Let’s start with Blackstock. What and where is it? It’s an entertainment venue located in the large, brick building pictured above. It sits in an unfortunate location beneath Western Avenue, close to Interstate 40. It’s not easy to find by car. You have to turn off Broadway and meander about a bit until you find the underbelly of Western. The parking lot is directly beneath that road and not much about it feels very secure.
I went there earlier this spring for another fine production by Michael Gill of Bluegill Productions. Stacy Mitchhart, a blues singer with a long, venerable history in the business traveled from Memphis to perform. Though the crowd was underwhelming, the band’s enthusiasm didn’t reflect the small number assembled. They had me at the Hammond B3.
If you don’t think you know Michael or his Bluegill Productions, it’s likely you simply don’t realize he’s behind much of the finest of the blues music in this city, as well as a wide range of other genres. He’s produced shows at Relix, weekly at Sweet Peas and around the area from Maryville to Gatlinburg. You probably know him best as the force behind the Alive After Five series at the KMA. Unfortunately, that production will be interrupted for the installation of the sculpture by Richard Jolley at KMA.
Blackstock was previously called the Valarium and, I suppose, was abandoned before that. It’s actually an easy walk from downtown through the north end of the World’s Fair Park. Unfortunately, it’s not a walk I would encourage anyone to take at night. It’s poorly lighted, remote, semi-secluded and the path is crowded by bushes and other shelters for ne’er-do-wells.
You might think the name “Blackstock” is more familiar than it should be to you for it to be a sort of hard to find entertainment venue. That’s because they were shut down by the IRS a couple of weeks ago for non-payment of taxes. They re-opened within a day or two and are still operational. I hope they can make it.
Blank Newspaper comes into the picture because they just hosted a sixth birthday party at Blackstock just this past Saturday, which doubled as a CD release party for Hudson K. Comprised of only two members; Christina Horn and Nate Barrett, the band actually released their most recent CD earlier this spring and I’ve worn it out quite a bit over the summer.
The duo make music that sonically dwarfs their small line-up. With Nate on drums and various percussion instruments and Christina doing the heavy lifting on keyboards and vocals, they are a force. Lyrics both sensitive and powerful, instrumentation at turns delicate and towering, a Hudson K show can be exhilarating to the point of exhaustion. The photographs here are from their appearance last spring at the Scruffy City Ramble.
One more note on Blank Newspaper to end this hodgepodge post: I’m hoping to do a collaboration with them, soon, so watch for that. I’ll top this random post off with the official video, filmed at Preservation Pub, from the Hudson K performing “Stuck on Repeat” from the new disk. I dare you to listen to it all the way through and see if you can not have it surgically implanted into your brain for the rest of the day. The new album is “Ouroboros and the Black Dove,” and you really should pick it up at Disk Exchange or hop over to itunes right now and download it.