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From wedding singers to country crooners, we have them all
by Barry Courter
by Casey Phillips
Wednesday, March 26, 2014    |   
Members of The Ben Friberg Trio play at a local fundraiser.
Members of The Ben Friberg Trio play at a local fundraiser.

The Chattanooga area has been home to a long and varied group of talented musicians for years. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions were born and still live here. Grammy Award winners Norman and Nancy Blake make their home in Rising Fawn, Ga.

Whether you need someone to perform at a wedding or special event or are looking for an act to entertain you with original rock, bluegrass, blues, folk, hip-hop or pop, we have those, too. This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the most popular acts performing regularly in and around Chattanooga.

COUNTRY

Cody McCarver: Since embarking on his solo career, the singer/songwriter has released a couple of CDs, including his latest, "I Just Might Live Forever." He's also active in several charities and has a budding acting career going, having starred in "Cole Younger & The Black Train."

Confederate Railroad: These Southern all-stars, led by lead singer Danny Shirley, achieved massive success in the '90s when they signed with Atlantic Records. Their self-titled debut went double platinum thanks to a string of hits including "Queen of Memphis," "Trashy Women" and "Jesus and Mama."

Roger Alan Wade: Known locally by his initials, RAW, Wade is a songwriter's songwriter with credits on hits by legends such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr. His wry wit has yielded songs such as "If You're Gonna Be Dumb, You Better Be Tough," but in recent years, albums such as "Deguello Motel" and "Southbound Train" feature songs that have a more personal and introspective bent.

BLUEGRASS/ROOTS

The Dismembered Tennesseans: Local legends, this bluegrass group led by fiddler Fletcher Bright has been picking and grinning for more than six decades. Bright and his adult children are celebrated by many for their stewardship of acoustic music, especially as the founders and sole patrons of the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival.

Slim Pickins: This quintet of bluegrass young guns has been blowing up the local scene, with appearances at venues all around town, including at the Riverbend Festival and as part of the Nightfall summer concert series. The group features fiery fiddler John Boulware, who was Tennessee State Fiddle Champion in 2006.

  • photo
    Matt Downer, left, and Clark Williams, two members of the New Binkley Brothers, perform on the sidewalk at Riverbend.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The New Binkley Brothers: Named for a local family band that was hugely popular in the Southeast in the early 20th century, this local trio is as traditional as it gets. Matt Downer, Daniel Binkley and Clark Williams swap around banjos, fiddles and guitars like they're too hot to handle as they play old-time standards and sing with gusto in high, lonesome whines punctuated by hooting and hollering.

HIP-HOP

King Diggy: Diggy is a rapper and hip-hop producer who has released two CDs of original music. He also put together a compilation CD called "Support Ya Own: The 423 Edition."

Natural Habitz: The group performs and records old-school hip-hop. Featuring Meda, Kunstruct, Doughboi and Dice Roll 'Em, they take the positive message of the music and lifestyle seriously.

Isaiah Rashad: This young rapper has quickly made a name for himself around the region.

METAL/HARD ROCK

The Unsatisfied: These veterans have been playing hardcore rock/punk with a vibrant live show for two decades. Their latest CD is "Songs the Belt Taught Us."

Downstream: This five-piece rock band has played hundreds of shows around the Southeast, bringing a sharp-edged blend of ballads and anthems to stages alongside national acts such as Shinedown and Neurosonic.

JAZZ

The Ben Friberg Trio: Named for its lead guitarist and band leader, this trio is a regular fixture around town at public venues and private events and is well-known for its devotion to note-perfect renditions of classical jazz works. Friberg is joined onstage by bassist Dave Schwab and drummer Matt Turnure, along with occasional out-of-town guests.

The 9th Street Stompers: If you prefer your jazz hot, there's nobody in town better than the Stompers, a group of swinging cats led by vocalist and seasoned bluesman Lon Eldridge and sizzling guitarist Dalton Chapman. Not only can they swing like Djano Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, they'll look snappy doing it, too.

Monday Nite Big Band: Formed in 1968 by saxophonist Ed Laymon and pianist Paul Lohorn, this swing jazz orchestra features a rotating cast of up to 20 members who perform both original compositions as well as classical works by artists such as Glenn Miller and Count Basie. As the name suggests, the Big Band takes the stage every Monday evening at The Palms at Hamilton, located at 6925 Shallowford Road.

Booker T. Scrugg IIs: The clarinet-playing Scruggs has been playing jazz for decades. He's also led several combos and released six CDs of favorites and standards, including a tribute to Duke Ellington and a collection of gospel, jazz, spirituals and standards recorded at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.

WORLD

Milele Roots: Since 1998, this has been arguably the city's best-known reggae band. Dreadlocked bassist Christian Craan, originally of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, fronts a rotating cast of diverse world and dub musicians whose name is derived from the Swahili word for "eternal."

Ogya: This world music ensemble, which often features dancers as well as a bevy of musicians, was born at the Riverbend Festival in 2006. As band leader, West African drummer and vocalist Kofi Mawuko has guided the group through performances of traditional and contemporary African music, reggae, soca, Latin, jazz and more on stages throughout the Southeast.

ROCK

The Bohannons: Led by brothers Matt and Marty Bohannon, the group plays straight-ahead guitar-driven rock 'n' roll that's alive and well on its last CD, "Unaka Rising," which they recorded in Athens, Ga., with David Barbem, who has produced and engineered nearly every Drive-By Truckers album. The Nashville Scene describes them as "one of Chattanooga's finest exports."

Jordan Hallquist and the Outfit: Think of front man and group namesake Jordan Hallquist as a rocker's rocker, the Scenic City's Bruce Springsteen. Shortly after spending five nights in the hospital with a host of injuries from a near-fatal car accident, Hallquist was back behind the mike making Southern-influenced, hard-edged classic rock. In 2013, he and his band were finalists in the 2013 Road to Nightfall battle of the bands competition.

Ryan Oyer Band: If artists such as Oasis, Blur and The Beatles are your bag, this band will scratch your Brit-rock itch with music heavily inspired by the British Invasion of the '60s and '90s.

Lumbar Five: The band itself has been together a decade, playing original rock songs, but each member -- John Rawlston, Jo Whitaker, Nick Honerkamp, Kathy Veazey and Kofi Mawuko -- has been playing around town for years.

COVER/TRIBUTE

The Malemen Showband: "Just put a stamp on it, we'll deliver" is the band's motto. These veterans have been around for almost two decades and can fill up a dance floor in a hurry.

The Pool: Nick Honerkamp of Lumbar Five is also in this party-band favorite, along with local veterans Michael Welch, Dave Cornwell and Monte Coulter.

  • photo
    T.J. Greever sports a green tu-tu during his performance with the rest of The Communicators at Riverbend.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Communicators: If you have fond memories of Beck's "Odelay," Red Hot Chili Peppers "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" or Beastie Boys' "Ill Communication," this local super group's album-centric shows will be just your cup of tea. Formed by an ever-changing cast drawn from local bands, this tribute collective does note-for-note performances of legendary albums as well as genre- or decade-centric sets under the moniker That '90s Show.

INDIE

Glowing Bordis: This three-piece indie rock band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist TJ Greever, drummer Jonathan Susman and bassist Dan "Danimal" Pinson. The band was born from the ashes of local rock favorites Up With the Joneses in 2010 and forms the core of popular tribute collective The Communicators, who regularly perform note-for-note renditions of classic rock albums.

Moonlight Bride: An indie post-punk/alternative artist known for a trademark "haunted pop" sound, Moonlight Bride exploded onto the scene in the mid-2000s. Its 2009 release, "Myths," was a critical darling, earning the band national attention from outlets such as Paste magazine and Nerve.com.

Eight Knives: Likened to a combination of Jack White and Kings of Leon, these four rockers combine a bit of garage grunge and punk punch with alternative's danceable melodies. Their first album, 2013's "Maiden Names," was described as a "back-to-basics hip-shaker of a debut" by Bring the Noise UK.

SINGER/SONGWRITER

Drew Sterchi: After years of playing the blues with his late brother, David, in The Sterchi Brothers, Drew recorded his first solo CD, "Left With the Blues." It's a collection of songs he's written and saved over the last 40 years.

Jennifer Daniels: After taking a few years off to raise their twins, Daniels and husband Jeff Neal are back on the performing circuit.

Amber Fults & the Ambivalent Lovers: Blessed with some of the city's biggest vocal chords, Fults is a gem of a singer, whether she's playing ukulele solo in a listening room or rocking out with her band to a packed-out club downtown. The band's tribute performances to Queen and Pink Floyd packed-out the 450-capacity Rhythm & Brews venue, and in 2013, they won the city's prestigious Road to Nightfall battle of the bands, earning them a headlining slot during the city's annual summer concert series.

BLUES

Husky Burnette: With his bourbon-soaked vocal cords, a mean slide and a foot that hits the floorboards like it was pneumatically powered, Burnette is one of the most fiery, intense bluesmen in the city. A former lead guitarist for country performer Roger Alan Wade, he shares the stage with his drummer, Tony Jones.

Mark "Porkchop" Holder: With his amplifier resting at his feet and his fingers tracing intricate patterns across the strings of his steel guitar, Holder is an enthusiastic presence. Whether by himself or accompanied by a drummer, his vocals have a powerful bite, commanding attention as he sings a rousing mix of original material and covers of artists such as Otis Rush.

WTM Blues Band: A few years ago, lifelong blues student and vocalist Thorpe McKenzie assembled a top-notch band of session musicians to help him bring blues classics by artists such as Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker to the masses. In 2011, WTM Blues Band was the first winner of McKay's Road to Nightfall battle of the bands, earning the group a headlining slot for the summer concert series.

Funk/R&B/dance

Smooth Dialects: These "booty-poppin', jazz-jivin', funk freaks" won a lot of local support after making it to the final round of the Road to Nightfall battle of the bands in 2013. Led by sultry smooth vocalist Maria Sable and her husband, guitarist Josh Sable, this tight seven-piece ensemble has made big waves locally since its foundation in 2011.

Summer Dregs: Formed from the ashes of beloved local pop, electronic and funk bands such as Coral Castles, Infradig and The Distribution, this four-piece describes its music alternatively as "aggressively ecstatic indie pop" and "delicious, dark, semi-sweet electro-pop." Your feet won't care which is true once the beat gets them moving.

Love, Peace & Happiness: The core group is a six-piece outfit, but they can add or subtract members depending on the event or type of music that is asked for.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354. Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354. Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.