For much of his more than 50-year career, Drew Sterchi has played the blues with a traditional four-piece band featuring bass, drums, rhythm guitar and, of course, himself on lead guitar. Occasionally, he'd add a couple of backup singers and even have his longtime friend, Taylor Caldwell, on keys, but for the most part, he fronted a four-piece.
After nearly 2 1/2 years of not being able to play live because of the pandemic, he has decided to open things up a bit, and on Friday night for his Nightfall gig, he will be joined on stage by 12 other musicians playing his particular brand of blues-influenced original music.
The show is part of a double bill of two local acts serving as co-headliners. Call Me Spinster will perform first beginning at 7 p.m. at Miller Plaza. Sterchi and The Blues Tribe will follow. Both will do extended sets.
Chattanooga Presents Executive Director Carla Pritchard said promoters experimented last year by featuring two local acts, Opposite Box and Original F.B.I.
"Last year was a fun experiment where we were being cautious as we crept into the season because of COVID," she said. "Having local acts gave us flexibility, but people liked it also. We have such a wealth of great options in our local community now."
Sterchi said he looks forward to the opportunity.
"I've played four-piece my whole life," Sterchi said in a telephone interview, "and that's partly because that's what the guys in the band wanted to do."
After the long break from playing, Sterchi said he was ready to consider something different.
"My music is all over the place, and this feels like a good opportunity," he said.
For the show, local musician Mark Merritt will be on drums, and he has also written the charts for horns. Sam Brady from Jackson, Mississippi, will be playing the Hammond B3 organ. Bridgid Ferguson will sing lead on one song and will join Sterchi's nieces, Sarah and Virginia Sterchi, on backing vocals.
Bernard Fertall will play rhythm guitar, and Caldwell will be on piano. Playing percussion will be German Quintero, a Miami transplant who Sterchi said he hesitates to name publicly because he doesn't want other local musicians to know about him.
"A bad percussionist is like tennis shoes in the dryer, but German has this amazing style that is all his own," Sterchi said. "I'd like to keep him to myself for awhile."
Dexter Bell will be playing bass.
"They call him the Beast," Sterchi said.
The horn players, who Sterchi said he has not met in person, will be Wayne Estrada, another recent transplant, Phil Kurtz and Jeff Jones.
Sterchi said the band will showcase just some of the great players that call Chattanooga home, and it fulfills a longtime dream.
"I was playing these songs on acoustic guitar when I wrote them, but what I heard was horns and backup vocals," he said. "I never dreamed I could play my songs with 12 people, and everybody seems to like the material, which makes it even more special."