The Tennessee Valley Fair is just a little more than a week away, and this year’s music lineup is about what anybody would expect—the usual classic-rock dinosaurs, ’80s revival acts, Nashville B-listers and up-and-comers, and revered practitioners of classic bluegrass—with one surprise. The appearance of New York hip-hop pioneers the Sugar Hill Gang, whose single “Rapper’s Delight” was the first rap song to break into the Top 40, suggests just how ingrained hip-hop has become in American pop culture—first-wave rappers are now nostalgia acts. (See De La Soul’s recent stop in Knoxville on their tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 3 Feet High and Rising for more evidence of hip-hop's nostalgic value.)
It doesn’t really matter if your appreciation of the Gang, Rick Springfield, and Molly Hatchet is ironic or not; tickets for concerts at the fair start at $5 and the most expensive shows are just $10, so there’s nothing wrong with getting some nostalgic kicks at the Homer Hamilton Amphitheatre at Chilhowee Park. The series starts with Springfield on Friday, Sept. 11, and continues with long-running progressive bluegrass band the Seldom Scene (Sunday, Sept. 13); Southern rock stalwarts Molly Hatchet (Monday, Sept. 14); up-and-coming country hunks Randy Houser (Tuesday, Sept. 15) and Chuck Wicks (Thursday, Sept. 17); the Sugar Hill Gang (Friday, Sept. 18); and country singers Luke Bryan (Saturday, Sept. 19) and Craig Morgan (Sunday, Sept. 20). All shows start at 8 p.m. For more information and a complete schedule, visit tnvalleyfair.org.