Put motorcycles, music, and camping by the creek into one four-day weekend, and you have the recipe for a good time. The Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival, held at Loretta Lynn’s 3,500-acre ranch in Hurricane Mills an hour west of Nashville, has perfected this tasty blend. This year’s iteration was held May 18-21 and featured some kickin’ musical performances, bikes of all types and sizes, and plenty of moto-related activities.
Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival began in 2017 and has grown steadily ever since. The location is perfect for an event like this. It’s close enough to Nashville to bring in some big names in the music industry, but it’s remote enough to allow for a real Southern-creek-party atmosphere. This is an event where you can let your hair down, kick back, and have fun. The ranch also contains the Fist City Track – named after one of Loretta Lynn’s songs – where the Amateur National Motocross Championships are held every year.
Upon pulling up to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch and checking in, my husband, Jake, and I headed to the camping area. Camping options ranged from electric hook-up RV spots to basic tent camping. There were even some furnished yurts available for rent.
I got my first taste of what this event would be like while walking from our campsite to Honky Tonk Central. People were swimming in the creek, grilling burgers on small gas stoves by their tents, and zooming by on all kinds of rides.
TMMR found its beginning when Carrie Repp, who’s been in the events promotions industry for 30 years, decided she wanted to start a different kind of rally than those she’d been going to. She pitched the idea to her friend Buck Shaw, and together, they planned a grassroots kind of rally that would welcome everyone, no matter what kind of motorcycle they rode.
“We’re trying to marry all these different communities,” said Repp. “At the end of the day, we all have somewhat of an adventurous spirit and two wheels in common, whatever those wheels might be.”
TMMR promotes its “two-wheeled playground” as a favorite aspect of the event. ADV and enduro trails snake through the woods, and the Fist City Track in the middle of Honky Tonk Central was open for all to enjoy.
One nice thing about TMMR was the number of activities going on throughout the weekend. Wherever you went, you could find something interesting going on. There were vendors, bike shows, live music on multiple stages, the Wall of Death, and plenty more.
We began drifting through the festival grounds on Friday, stopping at whatever caught our eyes and ears for a time, then drifting on to something else. After walking the line of vendors, we found ourselves in front of Bill Dodge’s BC Moto Invitational bike show. After admiring some impressive builds, we found ourselves walking by the Ives Brothers Wall of Death just as the next show was starting. After that, Cam Pierce was putting on some great music at the Speed Shack.
Not wanting to miss some of the events happening on Saturday, we used the well-organized schedule booklet on Friday night to set out a plan for the next day. The first activity would be the hillclimb, followed by the V-Twin Visionary Performance bike show, bike games, and the burnout competition. The evening would be filled with music at Loretta’s Roadhouse and the Watering Hole. Happy with our plan, we hunkered down on our sleeping mats and fell asleep.
You’re Lookin’ at Country
Motorcyclists always say the best way to stop the rain is to pack your rain gear. Apparently creating a schedule of outdoor activities is the best way to make sure it will rain.
We woke up Saturday morning to a downpour, thankful that our tent kept us dry. We walked to Honky Tonk Central and got some biscuits and gravy from a food truck and ate under a covered porch. Unable to get cell service to view a weather forecast, we asked around until we heard the rain was supposed to stop around 11 a.m. and that the hillclimb had been moved to 1 p.m. Luckily, the forecast was right, and the rain passed.
The hillclimb was one of my favorite activities at TMMR. Categories included Open V-Twin, Vintage V-Twin, Dirt Bike Open, Youth Dirt Bike, ADV Open, Minibike, Boonie Scramble, and others. The Dirt Bag Challenge was for “any American touring bike with full fairing and full-size hard bags.” Seeing dirtbikes zip up the steep hill was certainly exciting, but watching heavy baggers lumber up was an even better show. Many a motorcycle had to be pulled out of the mud on the sides of the hill, but the joy of those who made it to the top was contagious.
Upon getting back to Honky Tonk Central, we could spot the location of the burnout competition from a large cloud of smoke down by the creek. It was hard to see the action through the thick crowd – and harder still to breathe once I got close enough. Tires were shredded, viewers cheered from atop picnic tables, and some of the hillclimb competitors were taking pictures with new fans while having a celebratory beer.
The Ives Brothers Wall of Death was another attraction that drew a crowd. The brothers put on a great show, and it was thrilling to feel the walls of the barrel flex as the brothers rode sideways up to 30 mph in the barrel. If you extended a cash tip from the side of the barrel, the brothers would ride up and grab it out of your hand. If the tip was a $20, they would toss you a T-shirt on their next pass. We loved the Wall of Death so much that we caught shows on both Friday and Saturday.
The Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival name includes both “motorcycles” and “music,” and it truly is an event that embraces both. The music lineup was dense and covered three stages. The Watering Hole down by the creek and the Speed Shack by the track hosted music on smaller stages throughout the day. We stopped in for a few musical performances between other activities, and all were great.
Carrie Repp told me that, when choosing the bands to invite to TMMR, she and her partners look for musicians on “the cutting edge.” She said she isn’t interested in hearing the same ’80s hair metal that you might expect to hear at a motorcycle rally. The musical flavor of the event included a little bit of country, rock, bluegrass, and jazz. There were guitars and drums, of course, but also fiddles, harmonicas, and upright basses.
The big performances took place at Loretta’s Roadhouse. Each night, three musical performances ran from 6-11 p.m. We missed Thursday’s performances, but we heard that the War Hippies, El Dorado (Tyler Childers’ band), and Whey Jennings (grandson of Waylon Jennings) put on quite the show.
Friday night’s concerts began with a tribute to Loretta Lynn that included stories and songs shared by Loretta’s family and friends. Tayla Lynn, Loretta’s granddaughter, acted as host to introduce each artist. Displaying true Southern hospitality, Tayla made sure all her guests felt welcome on her grandmother’s ranch.
After the shows at the Roadhouse, the party continued with fireworks and then more live music at the Watering Hole bar by the creek and a bonfire. On Saturday night, rallygoers weren’t letting the last evening of the 2023 TMMR go to waste. I’m not sure how late the party went into the morning, but it was still in full swing when we headed back to the tent well after midnight.
On Sunday morning, while many slept off the previous night’s fun, we packed up camp and enjoyed a nice ride back home through small towns and along country roads. Once home, we were tired and dirty, and our bikes were in desperate need of a bath, but we were happy with an enjoyable weekend spent among other riders. And we were already making plans to return next year.
For more information, visit the Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival website.