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Barry Courter

Stories by Barry

Local author Nancy Henderson likes to make people cry — or to at least feel a strong sense of empathy for her subject matter.

As I looked for a place to park around 1:30 Sunday afternoon near The Chattanoogan, where the Chocolate Fling was set to take place, I couldn't find a spot. I was early for the fling, so the streets weren't full of cars for that yet. The crowd, and the reason for my circling the block several times, was a couple of blocks away at Chattanooga Market at First Tennessee Pavilion.

Few minor-league ball parks in the country have as much history as Engel Stadium, so it seems only fitting that the venerable venue would play host to the world's oldest band.

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.

For the first couple of years after opening the Chattanooga Market in early April 2002, then-owner-founder Nick Jessen had nightmares in which no one showed up.

You probably don’t need to be reminded that we just now are coming out a very cold winter and a wet, cool spring.

Riverbend officials have announced the remaining lineup for this year’s festival, a list that includes Corey Smith, the Family Stone, the WannaBeatles, Arpetrio, the Weeks, Cody McCarver and nearly two dozen other acts.

Q: Dad, should I listen to my bosses or my professors when it comes to what I should be learning for the future?

Over the past several decades, fans at Historic Engel Stadium have seen the likes of no less than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and even basketball legend turned part-time baseball player Michael Jordan. Tonight and Saturday, April 24 and 26, they will get to cheer on Mighty Casey himself.

At first blush, the idea of presenting an opera inside Historic Engel Stadium might seem strange. But the folks with Artisti Affamati are producing "The Mighty Casey," which is based on the Ernest Thayer poem "Casey at the Bat," which has the memorable final line "But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out."

When Erskine Peoples, 82, first arrived in Chattanooga as a 22-year-old high school music teacher, Ninth Street, or the Big 9, as it was fondly called, was in full swing. A half-dozen clubs thrived in the five-block area between Foster Street, near where Memo's Grill still sits today, and the railroad overpass near Peeples Street.

LISA DENTON: Barry, you know those comedy skits where serious actors recite song lyrics? Like Christopher Walken reading Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”: P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face. Mum mum mum mah.

You’ve spent months planning that spring break trip to Florida, making lists of what to take, where you will stay, who will be traveling with you and what you will do when you get there.

Chris Thile is excited to again be playing with Sara and Sean Watkins as Nickel Creek. He says the band's very amicable seven-year time-out was much needed, very healthy and allowed the three to grow as individuals. For now, he is glad to be back, but he hopes it is a reunion with a future and not just to remember old times, especially when it comes to the trio's loyal fans.

Q: Dad, we got an outdoor fire pit and have a bunch of wood sitting around. Can we burn it?

About 30 years ago, I was finishing up my degree in broadcast journalism at UTC. It was a brand-new degree and department at the school, so there were only a handful of us pursuing the degree. This gave me access to some pretty amazing stuff for the time.

JAY: Barry, just back from the land of green jackets and pimento cheese sandwiches. Watching the best in golf play at the best course in golf is amazing.

Artist Alexa Lett says getting her own workspace away from her home may have saved her marriage.

Mere minutes before making his comedic debut at the Comedy Catch on Brainerd Road, Billy Brumlow is pacing the lobby area, greeting friends and going over his routine in his head.

About every three months, Hart Gallery owner Ellen Heavilon gets to write checks to area charitable agencies based on the sales of the art pieces sold at the gallery.

Q: Dad, I might have the opportunity to take a good job, but school is a major conflict. Should I quit and take the job?

I’ve never considered myself to be either a trendsetter or a trend follower, but when I look closely, I have to confess to being more of the latter.

At 9:55 a.m. last May 17, Donny Davidson sat in his usual place at the head of the table, leading a staff meeting at Southern Fluidpower. It was like most other Friday mornings at the company his father started and Davidson now owned.

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, did you know Bessie Smith was almost as well respected in jazz circles as she was in blues circles?

Editor's note: Times Free Press staff writers Jay Greeson and Barry Courter periodically will discuss issues in youth sports.

Q: Dad, what is one of the biggest life lessons you've learned lately?

Whether their tastes run to drama or comedy, horror or documentary, movie fans will find plenty to choose from this week at the inaugural Chattanooga Film Festival.

Just how big a deal is it that the inaugural Chattanooga Film Festival starts today?

KELLEY SAYS: I've become a regular buyer from Sheerlark Farm via the Chattanooga Market because of their goat and lamb offerings. I bought this leg of lamb with the intent of cooking it over the Christmas holiday, but never got around to it. We had a large group coming over for dinner two weeks ago, so it was the perfect event for serving it up.

Both Chris Dortch II and Grey Watson readily admit to having purely selfish motivations for staging this weekend's Chattanooga Film Festival, and it is not because they wanted an excuse to watch the films on the schedule.

The late Bessie Smith is known the world over as the Empress of the Blues, but she was also well known in jazz circles back in the day.

JAY: We're off and running, this column and the season.

Riverbend has been late to the electronic dance music party, but officials at the festival hope they have found a solution that will make not only EDM fans happy, but local DJs as well.

Earl Braggs and Aaron Belz proudly identify themselves as poets.

Q: Dad, I have a crack in the windshield of my car. This seems like a major disaster, so what can I do?

An Agatha Christie favorite among her "whodunit" mysteries, "And Then There Were None" celebrates the creativity of director Patrick Sweetman and his band of thespians in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre production.

There are so many cool things to do in Chattanooga these days, we don’t often mention things as far away as Knoxville, but this weekend’s Big Ears festival is a little different. Actually, it’s quite a bit different, in a Dennis Palmer kind of way.

The Chattanooga area has been home to a long and varied group of talented musicians for years. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions were born and still live here. Grammy Award winners Norman and Nancy Blake make their home in Rising Fawn, Ga.

LISA DENTON: Hey, Barry, did you know Rock City has a new bedtime story? Here's how it came about ... sort of.

Q: Will I get to keep all of my friends after college and when I get married?

Will Ward can rightfully claim that he discovered Thor.

Rocker Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and indie newcomers Young the Giant with play the closing weekend of this year's Riverbend Festival lineup.

Finding Thor (and others)

Baylor grad working his way to the top

Will Ward can rightfully claim that he discovered Thor.

Longtime local music fans might remember when the Zac Brown Band was playing in local clubs. Those days are long gone.

Chattanooga has aggressively tried to position itself as a town full of art and artists and, to a large degree, it has succeeded.

John Oates, half of the classic rock duo Hall & Oates, will be part of the next Scenic City Roots lineup April 3 at Track 29.

LISA DENTON: So, Barry, you know rap star Juicy J is coming to Track 29 on Saturday, and since we don't have readily apparent rap names like our colleague Paul "Heavy Sigh" Schulz, I thought we should try out to give us a little more street cred.

Q: Dad, what are some things you've learned through your mistakes?

DeFo Spencer swam as a youngster, graduating from McCallie School in 1974, and had a daughter who swam at The Fairyland Club.

USA Today is running a poll asking people to vote on the Top 10 Greatest Festival Moments in Rock and Roll History. You can go online and see USA Today’s Top 20 and choose from those.

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