This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, with more information.
The members of Nickel Creek, who drew overflowing crowds during the band's Nightfall and Riverbend Festival appearances here several years ago, will reunite for this year's Moon River Music Festival, set for Sept. 12-13 at Coolidge Park. The popular trio's members only do a few shows together these days, but agreed to join for Moon River.
As a bonus, Nickel Creek's Chris Thile will bring his popular "Live From Here with Chris Thile" show to Memorial Auditorium on the Friday before the festival.
The festival also will feature Sheryl Crow, Ben Rector, Billy Strings, Dawes, Robert Earl Keen, Shovels & Rope, Yola, The Jayhawks, COIN, Colony House, Molly Tuttle, Amythyst Kiah, Rebirth Brass Band, The National Parks, Natalie Hemby, The McCrary Sisters, Che Apalache, Strung Like A Horse, and Jill Andrews. It is presented by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors in partnership with AC Entertainment.
Strung Like a Horse, which just returned home after playing the Americana UK Fest, is the first local act to appear in the festival's lineup.
"Returning from Americana Fest UK with such an awesome announcement for our local fans feels incredible," lead singer Clay Masselle wrote in a text message.
"SLAH travels all over to be a part of these festivals, and I'm just really excited to have Moon River right here in the little city we call home. It's a big deal! The secret is out — Chattanooga has got it going on. I'm proud to have such a killer roots based festival right down here on the river, and I'm even more proud that Strung Like a Horse will be repping Chatt on the stage this year. Y'all come GIT STRUNG!"
Now in its sixth year, Moon River started in Memphis but moved here three years ago. The last two festivals have sold out in less than 24 hours, and last Thursday for the first time tickets went on sale early. Sales were suspended last night at midnight, but will resume this Thursday at 10 a.m.
Also new this year, the annual VIP-only Songwriter In-The-Round show that was available on the Friday before the event will be replaced by a live taping of NPR's "Live From Here with Chris Thile" to kick off the weekend on Sept. 11 at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium.
VIP ticketholders still will benefit as they will get premium seating for the event included in their ticket package, while general admission ticketholders will be included in a pre-sale for the event on Feb. 20. Tickets will be available to the general public starting on Feb. 21. Which artists will be performing will be announced at a later date.
Holcomb said he has been talking with Thile — who is one-third of Nickel Creek, along with brother and sister Sara and Sean Watkins, in addition to being host for "Live From Here" — about doing something special for the festival, and the Friday night idea seemed like a winner.
"The big surprise is that we got Nickel Creek to come out of retirement to headline," Holcomb said.
"That's huge. We are really excited about that, but we thought what else can we do? It will still be part of the VIP things, but also open to the general public. That was kind of a coup."
Moon River has worked to build a lasting relationship within the Chattanooga community through local- and state-level nonprofit partnerships, such as Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital of Tennessee, which are direct beneficiaries of more than $20,000 in annual ticket donations.
"In just a few short years, Moon River Festival has become one of the most eagerly anticipated annual events in our community," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. "I'm thrilled that they will continue to call Chattanooga home, and I look forward to working with Drew and Ellie Holcomb to make the festival even bigger and better in the years to come."
Founder Drew Holcomb echoed Berke's excitement, saying he is "absolutely thrilled to invite folks back to Coolidge Park in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, this September. I could not be more proud of this year's lineup and cannot wait to share the stage with them. See you in September."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.