published Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Tune: Third Road to Nightfall contest a tough choice

How many weeks you want to spend in Fiji. Which free candy bar to accept. Whether to receive your lottery winnings in a lump sum or over the next few decades.

There are certain decisions in life that, while tough, hardly deserve the name of dilemma because all the potential outcomes can't help but be positive. Such was the case as the judges of McKay's Road to Nightfall huddled up last Friday to decide which finalist would leave with $1,000 and a headlining slot during the 25th-season of the summer concert series.

In the cramped green room at Rhythm & Brews, I met with WUTC on-air personality Richard Winham (he of the charming British accent) and Chattanooga Presents Executive Director Carla Pritchard to weigh our options.

Was it going to be Function, the funky cats who kicked off the evening with energetic aplomb and whose vocalists, Brittany Ammons and Darren Self, whipped up the crowd in front of the stage into a dancing frenzy?

Or should we go with Amber Fults & The Ambivalent Lovers, whose titular front lady and her band charmed the pants off us -- not to mention our eardrums -- all while she was dealing with some serious throat issues?

What about Smooth Dialects, who came out looking their usual dapper selves before launching into a set of smooth jazz and funk that reminded me why they knocked my socks off last Halloween?

To further complicate things, Jordan Hallquist and The Outfit ended the night by throwing down the rock gauntlet with a tight, bombastic set less than half a year after its namesake was laid up in a hospital bed after a horrendous car accident.

Ultimately, Amber Fults and company walked away victorious, but cliché as it is to say it, we all were winners.

Nightfall got a headliner who I'm positive will wow locals and convince them to pay closer attention to the wealth of talent in this city. All the finalists also will receive spots as openers during the series, and everyone in attendance was exposed to musicians they otherwise wouldn't have paid to see.

Was it a tough choice? Sure. But a dilemma? Hardly.

* Lastly, a mea culpa. Last week, I recommended attending a concert at JJ's Bohemia featuring a trio of killer electro-pop artists. My weeks were screwed up. The concert in question, featuring Heypenny, Summer Dregs and SoCro, is this Friday at 10 p.m.

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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