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All music types thrive on city stages
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Sunday, March 27, 2011    |   

From dozens of karaoke venues and steamy nightclub jazz spots to underground indie and alt-rock clubs, there’s seemingly a venue for every musical genre in Chattanooga.

Thanks to a thriving regional folk and bluegrass music scene, many clubs and theaters regularly host nationally renowned acoustic artists. There is also a thriving local singer/songwriter scene as well, courtesy of numerous weekly open mike events around the city.

Here are a few of the venues that provide showcases for Chattanooga’s music scene.

* Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St. — This is one of Chattanooga’s main showcases for live music. Manager Mike Dougher pulls from local, regional and national talent pools to fill his calendar. Last year, the venue hosted a number of area up-and-comers such as Slim Pickin’s and The Distribution, as well as nationally known artists and a slew of cover bands. Rhythm & Brews adjoins Big River Grille & Brewing Works, which provides the microbrew beers from which the venue derives its name.

* Chattanooga Billiard Club, 725 1⁄2 Cherry St. — This is the downtown location of the CBC (the other is off Shallowford Road near Interstate 75). With its numerous billiards tables and dartboards in the club above and an Avo Cigar Lounge below, the CBC offers a host of activities to complement its food and drink offerings. The club also hosts an occasional stand-up comedy routine. Because CBC is open until 3 a.m., it’s often packed long after other clubs have shut down.

* Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave. — From David Grier and Norman Blake to The John Cowan Band and Michael Cleveland, this is the place to be for acoustic bluegrass, folk and singer/songwriter acts in Chattanooga. Thanks to a booming independent producers’ series, this is also among the only sit-down venues in town to see high-profile old-time and Irish musicians as well. Despite being able to squeeze in just more than 175 people, a show at the part-time venue/part-time dance studio has the intimate feel of a house concert.

* The Electric Cowboy, 5600 Brainerd Road #A4. — Whether you’re eager for a ride on a mechanical bovine or just a few hours of shaking it on the dance floor to artists ranging from Alan Jackson to Flo Rida, there are few places as happening as the Electric Cowboy. In keeping with one of Chattanooga’s most popular pastimes, the Electric Cowboy also has karaoke performances on the weekend, and a weekly contest Thursdays.

* Raw Sushi Bar and Nightclub, 409 Market St. — From tuna rolls in the chic, narrow confines of its downstairs eatery to a DJ-fueled dance party upstairs, Raw has the night covered from dusk to dawn. The venue features a weekly slate of entertainment ranging from karaoke to singer/songwriters and regional bands brought in by owner Jim Striker, a veteran booker with a long history on Chattanooga’s music scene.

* JJ’s Bohemia, 231 M.L. King Blvd. — When regional bands first hit the Scenic City, their debut performance is often at this cozy casa. Bohemia owners John Shoemaker and Jeni Brown have established themselves as savvy bookers with an ear for great regional talent in genres ranging from alt-rock and indie to roots Americana and blues. In the last year, acts that have taken the stage at the recently refurbished venue include Monotonix, “School House Rocks!” songwriter Bob Dorough and former Beck roommate Paleface. Just don’t expect liquor; this place is suds-only.

* Hair of the Dog Pub, 334 Market St. — This new venue in the Market Street entertainment strip is a narrow, two-story pub in the style of Merry Olde England. Whether it’s beer-battered fish ’n’ chips, Guinness chili or fried pickles, there are plenty of options on the menu to fuel up for a night on the town. A hand-operated dumbwaiter ferries pints and cans to a top floor packed with pool tables and dartboards.

* Comedy Catch, 3224 Brainerd Road — Chattanooga’s only full-time comedy club hosts comedians in four-night (sometimes three-night) stretches. Fridays and Saturdays host two shows a night. Thursday and Sunday nights are single performances. The club, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, is now a nonsmoking venue, so visitors can enjoy clean-air shows any time. Notable acts to appear on the Comedy Catch stage include Tim Wilson, Pauly Shore, Ron White and a finalists and winners from numerous seasons of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”

* Honest Pint, 35 Patten Parkway — The newest music venue/eatery to hit the Scenic City opened last December as an Irish pub. In addition to a wide range of beers on tap, the menu features an upscale take on pub fare standards like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. The venue, which was born out of the highly renovated ashes of Parkway Billiards Club, is also focusing on serving tunes with its food, offering bi-weekly midweek concerts in addition to bringing in the occasional bigger name act on the weekends.

* Market Street Tavern, 850 Market St. — As the name implies, one of Chattanooga’s newer food/music venues is on Market Street. The tavern is in the Miller Plaza complex, home of the Nightfall summer concert series and the Waterhouse Pavilion. The tavern usually offers late-night performances by local and regional bands (generally without a cover charge) as a natural musical segue from that week’s Nightfall headliner. Monday nights are a chance for old-time musicians to hobnob at a weekly jam session, and returning jazz and bluegrass acts fill the weeknight show calendar.

* Terminal Brewhouse, 6 E. 14th St. — This narrow, three-story brewery stands adjacent to the iconic Chattanooga Choo-Choo hotel and has quickly established itself as a hip up-and-comer at the leading edge of the recently reinvigorated Main Street neighborhood. Although the Brewhouse doesn’t host live entertainment, it does offer six microbrew beers — one of which is seasonal — pub-style food and a chic, modern atmosphere.