Persistence pays off for Riverbend's Friends of the Festival.
After a decade of pursuit, Widespread Panic said yes to playing Riverbend.
Joe "Dixie" Fuller, the talent director for Friends of the Festival, said it was a perfect storm of tour dates and availability.
When asked where Widespread Panic ranked for musical acts at Riverbend, Fuller said -- number one.
The band is known for its marathon jam sessions. They formed in Athens, Georgia in the late 80's, with one current member hailing from Chattanooga.
Widespread has legions of loyal fans - the ones who continually travel to see them are known as "Spreadheads."
This afternoon, NewsChannel 9 found a couple of fans downtown. Jeff Merritt exclaimed, "I'm very surprised and very excited about it."
Merritt works at GreyFriar's coffee shop and has seen Widespread seven or eight times. "I'm very excited about it. They're a very dynamic band. It's really an awesome show altogether," Merritt said.
Next door at Lupi's, server Gilbert Everett has taken in a Widespread Panic show a couple of times. He expects you'll see a wide range of fans at Riverbend. "A lot of young folks, 20's 30's. They've been around for a while so their crowd's grown up a little bit with them," Everett said.
But there was a downside when Widespread came to McKenzie Arena back in 2001. Their fans left all kinds of trash behind and remnants of drug use.The band has taken steps to deal with such messy issues.
Fuller explained, "These guys are so organized, I've already been through all the contract. I've gone through and made all my notes on the contract. They even have a green team that comes in behind them and will literally clean the parking lots up around the area where the concert just happened."
And the band's website already has Chattanooga and the Riverbend Festival posted. Fuller expects it to be a destination show. "In the past, you know where we would see a certain number for walk-up for a one day wristband, I think that's going to be huge because it's going to be the Saturday leading up to Bonaroo."
Friends of the Festival wouldn't give exact numbers, but Fuller said the price thaty paid is in the range of Alan Jackson or Kid Rock."We consider this a bargain. They're normally around the 250, $300,000 range on a festival. But we got a much better deal than that."
Widespread Panic is also very philanthropic.
Fighting hunger is one of their causes and the Chattanooga Food Bank will be taking cash donations at the show.
Another big Riverbend announcement is coming Thursday.Fuller provided a hint -- the Bruno Mars of contemporary Christian music.
by John MadewellPREVIOUS STORY
Another Riverbend act is announced!
Widespread Panic is taking the Coke stage Saturday, June 7th.
The band started in Athens, GA in the late 80's and has been running wide open since. Widespread Panic is known for their marathon jam sessions, and a very dedicated following. Widespread Panic holds the record for the number of sold out performances at Philips Arena in Atlanta at 20 shows.
Widespread Panic is also know for their philanthropic endeavors which is one reason Friends of the Festival is collaborating with Chattanooga Area Food Bank to help benefit their efforts. The food bank will be kicking off a 'text to give' campaign during the Riverbend Festival as well as other efforts to help families in the Tennessee Valley.
Friends of the Festival say they have been courting the band for at least a decade and are excited the band is finally coming to the Scenic City.