published Monday, April 15th, 2013

Nightfall announces its 25th series lineup

Lake Street Dive is set to perform June 28 during this year's Nightfall concert series.
Lake Street Dive is set to perform June 28 during this year's Nightfall concert series.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Schedule

May 3 Lee Fields & the Expressions with Drew Sterchi

May 10 Oliver Mtzukudzi & the Black Spirits with Ogya

May 17 Cody ChesnuTT with Summer Dregs

May 24 Kansas Bible Company with Nim Nims

May 31 Brothers Comatose with Woodford Sessions

June 7 Elizabeth Cook with Dismembered Tennesseans

June 14 Walter “Wolfman” Washington with Deacon Bluz Band

June 21 Amber Fults & the Ambivalent Lovers (Road to Nightfall winner) with Dana Rogers

June 28 Lake Street Dive with Ten Bartram

July 5 Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes with Lumbar Five

July 12 Wheeler Brothers with Birds w Fleas

July 19 Special Guest with Smooth Dialects

July 26 Swear and Shake with Jordan Hallquist

Aug. 2 The Cleverlys with Lou Wamp & Swing Shift

Aug. 9 Aaron and the Spell with Function

Aug. 16 Holly Williams with Cody James Harris

Aug. 23 Leagues (UTC night) with Moonlight Bride

Aug. 30 Screaming Orphans with Rigoletto

It's hard today to imagine summers in downtown Chattanooga without a free Friday night concert at Miller Plaza, but it wasn't always so.

Twenty-five years ago, planners were looking for a way to show off the beautiful new stage at Miller Plaza and to bring people downtown to shop and dine. Miller Plaza is owned and managed by the River City Co., downtown's economic development company.

From 1988 to 1990, River City presented three or four free shows at Miller Plaza to test the waters. In 1991, the full series was created, and Carla Pritchard came on board as part of the Chattanooga Downtown Partnership.

In 2010, River City wanted out of the events business and parted ways with the partnership, so Pritchard started Chattanooga Presents and has continued to program Nightfall.

River City President and CEO Kim White says downtown Chattanooga owes a lot to Nightfall.

"I don't think people give Nightfall enough credit for what it did," she says. "Bringing people to downtown when there really wasn't much of a reason to come."'

Now, as part of its 25-year celebration, Nightfall will have more dates than ever before, starting at its earliest date, May 3, and running through Aug. 30. And, for the first time, it will also continue during the nine-day run of Riverbend in June, which Pritchard says is a reflection of how far the city has come in terms of supporting multiple events.

"We've communicated with Riverbend and the city and everyone is on board," she says. "We are not trying to be a pioneer in the revitalization effort now, but we are a part of everything else that is happening downtown. We have grown as a city, and our identity as a music city has grown."

The idea behind the original Nightfall Concert Series was the same as it is today, according to Pritchard who, with the help of a selection committee, has been programming the music since '91. The goal has always been to introduce people to new music while also getting people downtown in the hopes that they will shop or eat before or after the concerts in the area.

Shopping and dining choices were not as numerous in 1988 as they are today, and Dave Santucci, vice president of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, gives Nightfall some credit for the change.

"It animates downtown on Friday nights. People come early, catch the show and enjoy one of the new restaurants," he says. "The efforts that they started 25 years ago are paying off."

He says with the addition of Riverfront Nights at Ross's Landing on Saturday nights and the Chattanooga Market on Sundays at First Tennessee Pavilion, visitors can find good, free music all weekend. "That is the reputation we want," Santucci says.

Because the concerts are free, Pritchard says, she has been free to look for acts that are good but might not have massive name recognition. This year's lineup is representative of that.

White echoed what many have said over the years about the lineup. "Most of the time I've never heard of the act, but I know they will be good, and the next year they win some big award or headline some festival," she says. "Carla has a good ear for music."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree press.com or at 423-757-6354.

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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