Bluegrass Underground

Cumberland Caverns, Tennessee, October 2010

This isn’t exactly about downtown, but there is a tie-in, so I’m going to give myself a little liberty on this one. I heard some music this past weekend that was really underground. You’ve no doubt heard people use the term underground to describe music or an artist who is so cool that only they know about them and commoners such as yourself could not possibly be in the know enough to appreciate what is coming down. Well, this was more underground than even your cool friend could imagine: Hundreds of feet underground.

The Volcano Room in Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns and WSM host a monthly concert 333 feet below ground in the “Volcano Room,” dubbed “Bluegrass Underground.” A fifteen minute walk takes concert goers deep beneath the ground into an accoustically impeccable open ampitheater. Leading bluegrass and Americana musicians perform for a live audience of a couple of hundred and a radio audience via WSM and WSM online.

Steel Drivers, Cumberland Caverns, October 2010

Black Lillies, Cumberland Caverns, October 2010

This past weekend’s peformers included Knoxville’s own Black Lillies followed by the grammy nominated Steel Drivers. The Steel Drivers deliver a mostly traditional bluegrass sound, while the Black Lillies (my reason for wanting to see the show) are evovling into an excellent Americana band. This was my third time to hear the band and they’ve gotten better and more confident with each outing. The songwriting is growing and Cruz Contreras is developing into a strong front-man for the band, with his boyish charm and disarming, self-depricating humor. Tom Pryor on guitar and steel-guitar seems like a star looking for a place to shine.

Cruz Contreras with the Black Lillies, Cumberland Caverns, October 2010

Black Lillies, Cumberland Caverns, October 2010

The band’s debut album Whiskey Angel is an excellent introduction to the band. A follow up CD is planned for release this January, with a CD release concert schedule for January at the Bijou. Along with the Dirty Guv’nahs, this may be a band to see while you can. How lucky are we in Knoxville to have this much talent running about? Click the above link to listen to sound bites off the first CD and/or to purchase it. I’m posting a video from the concert below. Enjoy.