For more than 16 years, Eddie Pontiac (born Eddie Thompson) has set up his microphone stand and amplifier at the El Meson at Hamilton Place. His set is an eclectic mix of classic rock, pop and country standards and some newer numbers. It’s not at all unusual to hear a Donovan number followed by “Baby Got Back.”
With rare exception, his sets are entirely request-driven. The crowds are made of up people there to eat, to be sure, but a good many are there every weekend to hear Pontiac.
Q: Eddie Pontiac is a stage name, right?
A: It’s actually a nickname I’ve had since I was a young boy. My friends said I favored the Pontiac emblem. It’s the name everybody knows me by.
Q: How long you been playing at El Meson?
A: Sixteen and a half years.
Q: What were you doing before that?
A: I was on the road with The Bugs. We traveled the country for 20 years. I actually moved to Chattanooga in 1989. I fell in love with the city. It was my favorite place to come to when on the road.
Q: Which clubs did you play here?
Q: When you started, did you think you’d be there for 161/2 years?
A: I thought it might be six months tops. It turned into a beautiful thing. The Ruiz family is great to work for.
Q: When are you there?
A: Fridays and Saturdays at Hamilton Place and Wednesdays at El Meson in Hixson.
Q: You do a little bit of everything in your shows, right?
A: I do get way on out there sometimes.
Q: I noticed you have a Facebook fan page. Do you have a lot of regulars who come to hear you play?
A: I have loyal regulars, or friends, who come every weekend. I try to get there early and leave late. The common thread is a love of music.
Q: Are there any songs you can’t or won’t do?
A: I was looking for a hip-hop song and most have foul language, but then I saw that they used a Sir Mix A Lot song [“Baby Got Back”] in a kids movie, so I added it. I do “Disco Inferno” to “I Walk the Line” and everything in between.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory or moment from your time at El Meson?
A: Yes. I walked in on a Friday and noticed the place was especially crowded. All my friends were there. I did about 45 minutes, and then this big banner came down. It was signed by all my friends. It was for my 10-year anniversary at El Meson. It was real nice and gave me a real warm feeling.
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 ...