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When I moved to Chattanooga from Atlanta back in 1996, this was a very different city.
I remember going downtown with my wife to eat at 212 Market on a Friday night and being struck by how quiet it was. We even noticed a group of UTC students riding their skateboards down 4th Street across Market and Broad without any worries about cross traffic.
Back then, it wasn’t uncommon (or invalid) to hear someone say, “There’s nothing to do in the town.” Indeed, while there were a few clubs and some nice restaurants, downtown was pretty empty, the Southside was a ghosttown, and the Northshore was anchored by a seemingly shuttered Naval Reserve base along the river.
My, how times have changed.
These days, those skateboarders would be made into not-so-attractive hood ornaments all too quickly, and it takes almost as long to decide upon which of the dozens of great restaurants to have dinner at as it does to find a parking space. The Southside is booming and Coolidge Park is the understated gem of the waterfront revilization.
And yet, I still hear people say (or more commonly nowadays, post on Facebook) that there’s nothing to do in this town.
Hogwash. Pure and simple hogwash.
No, I am not normally the type of person who says things like “hogwash”, but if I wrote what I really say to those people, we’d have to place a Parental Advisory sticker on the cover of this issue.
But hogwash it is. When I hear (or read) someone make that complaint, I want to take a folded up copy of The Pulse and smack them upside the head with it. Then open it up and point out the very full music and arts & entertainment calendars within these pages.
Aside from the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, which we cover in full detail in our cover story this week, this is what I would consider a fairly normal weekend in Chattanooga. Yet looking through the calendars, I find it nearly impossible to decide on which of the many interesting things I would like to do. Mainly because I don’t have a Harry Potter time-turner that would allow me to be in more than one place at one time.
Musically, we run the gamut this weekend. Just covering my own personal tastes, which admittedly are a bit on the eclectic side, I’ve highlighted Smooth Dialects at Rhythm & Brews on Friday, the big bluegrass gathering at Thunder Creek Harley-Davidson on Saturday (featuring Fox Mountain Express, Hamilton County Ramblers, Third Degree Bluegrass, Bent Creek and my longtime favorites, The Dismembered Tennesseans), Ryan Oyer over at the River Market in front of the Aquarium, any number of local bands performing at 4 Bridges all weekend, Glowing Bordis at JJ’s Bohemia Saturday night, and Sunday getting up early for The Lazenby Family over at Crabtree Farms.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Speaking of icebergs, flipping over to the arts & entertainment calendar, the first thing I notice is “Titanic: The Musical” is at the Tivoli this weekend. I still can’t believe they turned one of the greatest maritime tragedies in history into a musical, but I’ve been told it’s actually quite good.
That said, if you’re in a mood for theater, there are couple of local performances that are intriguing as well: “The Glass Menagerie” at the St. Elmo Fire Hall, and “Pump Boys & Dinettes” at the Theatre Centre.
There’s also the Habitat for Humanity “Raise The Roof” fundraiser gala at the Chattanoogan on Friday (disclosure: I’ve been a longtime supporter of this fine organization, even though my hammering skills were long ago judged to be lacking), and the always fun Camp Chair Cinema at Center Park on Friday. Crabtree Farms is hosting their 14th Annual Spring Plant Sale and Festival all weekend, and the Volkswagen faithful from all over the Southeast are descending upon Camp Jordan for Bug-A-Paluza 16.
All in all, there are literally dozens upon dozens (upon dozens) of different “things to do in this town”. On a typical weekend. In which I didn’t even mention all the restaurants and nightclubs, the movie theaters, the parks, the shopping, the galleries, or places like the Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum, etc., etc.
And that’s no hogwash.