Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chattanooga Music Scene sparks 4-alarm Fire!

Shelby Lynne--"Where I'm From" (mp3)
Michelle Shocked (featuring Levon Helm)--"Secret To A Long Life" (mp3)

Our often-maligned music scene deserves a break this summer. We've got a number of very fine, somewhat under-the-radar kinds of acts coming to town, and I'm not even talking about the cumbersome Riverbend venues.

Our clubs are alive. You may have seen the article in the Times/Free Press this week about J.J.'s Bohemia, Tremont Tavern, and the Market Street Tavern and how those venues have spearheaded a revitalization of our music scene. They offer both opportunities for local bands and quality, lesser-known acts from elsewhere. All true, no doubt, but you may be thinking: of course, our local paper would do a feature like that. It's self-serving for our city. But how much of an impact are these clubs really making?

Here's a funny coincidence. The day after article ran, I got an email from my friend B who lives in that city with all those statues of Confederate generals and, for balance, Arthur Ashe. B does like to keep a low, anonymous profile, but I'll tell you that he is the one who introduced me to R.E.M. way back when, to Yo La Tengo, to Pavement, to Guided By Voices, among many others.

So I was intrigued when he emailed me and said, "Monotonix are coming back to jj bohemias – Friday june 27. I want to see them. I think you should as well." I didn't know who Monotonix is, but I always trust B's musical instincts. And if you see them in action, you will be inspired to want to see them, too, and J.J.'s has the kind of close quarters that may recreate that same out-of-control vibe you see in the YouTube video. Though I doubt anyone will be drinking beer out of a shoe. We can hope, though, can't we? It seems people around the country know about our clubs.

Now, the bad news for me, musically, is that I'm not really going to be in town much this summer, but if I were, here are the shows I would be considering:

6/6: Scott Miller at Rhythmn and Brews. I never listened to the V-Roys; instead, I got into this guy through some of the covers he does of Neil Young songs from the Hawks and Doves era. I like the sound of his band.

6/9: Black Diamond Heavies at the Bessie Smith Strut (for free, of course). If you've been, you know that the Strut is one of the best nights in Chattanooga, that there is nothing at all like it, that it is one of the best-smelling streets in the world. Oh yeah, they have music, too, and these guys are supposed to be pretty good.

6/20: Tinsley Ellis at Midtown Music Hall. I've given a fair amount of my hearing to this man, especially at the now-defunct Brew and Cue on McCallie Ave. back in the '80's. Then, he had the albatross of being named one of the "Next Stevie Ray Vaughn"s hanging around his neck. Now, he's comfortable in his skin, and must be experienced live as none of his CD's do his talents any justice. If you like guitar, this is the show.

6/27: Monotonix at J.J.'s Bohemia. Scroll up, click on the link, watch the video. Wish you were younger.
6/27: Jason Isbell at Rhythm and Brews. I've never been more than on the fringe of the Drive-By Truckers fanaticism, but I've never heard a bad song. This guy played with them for 3 CD's and is supposed to put on a good show.

6/28: Shelby Lynne at Rhythm and Brews. I've been a Shelby fan since her first CD. Even when they tried to sex her up, I shrugged off my preconceptions and stuck with her. Amazing, amazing voice. And I promise, if we ever have another "Jesus Week" on this blog, her "Jesus on a Greyhound" will be a definite part of the playlist.

8/8: Michelle Shocked at Nightfall. I like this whacky woman about half the time. I think I like the concept of her more than I actually like her. Especially when she released the "campfire tapes," one of the original low-fi moments. Great idea, very authentic, but not something I wanted to listen to much. But some of her songs are quite good and Nightfall is, after all, free.

These are just some shows I know about. I'm sure there are many more good ones out there. If you're willing to wade into Riverbend, you've got Galactica, the Greencards (part of my summer mix!), and a bunch more.


Hank said...

+1 for Scott Miller. He has rocked it out between many innings at baseball games over the last seven years. I like the V-Roys stuff too.

Chris Carpenter said...

I'm a huge V-Roys fan, but never cared much for Scott Miller's solo stuff. His two flaws - liking all his own songs too much and getting a bit chatty during live shows - were kept in check by the band. It has been a while since I've seen him, so I might give it a chance. I do still love "The Way".

I talked to a friend in Knoxville who plays guitar for Mic Harrison's band these days. He has a new record coming out, but they aren't going to tour on it. Why? Gas prices. It is a losing venture. I wonder how many other bands are feeling the same pinch.

Daytimerush said...

I want to get to some of your suggested shows this summer. I am one of the crazies that will be at Riverbend every night, so any suggestions on bands are most welcome! I never just sit around waiting on the main act---I wander all over in search of something better.

Chris Carpenter said...

Definitely check out Alex Chilton on Thursday night (Bud Light Stage - 7:45)