published Monday, April 30th, 2012

Off the Couch: Bela, jazz, bluegrass vying for attention

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, this looks like a really good week for music, especially if you are partial to traditional music. Mike and Astrid Griffin will present their final Chattanooga Traditional Jazz Festival at the Choo Choo, and the Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival is this weekend at Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground. Also, Bela Fleck will join the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera with his fabulous banjo playing on Thursday and Friday at the Tivoli Theatre.

LISA DENTON: Plus, we still have a spate of spring festivals. We got cornbread and ramps out of the way this past weekend, but we still have strawberries, dogwoods and outsider art to celebrate in the next couple of weeks, as well as a new Rockabilly Festival at Hales Bar Marina on Saturday.

They'll have several bands, including Young Elvis & The Blue Suedes, which I'm told is the only show that has been endorsed by Elvis Presley's stepbrothers.

I'm not exactly sure what other entertainment there will be, but I was invited to take part in the mud wrestling. Jell-O might have enticed me, and chocolate pudding would have worked for sure, but I passed on the mud.

BARRY: I'm a little surprised a renowned mudslinger like you would pass on the opportunity to mix it up in the pit. I'd pay a buck or two to watch you go all Soddy on somebody.

LISA: Maybe I'm getting prissy in my old age, but I think it's more about seeing the value of multitasking. Why just wrestle when you can wrestle and eat. Think of me as a cross between Jethro and Elly May.

BARRY: This is a good time to get off the couch and go do something, whether you like eating, music, shopping, people-watching or whatever. Most of these events offer all of those things.

The Boxcar festival has about a dozen national and local acts including Bobby Osborne and The Dismembered Tennesseans.

The Griffins started the jazz festival years ago as a way to generate startup money for the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, and people travel from around the country to enjoy the sounds of New Orleans-style jazz.

LISA: Don't forget, too, that Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, and locally that has come to mean the Running of the Chihuahuas. Interest increases every year -- enough to jump from 96 to 128 racing slots for this fifth annual outing.

The fun starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Tennessee Pavilion. Chattanooga Market will continue the Latin-flavored celebration on Sunday with Hair of the Chihuahua, the day-after party.

BARRY: There will not be any dogs at the market, but organizers wanted to keep the Cinco de Mayo fun going.

Like I said, there is plenty to do this week.

LISA: Si, senor.

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 ...

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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