BARRY COURTER: Lisa, I know that your mother, as mine did, warned you to stay out of dark alleyways, but on Wednesday you really should check out Party in the Passageways. It's a new thing that is "activating the urban through architecture" by turning alleys into art. It's being presented by AIA Tennessee and the River City Co.
LISA DENTON: I mostly had to watch out for what was left on cow paths growing up, but alleys can be sketchy places, for sure. This project, though, is designed to make them a destination. And it goes way beyond keeping litter picked up and weeds mowed down.
I've only seen the concept images, but three of them — Grass Garden, Stargaze and Urban Chandelier — have multiple pieces of art suspended overhead. Another, Neural Alleyway, will be a digitized rendering — the designers call it a pixelated storyboard — showing images, on opposite walls, of the Tennessee River before and after the Tennessee Valley Authority. And the one called Stage Genies will add a soundscape to one of those.
You could think of the designers as high-concept friends of low places. Pick up maps showing where the alleys are located at 5:30 p.m. in Miller Plaza, and you can walk to all of them from the plaza.
BARRY: In addition to the fancy art and technology, there will be locally crafted beer and live music. Really, beer and artwork in alleyways — if you consider graffiti to be art — are nothing new, but this takes it to another level.
And if it's over-the-top you are looking for, Jason D. Williams will close out the Riverfront Nights series on Saturday. Folks who've been around for a while remember him as the guy who tried to throw the piano off the stage at Riverbend years ago. To say he is entertaining would be selling him way short. You never know what he might do next.
LISA: Williams doesn't just play a piano; he attacks it. And, yes, he's highly entertaining.
BARRY: Friday is the final Nightfall show of the year, as well. Latin folk singer Gina Chavez is the featured act with Danimal Planet opening.
LISA: This native Texan is the darling of the Austin music scene. She swept the Austin Music Awards last year, winning Musician, Album and Song of the Year among other prizes. Her album, "Up.Rooted," also won her praise from news outlets including National Public Radio and USA Today.
There are big shows at the Tivoli Theatre this week, too — soul singer Jill Scott on Wednesday and country's Josh Turner on Friday.
BARRY: I've been communicating this past week with Riq Lazarus. Longtime local music fans will remember Riq from The Targetz and later 37 Targetz. He's Turner's production and stage manager and is looking forward to a home-cooked meal or two.
LISA: And Rhett Miller of the Old 97's will be doing a solo show at Revelry Room on Thursday. At a show a couple of years ago, he gave my unborn grandson an official "rock god blessing" and predicted my daughter, Kayla, would have a boy. She said that night at the concert was the first time she felt the baby move.
And the Home & Remodeling Show is this weekend at the Chattanooga Convention Center. I know you're always working on some sort of remodeling project and, while I love these expos, I have mixed feelings when I see all the cool things you can do to a house. There's a fine line between motivational and maddening when you're on a budget.
BARRY: I figure I should have my own booth at the show. Maybe two. I could host the "Before" booth and the "Don't Ever Do This" booth. OK, maybe three. I could also host the "This Is How Long It Will Actually Take" booth. You know my proven formula for estimating, right? Take your very best guess, double it and add two weeks.
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