Chattanooga’s Music Scene is in Full Bloom
by Sean Phipps
There is no better time to be a music fan in Chattanooga than right now in 2023. Music is everywhere. The city is a teeming valley of melodies as diverse as the people who call it home. And for the lucky visitor, it means there are countless opportunities to experience a variety of genres, local and national talent around almost every corner.
This spring and summer, Sidewalk Stages will continue to provide local musicians with the opportunity to “busk” throughout the city’s popular locations. Be sure to stop by, listen, and throw a few dollars into the hat.
New and Reimagined Music Venues
New venues are bringing national acts to Chattanooga and providing space for local bands to thrive. Barrelhouse Ballroom (1501 Long St.) has opened in the former Market South food hall. It’s that perfect blank slate of a mid-size venue for energetic dance parties, cover bands, national bands and local performers on the way up.
The Signal will be moving to a new location in 2023 becoming a part of the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex in the former Centennial Theater. The addition of The Signal and a brand-new event space will add to the already music-filled complex with Songbirds, Gate 11, and Comedy Catch. And if dancing is your thing, newer places like The Blue Light and Boneyard join the growing list of “ways to have fun” on Station Street.
The historic Tivoli Theater is getting a facelift in 2023, but while it’s closed for a bit a full schedule of concerts, musical theater, comedy, and family-themed tours will be rolling through the Walker Theater and Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium. The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will have shows at a variety of places in 2023, including Memorial Auditorium.
Breweries are not only great spots to gather and enjoy life (and beer), but they’ve also become go-to music venues. Wanderlinger (1208 King St.) has one of the best stages in Chattanooga for smaller performances. And you can often find live music — especially on Fridays — at Odd Story’s new, expanded brewery (1604 Central Ave.).
Chattanooga is a place for musical discoveries. Some of the best venues are hidden gems tucked away down an unassuming street or off the beaten path. Barking Legs Theater (1307 Dodds Ave.) is one of those places you just must soak in. From virtuosic acoustic, bluegrass in an intimate setting to some of the most avant-garde and challenging dance performances you’ll ever see, Barking Legs has been a Chattanooga tradition for almost 30 years. A newer gem is Cherry Street Tavern (719 Cherry St.) that offers live music, great food and, honestly, just a good time.
Other hidden gems to check out: JJ’s Bohemia (231 E. M.L. King Blvd.), the new Creative Community Hub at RISE Chattanooga (2901 Taylor St.), The Woodshop (5500 St. Elmo Ave.), The Seed Theatre (6237 Vance Rd.), Exile Off Main Street (1634 Rossville Ave.), and Lo Main (2315 E. Main St.).
If you’re looking for a little jazz or soul music to unwind to after a hard day, check out the frequent concerts at downtown’s Six18 Restaurant and Lounge (618 Georgia Ave.) or Ooltewah’s Davis Wayne’s in Cambridge Square (9454 Bradmore Lane). The weekends are perfect for outdoor lounging, too. Feed Table (201 W. Main St.) and 1885 Grill (3914 St. Elmo Ave.) are hopping during the hotter months. And you can’t forget about Puckett’s Chattanooga (2 W. Aquarium Way) which offers southern-style food and a great assortment of live music.
Finally, spring and summer are all about the outdoors. Scenic spots like the Chattanooga Theatre Centre lawn (400 River St.), Cooper’s Alley (10 E. 7th Street), Ross’s Landing and the Chattanooga Riverfront, and Miller Park/Plaza are always hopping with music on the weekends. You’ll also find live music weekly during the Chattanooga Market at the First Horizon Pavilion.
In Chattanooga, it’s easy to just follow your ears. New discoveries are just around the corner, and you can bet the locals will be there with you every step of the way.
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