The Bijou Theater celebrated its annual Jubilee with the Emmylou Harris concert that I blogged about earlier, as well as a series of tours and workshops the following afternoon. The festivities concluded with a rare performance by four prominent Knoxville singer/songwriters. As I noted earlier, I got a $65 ticket for Emmylou Harris for $30 from a kind soul. I had similar good fortune for this show. I planned to pay the incredibly cheap $10 for a ticket, but before I could make it to the booth, a kind man approached me with a free ticket. People are often good if we let them be. Bill, who gave me the ticket, is a person I’ve run into before. He makes hand-made baskets in an Appalachian style that is disappearing. Good soul.
I know the four had never been on stage together, and I’m not sure the more legendary of the three had ever performed together, either. The legends, R.B. Morris, Todd Steed and Scott Miller were joined by up-and-comer Jill Andrews. Each performer did a four or five song set, followed by a joint effort on about the same number of tunes. Introductions were given by Tony Lawson to whom Knoxville music owes an insurmountable debt for giving us WDVX and so much more.
R.B. led off the show with material both new and old. He featured material from his latest release, “Spies, Lies and Burning Eyes,” including the phenomenal “Then There is a City,” written about Knoxville. This beautiful elegy will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who has a city they love and for which they weep. R.B. also quoted a small amount of poetry to introduce the set by Todd Steed. Todd, of course, did “New Knoxville Girl,” and others from his strange career. He also played a very nice lead guitar throughout the final set to support the other singers.
Scott Miller is an incredibly bright, acerbic and witty songwriter. His knowledge of history and resulting perspective on all things current makes him as interesting to listen to when he talks as well as when he play. It’s a crime that such an intelligent and talented singer has to work so hard for an audience because of the state of the music industry in the twenty-first century. In a just world Scott Miller would be a huge star and Miley Cyrus would be waiting tables. I must say Knoxville consistently gets him and supports him and that must be what always draws him back again. He’ll also be performing at the Square Room in August. His latest album is For Crying Out Loud which was released in April and is something you should definitely check out.
After an evocative set by Jill Andrews the entire crew took the stage and alternated tunes. A high point came when Jill joined Scott on vocals for “I’ll Go to My Grave.” The show concluded with a heartfelt “This Town is Your Town” and a drawn out riff on the song “Downtown,” with special references to Knoxville.
We are a very lucky town to have this kind of talent available to play for us on any given weekend. Like with Hector, we won’t realize how special some of these voices are until they are no longer being heard. Certainly reason to Be Here Now.