BARRY COURTER: Lisa, there are two artists coming to town this week who should appeal to you. They are both very good and they lean toward a country sound, but neither of those is the reason I'm guessing you might find them interesting. Can you guess?
LISA DENTON: They both have beards? Ding! Ding! Ding!
I think you must be referring to Randy Owen, who'll perform Thursday at the Tivoli Theatre, and Jamey Johnson, who'll be there Sunday.
Not that there's anything wrong with their beards, but this time of year, I can go straight to the big guy himself. Santa is at the mall.
BARRY: You didn't even hesitate, did you? If we can get all three of them in a pair of overalls ... why are you grinning like that?
Anyway, Owen will be here to raise funds for the MaryEllen Locher Foundation. I had a very nice chat with him a couple of weeks ago and will have a full story in Thursday's ChattanoogaNow, but let's say he surprised me with one or two of his stories about how he spends his free time. Pretty inspirational stuff.
And Johnson has a new tribute to Hank Cochran CD out with some great duets with some legendary artists. He sings and plays with people like Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard and Leon Russell. It's great.
LISA: I've been a fan of Alabama since before the band's June Jam days. And I particularly admire Owen for all his charitable work. He's a hero at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and that's just the start of his good deeds.
I like Johnson's gritty take on country. He'll never be mistaken for, say, Hunter Hayes, and this latest CD really goes old school. Cochran wrote some of country music's finest ballads, and Johnson is making sure the late songwriter is getting the appreciation he's due.
Speaking of men with beards, I need to give a shout-out to Bill McCallie, who will present the live version of his WSMC "Cowboy Jubilee" radio show starting at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Ackerman Auditorium at Southern Adventist University. The show airs from 6 to 7 p.m. Sundays on 90.5, and McCallie's band In Cahoots and guest band The Dismembered Tennesseans will perform a half-hour before and after the broadcast.
BARRY: McCallie does a great job with his show, and I hear he cooks up a pretty good cat-head biscuit.
You are right about Cochran. The Johnson CD opens with "Make the World Go Away" with Alison Krauss and "I Fall to Pieces" with The Hag. A lot of guys would be happy to have written just those two.
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Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...
Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.