Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – 2013 Music Awards Part 1

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - by Bob Payne
Bob Payne
Bob Payne
- photo by Frosty

I hate this time of year in many ways. It’s cold. One must take his Christmas tree down. There is not a lot of outdoor live music. My electric bill goes way up. I stare at my beautiful swimming pool and long for warmer weather and bikini-clad girls lounging about. And, I have to choose the Chattanooga Music Awards from a collection of so many wonderful performers.

Once again, here are the rules. (Or guidelines, if you are a pirate) First and foremost, I only pick from those artists that I have personally seen and heard live throughout the year, so tons of performers don’t get consideration. Second, don’t forget that I am the only vote, which means if you weren’t selected; you only lost by one vote. One stinking vote. Third – you need to play in Chattanooga and live near here. Fourth – Since I make the rules (or guidelines, if you are a pirate), I get to break them if I want.

This is the sixth year of the awards and the good news is that since 2008 I have gotten very little criticism on my selections. Once people see these artists play, they usually agree that they are very talented. That being said, in a town with great musicians, finding the best guitarist or drummer or bass player is a bit like looking for the best drop of water in a swimming pool. I very subjectively add in a few “other factors” in the decision making process. For example, I love a great smile on a performer when they are on stage. David Anthony is the master of this intangible part of the make-up of a great artist. Not only does he play well and sing well, but also his smile is very infectious. He makes his audience smile. Others come to mind, as well. No, a great smile or positive on-stage attitude does not make a great performer. I could get on stage and smile until my mouth hurt, but I could never sing as well as the worst singer in town. But, given two equally competent performers, I will take the one that smiles, has fun on stage, and has that great attitude. One thing I am proud of – I have had several performers tell me that be named as one of the best of the best helped their music career. If that is all that this column ever does, then it has been a success.

Ok, lets get started. Let’s get the Best Guitarist award out of the way, since that is one of the hardest. This year, we have two in a tie. Wesley Crider and John Cady win the award for 2013. Anyone that has seen either play will know why. Wesley plays in the style of the late, great Chet Atkins. He is one of the best in the world at it and has the hardware to prove it. Want to see why he wins? Go to and take a look. Be sure and come back to this page, though.

John Cady is one of Chattanooga’s finest guitar players and teachers. He plays in several bands, most notably SRO Band. When Jimmy Tawater was putting together his band of incredible all-star players, he chose John Cady as lead guitar players. Jimmy knows. You can too, by going to the Tivoli Theater and seeing John perform with Jimmy’s band on Saturday, March 29th as the headliner at a very cool event showcasing local music.

Congratulations to John Cady and Wes Crider for joining previous winners Jon Wimpee, Kris Phillips, Eric Clarkson, Johnny Campbell, and Tyler Southern as Guitar Player of the Year in Chattanooga, TN. Funny thing – we’ve never had a repeat in tis category.

Not having a repeat is something we cannot say about our next category. Janella Hayes has won the award for best female singer 4 straight times. Make that five! The Black Cat Moon Band songbird becomes the only performer to ever win 5 awards. If you go to the Tivoli in March, you will see her perform with Jimmy Tawater’s band, as well. Jimmy knows. You will too. Go ahead, get your tickets and go see her perform. Then let me know if you agree with me. I dare you. Congratulations to Janella, our 2013 Female Singer of the Year.

When it comes to Country Music, things can be a bit slippery. There is “modern country music”, where the performers all sound alike and don’t really sound too Country. Then there is “traditional” country music, like Merle Haggard, my favorite performer. You can guess which kind of local artist I tend to favor. This year, our winner for Best Country Artist goes to Davey Smith. He joins previous winners Pee Wee Moore, Nathan Farrow, Robby Hopkins and Remembering January as the best of the best. Congratulations to Davey Smith and thanks for helping keep Country music alive.

The award for best keyboard player in 2013 goes to Dave Walters of the Dave Walters Trio and Kathy Tugman’s ensemble. David is an instructor in piano at UTC and a well-known area jazz player. Dave joins former winners Bobby Williams, Barry Wilde, and Tyler Southern in this category of most excellent keyboard players.

When it comes to horns, Chattanooga may not have tons of horn players, but the ones we have are world class. Just go listen to former winner Paul Stone. Take a listen to Jimmy Tawater’s great horn section or RT Bolden. This year’s winner is a repeat, as Carle Vickers takes home the honors again. Not familiar with Carle? Well he’s one of Jimmy’s horn players, and he is quite famous, as an original member of LTD and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Solomon Burke’s band. Here is a clip of Carle (Especially at the 5 minute mark when he gets to show off his chops) -

Best music venue with a cover charge goes to Rhythm & Brews and Track 29 for 2013. They both offer great entertainment and help make Chattanooga a growing force in a budding live music community. They join last year’s winner, JJ’s Bohemia, as the only winners in this category for six years.

The Chattanooga Music Awards are never complete without the prestigious Chattanooga Music Hall of Fame Awards. To qualify, the artist must have performed for a period spanning three different decades, and reside in the Chattanooga area. Our next recipient has that covered and then some. Founded in 1945, The Dismembered Tennesseans have entertained audiences with their brand of bluegrass music for nearly 70 years. They have played Riverbend, Nightfall, the Kennedy Center, the NBC Today Show, ABC Nightly News and of course, the wonderful 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival. Congratulations to Fletcher Bright and all of the Dismembered Tennesseans, past and present.

Our Second inductee into the Chattanooga Music Hall Of Fame is Jerre Haskew. Jerre was a founding member of the Cumberland Trio, a folk group from the early sixties that still play together on occasion. He has been a bank president, a guitar maker, a sports broadcaster, and of course – a musician. He has had the record deals and even made a guitar for Johnny Cash.

You are now members of the Chattanooga Music Hall of Fame, along with previously inducted members Jimmy Tawater, Dennis Massengale, Overland Express, Roger Alan Wade, The Beaters, Dixie Fuller, Bill Brewer, Ronnie Dickens, Mike Dougher, and Tim Starnes. 

Stay tuned to the same bat channel for the exciting conclusion of the Chattanooga Music Awards – Part 2. Look for another Hall of Fame inductee, the Entertainer of the Year award, and more.

Also, let’s not forget those that passed away this past year. Dan Lee, David Sterchi, and Chattanooga Hall of Fame member Keith Sherman from Overland Express all have passed since I wrote last year’s awards articles. Wonderful people all, they are sorely missed. I am sure I have missed some, and for that I apologize.

For more local music info, try You will find great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site

Email Bob Payne at or catch him on Facebook at

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