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

Tickets For Disney On Ice On Sale Sept. 5

Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove is "a magical medley of Disney tales in one jam-packed ice show that commemorates the legacy of Disney animated films." This skating performance visits Chattanooga from Thursday, Nov. 6, to Sunday, Nov. 9, for six performances at UTC McKenzie Arena.  Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 5. Review for Disney On Ice: Get tangled up in Disney’s ... (click for more)

Screening Of Rocketship X-M Is Sept. 18

There will be two screening of Rocketship X-M on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Heritage House Arts and Civic Center, 1428 Jenkins Road.  Rocketship X-M (1950) is directed by Kurt Neumann and stars Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery, Jr., Hugh O'Brian and Morris Ankrum. An astronaut crew of four men and one woman on their way to the moon, are unexpectedly ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)