* What: Patten Unplugged featuring Lon Eldridge.
* When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11.
* Where: Roland Hayes Auditorium, UTC Fine Arts Center, 752 Vine St.
* Admission: $10.
* Phone: 423-425-4269.
* Website: www.utc.edu/fine-arts-center.
Last year, local bluesman Lon Eldridge released an album with harmonicist Ed Huey, embarked on a five-week European tour, began studying gypsy jazz guitar and founded a new swing band, the 9th Street Stompers.
Eldridge says he has even more planned for 2014, including another tour across the pond and the release of the Stompers' first EP, but when he kicks off the year Saturday, Jan. 11, as the next Patten Performances musician, he'll spend at least part of the time looking into the past, not the future.
"I'm planning on doing some Bessie Smith tunes, so I'll talk about Bessie Smith and different locales around Chattanooga that ... would have been influential when Bessie was around," he says. "I also hope to talk a little bit about Roland Hayes, since I'll be in the Roland Hayes auditorium."
The show will be the second in Patten Performances' inaugural round of Unplugged dates, which offer a more intimate experience to fans of the long-running series. As a student of various roots styles such as ragtime, blues, swing and jazz, Eldridge says he prefers to play acoustically, so the unplugged requirement was no great burden.
"You'll catch me on electric guitar every now and then if I'm playing at a rowdy bar and really need to be heard, but I mostly stick to my guns on the acoustic stuff," he says. "It just sounds more authentic to the music I play."
Eldridge hasn't worked out the specifics of his two 45-minute sets, but he says he plans to present a set list split evenly between covers and original material that touches on all the styles he has studied.
Although he's content to play in a bar or restaurant, where his music can entertain without being a focus, Eldridge says he savors opportunities such as the Patten show, when he can play to an audience that is fully attentive to the music.
"A listening room is very different from a bar," he says, laughing. "The people are there to hear music, so it's good for my self-esteem."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Want a sneak peek of local bluesman Lon Eldridge's music before his Patten Performances Unplugged show on Saturday? Listen to a handful of songs on his Reverb Nation profile - [www]www.ReverbNation.com/loneldridge[/www].