Phillips: Post-holiday recovery aided by preview of Nightfall artists

Phillips: Post-holiday recovery aided by preview of Nightfall artists

March 25th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

If my column this week exudes a sense of listlessness and depression, it's because we're a week out from St. Patrick's Day, and I am experiencing the effects of holiday withdrawal.

It is an unfortunate fact of my life that I experience most holidays (Christmas, Halloween, Talk Like a Pirate Day) on a bell curve. For weeks leading up to the day, I am all aquiver with excitement, but in the days that follow, there is little left to do but clean up the mess and pine for the next big thing.

Fortunately, Chattanooga Presents came to my rescue this week with an almost-final list of this year's Nightfall performers.

I never quite know what to expect when I get my hands on a preview of the artists who will grace the stage at Miller Plaza. The lineup is generally so stylistically eclectic and full of barely under-the-radar gems that about the only thing you can count on is being surprised.

So when the aforementioned list mysteriously landed on my desk recently, I was understandably eager to dig in and start singling out my must-see dates. This year, however, my kitten calendar remained unmarked-upon because I didn't recognize any of the artists.

Before I explain why that isn't a bad thing, here are the acts confirmed so far.

* May 20: Dawes.

* May 27: Elizabeth and the Catapult.

* June 3: Bekka Bramlett.

* July 1: Hugo.

* July 8: Mia Borders.

* July 15: The Black Lillies.

* July 22: Free Energy.

* July 29: Road to Nightfall headliner (artist pending).

* Aug. 5: Mingo Fishtrap.

* Aug. 19: Michael Burks.

* Aug. 26: UTC Night (artist pending).

At first, I was a little disappointed not to see any names I knew, but a few minutes of consideration later, I realized that jumping into unfamiliar waters is half the fun of Nightfall. Besides, after four years of being floored by stellar lesser-knowns such as Basia Bulat and Mike Farris, I believe the Nightfall organizers have earned the right to fling a curveball or 12 at my head.

Chattanooga Presents marketing and media director Jonathan Susman said booking artists who are new to Chattanooga audiences is precisely the point.

"We always go to find things that haven't been in the market before, who haven't played here," he said, adding that he's especially excited about Mia Borders, who has recently been touring with New York gypsy punk artist Gogol Bordello.

Since talking to Susman, I've been working my way down the list. If there's one broad observation to make, it's that this year features a ton of indie rock/pop artists (Hugo, Dawes, Elizabeth and the Catapult). Intentional or not, that's bound to win over a few younger converts.

After a little research, the classic-rock vibe of Philadelphia's Free Energy and the pulsing, electrified roots stylings of Knoxville's The Black Lillies have me the most excited thus far.

As to Mia Borders, I have to agree with Susman. If there's any cure for a post-holiday funk, it's funk of the musical variety, and she's got that in spades. May 20 can't come soon enough.