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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Rick Rushing performs during the Chattanooga Tourism Summit at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. He will perform in June as part of Riverfront Nights at Ross's Landing.

Chattanooga's Friends of the Festival, the organization that produced the Riverbend Festival for nearly 40 years and the Riverfront Nights summer series for more than a decade, is back in business.

Hit hard by the pandemic, the event producer will return June 5 to Ross's Landing with Electric Avenue kicking off a 10-show Riverfront Nights series. They will be followed by LVNDR opening for Southern Ave on June 12, then Three Star Revival opening for Trigger Hippie on June 19 and Rick Rushing opening for the Al Ghent Band on June 26.

Friends of the Festival announced in November it would be cutting most of its staff, keeping Mickey McCamish as executive director and Karen Shostak to handle sales and development. Veteran venue director and music programmer Mike Dougher (Songbirds, Rhythm & Brews, the Sandbar) has been brought on to book the series.

McCamish said at the time he would begin liquidating assets such as staging, fencing and other materials, but said Thursday they kept the portable stage and will use it for Riverfront Nights and a smaller Riverbend Festival "sometime in the fall."

"We are just so excited to get back out and open up the city," he said. "We need this. The city needs this."

The complete schedule of artists is not complete, though dates have been secured. Riverfront Nights will take the beginning of July off and return on July 24 and 31 for concerts with acts to be announced. On Aug. 7, Dalton & The Boys will open for Tennessee Dead, a Grateful Dead cover/jam band. On Aug. 14, Over Easy will open for CBDB. Randy Steele will open the Aug 21 concert for Boy Named Banjo, with the series ending on Aug. 28 with Martelli, Hightower and Steele opening for Bone Pony.

McCamish said the series is a great way to get people outside and comfortable again while being entertained. He said he would have more details about the fall Riverbend Festival later but said it will be a three-day event, likely on one stage.

He noted that even though the Hamilton County mask mandate won't be in effect for the outdoor concert, planners are making sure that social distancing will be observed. A full bar and other drink options will be available for purchase to those of legal drinking age, and IDs will be checked for anyone ordering alcoholic beverages. Food offerings also will be available on site.

Gates open for each concert at 7 p.m., and the concerts end at 10 p.m.

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

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