Josh Dzik, Chattanooga, TN– The Signal Mountain Opry is a place for all music lovers to spend their Friday nights to hear traditional bluegrass music.
Ken Holloway, president of the Opry said the facility opened in September 1979 and has continued to amuse and entertain audiences ever since.
The indoor facility, which is open all year long, caters to both young and old bluegrass lovers 52 weeks per year, Holloway said.
Holloway and Ray Fox started the Opry to provide a free opportunity for upcoming bands to get experience playing in front of an audience and to provide down-home entertainment for music lovers, Holloway said.
He said Fox had come from Memphis and saw a similar type place in his hometown, and came to Chattanooga to work at UTC, Partnering with current President Holloway.
They both decided to rent a facility on Signal Mountain and open the Opry to all for free, he said. Though they cater to traditional bluegrass bands, there are a variety of types of music played at the Opry, Holloway said.
“We focus on traditional mountain music, or Appalachian style music,” Holloway said. “But we have also had some country acts and church choirs come to perform as well.”
The Signal Mountain Opry has people of all ages attend the shows every Friday night, Holloway said.
Holloway said that there are a lot of young people that come from UTC and Covenant College. “A lot of young people come here and get interested in playing…they dance on stage and it’s a good informal and inexpensive place to spend your night,” he said.
Several UTC students have attended the Opry and said they went with a large group of friends.
“It was a good experience,” Geoffrey Allen, a junior from Memphis, said. “I’m glad I went, and if the opportunity came up to go again I would.”
Springfield, Tenn., junior Spencer Bradshaw said he also enjoyed the unique experience.
“It was very interesting to see,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a historical part of Chattanooga. I saw people wearing Signal Mountain Opry T-shirts and it made me curious about the place.”
President Ken Holloway, who is 77 years old, said he still plays with several bands that perform at the Opry.
He plays several instruments, including mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bass, Holloway said. There have been several bands that have started their music careers at the Opry, and then went on to play in Nashville, he said.
Holloway said the Lovell Sisters, who started their career at the Signal Mountain Opry in 2004, have performed at events such as Merlefest in Wilkesboro, N.C. and the Riverbend festival in Chattanooga, have recorded three full-length albums.
The Signal Mountain Opry is located at 2501 Fairmount Pike, Signal Mountain, Tenn.
It is open every Friday year-round from 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.
All shows are free and open to the public, and people are allowed to make donations.
Food and drinks are served at the facility.