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“It's going to be sweet,” Jim Crawley said while testing the organ he recently brought from Nashville.
He’s part of a jam band started nearly five years ago with Bobby Wright, Ron Duncan, Bruce Bagwell and Rolla Lunsford, performing Bluegrass music in Harriman's Riverfront Park during the summer.
As word of mouth spread, eventually the band evolved to more than 10 members.
Before the Riverfront Band was established, Wright recalled Wayne Pugh calling him to land a place for the band to play. At the time, a few of them were playing at Homecoming Park in Rockwood. After getting in touch with Doc Mullins, the band started playing at the Harriman Riverfront Park. Mullins also secured the American Legion as a place for them to perform.
While he also operates concession, Mullins mainly acts as their manager..
“We have a good time,” Mullins said. “These guys, they just love to play.”
With a family-oriented atmosphere, Mullins likes the wholesome appeal that brings — playing older music and seeing a predominantly older crowd get out on the floor, dance and have a good time.
“They enjoy it, and we enjoy doing it, so it's a pretty good match,” steel guitarist Dwight Harman said.
Noel White has played rhythm guitar for 40 years and is also one of the singers.
“It's something that just gets in your blood,” he said. “I guess you could say we're all 'hammie.'”
Many band members go way back with each other. Jim Galyon started playing the guitar around 65 years ago and was in Gullett's first band, DG's Combo Stereophonics.
“We've been over a lot of bridges with each other,” Gullett said.
“I played for a new '66 Malibu,” Galyon recalled with a laugh, adding that it cost him $2,900. Galyon then demonstrated some of the sounds his Fender Telecaster makes.
“Put a little percussion in it, Jimbo!” Crawley shouted over to Galyon.
Drummer Darrell Gibson joined the Riverfront band only three weeks before. Gibson has been in 15 bands so far and started playing when he was 12.
“I hope to play all the time,” he said. “I enjoy it. I like the guys, and I know I can learn something from them.”
After setting up all the equipment and plugging in the amplifiers, the crowd started packing into the building.
The lights dimmed low and the band started playing Bill Wright's song, “Little White Shack.” People filled the center of the floor and started dancing.
“That's what music is all about,” Wright said. “Just enjoying yourselves.”