Superdrag, Big Boi headline this weekend's Second Bell Music Festival in South Knoxville

The Second Bell Music Festival is happening again this Friday and Saturday on the banks of the Tennessee River. Neyland Stadium and downtown’s city lights are the perfect backdrop for a two-day festival filled with music, comedy, food, adult beverages and even a costume contest.

“We have always incorporated the entire entertainment scene and comedy,” said Rusty Odom, creator of Blank News. “Back in the early days we had improv and burlesque, and that remains the same, but this year we have the biggest comedy lineup we have ever had. I’m a little bit of a control freak; it is difficult for me to hand something off and trust them to book the kinds of acts that we want to put out in front of people. But, since the first year I trusted Zac Fallon unequivocally to do that.”

The event started out as BLANKfest in May 2014 on Market Square. “That was something that Bernadette and Scott West and I kind of dreamed up together,” said Odom. “We realized we wanted to bring in some bigger acts and spread our wings. I owe everything to Scott and Bernadette for getting started, but I wanted to see what I could do selling tickets and sponsorships. And sure enough, we did it.”

Odom said that Suttree Landing Park, the festival location since 2017, is the perfect setting for a festival.

“When I was in high school my friends and I were second bell people,” said Odom of the festival’s rebranded name. “Meaning we hung out in the hallways as long as we could until it was time to go – and festival people are those kinds of people.”

Second Bell Music Festival dates and times

The festival gates will be open 4-10 p.m. Friday and 1:30-10 p.m. Saturday. After-shows will be announced for both Friday and Saturday nights at Barley’s.

Second Bell music lineup

“WUTK, the college radio station, used to be known as New Rock 90, so we have an all-local Friday night show with Superdrag – who haven’t performed for 11 years – closing the night,” said Odom. “Connor Kelly and the Time Warp are a younger band that is about to blow up, and Kelsey Walker is leading a collective called Free Woman Waltzing Club. There is a backing band and it’s all female. Different artists will perform with the band, and they will do a number all together.”

People are traveling from all over the world to see Superdrag, according to Odom. “Superdrag are donating their entire fee to WUTK.”

The festival will also raise money to benefit X Hunger. “In an initiative, through a partnership with Beaty Chevrolet, we will give away a car at the festival right before Big Boi (of Outkast) hits the stage on Saturday,” said Odom. High school and college students who register to start up a potential X Hunger club (an effort to end hunger in America) at their school will be eligible to win.

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Second Bell food, drinks and costume contest

As for adult libations, Odom said High Rock Vodka, Sugarland Distilling Company, and bourbon will be served and Lipman Brothers will have five or six brands of beer on tap. “There is a little something for everybody: Oakwood BBQ and Big Bad Taco Truck and Mario’s Pizza Cones. It was a pretty big moment when our vendor coordinator, Jennifer Dunkin-Rankin, emailed to say we would have pizza cones.

“The costume contest is just something fun we do each year, and we have cool prizes,” said Odom. “We encourage people to dress up and have a good time. The goal should be that when you go through the gates you are able to leave everything else behind and take a breather from the everyday ups and downs.”

Big Boi, shown here in 2019, is headlining the second night of the Second Bell Festival on Oct. 1 at Suttree Landing Park.
Big Boi, shown here in 2019, is headlining the second night of the Second Bell Festival on Oct. 1 at Suttree Landing Park.

When Second Bell Festival was held in a drive-in format during the pandemic in 2020, Odom said it was hard to choose a winner because it was held on Halloween night and everybody dressed up.

“This year all of our staff members dressed up real crazy and we had those photos printed up on baseball cards and incorporated our sponsors,” said Odom.

Ticket sales and the full band and comedy lineups are available at https://secondbellfest.com.Free parking will be available on specific levels of the Regal parking garage and at Kerbela Temple.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Superdrag, Big Boi headline Second Bell Music Festival in Knoxville