Southern Agenda

Cave Dwellers

Illustration: Tim Bower

“Going into a cave is timeless, and listening to music there is a surreal experience,” says Todd Mayo, the founder and operator of the Caverns, a subterranean live-music venue in Pelham, about an hour northwest of Chattanooga. Mayo broadcasts PBS’s Emmy-winning Bluegrass Underground from the Caverns, and the spot even won G&G’s Favorite Southern Music Venue Bracket earlier this year. On October 8 and 9, the Caverns will host its inaugural CaveFest, with shows both underground and in the recently added surface-level amphitheater. “For this first CaveFest, we are going back to our bluegrass roots,” Mayo says; headliners include Sam Bush, the Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Rising Appalachia, Yonder Mountain String Band, and surprise collaborations with the festival’s artist in residence, Lindsay Lou. “We will have some late jams in the cave going deep into the night,” Mayo promises. “And look out for Travis Stinson of the Volunteer String Band—he has one of the most amazing voices in bluegrass.”