January 23, 2014

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How Track 29 made a difference 

It has been more than 20 years since I first came to Chattanooga, and a great deal has changed since then, and for the better as far as I’m concerned. The most stunning thing I recall about the local music scene in 1992 is that there wasn’t one. Now the town is bursting at the seams with talent and sharp, well-run smaller venues where they can showcase their talent. It has been a great pleasure to watch that unfold over the years but always there was this nagging question, “Why do we so rarely see big name national acts?”  Chattanooga is, after all, a geographical anomaly; it’s two hours from everywhere. Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Huntsville, Murphy and, a little further up the road, Asheville. 

It’s almost impossible for a national touring act to play in the Southeast without at least passing close by Chattanooga and for years that’s what they did. They passed us by. In 2010, when Adam and Monica Kinsey were attending Bonnaroo (an hour up the road), they asked themselves the same question and decided that perhaps it was time to do something about it.

The couple’s business backgrounds and deep and abiding passion for music proved to be a winning combination. They set about doing their homework, traveling across the country to study the most popular venues in cities with a reputation for music. Austin, Seattle, Portland and of course, all of the major metropolitan areas of the Southeast were on their itinerary. Coming home with a wealth of ideas, they scouted more than a dozen locations before settling on the one that seemed to have the best combination of elements. From there it was a matter of careful planning, prudent investment and hard work. The result is an entertainment venue on par with the best in the country and the impact that has had on our community is major.  

Ben Jumper is a Chattanooga native who now resides in Nashville. Ben is President and CEO of Soundcheck Nashville, one of the largest full-production rehearsal facilities in the world.  Ben has been a prominent player in the music industry since the early seventies, so I contacted him for his take on these Scenic City entrepreneurs.  

“Monica and Adam have done an amazing job with Track 29. Their fresh ideas and amazing events are changing the entertainment climate in Chattanooga. They’ve gained a reputation in the industry for really taking care of their talent. The people who have played there were impressed enough not only to comment on it, but have made the point that the venue and the city is a place they look forward to playing again. They’re essentially changing the market by offering consistent entertainment, which is the key to profitability.”

Strong praise from a man who knows the business. But the couple is adamant that Chattanooga’s smaller venues play just as important a role in bringing the Scenic City recognition as a music city. Adam offers this insight:

“There are some terrific artists who might not be at a point where they’ll fill a thousand-person hall, and it would be cost prohibitive for us to bring them in, but if they’re going to draw a few hundred people then we have Rhythm & Brews. If they’re going to draw a hundred, we have JJ’s. Sluggo’s is doing great work providing a venue for new, up and coming local talent. It really takes the collective effort of all the venues. By building the scene from the ground up, we pave the way to bring in even bigger acts to fill Mckenzie Arena and beyond.”

January 23, 2014

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