It’s Standing Room Only a/k/a SRO Band At Sugar’s Downtown

Friday, January 10, 2014 - by Mark Herndon

The Chattanooga Music scene is doing pretty well as of late….considered somewhat the off season from the summer jams such as Riverbend and Nightfall.  Some of the local venues such as Track 29, Tremont Tavern, Rhythm & Brews, The Honest Pint, Barking Legs, Buds Sport Bar, Sugar’s Ribs and others continue to host the local artists and bands year-round.    

I try to get around town and catch some of the local artists and bands entertaining at the various venues. Often I will hang out with my friends including Bob Payne who I had the opportunity to work with during Riverbend last year. Everyone in the business knows that Bob steadies the local music ship in many aspects as he talent scouts for Riverbend and covers much of the action on  I run into Bob often as we catch up with the bands. 

I caught up with Standing Room Only, a/k/a SRO last month at Sugar’s Ribs.  I kept missing them with conflicts arising from my schedule when they appear often at the Foundry nested in the Chattanoogan hotel.  The band members, who are all considered my friends, are Karen Phillips, vocals; Landis Batts, vocals; John Cady, lead guitar; Jim Rhodes, vocal and bass guitar, and Johnny Smith, drums.

This bluesy jazzy band with a lot of soulful sounds is out of the box with its abilities to reach a wide spectrum of peoples' musical interests.  Then when you least expect it, SRO will add some Motown, Disco and Country, pleasing a wider taste of patrons enjoying their dinner. This combination of music can fill a dance floor quickly. The strong and passionate vocals to the crafty tuned talents of the musicians make for a great night as the popular ribs house serves up drinks and excellent food. 

SRO Band, who were onstage at Sugar’s Downtown on a recent December Saturday night, were one of the first bands to appear at the Sugar’s downtown nightspot.  Formed in 2007, the group attributes its longevity to not only the talent onstage but to the tight relationships between band members.   The friendship between SRO founder Karen Phillips (along with past member Mark Edwards) and lead vocalist Landis Batts began during their days as singing waiters at the Station House at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. As a result Ms. Phillips knew she wanted Batts to front this project.   “Landis is one of the best vocalists I’ve ever heard; I loved singing with him at the Station House and I knew I wanted to continue that relationship in this band.  I had to beg him a little but it’s all worked out,” she laughed. 

SRO Band is a versatile group that prides itself on filling up the dance floor by featuring a diverse playlist of Motown, disco, country and classics.  The band is full of past and current Best of the Chattanooga musicians, including Batts (3 time male vocalist of the year), Jim Rhodes on bass and vocals (2 time bass player of the year), and Johnny Smith on drums (3 time drummer of the year).  The group was also named Chattanooga party band of the year in 2013. In addition to playing local venues, the group has also performed at many weddings and private parties not only in Chattanooga but in the Tri State area. 

As you check out Chattanooga’s music menu of all the local venues, don’t miss SRO when you have a chance to catch up with them.  If you want more information and schedule of dates to drop in and make room on the dance floor or sit and enjoy the sounds, you are welcome to contact Karen Phillips or visit

Mark A Herndon, CPG

Ignite Concert Is Saturday Night

Led by lead vocalists and winner of Road to Nightfall, Brittany Ammons and Darren Self (of Function with a C), Chattanooga Metropolitan is having its Ignite concert on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. It will be held on the North Shore at 817 North Market Street, just one block from the new Publix. This concert is for the community. Chattanooga Metropolitan is combating the recent spree ... (click for more)

Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – Front Row For Second Straight Week!

For the second week in a row, I was able to get the front row seat for the music at the Chattanooga Market. In the world of baseball, that would mean I am batting a thousand. One more time and I’ll have the hockey equivalent of the hat trick.  This past week I went to see one of my all-time favorites- Sweet Georgia Sound. In their 20 th year, this big band gets better ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)