published Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Phillips: Double, triple booking acts good for local scene

To those who bother to pay attention, there is a heck of a lot of booking déjà vu going on in the local music scene of late.

In the last week, Rhythm & Brews has hosted Lubriphonic and The Stone Foxes, both of whom performed on Riverbend’s Bud Light Stage in June. Thursday, the venue will feature Brooklyn country/folk artist Yarn, who last played the Scenic City as the Aug. 19 headliner at Riverfront Nights.

Track 29 is also featuring a number of returning artists. Saturday, Los Angeles-based rockers Dawes will open for M. Ward, their second show here since kicking off Nightfall in May. On Oct. 5, cellist Ben Sollee will open for California singer/songwriter Brent Dennen, his first Chattanooga appearance since Nightfall in 2009.

The venue recently updated its schedule with a Dec. 8 performance by The Carolina Chocolate Drops. The progressive old-time act made their Chattanooga debut at Nightfall in 2010 and returned June 18 to perform on the Bud Light Stage at Riverbend.

To some, bringing bands back so soon may seem like a mistake, since they typically haven’t had time to write new material, but Rhythm & Brews venue manager Mike Dougher said interconnectedness between venues and festivals ultimately benefits the whole music scene.

In a town known for getting too comfortable with repeatedly booking the same artists over and over, having previous exposure at other events helps ease newcomers in, Dougher explained.

“If you get one that’s been in front of a few hundred people, maybe you can get going a little bit,” Dougher said. “These are really good bands. I hope the folks who saw them at Riverbend, Nightfall and Riverfront Nights will venture out to see them again.”

While I’m stoked to see such great acts coming back to town so soon, if I had my druthers, The North Mississippi Allstars would also be on this list. I’m sure anyone who saw their smoking performance at Riverbend on June 12 shares that sentiment.

n Even local bands can get a leg up from playing bigger stages at festivals and concert series.

WTM Blues Band has been all over town since winning the McKay’s Road to Nightfall contest to snag a headlining slot at Miller Plaza on July 29. If you missed that show, check them out at 9 tonight and Saturday at Sugar’s Ribs’ new downtown location at 507 Broad St.

n Banjo fans should be thanking their lucky stars because 2011 has been a killer year for them, and its only going to get better in the coming months.

Banjoist/comedian Steve Martin set the stage with his May 26 appearances alongside Steep Canyon Rangers. Barking Legs Theater recently updated its fall schedule with a Dec. 8 appearance by Punch Brothers’ five-string maestro Noam Pikelny, who is mind-blowingly good.

Pikelny should satiate banjo fans until May 3-4 when Bela Fleck, an undisputed grandmaster of the instrument, closes out the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s Masterworks Concert Series.

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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