Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Two hours for $200? No thanks.

Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Two hours for $200? No thanks.

September 7th, 2017 by Staff Report in Chattnow Music

Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt — two wonderful songwriters onstage, just them, their guitars and their stories. What a great chance to have a great time. And it will be if you have anywhere from $85 to $115.

That's roughly what you'll pay for a seat to the songwriters' Oct. 28 show at the Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium. Lowest-priced seats are $69, highest are $99, and that doesn't include Ticketmaster service fees, generally around $15 or so per ticket.

Those prices may keep away a lot of people who might go. They may have enough money to buy the tickets, but it could make that month's budget awfully tight. Or maybe they just can't see paying triple digits for a couple of hours of entertainment.

I'm not saying that Lovett and Hiatt don't deserve to get paid. Concerts and merchandise sales are pretty much the only way most music artists make money these days; album sales have dried up to the point of almost being an afterthought.

But even acts that are middle-of-the-pack in popularity can bring in five or even six figures for a single night's performance. Yes, there are some pretty hefty costs to running a tour, what with buses, sound and lighting equipment, road crew, hotels, meals and more. However, if you've budgeted well, at the end of the tour you'll have a lot more money in the bank than many of us.

Nor am I saying that the Walker Theatre doesn't deserve its share of the pie. The theater is cozy with only about 850 seats, but bills still need to be covered and employees need to be paid.

It's true, this kind of ticket pricing is not new; it began in 1994 when the Eagles returned on their Hell Freezes Over tour and top tickets were $100 each. Outrage was rampant, but the concerts all sold out. So, outraged or not, people still coughed up the cash.

But now those prices have filtered down to acts that, in the past, would have more reasonably priced tickets.

Singer/songwriter Ray Lamontagne is coming to the Tivoli Theatre in November. Like the Lovett/Hiatt show, it's just him and a guitar. He's a good act, but the best tickets are $84.50. Is he $84.50 good?

Classic rockers Kansas will be at the Tivoli on Oct. 4. I saw Kansas a couple of times in the 1970s. Their Atlanta show on the "Leftoverture" tour was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. But they want $99.50 for the top ticket at the Tivoli. And original vocalists Steve Walsh and Robby Steinhardt and original guitarist Kerry Livgren are no longer even in the band.

Joe Bonamassa is a terrific blues guitarist, but when he comes to Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 4, the top three tickets are $149, $125 and $99. Whoa!

The same is true for me. I'll pay hefty prices a couple of times a year to see my favorites. But there are several other acts each year that I would love to see in concert but, as much as I love live music, I'm simply not going to pay around $200 for my wife and I to see them.

Maybe my loss.

Contact Shawn Ryan at

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315