Get Off The Couch: Three words for this week: music, horses and ... otters

Get Off The Couch: Three words for this week: music, horses and ... otters

April 28th, 2014 by Barry Courter and Lisa Denton in Life Entertainment

LISA DENTON: You know, Barry, I have a hard time believing that Gillian Welch is a native New Yorker. She definitely has the look and sound of someone who was born and bred in Appalachia.

Not to get all up in her business, but there's some speculation that her birth mother, who put her up for adoption, might have been raised in the mountains of North Carolina. Whatever Welch's origins, there's definitely some South in her soul.

BARRY COURTER: You know, it's funny, but when she first came here to play at the old Lizard Lounge, that was one of the things we talked about in the interview. She was taking some flak for being a carpetbagging alt-country artist. Whether she was born in a barn or in the middle of Times Square, I like her music. She will be playing Wednesday night at the Tivoli Theatre with her longtime collaborator, Dave Rawlings.

LISA: The Tivoli is the last of eight stops on what she describes as a "spur-of-the-moment" tour of the Southeast. A couple of the dates sold out. Should be a good show.

On Thursday night, you can dine on Spam salad sandwiches, oatmeal raisin cookies and bottled Coca-Colas when the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe debuts its new exhibit. "Over Here & Over There: Georgia & Georgians in WWII" will be on view through June 16, but the opening reception is the only time you can dine on classic World War II fare.

Things get really busy this weekend. The Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival is Thursday through Saturday. The Chattanooga Choo Choo Jazz Fest is Friday through Sunday. On Saturday, there's the Running of the Chihuahuas, the Children's Hospital Drag on Boat Festival and the Black Jacket Symphony concert of Prince's "Purple Rain."

I'm excited about the new otter exhibit opening at the Tennessee Aquarium. The expanded space, called River Otter Falls, will be home to seven of the critters.

BARRY: I think this marks 24 years for Cindy Pinion in honoring her dad with the festival, and I have to imagine he would be proud. It has become a big-time, national festival.

This will be the second year that the Choo Choo Jazz Festival will operate under new direction. Founders Mike and Astrid Griffin retired after producing it for 22 years. It is now being produced by the folks at the Choo Choo and a longtime attendee who lives in Atlanta. It features Dixieland jazz and draws fans from all over the world.

The otters returning to their new digs is big news. I know visitors there over the last several months have missed the playful creatures, and the new space is supposed to allow for better viewing.

LISA: There are a couple of Kentucky Derby events on Saturday, too. Chattanooga's Kids on the Block will benefit from Do the Derby ... Chattanooga Style at Engel Stadium, and Chattanooga Room in the Inn will get the proceeds from Tell Me Something Derby at Bluewater Grille. Both will televise the race and have hat contests.

You know, last year I was trying on some big hats at the Northgate Sears when I decided I needed a second opinion. When I rounded the corner toward the registers, the cashiers broke into fits of laughter. I looked around to see what they were laughing at, but I never did figure out what was so funny.

It reminds me of the time years ago when the preacher asked my Aunt Tee if she liked his hat. She said, "Well, if you don't have anything in your head, you might as well have something on it."

I know you don't always get them from me, but both of those are true stories.

BARRY: I have no trouble believing any of it.

That reminds me of a quote from Louis Armstrong that seems to connect Gillian Welch to the Derby, if you open your mind enough. "All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song."

It was on the same list as this gem from Groucho Marx: "Marry me, and I'll never look at another horse."

Get event details every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at

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