TMMR Recap: Busting Out in Tennessee

TMMR Recap: Busting Out in Tennessee

Sean and I made it! This event was our first real outing in almost 15-months, and to say we enjoyed being out with friends, seeing fantastic bikes, Tennessee, the change of scenery (Sean’s first time there!), the energy and smiles on all the faces would be the understatement of the century! We indeed weren’t the only ones looking forward to the TMMR (Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival). People came out en masse and with purpose, albeit the goal being just to have a great time. Everyone that had been to the event before said it felt like it doubled in size, but perhaps this was the energy they were reacting to and what event virgins reacted to with a simple, “WOW!”

In describing the TMMR, I could say it was like a dream or maybe coming out of a dream. At least I know it started that way. I’d be more accurate to say that today it’s reality, and it’s on steroids—with bike shows, flat-track racing, great art, incredible music, camping, test rides, and backwoods Enduro trail riding in an idyllic setting. Go back a dozen years, and that’s when Carrie Repp, a 30-year motorcycle industry special events and promotions consultant, first envisioned a brand-new event. She saw it as something that would bring together fresh, new Nashville-based music with the new and incredible energy emerging in motorcycle culture. Carrie had been helping other promoters for years, but it was time to do it on her own, or at least with the help of her good friend Buck Shaw—an avid rider, risk-taker, and entrepreneur who shares Carrie’s enthusiasm for both music and the custom bike scene.

It took a few years to seal a deal with country music legend Loretta Lynn for her beautiful ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN. It was 2017 when they pulled off the first TMMR event at this incredible location. It seemed a natural fit since the ranch already had such deep roots in the motorcycle world, having hosted the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Championship (now called the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship) since 1982. It is full of character and charm with a river running right through the middle of the land. What a great place!

That very first year, Bill Dodge was brought in to host a Bling’s Cycles “BC Moto Invitational” show. He used his contacts in the custom world to wrangle a great lineup of builders to bring their creations to Tennessee and display them in a truly unique way. A 38-stall wooden horse barn located right next to the riverbed was repurposed so that each stall could display a custom bike. Five years and four shows later (TMMR 2020 was cancelled due to COVID), and with a change from a fall show to a May show this year, Bill still uses the same format. This year’s top-shelf lineup included builders like Brandon Keene, Dan “Bacon” Carr, Dan Toce, Eric Allard, Hawke Lawshe, Johnny 99, Jeremy Valentine, Pat Patterson, Paul Wideman, Stacy McCleary, Steve Broyles, Xavier Muriel, and 26 others. While this was billed as the premier custom bike event of the weekend, in no way did it diminish the chopper and antique ride-in shows. And a special call-out to Jeff Holt and his stellar V-Twin Visionary Performance Show, which he will be staging all around the country at other events this year.

In addition to the 38-builders in the BC Moto, Bill invited CW Waddell to hang his extraordinary art in the stalls right next to the custom bikes the art complemented so well. CW’s paintings weren’t the only art on the property as Ray Drea (retired Harley-Davidson head of design) had a group of his paintings on display. At the same time, he painted live in the Speed Shack Bar overlooking the Harley-Davidson Fist City Flat Track (so named for one of Loretta’s songs). There was also a great display of work by 23 women artists known as the Maiden Moto Art Show produced and curated by Savannah Rose. Hanging from well-made and designed metal panels that Savannah welded herself, this was the first time the exhibition was on display before going on tour to other events this season. Her artists include Heyltje Rose, Natalie Kleiner, Christina Platis, Jacqui Van Ham, Kayla Koeune, Sara Liberte, 17 other female artists, and a unique painting by 5-year-old artist Tegan Lee of a Panhead Engine.

Harley-Davidson stepped up to the plate in a big way, both on the corporate and dealership level—more than 20-dealerships were behind TMMR. They sponsored the flat track and hooligan racing, Jeff Holt’s show, Savannah’s exhibition, the Ives Brothers Wall of Death, the music, and lots more. And having their demo-fleet trailers set up in the middle of the mix was great as well. The two-lane roads in this part of Tennessee were made for riding, so what a perfect place to try out the new 2021 models—including the recently released Pan-American adventure bike that only became available in the last few weeks. (I’ll focus on this model in another blog post when I will look at it through the eyes of Danger Dan, who gave his Chemical Candy Randy flamed personal Pan-Am a lickin’—and yes, it kept on tickin’!)

From what Hooligan racer Ethan White told me, the TMMR flat track was as good as the best tracks he’s ever raced on, and that includes all the professional tracks. The racers were diggin’ it, and so did the crowd, but what always steals their attention are the Hooligan Races—and racers! And what can you possibly follow Hooligan Racing with, especially now that the Hooligans are getting so organized? The answer is plain and simple – the mayhem of chopper racing. Maybe we’ll have to call it “Desperado Racing?”

It was nearly impossible to participate or even see all the offerings, but I will say some made valiant efforts. Danger Dan did more than most since he raced his Pan-Am in the Hooligan heats, his chopper in the Chopper Races, explored the amazing roads in the area by himself, and challenged himself 8-1/2-mile Enduro off-road trail with his chopper buddies. And then he took his Pan-Am up small dirt tracks all around the rolling hills. And, like many at the event, he made family time since his wife and kids came from Texas to enjoy the great camping along the creek. His son raced on the flat track for his first time, but his kids mostly spent their time in the creek doing what kids love to do—playing with other kids.

I may have saved the music for last, but it, like the motorcycles, was threaded in and out of the event to keep it all together. Carrie and Buck hit their goals with the TMMR music. They had three bands on the main stage every night that culminated Saturday night with Billy Gibbons and his “other” band, the BFG’s as the headliner. By dark:30, most people made it back to the covered main stage. It mainly had standing room around two giant bars in front of the stage, but you could sit on bleachers in the back. You could be anywhere around the event and certainly, hear what was going on. During the day, the music was split between the Speedshack Bar by the track and the Waterin’ Hole Bar down by the river and BC Moto barn. It was on these stages that incredibly talented singer/songwriters performed their primarily original tunes. When you consider the event is just an hour from the world’s music capital: Nashville, and two hours from the Blues capital of the world: Memphis, there is a lot of talent to draw from. Which pretty much meant morning-to-night music. They would even have a band perform around a bonfire after the headliners finished sometime after midnight.

After an event, I often get asked if I would go back. When it comes to the Tennessee Motorcycle and Music Revival, I will simply say, “Yes!” I know how much Buck and Carrie keep adding to the event every year, how quickly it is growing, and some of the ideas they are considering going forward. There will be plenty of new offerings, not to mention 38-new bikes in the barn and all the things I was so sorry to have missed this year. With all that I’ve laid out for you, I, for one, can’t think of a good reason not to go next year, so hopefully, I’ll be seeing many of you there in 2022.

Michael Lichter
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