published Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Robert Randolph & The Family Band, TobyMac join Riverbend lineup

Funk and soul performer Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
Funk and soul performer Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Riverbend festival has added Christian rock/R&B artist TobyMac and funk and soul performer Robert Randolph & The Family Band to this year’s lineup.

Toby McKeehan, who performs as TobyMac, will headline Faith & Family Night on June 10, and Randolph will perform on the Bud Light Stage on June 8, according to talent and production coordinator Joe “Dixie” Fuller. Faith & Family Night, or Sweet Tea Night, as some call it, is held on Tuesday during the festival. Some of the stages are shut down, admission is at a reduced one-day wristband price and no alcohol is sold on site. Christian-oriented acts are the mainstays of the night.

TobyMac is a former member of the Christian group DC Talk. He left the band in 2000 and has released five solo albums since. His last release, 2012’s “Eye on It,” was a No. 1 album on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart, making TobyMac only the third Christian act to have a No. 1 album on the chart; the other two were LeAnn Rimes and Bob Carlisle.

“We had TobyMac just after he left DC Talk [in 2001] on one of the smaller stages and he packed the place,” Fuller says. “Of the what I call ‘blue-chip’ Christian rock acts, he is the last one who hasn’t played on the Coke Stage, so we are excited to have him.”

Fuller says he anticipates that TobyMac will appeal to a wide range of fans. “It’s a really good R&B show with a lot of energy.”

Pedal-steel player Randolph also puts on an exciting, high-energy show, Fuller says. Since 2002, Randolph has released six albums. Raised on gospel music in the Church of God in Christ, Randolph first got national attention when he played on “The Word,” the 2001 album by a supergroup including members of Medeski, Martin and Wood and North Mississippi All-Stars.

“They are both good Christian rock acts that cross over,” he said. “Randolph has a good message and the music is incredible. He plays something he calls a ‘sacred steel’ lap guitar.”

Riverbend 2014 is scheduled for June 6-14.

For the first time in the festival’s history, patrons will need a wristband rather than a pin to enter. Pin collectors will still be able to buy keepsake pins at the festival, according to publicity coordinator Amy Morrow.

Executive Director Chip Baker says the response to the wristbands has been overwhelming positive since the change was announced last month.

“Not only have we not gotten any negative responses, we’ve been surprised at how excited people are by the change,” he says.

The wristbands will feature a bar code this year and could, in the future, contain a radio-frequency identification chip that will allow festival planners to gather demographic information as well as offer promotional items to patrons, and they could eventually serve as a method of payment for items at the festival, Morrow says.

Previously announced acts are jam band favorites Widespread Panic on June 7; country artists Gary Allan on June 6, Justin Moore on June 12, Clare Dunn on June 8 and Dan + Shay, June 7. Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat, playing with the New Orleans Suspects, are scheduled on June 12.

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

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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