City Beat: What local bands have rocked your world?

Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee at night
photo Barry Courter

Social-media sites can be a pretty cool place for folks who enjoy the occasional stomp down memory lane. They can also be a great place to wallow in the banal. A couple of recent Facebook threads got me thinking about past local bands.

Actually, they got me thinking about the ones who truly moved the music scene forward. I'm focusing on the ones who, for the most part, called the area home, at least for awhile before they moved. I can only go back so far, and I don't claim to have seen them all, so please add your own names. I'm really not thinking about current acts here, because I do that all the time.

Overland Express (later just Overland) was the first I remember believing could and should actually make it. Two of the most popular local cover acts that did well here and toured as regional acts were The Targetz (later 37 Targetz) and the Malemen. They are still killing it, by the way.

Musical Moose makes my list of pioneers for two reasons. First, both of my older brothers were in the band, so obviously I was a fan; but in the '70s and '80s, they were among the very first to play original alternative music, to promote their own shows and to come out with cassette tapes of their original recordings. Such cassettes meant you were legit.

They, along with acts like Bend Sinister, were not content to play cover songs and they looked for nontraditional places, meaning bars, to play.

Following their lead were a string of local punk and new-wave bands doing all kinds of cool things. Tops among them was probably Hank, but you had acts like The Kreed, Abstracts, Ton Ton Macoute, Psycho Bible, Across the Yard, Red M&Ms, Dial A Miracle, Everything Tool and The Unsatisfied.

Centurian was also very popular, and Steve Babb and Fred Schendel found a way to make Glass Hammer an international success from here. They still make popular progressive rock from their studio in East Brainerd.

This is not intended as a complete list, so who are the bands or performers that made big waves locally in your memory? Feel free to share.

» While we are on the subject of great local acts, it's time to start thinking about the Road to Nightfall.

Registration is now open for acts interested in headlining one of the nights this coming summer. If you want to compete, go to and sign up. The actual competitions will take place once again at Granfalloon on March 9, 10, 16 and 17 with the finals on March 24.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.