Chattanooga Now In Tune: Rediscovering live music through fresh eyes

Chattanooga Now In Tune: Rediscovering live music through fresh eyes

April 4th, 2013 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

When it comes to attending concerts, just as with romance, there's nothing quite like your first time.

A few weeks ago, I met a girl who left me reeling after she told me that, at 21, she had never been to a concert.

Seeing my shocked expression, she doubled back and explained that she once had been dragged to see Miley Cyrus and her family had been to a symphony performance. For all intents and purposes, however, she was a concert neophyte. Once I scooped my jaw out of the crater it made in the pavement, I suggested we remedy that on the double quick.

To those who see plenty of live music, the experience may have lost a bit of its luster over time, but I suspect most concert junkies remember the thrill of their first show.

My initial foray was my fourth-grade class trip to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and it is no exaggeration to say it was life-changing. To that point, I'd never considered playing music, but I left the concert hall wanting to more than anything else my young mind could fathom, short of being a marine biologist. A year later, I took up the viola, and music has had its hooks in me ever since.

I've seen and played in dozens of concerts over the years, and while I still enjoy them, shows have started running together somewhat. I hoped that, by introducing someone else to live music, I could vicariously rediscover some of my initial joy.

I suggested several concerts we could attend, and she chose the release party for "Play Dat Thang!," the new album by local bluesman Lon Eldridge and out-of-town harmonica guru Ed Huey.

It proved to be a wise decision. The Folk School of Chattanooga is an interesting, if unconventional, venue -- the show took place in a corner of a concrete bay decorated to look like a living room -- and Huey and Eldridge are consummate entertainers.

As a result, the music was astoundingly good, and the hours flew by. To cap it all off, the audience of 30 or so was full of folk musicians, many of whom stuck around for a post-concert jam that lasted well into the wee hours.

By the time she left, my date's palms were probably bruised from all the clapping, and she might have been sleep-deprived the next morning, but such is the right of passage all music fans endure. And as I expected, while there really is nothing like the first time, being along for someone else's can come awfully close.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.