published Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Chattanooga Unplugged: Three local bands pull the plug tonight - Jan. 30

Ryan Oyer Band
Ryan Oyer Band
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

■ What: Chattanooga Unplugged featuring Jordan

Hallquist & The Outfit, Amber Fults and The Ambivalent Lovers and Ryan Oyer Band.

■ When: 9 p.m. today, Jan. 30.

■ Where: Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.

■ Admission: $7.

■ Phone: 423-267-4644.

■ Website: www.rhythmbrews.com.

To music lovers in the '90s who appreciated a bit of insight into popular bands' creative processes, there were few series as beloved as VH1's "Storytellers" and MTV's "MTV Unplugged."

Each episode -- and eventually a slew of infrequently produced specials -- featured a band performing acoustically for a small audience, to whom the artists gave a behind-the-scenes peek into the origins of their songs.

Singer/songwriter and bandleader Jordan Hallquist looks back fondly on those shows and says they were the inspiration for Chattanooga Unplugged, a new concert series he hopes will give music lovers a new perspective on their favorite local artists.

"A lot of times, when you go to a full band show ... the vocals and the lyrics are kind of lost in the mix just because the music is loud and you're there more for the experience and the enjoyment of the atmosphere," he says. "This time, you're getting a little bit of both worlds."

The inaugural Chattanooga Unplugged show will take place tonight, Jan. 30, at Rhythm & Brews with a three-band bill featuring Hallquist and his backing band The Outfit, the Ryan Oyer Band and last year's Road to Nightfall competition winners, Amber Fults & The Ambivalent Lovers.

Hallquist says the two-hour show will be all-seated and will feature 40-minute sets by each band consisting of seven to eight songs.

Local music aficionados are used to seeing Fults, Hallquist and Oyer perform solo sets around town as well as electric performances with their bands, but seeing the full band take the stage unamplified should be a wholly new experience, Hallquist says.

Hallquist and venue manager Mike Dougher dreamed up the Unplugged series months ago. Despite the amount of effort required to rearrange their music to work in an acoustic setting, both Fults and Oyer embraced the concept from the beginning, Hallquist says.

Given the increasingly dense network of local musicians, Hallquist says he expects Chattanooga Unplugged to become an ongoing, bimonthly series. In the future, he hopes to bring in artists such as R&B/funk outfit Smooth Dialects and rock bands such as Mighty Sideshow, who are unaccustomed to playing unamplified.

Hallquist says he hopes seeing them perform in such an unexpected setting will open people's eyes and give new depth to the music.

"That's one of the things that drew me to the 'Unplugged' series," he says. "I saw some of my favorite bands perform as a band, but I was able to hear the lyrics ... and understand really, thoroughly, how they came about writing that song and what it was about."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com 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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