published Friday, August 5th, 2011

Phillips: Nightfall shakeups, venue updates and other 'up' news

Either my antenna has finally managed to hone in on the right frequency or there's been a lot of pretty exciting news about musical goings-on about town this past week.

Take a deep breath, 'cause here we go.

* Tonight, be sure to slake your thirst for impassioned Americana with a musical potluck by Lone Star funk/blues/soul artist Mingo Fishtrap (such an excellent name). They're headlining Nightfall at 8 p.m., following the 7 p.m. opener, Danny Sample Trio featuring Marcenia.

Next week, however, there's been a change of plans. Wanda "The First Lady of Rockabilly" Jackson will not be headlining on Aug. 12. According to Chattanooga Presents media coordinator Jonathan Susman, Jackson has been touring in support of Grammy Award winner Adele and was forced to drop the Nightfall date after Adele contracted laryngitis. That's a real shame, but Chattanooga Presents has found an admirable pinch performer in JD McPherson.

McPherson grew up somewhere outside the city limits of Nowhere, Okla., where he absorbed the work of two-lane honky-tonk and Americana troubadours. Unlike Jackson, McPherson isn't a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, but judging by the vintage rock sound I heard on his 2010 release, "Signs and Signifiers," he shouldn't leave anybody disappointed.

Want more? Check out his website at

* At the rear of the Chattanooga Choo Choo property, work is continuing well apace on Track 29. According to construction updates on the venue's Facebook page (, audio/video equipment has been rolling in for weeks now. The building's previously bland gray exterior has also been painted a more uplifting shade of gold, and the speaker stacks arrived and were hung from the rigging Monday.

Track 29 is set to come onto the scene with all cylinders firing following its Sept. 1 kickoff by Alabama-based country artist Jamey Johnson. I'm particularly looking forward to the Sept. 10 show by Southern rockers The Drive-By Truckers, and She & Him and Monsters of Folk singer/songwriter M. Ward, who will perform Sept. 24.

Finally, fans of John Hiatt might want to keep their credit cards handy because tickets go on sale today for the Grammy-nominated songwriting legend's Nov. 17 show. Grab them now for $32 or wait and pay $34 at the door, assuming any are left.

* Another advance reminder: Tickets go on sale Monday for the Sept. 10 appearance at Memorial Auditorium of American Public Media's radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion."

The featured musical guest will be former Nickel Creek songstress Sara Watkins, who served as the show's first guest host earlier this year. Tickets start at $38 with additional tiers at $48 and $68.

That's a lot to digest, I'm sure, but when it comes to our local scene, I always welcome weeks of feast to weeks of famine. Eat up, folks.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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