Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said that Adrienne Terry replaced Mary Howard Ade as director of Multicultural Accounts and Convention Services at the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau. It should have said Donna Harrison replaced Mary Howard Ade as director of Cultural Tourism at the CVB.
I don't know how your 2019 was as far as entertainment went, but mine was pretty great.
Seeing Graham Nash and Jay and Silent Bob in Walker Theatre was pretty great. Brandi Carlile at Moon River wasn't bad either, and those were just three good shows in town this year.
I can't predict what 2020 holds, but I'm going to guess it will be pretty great if for no other reason than Mavis Staples will be at Riverbend. That's right. I said it. Riverbend. Much maligned by some of late, the festival continues to make changes, and watching what happens will be one of the big stories of the coming year.
The lineup is set and you can check it out, with video links, here.
I've heard from people who say there isn't a headliner, and while I would argue Mavis is music royalty — and if you don't agree then your opinion means little to me — I can see the argument. I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how cohesive each night's lineup is, meaning you will be able to enjoy four shows back-to-back each night, in addition to the stuff on the smaller stages, if that's your thing.
Organizers set out to create four evenings of shows that made sense and they've done a better than average job of it.
While you might not know some of the acts, they are good. What I am more interested to see is the other stuff. There is still much work to be done to improve the fan experience. They know this and they are working on it. But as someone has said, this is not a speedboat you can turn around quickly; it's more like a big hulking barge — pun intended — that takes time to move.
One other area that I am really interested to watch is the hoped-for improvements when it comes to cultural diversity. Like Riverbend and the barge analogy, this is an area where there is much to fix, and it is not going to happen overnight. But both ArtsBuild and the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau made strides this year in that area.
James McKissick is now president of ArtsBuild and Donna Harrison is the director of Cultural Tourism at the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, replacing Mary Howard Ade, who got married and moved out of town. Both are African Americans. I look forward to seeing what the two have planned for bringing new events to town.Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.
This story was updated Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, at 2 a.m. to correct the last paragraph.