and Smith said two acts will alternate time slots on each beginning at 6:30 each night.

This is the first time Riverbend has announced the bulk of its lineup before Christmas, Smith said.

"We'd love for people to buy tickets as Christmas gifts, obviously."

Star seating and VIP experiences will also return but with the new stage layout, the staff is still putting together how it will look, he said.

"Each stage will have VIP experiences now," he said.

McCamish has said the goal is make it a great music experience for the fans.

"It has to be about the music and the experience," he said.

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

 

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE 2020 RIVERBEND FESTIVAL HEADLINERS

 

Mavis Staples

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Ashley McBryde

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Blackberry Smoke

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Brothers Osborne

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Christine "Kingfish" Ingram

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Cody Jinks

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Darius Rucker

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Here Come the Mummies

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Ohio Players

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Samantha Fish

Watch video on Youtube »

 

The Cadillac Three

Watch video on Youtube »

 

The Record Company

Watch video on Youtube »

 

The Revivalists

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Todd Snider

Watch video on Youtube »

 

Trombone Shorty

Watch video on Youtube »

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