Caroline Floyd, Chattanooga, Tenn. – The local music scene in Chattanooga is very diverse, creative and abundant, but there is one issue that plagues every artist.
There are a number of obstacles that local musicians face while trying to book a show in Chattanooga, and those obstacles appear to be limiting the growth and development of the scene itself. Without an easy and affordable space, many bands are not getting the recognition they set out to achieve.
Out of the few options bands have, the vast majority of them are ages 21 and up, such as JJ’s Bohemia and The Honest Pint. This limits a huge portion of the audience, and even some of the bands themselves. The local youth play a large part in the scene in Chattanooga, and going through the complicated booking process, on top of having to be of legal drinking age, is a set back.
Even if the band the band in question happened to be the appropriate age, the space allocated in the bars themselves is not always that grand. In JJ’s Bohemia, for example, there is enough room for a small band and maybe 60 people before it begins to be uncomfortable. This venue is also home to very specific kinds of genres. Someone playing soft cello would not fit in very well in this dark and eclectic bar.
The parking situation in the city also not something easily attainable. Chattanooga is home to large venues such as Track 29 and the Revelry Room at the Choo Choo, but these spaces are allocated for much bigger acts.
Finding a place to play is not only difficult, but setting everything up and paying for it all is also a challenge. Places such as the Granfalloon, an upscale venue on the south side of town, cost over 700 dollars in rental fees. A lot, if not all, local bands are not able to afford such high prices.
Many bands even resort to, or prefer, playing inside the homes of their friends. Again, this provides the audience with a very small space to listen and enjoy the music. While this sounds alluring, many house shows result in noise complaints, parking issues and even interactions with the police.
Sebastian Lozano, the bassist from Chattanooga-based Talking Blues Band, discussed the struggles that his band faced when trying to book shows.
“Honestly, there is really just no where to go unless you’re big and no way to get big unless you play shows,” said Lozano.
Lozano mentioned that it was easier for his band to record music and put it out on the internet than it was to book shows in the area.
“TBB [Talking Blues Band] has played most of our shows because we’ve been asked to, either by the school or by the Camp House,” said Lozano when questioned about the shows that his band has played in the past.
He also explained that he would love to see a better place for local bands to play Chattanooga come to life and would do a lot to help make that dream come true.
All in all, Chattanooga lacks the appropriate space to house the ever-growing scene, although it has plenty of more than willing people who wish to solve this problem.
Until something is done, many bands will continue to be held back. For all we know, the next Drake or Rolling Stones could be in our backyard, just waiting on the appropriate venue to rise up.