Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow

Building a live music scene takes time, trust


Since I began writing this column almost 25 years ago, one of the goals has been to provide a look at where we are and where we came from as it relates to the entertainm­ent scene. In particular, the live music scene.

Last week, I wrote about how far we’ve come as a city in regards to attracting some of the bigger-name shows, and more importantl­y, that we seem to have left our reputation as a walk-up town behind us. Man, I hope so, but it didn’t happen overnight and most certainly no one person, promoter or venue can lay claim to making that happen.

Timing is everything, and lots of things have fallen into place in the last decade to make our city attractive for not just touring acts. One need only take a look at the many Ironman competitio­ns we’ve hosted to know that is true.

The outdoors attraction­s, food scene and downtown are way more attractive today than even 10 years ago.

Back in 2015, Mayor Andy Berke officially created

The Tivoli Foundation to oversee the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium. The foundation is charged with promoting the venues as well as raising money to make sure they are around for many years to come.

A few months later, the foundation contracted with AC Entertainm­ent to manage the facilities. During an interview at the time, Ashley Capps of AC repeatedly told me that turning things around at the venues would take time.

In three years, Songbirds has become a national, if not internatio­nal, draw to the city.

Relationsh­ips, trust and positive histories have to be built, and those don’t happen overnight. What does that mean? It means that in today’s world, artists and, by extension, their management and crew have a choice as to where they want to play.

They want to go to places where they are treated well. Where the experience is positive from the moment they are booked to the time they get off the bus until they get back on to go to the next town.

Little things make a difference, like: Was the coffee hot and fresh? Was the Green Room clean?

Was the staff friendly and accommodat­ing? They want the contract to be honored as agreed upon and the check to clear. Funny how getting paid can impact someone’s attitude. When things go bad, it’s how the problems or challenges were dealt with that people remember.

Artists and their management teams are people, and they talk to each other. Which is why venues come and go and why we are seeing more shows at the Tivoli, Memorial, Walker and Songbirds.

It does take time, but it also takes relationsh­ips.

 ??  ?? Barry Courter
Barry Courter

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