Get Off the Couch: Elvis and Mahler and cornbread

Get Off the Couch: Elvis and Mahler and cornbread

April 22nd, 2013 by Barry Courter and Lisa Denton in Life Entertainment

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera has done some far-out things over the years, which is commendable, but they've nailed it this time. Their Masterworks concerts this weekend (Saturday at the Tivoli, Sunday at the VW Conference Center) will pair Elvis and Mahler. For me, you can't think of one without thinking of the other. Did you know that "Blue Suede Shoes" in German is "Blaue Veloursleder-Schuhe?"

LISA DENTON: Maybe it's a Cledus T. Judd-style parody of that Confederate Railroad song "Jesus and Mama." Cledus would be singing, "Elvis and Mahler always loved me, even when the peanut butter and banana sandwiches took control." However, I cannot confirm that the Austrian composer was a fan of this delicacy.

Actually, the season finale just happens to include a work by Mahler -- Symphony No. 5, to be exact -- and a work about Elvis. Contemporary composer Michael Daugherty is offering not only "Dead Elvis" (may he rest in peace) but "Motown Metal," which is inspired by the Detroit auto industry.

BARRY: Well, if Detroit can come back from the dead, who am I to say that Elvis can't? Seriously, I like it when the CSO has some fun.

By the way, I wandered over to Warehouse Row for lunch Thursday and got to see CSO's woodwind quintet perform in the food court. They are there on the third Thursday of the month through the end of the year with a break during the summer.

I know you are also excited that the National Cornbread Festival is this weekend in South Pittsburg. This is an event with just about everything.

LISA: I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a cornbread connoisseur, but I really, really like the stuff. The crisper the crust, the better.

BARRY: Same here. I like it sweet or not, with jalapenos and without, and just about any other way.

LISA: One of the best parts of the festival is Cornbread Alley, where you can get a plate of nine foods for $4. They all have cornbread in common, but there's nothing common about the recipes. This year's plates will include two kinds of hushpuppies, apple cinnamon cornbread and a lemon creme coffee cake. I may have to go through twice.

BARRY: Just having something called Cornbread Alley should be reason enough to celebrate, but they don't just have cornbread. They have music, including a jam tent, arts and crafts, things for kiddies, cook-offs and a general store where you can buy products from local artists, bakers and craftsmen.

LISA: Plus Lodge cast-iron skillets so you can make your own cornbread at home.

Man, I'm getting hungry. I wonder how peanut butter and bananas would taste on a wedge of cornbread.

BARRY: I can answer that, actually. It's pretty good.

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Contact staff writer Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Contact staff writer Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.