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Not only is punk alive and well in Chattanooga, a punk fest is about to stomp its way through a couple of downtown venues.
Sheena may have been a punk punk, a punk rocker in 1977, but now it's her kids' and grandkids' turn.
Hell, maybe old Sheena’s still rockin’ too.
In days of old, when Joe Strummer was still known to some as John Mellor, punk bands were just another unspeakable aspect of Chattanooga’s nightlife. Now, we beg them to come in their leather-studded, blue-jeans-clad masses, thanks in part to venues like JJ’s and Sluggo’s.
But there’s another entity to thank for our city’s musical gentrification: a Gollum-like creature lurking deep in Chattanooga’s Underground, in the forgotten tunnels buried beneath our downtown streets. OK, not really—but that would be kind of cool.
The “creature” in question is Do Ya Hear We? records. DYHW got its start seven years ago when a group of friends from a small-but-strong corner of Chattanooga’s underground music community came together to release the music of a mutual friend who had passed away. Seven records later, this vinyl-only label continues to expand (why do albums always sound better on vinyl, anyways?).
And, as if being a vinyl-only record label in 2013 isn’t interesting enough, there’s moooore! Do Ya Hear We? actually got their official start as a music festival.
Yes, my friends, you read that correctly: Chattanooga, Tennessee, affectionately referred to by as some the Buckle of the Bible Belt, has its own punk rock festival and has for years. And by “festival,” I don’t mean a bunch of musicians coming together to jam and drink Southpaw Light in someone’s basement (which is also an admirable past time, so there might be some of that, too). This is a real festival, with planning, organization, and a schedule.
Do Ya Hear We? Punk Fest 2013, like every other year in the festival’s seven-year history, will include nearly 40 bands, about half of which are from Chattanooga. The visiting lineup features bands from North Carolina (Kreamy ‘Lectric Santa and Ancient Whales), Minnesota (Serenghetto and Hard Feelings), New York (Shellshag and Magnets), Missouri (Nature Boys and Rat’sRest), Massachusetts (Peeple Watching), Indiana (Shut Up), Georgia (Wade Boggs), Alabama (Thunder Krotch), Florida (Scum of the Earth, Rivernecks, and The Scavuzzo’s) and Louisiana (Violent Sects). So, how does the daunting task of assembling the lineup of visiting bands each year get accomplished? Tucker McGuinness, one of the festival’s organizers, says, “These bands are all extensions of our scene here and are doing similar things in their hometowns.” Local bands on the schedule include the Future Virgins, the Bohannons, Possible Side Effects, Big Kitty and Beard Wolf.
Marty Bohannon, guitarist and vocalist for The Bohannons, says they’re “stoked” to be playing DYHW. “It’s our favorite local music festival. We got turned on to so many great bands through Do Ya Hear We? like Dead Dog, Witches, Shellshag, and Landlord.”
In its first year, Do Ya Hear We? Punk Fest was nothing more than a handful of friends asking musicians and acquaintances they knew from around the country to travel to Chattanooga to hang out and listen to music for a couple of days. Though it has grown in size since then, the idea behind it remains the same. “We want to get together our friends from around the country and have a good time in Chattanooga,” McGuinness said. “We want to show everyone what our small city has to offer: our bands, our venues, record labels, restaurants.”
According to him, many have described the event as being more like a family reunion or gathering than a festival. There are no tickets, no VIP passes. For $6 a show, you get six-to-ten hours of music from ten-to-12 different bands. That kind of talent for that kind of price is more intense than Sid’s love for Nancy. In addition to just generally being awesome, Do Ya Hear We? Punk Fest 2013 will also mark the release of the record label’s eighth record: a full-length, 15-song LP called “Walk the Floors” by local band Dark Rides.