published Monday, June 16th, 2014

Get Off The Couch: Jfest on tap, Ripple Theater opening

LISA DENTON: Barry, I was just looking at some of the events coming up and noticed that we have two former "American Idol" contestants set to perform here Saturday.

Mandisa, a Top 10 finalist in Season 5, is headlining Jfest at Camp Jordan, and Jermaine Purifory, the Lee University student who made it to the Hollywood rounds in Season 9, will be at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Jazz Brunch at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

That follows recent visits by two winners: Ruben Studdard (Season 2) at Jazzanooga in April and Scotty McCreery (Season 10) at the High Noon Saloon concert in May. "American Idol" seems to be a pretty good launching pad, even for those who don't win. Being runner-up hasn't seemed to hinder Lauren Alaina, after all.

BARRY COURTER: Jfest is a cool event. Did you know our readers voted it runner-up to Riverbend as the best local event? WLLJ-FM J103 puts it on, and they do a good job. You can bring the whole family and listen to some of the best in new Christian music.

It's pretty amazing all of the festivals that we support in the area.

LISA: That's very true. There's a festival of some kind just about every weekend.

Jfest has been going strong since 1999, so they must be doing something right. Besides the music, there's a Run for God 5K and a Kidsworld activity area.

The run's not for me -- God's OK with me walking. But if I thought I could pass for 10 years old, I'd sneak into Kidsworld. They're promising it'll have the largest inflatable slide in the Tennessee Valley. That sounds like fun. You know my motto in life is "Wheee!"

BARRY: I'm also very excited that Alana Royale is at Nightfall. They camped right next to me last year at Bonnaroo, and I watched both of their sets. Really nice folks and also very talented. They are fronted by Alanna Quinn-Broadus and, man, can she sing. They play a funky, blues, jazzy brand of music, so they should be perfect for Nightfall.

And I'm also excited that Ripple Theater is opening in the space most longtime Chattanoogans would remember as the Back Stage Theatre. That's in my neck of the woods, so I'm glad to see the space being used and glad it's a theater.

LISA: Yes, the ribbon-cutting is Tuesday, and the first production will open Friday. Shakespeare Chattanooga will be doing "A Midsummer Night's (Georgia) Dream." It'll be a modern-dress version set in Athens, Ga., not Greece. I'm not sure you could call it a romp, but it's definitely a cavort. (Yes, I know that's not a noun, but it ought to be.)

Get event details every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281. Contact Barry Courter at 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 ...

about Lisa Denton...

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

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