published Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Get Off The Couch: Theater, big trucks roar into town

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LISA DENTON: Barry, I don’t know if everybody has cabin fever or they’re getting an early start on Valentine’s Day, but there’s a bunch of stuff happening this week.

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center has already sold out its 30th anniversary luncheon on Tuesday. It features Judy Smith, the woman who inspired the Olivia Pope character on “Scandal.” I’m trying to decide what a television show about your life would be called.

BARRY COURTER: Well, it is more likely to be called something banal like “What Will I Have for Lunch Today?” than anything as interesting as “Scandal.” Actually, “Banal” would be a good title.

LISA: I’m toggling between “So What?” and “Big Whoop” for mine. I’m pretty sure neither of those are taken.

BARRY: I’ve gotten into the “Scandal” series and would like to hear Judy Smith talk about her life and how it is used as the basis for the show. It’s some pretty scandalous stuff.

LISA: Yes, she has quite the resumé, working through scandals involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, White House intern Monica Lewinsky, actor Wesley Snipes and NFL quarterback Michael Vick. That’s a head-spinning portfolio. Her talk alone should be interesting, but three local civil-rights trailblazers also will be honored: Ruth Holmberg, Rayburn Traughber and Edna Varner. A big day.

Also Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium is a new Tyler Perry stage play. I could tell you it’s called “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned,” but the real selling point is the name Tyler Perry.

BARRY: You know I like Tyler Perry, as predictable and formulaic as his stuff is. Even “Saturday Night Live” did a spoof of his movies called “White Christmas.” Anyway, the reason he’s been so successful is that much of what he writes is based in truth. Like that title.

LISA: It’s good that you recognize the truth in that title.

And Scenic City Roots is back again Thursday at Track 29. This month’s guests are 9th Street Stompers, Angel Snow, Sam Lewis and The Kenny Vaughan Trio. On his website, Vaughan says he got his first electric guitar when he was 12 and the first thing he played was “Folsom Prison Blues.” I like him already.

BARRY: That’s heady stuff for a 12-year-old.

LISA: And the 9th Street Stompers are a group of local musicians who do red-hot swing and blues: Skip Frontz Jr., Lon Eldridge, Christie Burns, Bryan Gross, Dalton Chapman and John Boulware. I can vouch for at least three of the group being great musicians, and I look forward to hearing the others.

BARRY: There are two daddy-daughter dances this week as well. Both are Friday, and both are fundraisers for parks and recreation departments. One is at the Chattanooga Convention Center, and the second is in Athens, Tenn. If dancing isn’t your daughter’s thing, the monster trucks return to McKenzie Arena this weekend also.

LISA: Ha. Now, that would be a real daddy’s girl. I’m not a big fan of the noise, but I love the names of the trucks and the paint jobs. This year’s Jam features El Toro Loco, which is fitted with bull horns, and Dalmatian Monster Mutt, which is white with black spots. And we’ll have an interview in Thursday’s ChattanoogaNow with the Full Boar driver, Ed Eckert, who lives in Maryville, Tenn.

BARRY: That “noise” is the call of the wild for some.

LISA: Speaking of wild, Chattanooga Zoo will unveil its new prairie dog exhibit Friday morning. The zoo partnered with students and faculty from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on the renovations, which include new eye-level viewing tunnels. I wonder if we could get them to do the same for our work cubicles. The newsroom looks like a prairie dog colony when reporters are in conversation. There’s a lot of popping up and down, like a giant game of Whac-A-Mole.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281. Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 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 ...

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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