published Monday, August 29th, 2011

Railfest, Track 29 gear up this week

LISA DENTON: Barry, have you ever been run out of town on a rail? Once upon a time, that was a punishment. This coming weekend, you might consider a variation of that more of a privilege. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary over Labor Day weekend with several excursions, as well as Civil War demonstrations, a hobo camp and concerts headlined by newgrass mandolin master Sam Bush.

It all kicks off Thursday at the Chattanooga Choo Choo at a banquet featuring Railroad Age magazine's Railroader of the Year, Wick Moorman, chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern.

BARRY COURTER: The Choo Choo will be the place to be then this weekend. On Thursday, Track 29, the new music venue inside the old skating rink at the back of the Choo Choo property, makes its debut with country singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson. On Friday, they will host a local music showcase. Bush will appear in the Railroad Meseum on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.. He is the man.

And to answer your question: No, I have never been run out of town on a rail.

LISA: Sorry, it's an "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" flashback. I know the museum's history doesn't go back as far as the movie's Great Depression setting, but Chattanooga's rail history does, of course, and that will be celebrated too. The region is full of railroad buffs, and Railfest should be right up their alley.

BARRY: Fifty years is as good a reason to throw a party as any, and the museum does a great job of celebrating the area's rail history. It's also been a pretty good draw for the Hollywood movie types who like to use the trains in their films. The fact that the trains at the museum actually work is a big plus.

LISA: It is pretty exciting to think that you might get a seat actors George Clooney or Robert Pattinson sat in while filming scenes here. And Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner are just two of the latest singers to film music videos on TVRM property. The trains have a certain kind of "atmosphere" that I expect visitors to Railfest will enjoy.

Most of the action will take place at Grand Junction Station on Cromwell Road, but people will have to park at Northgate or Eastgate Mall and take a shuttle bus to the site. You can track down all the details, as the TVRM folks like to say, at www.tvrm.com.

While you're online, you should check out the full schedule at Track 29 -- I dare you not to hum "Chattanooga Choo Choo" every time you hear that, by the way. I understand the Jamey Johnson show is expected to be a sellout, so it wouldn't hurt to buy a ticket and not just hope for the best at the door. The website is http://track29.co.

BARRY: Had to get one pun in, didn't you? At least you avoided trying to get the attention of that shoeshine boy. As for getting one of those celebrity seats, that's not my karma. I'm more apt to get the seat the 2-year-old kid with the sticky PBJ sandwich had the day before.

Track 29 opening is an exciting thing. We had a full report on it in Sunday's paper, and people can read that online at timesfreepress.com/life.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or ldenton@timesfreepress.com.

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