Depending on whom you ask, there are actually a whole lot of reasons not to attend a motorcycle rally, most of them having to do with overly aggressive, boozed-and-cranked-up yahoos that have sullied many an event.
Welcome to the Tennessee Motorcycles And Music Revival, now in its 5th year and one of the chillest, hospitable and easy-to-navigate gatherings any biker can hope to find among the many held each year across the U.S.A. The atmosphere of approximately 6,000 attendees on the 3,500-acre ranch was loose and open, the populace friendly and despite the hordes of machines, no traffic jams, overdoses or drama.
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It remains the largest event of its kind in Tennessee, providing family-friendly stunt shows, bike shows, field games, motorcycle racing, Harley-Davidson demo rides, off-road trail riding and music, music, music all day and into the night by both local talent, such as Cody Bolden, below:
All the way up to national headliners like Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, who rocked the crowd with classic hits like “Sharp-Dressed Man,” “Legs,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and more.
Or legendary sidemen like Tim Watson, the Fiddle Man, who has shared the stage with countless legends from Tammy Wynette to Kid Rock.
The BC Moto Invitational, a custom motorcycle showcase, featured select craftsmen displaying some of the country’s best custom motorcycles.
As usual, there was plenty to eat, and a lot of it suprisingly healthy for this type of event.
But don’t forget dessert.
Part of the mellow but still-exciting atmosphere is to do with the fact that the event takes place at country legend Loretta Lynn’s ranch. One feels a bit like you’re at grandma’s house, so you’re not going to walk on her furniture with your motorcycle boots, nor cuss inordinately, nor do anything to annoy her so she doesn’t invite you back next year.
There was much to do and see and purchase, of course, everything from t-shirts to cigars to motorcycle gear and more, but there were also a lot of spots you could take yourself to and just be quiet when the need arose including beautiful creeks or near Ms. Lynn’s gift shop and museum.
“It takes a lot of hard work all year long,” said singer-songwriter Tayla Lynn, granddaughter of Loretta Lynn and family ambassador of the event, in an interview that took place next to a creek where families were splashing.
“I have seen more kids this year than in any other year,” she said. “I always try to post pictures of my kids to let people know it’s a family event. People can just relax. It’s genuine.”
This year’s event became tenuous last August, when a massive flood, considered one of the worst natural disasters in Tennessee history, decimated the area, resulting in 20 deaths, including the foreman of the ranch. “The water was above our heads,” said Lynn. “The area we’re standing on right now was completely underwater. It was horrible, truly horrible.”
There was nothing to do, eventually, but rebuild and press on.
“We knew that we didn’t want to do ‘nuts’ here,” Lynn said, referring to the rowdy atmosphere at some other motorcycle events. “That is not what my grandparents intended when they built this place. They loved motorcycles, they’ve always had motorcycles out here, and it’s about family. So at the end of the day, if family’s not included, it’s probably not going to work out. I think everybody picked up on that the first year, and were excited about it, and here we are.”
“I have not seen too much craziness at all. This is sort of an island with brotherhood and comradarie. We don’t want to necessarily make the event bigger from year to year – just improve the quality as we go along. We started from scratch.”
Lynn admits to being less than a novice when it comes to riding. “I don’t know a damned thing about motorcycles,” she said. “I love the motorcycles but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get on top of one. At first they tried to teach me all the stuff about motorycles, but forget it. I just got a t-shirt from Harley that reads: “This bitch don’t ride.”