Knoxville was the chosen city for this year’s annual Indie Grrl festival. In its third year and looking for a city to call home, hopefully the search has ended. Karen Reynolds, local songwriter and host of Writer’s Block was instrumental in having the festival select Knoxville, and she is hoping the experience has been such that there will be many returns. The event featured Keynote speakers seminars and panel discussions at the Conference Center in the downtown Holiday Inn and concerts in venues all over downtown. The talent on display varied from solid to amazing, with most artists performing their on compositions.
I caught a couple of artists at the Downtown Grill and Brewery. The contrast between the two set the tone for the day. Morgan Bracy accompanied herself on guitar and sang all original songs except for the Sam Cooke classic, “(What a) Wonderful World.” There were about thirty to forty people present for her set and she startled me after it was over by thanking me for listening so intently. I’ve found my musical talent! I’m a good listener! It was very sweet and, really, how else should music be listened to?
She was followed by Joelle Maddyson who accompanied herself on keyboard and sang with a voice that went from zero (very delicate) to sixty (loud) in less than one line of lyrics.
While there, I realized the star attraction of the weekend, Lauren from Leo and Lauren, was in the audience. Several people lined up for pictures and I slipped one in.
I also saw a bit of an oddity. A young girl, who I assumed to be part of the festival was wearing a black silk slip over her blue jeans in August in Knoxville, carrying a vintage overnight bag. I don’t understand it. She may have had her own questions about the man with a beer box on his head, though, so maybe we’re even.
I caught Sara Kamin at the Art Market. This was an awkward venue, in that the lobby (where the performance happened) is both small and, as you might expect, is also the spot through which customers enter and leave. Probably as a result, these performers had small audiences throughout the afternoon. I regret that greatly for Sara because what I heard was extremely soulful vocals (the lobby acoustics are wonderful) and inspired songwriting. She closed with a song she wrote a week ago and has not recorded. It was called “Oh Lord,” a religous song written by an admitedly non-religious person, in reference to her despair at the songwriter’s life and asking the question of whether she should give it up. The song works so well for anyone at a desperate place in their lives. It would be so perfect in a movie. I think it was my turn to startle someone, when I went up to her and told her she better watch out or she might just find religion! And no, Sara, you should not stop.
Later in the evening I caught performances at the Conference Center in the Holiday Inn by Tret Fure, Karen Reynolds, Vicky Blankenship (President of Indie Grrls) and Suzi Ragsdale (who recently had a song covered by Dierks Bentley).