The Chattanooga area has for years been home to a long and varied set list of talented musicians. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions were born and still live here, for example. Grammy Award winners Norman and Nancy Blake call Rising Fawn, Ga., home.
Whether you need someone to perform at a wedding or special event or you are looking for an act to entertain you with original rock, bluegrass, blues, folk, hip-hop or pop songs, we have those, too.
This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the most popular acts performing regularly in and around Chattanooga.
* Cody McCarver: Since embarking on his solo career, the singer/songwriter has released a couple of CDs, including his latest, “I Just Might Live Forever.” He’s also active in several charities and has a budding acting career going, having starred in “Cole Younger & The Black Train.”
* Confederate Railroad: These Southern all-stars, led by lead singer Danny Shirley, achieved massive success in the ’90s when they signed to Atlantic Records. Their self-titled debut went double platinum thanks to a string of hits including “Queen of Memphis,” “Trashy Women” and “Jesus and Mama.”
* Roger Alan Wade: Known locally by his initials, RAW, Wade is a songwriter’s songwriter with credits on hits by legends such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr. His wry wit has yielded songs such as “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Better Be Tough,” but in recent years, albums such as “Deguello Motel” and “Southbound Train” feature songs that have a more personal and introspective bent.
* The Dismembered Tennesseans: Local legends, this bluegrass group, led by fiddler Fletcher Bright, has been picking and grinning for more than six decades. Bright and his adult children are celebrated by many for their stewardship of acoustic music, especially as the founders and sole patrons of the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival.
* Slim Pickins: This quintet of bluegrass young guns has been blowing up the local scene, with appearances at venues all around town, including at Riverbend and as part of the Nightfall summer concert series. The group features fiery fiddler John Boulware, who was Tennessee State Fiddle Champion in 2006.
* King Diggy: Diggy is a rapper and hip-hop producer who has released two CDs of original music. He also put together a compilation CD called “Support Ya Own: The 423 Edition.”
* Natural Habitz: The group performs and records old-school hip-hop. Featuring Meda, Kunstruct, Doughboi and Dice Roll ’em, they take the positive message of the music and lifestyle seriously.
* The Unsatisfied: These veterans have been playing hard-core rock/punk with a vibrant live show for two decades. Their latest CD is “Songs the Belt Taught Us.”
* Downstream: This five-piece rock band has played hundreds of shows around the Southeast, bringing a sharp-edged blend of ballads and anthems to stages alongside national acts such as Shinedown and Neurosonic.
* The Ben Friberg Trio: Named for its lead guitarist and bandleader, this trio is a regular fixture around town at public venues and private events and is well-known for its devotion to note-perfect renditions of classical jazz works. Friberg is joined onstage by bassist Dave Schwab and drummer Matt Turnure along with occasional out-of-town guests.
* Monday Nite Big Band: Formed in 1968 by saxophonist Ed Laymon and pianist Paul Lohorn, this swing jazz orchestra features a rotating cast of up to 20 members, who perform both original compositions as well as classical works by artists such as Glenn Miller and Count Basie. As the name suggests, the Big Band takes the stage every Monday evening at The Palms at Hamilton, 6925 Shallowford Road.
* Milele Roots: Since 1998, this has been arguably the city’s best-known reggae band. Dreadlocked bassist Christian Craan, originally of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, fronts a rotating cast of diverse world and dub musicians whose name is derived from the Swahili word for “eternal.”
* Ogya: This world music ensemble, which often features dancers as well as a bevy of musicians, was born at the Riverbend Festival in 2006. As bandleader, West African drummer and vocalist Kofi Mawuko has guided the group through performances of traditional and contemporary African music, reggae, soca, Latin, jazz and more on stages throughout the Southeast.
* The Bohannons: Led by Matt and Marty Bohannon, the group plays straight-ahead guitar-driven rock ’n’ roll, which can be heard on its last CD, “Unaka Rising.”
* Lumbar Five: The band itself has been together a decade, playing original rock songs, but each member — John Rawlston, Jo Whitaker, Nick Honerkamp, Kathy Veazey and Kofi Mawuko — has been playing around town for years.
* The Pool: Nick Honerkamp is also in this party-band favorite, along with local veterans Michael Welch, Dave Cornwell and Monte Coulter.
* Glowing Bordis: This three-piece indie rock band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist TJ Greever, drummer Jonathan Susman and bassist Dan “Danimal” Pinson. The band was born from the ashes of local rock favorites Up With the Joneses in 2010 and forms the core of popular tribute collective The Communicators, who regularly perform note-for-note renditions of classic rock albums.
* Moonlight Bride: An indie post-punk/alternative artist known for a trademark “haunted pop” sound, Moonlight Bride exploded onto the scene in the mid-2000s. Its 2009 release, “Myths,” was a critical darling, earning the band national attention from outlets such as Paste Magazine and Nerve.com.
* The New Binkley Brothers: Named for a local family band that was hugely popular in the Southeast in the early 20th century, this local trio is as traditional as it gets. Matt Downer, Daniel Binkley and Clark Williams swap around banjos, fiddles and guitars like they’re too hot to handle as they play old-time standards and sing with gusto in high, lonesome whines punctuated by hooting and hollering.
* Woodford Sessions: A relative newcomer to the local scene, this alternative songwriting duo is the brainchild of Glowing Bordis bassist Dan Pinson and Texas transplant Michael Gallaway. Both men share lyrical duties and have become frequent performers on local stages, singing roots music with hushed, unadorned harmonies immediately familiar to fans of artists such as Iron & Wine and Fleet Foxes.
* Drew Sterchi: After years of playing the blues with his brother, David, in The Sterchi Brothers, Drew recorded his first solo CD, “Left With the Blues.” It’s a collection of songs he’s written and saved over the last 40 years.
* Jennifer Daniels: After taking a few years off to raise their twins, Daniels and husband Jeff Neal are back on the performing circuit.
* Husky Burnette: With his bourbon-soaked vocal chords, a mean slide and a foot that hits the floorboards like it was pneumatically powered, Burnette is one of the most fiery, intense bluesmen in the city. A former lead guitarist for Roger Alan Wade, he shares the stage with his drummer, Tony Jones.
* Mark “Porkchop” Holder: With his amplifier resting at his feet and his fingers tracing intricate patterns across the strings of his steel guitar, Holder is an enthusiastic presence. Whether by himself or accompanied by a drummer, his vocals have a powerful bite, commanding attention as he sings a rousing mix of original material and covers of artists such as Otis Rush.
* WTM Blues Band: A few years ago, lifelong blues student and vocalist Thorpe McKenzie assembled a top-notch band of session musicians to help him bring blues classics by artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker to the masses. In 2011, WTM Blues Band was the first winner of McKay’s Road to Nightfall battle of the bands, earning the group a headlining slot for the summer concert series.
* The Power Players Show Band: The Power Players spent years playing rock, blues and funk in Detroit before moving to Chattanooga three years ago. Frontman/vocalist Larry Fontaine and company have used the Scenic City as a touring base, reaching out to large nearby cities such as Nashville and Atlanta.
* The Malemen Showband: “Just put a stamp on it, we’ll deliver” is the band’s motto. These veterans have been around for almost two decades and can fill up a dance floor in a hurry.
* Love, Peace & Happiness: The core group is a six-piece outfit, but they can add or subtract members depending on the event or type of music that is asked for.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354. Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205.
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 ...
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...