Rap pioneers Salt-N-Pepa with Spinderella (appearing June 16), country singer Brett Eldredge and Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke (both appearing June 15 on the Coca-Cola Stage) are the latest acts added to the Riverbend 2016 lineup, according to marketing coordinator Amy Morrow.

Last week, festival planners made the initial performances announcement with Thomas Rhett (June 10), Heart (June 11) and Trampled By Turtles (June 12.)

Salt-N-Pepa was formed in 1985 by Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and Latoya Hanson, who was later replaced by Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella). They were one of the first all-female rap groups, and among the more popular and decorated acts, having earned a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1995 and several MTV Video Music honors.

They are best known for their hits "Push It" from "Hot, Cool & Vicious" and "Shake Your Thang" from "A Salt with a Deadly Pepa."

some text
Salt-N-Pepa, who will be joined by DJ Spinderella, will headline Riverbend on June 16.

"I'm about as excited about Salt-N-Pepa as anything we've done in a while," festival talent and production coordinator Joe "Dixie" Fuller said.

Fuller said he saw the trio at an artist showcase and immediately put them on his "get list" for Riverbend.

Eldredge has earned three No. 1 hits from his album "Brings You Back" with "Don't Ya," "Beat of the Music" and "Mean to Me." He releases his second CD, "Illinois," in September.

Blackberry Smoke carries on the Southern rock tradition started by bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and mined by groups like .38 Special and Molly Hatchet while adding twinges of alt-country and Southern soul.

Originally signed to Zac Brown's Southern Ground label, the band has since moved over to Rounder Records.

"I love Blackberry Smoke and think they are the last of the great Southern rock bands," Fuller said. "Plus, they are a bunch of really nice guys. Eldredge is another hot new country artist."

Fuller said he feels as though the six named acts give Riverbend a good start and fill some primary targets.

"I think we're pretty much where we need to be right now," he said. "With Heart and the two big country acts and Salt-N-Pepa, we've covered three genres we need to hit."

While the festival traditionally signs two country acts for the main Coke Stage, Fuller said that if another big opportunity appears, he'll try to book a third.

"We're known historically for being a classic rock and country festival, but if something pops up look at doing it," he said. "The support we get from the town is incredible. It's a country and classic rock town."

Last year, the festival added a second featured act on the Coca-Cola Stage, and Executive Director Chip Baker said they learned from the experiment and made a few changes.

First, fans who buy Star Seating in front of the stage will have to buy a separate ticket for each show. Also, Friends of the Festival has added a video screen to accommodate the early, daytime show.

"We had to find a screen that would fit on top of the stage and that could be seen in the daytime," he said.

Riverbend 2016 is set June 10-18, and this year marks the 35th festival. Pins will be available for a special early holiday price of $35 at the visitors kiosk at Hamilton Place mall through Dec. 19, according to Morrow.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter or 423-757-6354.