As we all unwrap our Kitten-a-Day 2012 calendars in preparation for replacing the 2011 ones, it's apropos to ruminate a bit on what's happened over the last 12 months.
Fortunately, 2011 was chockablock full of memorable moments, so there is no need to scrape desperately for things to discuss.
So, without further ado, don your remembering caps and follow along.
* February: O'Heiney's Pub opens its doors on Houston Street. My friends and I stumbled upon this faux ethnic drinkery in March, about a month after it opened. At first, we were basically its sole occupants, but judging by the crowds we find there every week, it's become one of the best places to hang out beneath street level without breaking the lock on a door into underground Chattanooga.
* March/April/September/December: Performances by a quadruple threat of stellar traditional Irish artists Paddy Keenan, Tony DeMarco, Solas and Cillian Vallely. Irish might not necessarily be your cup of tea (or whiskey), but these shows prove that if audiences show up to support artists in a niche genre, other artists and booking agents will pay attention.
* April: McKay's Road to Nightfall. Chattanooga Presents' inaugural battle of the bands, offering a headlining slot at Nightfall to encourage local bands' participation went over like gangbusters. The WTM Blues Band has gone on to perform all over town after taking the stage at Miller Plaza on July 29. Here's looking forward to the 2012 edition.
* May: Rossville's Lauren Alaina is the runner-up on "American Idol," and Steve Martin performs at Memorial Auditorium. After the 100-plus stories we have written about Alaina's rise to the top, there's no need to gush further. However, Martin's appearance the next evening (May 26) with North Carolinians The Steep Canyon Rangers was a booking coup and demonstrated that comedy was far from his only talent.
* June: Miranda Lambert's Riverbend performance convinces me country music isn't all bad. It stormed to the point that Lambert, the festival's second most-expensive booking, almost didn't play. However, the late start and short set didn't prevent her from throwing out enough energy to keep my toes tapping, despite my general distaste for the genre.
* September: Track 29 opens. Nevermind the censorship hullabaloo that besmirched Chattanooga's newest venue during Corey Smith's show days after its grand opening. Track 29 has soldiered on to host a slew of artists other regional cities would salivate over, including Lucinda Williams, M. Ward and, tonight, The Avett Brothers.
Local artists haven't been left out either. The venue's continued support of Chattanooga bands proves the ceiling for area talent is no longer a headlining show at Rhythm & Brews.
So, 2011: friend or foe? I'd like to think friend, but the preceding list is just a survey of one person's (my) year.
If you have other 2011 musical memories you feel strongly about, send me an email, and if I receive enough, I'll do a readers' choice follow-up soon.