October 20, 2012
If it wasn’t one festival, it was another in Chattanooga as in addition to the wonderful Oktoberfest, there was another two week festival celebrating the variety of outdoor activities wrapped up while we were in town and we had the really good fortune of being able to attend the final day at the beautiful riverfront Coolidge Park on the North shore of the Tennessee River.
The festival featured all sorts of outdoor activities many centering around the river itself and on the day we attended a 31-mile paddleboard race down the Tennessee that finished in Coolidge Park was held and there were all sorts of zip line, climbing, hiking, canoe and kayaking and other demonstrations held as well as numerous vendors, displays by local and regional conservation organizations and other festival type activities. There was also a rowing regatta, the Chattanooga Head race, featuring 1,200 rowers competing. It was a flurry of fun and activity along the riverfront.
For us the big surprise and highlight of the event was the live concert that capped off the day. Totally unaware that there was even a concert scheduled, we wondered up to where the stage was set up and saw a merchandise table selling shirts of one of my favorite performers, Todd Snider. I was happily stunned that he was one of the headliners of the show that featured a number of fantastic performers.
The Gig City Roots concert showcased Chattanooga’s status as the only city in the Western Hemisphere to have one gigabyte per second internet service by featuring simultaneous performances with T-Bone Burnett playing in Los Angeles with performers in Chattanooga. It was pretty amazing and cool. The show also featured the local band the Nim Nims, Roy “Futureman” Wooten, Doyle Dykes, Jason D. Williams and Todd Snider.
Jason D Williams
It was my first time to see legendary pianist Jason D. Williams who is basically Jerry Lee Lewis incarnate, he is an amazing player and puts on a dazzling performance that is full of energy and crazy antics that highlight his incredible skill. It was a sight to see and it was especially cool when all of the performers from the entire evening got together to jam the final few numbers. It was all recorded and broadcast live for a Nashville TV show, which was cool as well.
For me though, the best part was getting to see Todd Snider once again. He is one of my favorite singer/ songwriters and we have seen him live many, many times. One of the funniest and most biting commentators of our current society, Snider is a consummate story teller, his stories before his songs often longer than the songs themselves. He played with a full band at this show and gave a rollicking and fun performance. Between each set, for the TV audience, the performers were interviewed on stage- which was another cool aspect of the show.
The festival ended in a mini Burning Man celebration as a huge wooden sculpture by artist Andrew Nigh was set ablaze in the center of Coolidge Park. The 15 foot high sculpture went up in a beautiful blaze as fire dancers with spinning flames danced about the perimeter. It was a fun and cool way to conclude a day of wonderful surprises in Chattanooga.