May 6 2013
It’s easy to get overlooked in the music department when you share a state with Nashville and Memphis. But several new venues around town are promising to build up Chattanooga’s concert quota. Whether you like spandex rock, soulful singer/songwriters or classic rock n’ roll, there’s a little something for everyone – and that’s not just whistling Dixie.
Chattanooga Choo Choo Campus, 1400 Market Street
Somewhere between a stadium and a club, Track 29 has managed to create an intimate yet world-class concert venue. Opening its doors in September 2011, the former ice skating rink was converted by Adam Kinsey and Josh McManus, both 30-somethings who felt Chattanooga could do a better job of attracting national touring acts on a monthly basis. They built one of the best PA systems in the Southeast, VIP boxes, one of the largest bars in town, stadium-type amenities for the talent such as showers, washer/dryers and a moveable stage. The venue also has more than 900 parking spots and is located in the back property of the Choo Choo Hotel for convenient lodging. The strategy worked. Three months after opening Track 29 welcomed The Avett Brothers – a sold-out show that was later featured in Rolling Stone Magazine. In 2012 Jack White kicked off his solo tour in Chattanooga, and later this year Track 29 hosts the Carolina Chocolate Drops and All American Rejects.
The Camp House
1427 Williams Street
Located in an old warehouse on Chattanooga’s Southside, The Camp House has become one of the leading small music venues in town. It has an intimate yet industrial setting with brick walls, clearstory windows and steel girders. But the real attraction is the stage. Built by nationally touring musicians from the ground up, it’s actually set up as a live recording studio with sound isolation, in-ear monitoring system and state-of-the-art speaker set up. The coffee bar venue features regional and local talent nearly five nights a week for a nominal fee (usually around $5).
Rhythm & Brews
221 Market Street
Rhythm & Brews is your classic concert hall – standing room only, free flowing beer and ear ringing speakers. In other words, fun. The talent on the stage of this 21-and-up club ranges from Michael Jackson impersonator to Nashville favorites Here Come the Mummies to bluegrass legend Sam Bush. Located in the back of Big River Brewing, handcrafted microbrews are available for your sipping pleasure (as well as domestics). Several new venues have somewhat stolen Rhythm & Brews thunder as the top club in town, but it’s still a great place for a rocking good time.
The Honest Pint
35 Patten Parkway
With live music every Wednesday, this Irish inspired pub is one of the few bars downtown to still feature local and regional artists. Located on a quiet side street you feel a bit transported when walking through the bright red doors. Dark woodwork dominates the décor, particularly at the ample bar where Guinness and Jameson whiskey is frequently poured. You can expect to pay a modest cover but the talent is well worth it. In addition to an ample craft beer selection (served of course in a true pint-sized glass) you can chow down on Irish specialties like boxty – a traditional Irish potato pancake stuffed with yumminess – or classic bar favorites like a Reuben or wings.
709 Broad Street
Known as the “Jewel of the South,” the Tivoli was opened in 1921 as a grand movie palace, complete with domed ceiling, grand foyer, crystal chandeliers and Beaux Arts styling. Gold leaf rosettes and scrolls trace the arches throughout the auditorium. Given its stately décor and intimate seating capacity of roughly 1,700, it’s no wonder the Tivoli sticks to a rather tame concert roster such as operas, plays, country music and other acoustic artists and the occasional comedian. In fact, there weren’t any alcohol sales allowed until just a year ago, and you still can’t take it to your seats for fear of folks trashing the historic theatre. Still, it’s a great place for a show, harkening back to the days when the theatre meant top coats and panty hose.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium
399 McCallie Avenue
Built in 1924 as a living monument to Hamilton County war veterans, Memorial Auditorium was the city’s largest indoor venue for nearly 50 years, hosting everything from roller derbies to debutante balls. In the ‘80s it was renovated to be used solely as a theatre and concert venue, with everyone from Bob Dylan to Widespread Panic gracing its stage. At nearly 4,000 seats it provides a great mid-sized venue for big name bands and Broadway productions.