published Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Nashville indie pop trio brings joyful sound to Nightfall — Aug. 23

Leagues is, from left, Tyler Burkum (guitar), Thad Cockrell (vocals) and Jeremy Lutito (drums).
Leagues is, from left, Tyler Burkum (guitar), Thad Cockrell (vocals) and Jeremy Lutito (drums).
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


• What: Nightfall concert series UTC Night featuring Leagues

• When: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23; Moonlight Bride opens at 7

• Where: Miller Plaza, 850 Market St.

• Admission: Free

• Phone: 423-265-0771

• Venue website:

• Artist website:


Moonlight Bride is a local indie pop band formed in 2007 and consisting of Justin Giles (keys/guitar/vocals), Dave Maki (bass), Matt Livingston (drums) and Justin Grasham (guitar). The band’s 2009 album, “Myths,” landed on Paste Magazine’s list of the best musical releases of the year, alongside nationally acclaimed artists such as Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes and Dawes. For more info, visit

For some musicians, celebrity and fortune are the dangling carrots they pursue that make up for sleeping in cheap motels, eating gas station food and the other myriad hardships of life on the road.

For Thad Cockrell, however, his artistic compulsions are more Dr. Seuss than Dr. Dre. All he wants to do, he says, is to create music that helps the world forget to be sad, if only temporarily.

"That might sound overly ambitious, but who wouldn't want to make the world a happier place?" asks Cockrell, the lead singer of Nashville-based indie pop trio Leagues.

"If we go down for that, that's not a bad cause to go down swinging for. Part of what we're thinking is that there are a lot of really bad things going on, [so] let's create music that flies in the face of that."

Cockrell didn't necessarily have that goal in mind when he formed Leagues about two years ago. At the time, he says, he was just looking for a group of "equally invested guys" to perform new material he started writing that didn't fit into the roots singer/songwriter mold he'd occupied for a decade.

His search brought him to Nashville artists Tyler Burkum (guitar) and Jeremy Lutito (drums). The irresistibly catchy, danceable pop music they began playing represented a huge about-face for Cockrell, but it perfectly fit the new material's uplifting themes.

And most importantly, he says, the joy and happiness his music embodies isn't contrived but rather the product of a positive outlook that he says has had a self-fulfilling effect on his life.

"I think you can write your future sometimes," Cockrell explains. "I think when you're feeling sad, the best thing to do is to write something joyful. It's like a prayer. You sing it into existence. ... You live it into existence."

Friday, Aug. 23, Leagues will try to bring a little bit of rhythmic joy to the Scenic City as this week's Nightfall headliner.

Much of the set will comprise songs from Leagues' full-length recording debut, "You Belong Here," which was released in January. The album title reflects the material's overall theme of inclusiveness, Cockrell says, and the band tried to infuse it with a positive spirit throughout the recording process.

"When we were writing songs, we tried not to do anything that didn't make us laugh ... because if it made us smile, hopefully, it would make other people smile," he says. "We want to make music that makes people feel good, makes them want to dance."

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

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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