Whether you like your live music served up in a smoky bar, on the patio of a nice restaurant or inside a cavern, the Chattanooga area has long been blessed with a vibrant music scene, with plenty of options when it comes to not only artists, but places to find it.
I'm not saying we can compare with places like New Orleans or Nashville when it comes to huge names, but we get our share for a city our size. No, what I'm talking about is the number of options we have when it comes to finding good music in creative spaces.
The Tivoli, Memorial Auditorium and the Walker Theatre are the city's premiere larger, traditional venues, and that should get even better with the completion of the renovated Tivoli Center in the next year or so. (We'll have more on that in a future issue.)
We also have downtown bars like JJ's Bohemia, of course, that have bands play there regularly. Unfortunately, we did lose one of the oldest venues for live bands last month when Ziggy's and its venue, Music Box, closed.
But then there are such multi-purpose venues as Barking Legs Theater and the Songbirds Foundation that regularly feature live music in addition to classes, workshops and other art performances.
And, of course, we have larger outdoor series: Riverfront Nights, Nightfall, Riverbend and Moon River.
But if you are up for a short drive out of town, you can find venues like McClemore Cove on Lookout Mountain or The Caverns just on the other side of Monteagle Mountain.
The Songwriter Series at McClemore Cove, which is about 40 minutes from downtown, runs from May to October. The remaining schedule features Sunrise Cuban Jazz Quartet on Aug. 11, Buxton Hughes on Sept. 8 and Griffin House on Oct. 20.
If you like the popular songwriters-in-the-round-style shows where the artists not only perform the songs they wrote, but tell the stories behind them, you'll likely enjoy these shows. Plus, the setting is pretty spectacular up on the mountain.
And, speaking of incredible settings, The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee, which is a little over an hour away, has to be one of the most unique venues anywhere to see a show — with acts performing underground, inside the largest opening of any commercial cave in the country.
It's home of the Emmy-winning PBS television series, "Bluegrass Underground," and during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Caverns opened a new above ground venue.
On its schedule this month is the two-day Subterranea Festival featuring a host of "jamtronic" acts like Papadosio, and onsite camping, live art, yoga workshops, sound baths, cave tours and food trucks. Future shows include Drive-By Truckers on Aug. 13, and Michael Franti and Spearhead on Aug. 28 in The Caverns. The Caverns Above Ground Amphitheater schedule includes Greensky Bluegrass with the Wood Brothers on Aug. 19 and Umphrey's McGee and the Disco Biscuits on Aug. 20.
The places above represent only a fraction of the number of places to see live music, but they do represent the variety. And, in many ways, they enhance the experience by offering something different to the actual performance.