I found myself listening to a brand-new recording of singer-songwriter Josh Ritter’s solo acoustic performance at The City Winery in New York City this week. The concert was recorded Wednesday night, and I was listening to it Friday. It’s amazing to me how quickly shows can pop up on the site.
Guster, Railroad Earth, Spoon and more jam bands than you can imagine are featured on the website. Because of the sheer volume of shows, it’s fun to jump around and discover new music. For example, I first learned of the great Robyn Hitchcock after stumbling upon a concert on the archive.
And even if the venues are gone, Chattanooga is represented by 183 shows as far back as 1990. Many of the venues are distant memories-Michelangelo’s, The Sandbar, The Lizard Lounge and The Attic-but the recordings are still there for us to listen to. It’s a sort of time capsule of the musical history of our city.
I’ve pulled five concerts as my favorites of the collection, but you can do your own digging here. And if you have recordings of past Chattanooga shows, please upload them to the site so we can all listen. Call it a service in the name of “historical preservation.”
Let me know your favorite shows in the comments section below.
Andrew Bird, The Lizard Lounge, Aug. 31, 2000
Taper Joshua Smelser maintains an incredible YouTube account called OtterFreak. He would often record shows in Chattanooga and to this day remains one of the most devoted fans of live music I’ve ever met. He recorded this great Andrew Bird show at The Lizard Lounge during what was Bird’s second solo performance in the city. Back in 2000, Bird’s Bowl of Fire from Chicago was in the middle of a run that would last until 2003. This recording was several years before Bird embarked on what would become his successful solo career. Highlights include “Why?” and the Pavement-sounding “Two Way Action.”
The Tennessee Rounders, Mellow Mushroom, Aug. 8, 2007
Greg Hewlett (who recorded this) mentions in the notes this show was billed as “PeeWee & Channing,” as it’s just PeeWee Moore, Channing Wilson and a couple of guitars. I love this show, not only because the sound quality is incredible, but because it seems completely off-the-cuff, each artist trading songs and getting looser with each track. The Tennessee Rounders played often in Chattanooga venues, and I was fortunate enough to see several shows. This extended set of more than 38 songs has everything from traditional covers such as “Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” and “Worried Man” to a smattering of Steve Earle covers from protest album “The Revolution Starts Now.” Highlights include “I Thought You Should Know,” “Jerusalem” and the always-popular “Moonshine Mama.”
My Morning Jacket, Tivoli Theatre, Oct. 26, 2016
Who doesn’t love My Morning Jacket? My girlfriend would leave me for frontman Jim James in a heartbeat and makes sure I’m aware of that fact often. This show is important because it marked a rebound for the Tivoli Theatre as a contemporary concert venue. It was the first “big show” at the venue since the Tivoli Foundation started booking shows. And what a show it was! MMJ’s set included a variety of newer songs mixed with old favorites. There is also a great cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and a hell of an encore that included “Wordless Chorus,” “Phone Went West” and the infectious “Mahgeetah.” This show proved that Tivoli fans would support modern rock shows.
Drive-By Truckers, Rhythm & Brews, Oct. 13, 2005
There are four Drive-By Truckers shows from Chattanooga in the archive. The shows span from 2004 to 2011, and a majority of them were at the former Rhythm & Brews. Of all the shows, the best-sounding and most interesting is the 2005 show from Rhythm & Brews. The band featured founding members Jason Isbell, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Shonna Tucker and John Neff. Highlights include “Decoration Day,” “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” and “Lookout Mountain.” The band also covers Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927.” I think I was at this show. There are plenty of DBT shows I attended that are still fuzzy.
Alabama Shakes, Track 29, April 25, 2016
During this magical night at Track 29, the crowd was enthusiastic and packed into the venue like sardines to see Alabama Shakes. The band features Brittany Howard on guitar and vocals. You won’t find a better frontwoman in the R&B genre. This recording-provided by Steve Hagar and Dennis Orr-is an excellent audience taping that makes you feel like you’re right there with the band. I was pleasantly surprised when this show popped up on the archive. As someone who was in the mix that night, it’s nice to have a souvenir of the occasion. Highlights are “Hang Loose,” “Hold On” and “Don’t Wanna Fight.”
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