published Thursday, November 15th, 2012

City Beat: Rockanooga represents new kind of festival

Last year around this time, I wrote about Kenneth Farmer and his idea to book a multiday music festival called Rockanooga in and around Finley Stadium. A couple of months ago, I followed up on the idea of what type of big concerts might work there based on a model near Dallas.

Farmer sent me an email last week with an update on Rockanooga. He said he's spent the last year focused solely on this event. Jeff Deane, an independent music/record label promoter out of Los Angeles, and Charlotte, N.C., resident Jeff Sanders, executive vice president of programming for Atlanta-based broadcast company Wilks Broadcasting and owner of Sanders Consultancy, have signed on as partners.

You can read all about Farmer's plans at rockanooga.com. At this point, it's only plans. The only things missing are the bands and the money to pay for them. I loathe writing about things that might happen. I don't have any idea if Rockanooga will ever take place, but the idea behind it is a good one that really showcases the current and future of such events.

Modeled after several events, Rockanooga is probably most closely related to Hangout in Gulf Shores, Ala., which took the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and redesigned it from a camping festival to more of a boutique festival.

"Rockanooga is a boutique festival," Farmer said. "I think that is the next 10 years of festivals."

Essentially, Rockanooga would put stages and vending inside and around Finley Stadium and First Tennessee Pavilion. The entire campus would serve as the festival grounds.

Under Farmer's plan, there would be dueling stages in Finley so that when one act ends on one side, another starts on the other. The folks in the back for one stage have front-row seats for the other.

According to Farmer's website, 30 acts would play over the two- or maybe three-day festival. Tickets would start around $110, and there would be plenty of VIP options with pricey upgrades. Farmer envisions north and south villages with cabanas, and upgrade options such as couch seating instead of folding chairs, for example.

It would have a "Rock-Ring," featuring different atmospheres or environments for different types of crowds.

Like I said, Rockanooga may never happen, but to paraphrase David Wooderson from "Dazed and Confused," "It'd be a lot cooler if it did."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

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 ...

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