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Staff file photo by Erin O. Smith / Members of the Vandoliers perform at Nightfall Friday, in 2018 at Miller Plaza. The free annual summer series will resume with virtual shows in June and continuing until organizers determine it is safe, and feasible to begin doing live performances again.

This story was updated at 4:33 p.m. on Friday, May 22, with more information.

Nightfall, one of Chattanooga's oldest and most-loved music series, will return with a combination of online concerts and live performances that will start when shows are allowed on its traditional Miller Plaza stage.

For the past 32 years, Nightfall has taken place downtown each Friday from May to September. The coronavirus pandemic put a halt to that streak this year, but Carla Pritchard, owner of Chattanooga Presents and the Nightfall series, said, "I'm hopeful that we can and we plan to start live shows utilizing Miller Plaza and Miller Park in August, and I have planned to push the schedule later into September to try to accommodate acts that had to be rescheduled from the beginning of the season.

"We might even add a couple of Saturdays in August, if that month works out well," Pritchard said. "We will be keeping a flexible approach to the season – understanding that people are anxious to have the fun and community connection that Nightfall offers, while doing all we can to ensure that we only start when it is deemed safe and appropriate to do so."

She said the schedule for the free shows is still being figured out and changes almost hourly, as some bands either can't do a live online show because of technical reasons, the band members don't live near each other, or they would simply prefer to do a live performance.

"But, we are fortunate in that we are a series and can make changes further down the road," Pritchard said.

The current plan ("That word doesn't exist anymore," Pritchard said) is to begin virtual shows through the Nightfall Facebook page for the Fridays of June 5, 12, 19 and 26. The virtual performances will continue until live shows start. The shows, which will be webcast at 7 p.m., will include the traditional Nightfall format with a local opening act followed by a headliner, who will perform from wherever they are around the country.

Typically, the openers perform for about 50 minutes and the headliners for 90. These shows will be shortened to one hour, including a 20-minute opening set and a 40-minute headline show, with a little fun in between sets led by Nightfall's longtime stage manager John Rawlston.

The first virtual show, June 5 at 7 p.m., will feature an opening set by the Cookeville band The Smoky Nights, a Road to Nightfall finalist, and a headline performance by Cajun fiddler Waylon Thibodeaux and his band from the bayou.

Nightfall funding is provided by Kelly Subaru, Fletcher Bright Realty, Michelob Ultra, Warehouse Row, Southern Honda Powersports and Chattanooga Coca-Cola, with media support from EPB, WUTC 88.1 and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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