BARRY COURTER: Lisa, do you remember that time we got together and decided to throw a two-day festival that would be free to everyone and only the very best bands would play? People that not only we liked, but that lots of people liked. And, like I said, it was free to everyone who wanted to come.
LISA DENTON: Um, I think you might be confusing us with the Bright family. And I don't think anybody has ever accused us of being bright, with or without the capital letter.
BARRY: Oh yeah, it was them and not us. It would have been cool if we had done it. What a really amazing thing to do for people.
LISA: You are correct on this — the 3 Sisters Festival is a big bluegrass blowout that will take place Friday and Saturday at Ross's Landing. And I think you mentioned — maybe a couple of times — that it's free, but that's part of what makes it special, considering the headliners are big names like the Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush.
BARRY: Seriously, it is free and the acts are top-shelf every year. Fletcher Bright and several members of his family fund the festival. Other performers include Fletcher's wonderful band The Dismembered Tennesseans, Bluetastic Fangrass, Hamilton Country Ramblers, Lone Mountain Band, Molly Tuttle and the Berklee College of Music Fiddlers. That's not the whole lineup, by the way. There are more. What a gift.
LISA: Did you know it was named one of the Top Five Bluegrass Festivals by Great American Country? It's in a league with Telluride and MerleFest. That's high cotton. And Fletcher was named one of the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award winners by the Bluegrass Music Association?
BARRY: Both well earned.
Speaking of cool gifts to the city that you and I had nothing to do with, I'm also pretty excited about Sculpture Fields Sculptures in the Sky. The park was created by world-renowned artist John Henry, and on Saturday the skies above the giant metal sculptures will be filled with stunt kites, rokkaku battle kites and bright colorful kites. There will also be parachute kite races, food trucks and a beer tent. And guess what it's free also.
LISA: You know my motto: If it's free, it's for me.
As long as we're talking freebies, the Fireside Outdoor Concert Series starts this week at Greenway Farm. Picking and grinning around the campfire starts at 7 every Thursday night in October. First up will be The Von Wamps, who do a mix of folk, swing, jazz, country, rock and bluegrass.
The Fireside series and Sculptures in the Sky are both loosely affiliated with RiverRocks
BARRY: Wait, isn't everything that takes place outdoors this time of year loosely affiliated with RiverRocks?
LISA: Well, yes, but that's beside the point. Also, it's officially on the calendar for Oct. 6-21, but there are events before and after those dates too. No need to ask why. That's just how it is. Kind of like how my birthday is only one day, but I'll celebrate for weeks on end.
Anyway, the festival pays homage to the world-class outdoor offerings we have around these parts. The core RiverRocks events — paddling, bouldering, cycling, etc. — are competitive, but there are a bunch of ways to entertain yourself before, during and after the festival. I'm not taking part in any of the competitions so I can conserve my energy for the concerts and kite flies.
BARRY: Athletes of our status need to pick and choose our events.
Get event information every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at www.ChattanoogaNow.com.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354. Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.