As part of their celebrations of 30 years of the Nightfall concert series in downtown Chattanooga, the folks with Chattanooga Presents did something special this past week.
On the Nightfall Facebook page, they counted down their top 10 shows from 1992 to 2016. The Chattanooga Presents staff recalled memorable shows and whittled it down to their favorites, such as Alison Krauss in 1993 and Dawes in 2011. There were some surprises on the list, including Lake Street Drive in 2013 and a two-way tie between Lucinda Williams and Robert Earl Keen.
Here is the full top 10 from Chattanooga Presents:
10. Keb Mo’, 1996
9. Susan Tedeschi, 1998
8. Dawes, 2011
7. Chris Thile, 2007
6. Robert Earl Keen, 1994; Lucinda Williams, 1992
5. Bela Fleck, 1999
4. Lake Street Dive, 2013
3. The Black Keys, 2005
2. Alison Krauss, 1993
1. Barenaked Ladies, 1997
That’s right-they listed the 1997 performance by Barenaked Ladies as the best Nightfall show of all time. I can’t imagine how much fun that was.
I thought it would a good exercise to make my own list of Nightfall memories this week. Instead of 10, I’ll list my five favorite shows. Keep in mind that I didn’t move to Chattanooga until 2001, so anything before that I have no opinion about. I would’ve loved to see Richard Thompson, Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith and Alison Krauss. Chattanooga has been lucky for years.
Here’s the full list of Nightfall shows to jog your memory. Let us know what your top 10 or top five would look like.
Leon Redbone, 2002
The legendary, iconic Leon Redbone is known for his dark sunglasses and Panama hat, for singing the theme to “Mr. Belvedere,” for portraying the Warner Bros. frog and for being the voice from that All detergent series of commercials. His performance at Nightfall was marred by incessant motorcycle noise and a continuous warm rain that pelted the small crowd. For me, seeing Redbone up close with my new college friends (including Nooga.com’s Chloé Morrison) was about as memorable of a concert experience as I’ve had in Chattanooga. He would comment on “those rumbling sounds” and then play a song like “Polly Wolly Doodle.” It was surreal. Redbone is what I think our own Lon Eldridge is destined to evolve into.
Of Montreal, 2006
By 2006, I had finished as much college as I could handle and was working at WUTC-FM. Thanks to our media sponsorship, the on-air personalities were offered a chance to introduce the Nightfall performers onstage. I immediately chose Of Montreal because I was a fan and it seemed like the “coolest” band performing that year. On the night of the show, I had planned to introduce the band and have them run out behind me-you know, all cool. But lead singer Kevin Barnes said he had no interest in being introduced, so I had to go announce sponsorships, leave the stage and wait for the band to come on. They put on a heck of a show that night. They always do.
Monte Montgomery, 2003
During my first few years at WUTC-FM, Richard Winham taught me as much as I’d ever learned before about good music. That Nightfall season included performances by NPR darlings Laura Cantrell and Wes Cunningham, as well as Terrence Martin and NRBQ. My favorite performance of the year was from guitarist-songwriter Monte Montgomery. The Texas-based performer was voted one of the Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitar Players by Guitar Player magazine. After his blistering performance, I watched him go backstage, collapse in a heap of sweat and then catch his breath for an even more intense encore. His version of the Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler song “Romeo and Juliet” will always be my favorite. What a show!
Adrian Belew, 2005
King Crimson was in Chattanooga! Well, sort of. The Adrian Belew Trio performed in Chattanooga around 2005 at Nightfall. They also performed at Riverbend in 2009. I remember this Nightfall show for several reasons. First, they melted my face with progressive rock sounds I didn’t know were possible. Secondly, I got to meet the band after the show. They were incredibly generous with their time, and I’ve been a fan since.
Nick Lutsko, 2016
Road to Nightfall winners Nick Lutsko and The Gimmix (his puppet band) performed an incendiary, admittedly weird concert as a prize for winning the annual competition. Following the event, they invited the entire crowd to join them for a puppet parade to Revelry Room at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo for the official after-party. This show was completely insane. Lutsko continues to write music, including his work as emo Trump for Super Deluxe.
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