Community Voices

Building a Music Scene

Music is a powerful thing. Music is personal. It spurs emotion, defines an expression, captures a feeling, makes a moment, professes love, relieves stress, affects your mood, sooths your soul, makes you move, recalls a memory, and educates your mind. There are countless benefits of music in your life whether you are the musician or in the audience, it’s equally rewarding. Music is not only personal, but it also fosters community. Community within the fan base of a particular artist or band, community online, community between musicians, and community in your hometown.  

 When my husband and I first started discussing the music community in Chattanooga among friends a few years ago, the common denominator in the discussion was always “Why does Chattanooga get skipped as a music market?” We are a hub between multiple music markets in the Southeast, which seems like it would be a perfect music destination for both musicians and audiences alike.  At the time, we didn’t intend to open a music venue, but we did intend to attempt to make connections in order to get more music in Chattanooga. With our own unapologetically selfish music desires in mind, we set out to make these connections and for those connections to get Chattanooga the music it deserved. 

In the whirlwind of doing so, we opened a music venue to fill the mid-size venue gap in Chattanooga. We have been open three years come this September, and as Jerry says “What a long strange trip it’s been.”  We - my husband and I - but also Chattanooga as a whole, have been very fortunate.  Our venue - and when I say our, it’s all of ours - has more than exceeded our expectations. We wouldn’t be successful without the support of the Chattanooga community. Chattanooga’s music scene was started long before us with the likes of the legend, Mike Dougher of Rhythm & Brews and The Sandbar. I knew and liked Mike before I owned and operated a music venue, but I have a whole new level of respect and admiration now that I do. I like to think that things are a bit easier since I started in the industry due to the Mike Dougher’s of Chattanooga that helped forge our music scene. The music industry is a tricky business that requires a lot of hard work, 24/7, but I can tell you that no one stays in the industry without a passion for it. That goes for everyone -the musicians, production, the talent buyers, promoters, agents, venue owners/managers, hospitality staff, and more. The most rewarding aspect for me is after a long day, hearing a full house singing at the top of their lungs every lyric to a song in our venue. It makes those long hours and crazy days, worth every second and it drives us to keep doing it. I’ve realized that we aren’t just booking music; we are booking memories and an experience that most will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Chattanooga’s music scene and culture is rapidly evolving before our eyes and people are paying attention - not only agents, promoters, tourists, and music fans, but also leaders in our community. The music community that is among us is outstanding. We should be proud of where we are and where we are going. We, the city, are working towards making music more integrated in the daily lives of Chattanoogans. We have been fortunate, yet spoiled, by the free music options in our city, which have run their course and accomplished what I believe they set out to do - to build a music community in our fair city. 

Chattanoogans have proven that we will and can support our music community, but what is our culture? I don’t believe that we have to be locked into a set genre as the music history of Chattanooga consists of a wealth of genres. We move to the beat of our own drum. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we don’t want to replicate another Austin, Nashville, or Seattle. We are Chattanooga. We love music and we aren’t going to be quiet about it.  

“Chattanooga’s music scene and culture is rapidly evolving before our eyes and people are paying attention - Not only agents, promoters, tourists, and music fans, but also leaders in our community. ”