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Recap: Moon River Festival 2022

On the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Moon River Festival was able to pull off a successful event in the face of a stormy forecast.

Before the weather took a turn for the worst on Sunday, the festival was exemplary. On Saturday a slight on and off drizzle did nothing to impact the festival (besides the mud ruining a few pairs of shoes). With all sets starting on time, Moon River was impeccably run. Other than the music, the festival's highlights included a progressive recycling initiative, a water bottle refill station, and plenty of food and drink options. A two-stage setup within walking distance of each other in Coolidge Park ensured that there could only be one performance at a time, which was a definite bonus if attendees were determined to catch every single act on the bill.

Early Saturday afternoon saw energetic sets from Madeline Edwards and Tennessee native Danial Nunnelee that started the weekend off just right.

Daniel Nunnelee

Toronto-based indie group Wild Rivers gave a stunning performance on the first day. Their radiance on stage combined with heartfelt lyrics and instrumental talent made them out to be a spot of sunshine on a rainy day.

The group has had a busy year - they released their sophomore album Sidelines in February and are currently embarking on an extensive US tour.

As the weather continued to clear up, attendees enjoyed a relaxing afternoon listening to music from Natalie Hemby, Mat Kearney, Briston Maroney, and Greensky Bluegrass.

Briston Maroney

Briston Maroney drew a huge audience of dedicated fans to his set. The young singer-songwriter from Knoxville is currently on tour and released a single entitled "Paradise" earlier this summer.

He made the most of his time on stage, demonstrating not only his musical skills but also his ability to genuinely connect with a packed crowd. Maroney dedicated plenty of good energy into his performance that the crowd continued to return ten-fold.

Maroney will also be hosting a two night music festival at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville which will include performances by Annie DiRusso, Indigo De Souza and more.

As Saturday came to a close Lucius, Zach Bryan, and Moon River founder Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors each brought their warmth and enthusiasm to the stages in Downtown Chattanooga. Saturday headliner The National then gave it their all in an incredible performance. Lead singer Matt Berninger was electrifying to witness on stage, as people packed the Walnut Street Bridge to view the rousing show from above.

Matt Berninger of The National

Sunday at Coolidge Park started off promising, with Maggie Rose giving an energetic show that made the crowd forget about the unfortunate weather forecast. Abraham Alexander then followed suit with a beautifully elegant performance. Sammy Rae & Friends were just getting into the groove before they had to cut their set short because of the incoming storms. Attendees were instructed to evacuate the park and find shelter.

Through the disappointment of an impending festival cancellation came a number of genuine moments that highlight the magic of live music and human connection. After the initial storm passed, ticketholders were getting antsy. In a parking lot outside the festival gates, Drew and Ellie Holcomb turned a retaining wall into a stage as they performed an impromptu acoustic set to a crowd of festival-goers. Sammy Rae and JP Saxe then followed with equally sweet performances.

With two more storms on the radar and Coolidge Park already facing flooding, a difficult decision was made to cancel the rest of the event. However, with some quick planning the festival announced an indoor show, free for all ticketholders, at nearby Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium. The lineup included artists that didn't get a chance to take the stage at Moon River, including JP Saxe, Local Natives, Charley Crockett, and Sunday headliner Leon Bridges.

Where there's a will, there's a way, and despite weather issues, Moon River was determined to make the weekend a special experience for attendees.

Check out the full gallery below!

Photos by Keira Lindgren


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