The Bessie Smith Strut is back to being among the living, after the premature announcement of its death just a few weeks ago. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center and other leaders have stepped up to the plate and taken all of the necessary steps to insure that the Strut will go on as planned this year. Basically, the Strut will be the same, except that it will be a tad different. It will feature the same great music, provided as always by the Riverbend Festival folks. It will feature the same great food, beer and f as before. What will be different is that there will be a $5 entry fee for those that buy a ticket in advance, and a $10 fee for those that buy at the gate. If you wear your Riverbend pin, there will be no additional charge. The entire site will be fenced in, with three entry points for admission.
While this won’t please everyone, a whole lot of people came together to make this happen after Mayor Littlefield ordered that the Strut not be allowed to continue as in the past. Unfortunately, Riverbend took a lot of the heat on this move, although they were caught off guard, as well. All Riverbend ever provided to the city was the staging, lights, and music. That is what they will continue to offer. They turned down the Mayor’s offer to move it to the Riverfront. The Friends of the Festival folks worked with the local business leaders from day one to keep the Strut on MLK Blvd.
That was the good news - now for the bad news. Melvin “Fats” Hardy passed away on April 16. Melvin was one of Chattanooga’s most beloved musicians, playing for many years with the Skin Deep Band. This Sunday, at the new Meo Mio’s Cajun Restaurant (Formerly Patrick’s on Cummings Highway in Lookout Valley), there will be a fundraiser to help with Melvin’s burial expenses. The event will run from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. and will feature great music and food. Come on out and pay tribute to a wonderful man and entertainer.
Our fifth installment of Chattanooga’s Guitar Masters Series has Michael Andrews from the Power Players Show Band as out featured artist. Mike is a Michigan transplant and has come to love Chattanooga. Chattanooga has come to love Mike, as well. His band has performed in almost every local venue and in Nashville at BB King’s place. His Riverbend 2011 show had thousands in attendance. He is one of those guitarists that can make it really look easy. He can play almost any song and can learn a new one quicker than a Yankee can say soda or pop, instead of the proper name - Coke. Welcome to the club, Mike –you are in good company.
Some special events are occurring this week, with a benefit for Children’s Hospital tonight (Thursday) at Rhythm & Brews, featuring country star Craig Morgan and rising star Robby Hopkins. Tickets will be available tonight at the door, beginning around 6:30 p.m.
The Chattanooga River Market will be in full swing on the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza this Saturday, 4/28, 10 a.m. -9 p.m. (extended hours). This weekend’s festivities will coincide with the Tennessee Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary celebration and include the first night-time street market by Chattanooga Market. Over 40 artisans hand-making local products will be at River Market and more will be added in the 5-9 p.m. hours with additional live music & street entertainment.
We will also host Lupi's Pizza, Lockhart's BBQ, Monkey Town Donuts and kettle corn. Come all day or enjoy a cool evening of music. The schedule of entertainment includes:
12:30 Monday Night Big Band; 3:00 Chattanooga Symphony & Opera String Quartet; 4:00 Mawre & Co. Traditional African Dance and Drum;
5:00 Drum Circle (everyone bring an instrument and your dancing shoes);
6:00 KidsPlay (drums, bells, shakers, tambourines); 7:00 “Party by the Peaks” with special performance by Ogya World Music Band
Join us for the after-hours party inside the Aquarium from 9:00 pm until 11:00 pm. This ticketed event will support the Aquarium’s conservation and education initiatives. More information about the Tennessee Aquarium’s special 20th Anniversary plans can be found at tnaqua.org.
For more fun, local music info, try http://chattanooganightscope.com, or http://www.chattanoogaentertainers.com. They both have great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site at http://chattacountry.ning.com .
Email Bob Payne at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/davrik2000