Waynestock: For the Love of Drew, Night One

The Relix (pronounced like the word “relics”) Theater is an unassuming storefront in Happy Holler – which is an area about  a mile and half out Central Avenue from downtown proper. It’s across the street from the Time Warp Tea Room and next to Vega-rama. Inside it looks like an old warehouse with heavy curtains dividing it in half, front and back, and a stage set just to the front side of the curtains. I could not have imagined that the sound would be as good as it turned out to be. Wayne Bledsoe was seen moving about, receiving well wishes from a pretty steady stream of those present. I would guess the attendance for this night was around fifty to seventy five, which disappointed me a bit, though the best known acts were scheduled for the next two nights. Admission was free, which is my favorite price.

Jake Winstrom, Sean McColough, Steph Gunnoe, Karen Reynolds and Greg Horne

I heard someone say this was the mellow night and I understand the sentiment, but I don’t entirely agree. It started out that way, if by mellow you mean musically and not lyrically. Assembled on the stage to start the three day Waynestock festival were some of Knoxville’s finest songwriters. Often their songs are sandpaper tough and tackle the toughest of life’s subjects. That’s not so much mellow, but I’ll agree the sound fit the description. Each member of the lineup played an acoustic instrument, either guitar, fiddle or mandolin and, as was the case with the songwriter’s showcase that I spotlighted last month, they took turns performing mostly original songs.

Songwriter Showcase kicks off Waynestock and the Relix Theater

The line-up included (from the left) Jake Winstrom, Sean McCollough, Steph Gunnoe, Karen Reynolds and Greg Horne. Greg served as the host and kept things moving nicely. I’ve always enjoyed his work and I’ve written about Karen before. She is an excellent songwriter and was a host of the Indie Grrls event last summer and she hosts Writer’s Block each week on WDVX. Sean and Steph are members of the Lonetones whose melodic, hypnotic sounds are very much worth seeking out. One of my most played songs on my ipod is Little Thing. I can’t hear it enough. Rounding out the artists was a young singer, Jake Winstrom, whose vocal delivery is a very different style. At first I wasn’t certain, but in the end I decided I liked it quite a bit. While his music didn’t resemble theirs, his high vocals reminded me a bit of the Band, for example in the song Tears Of Rage.

The Beaded, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

The well-known local band, The Bearded took the stage in the second slot and were fun, as always. The antics of Matt Morelock were in full bloom. He appeared to destroy a mouth harp and damage enough banjo strings he had to move to a smaller version of the instrument, which he had nearby. The damaged harp was later auctioned for $100. I continue to be impressed with the vocals by KyleCampbell. At their goofiest jug-band best, The Bearded comes across as a good novelty act. At their straight-forward best with Kyle singing real country music, they become more credible as serious artists. With the right material I can imagine the band and/or Kyle having quite a future. If the novelty component continues to be emphasized, I can see lots of fun ahead for local audiences. I’m not sure which the band prefers.

The Bearded, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

Hudson K closed the night and they were the act I most anticipated. I’m not clear if Hudson K is simply another name for Christina Horn or if it is also the name for the band she fronts. Her first album featured Jeff Christmas on guitar and Nate Barrett on drums. I had seen she and Nate together at the Indie Grrls shows and I think there is a picture of Christina at the above link for those shows. At the Waynestock show she had Nate on drums, but Tim Lee on guitar. I loved the portions I heard. I had to leave early because my alarm was set to go off in about six hours for work, but I probably heard half the set and found it intriguing. Reading the blog on her site, she felt the piano was mixed too far down and I would agree that the guitar was prominent, but it was Tim Lee, so how bad can that be? (In the last couple of nights I’ve learned how amazing he is, but more on him later.) The influence of Tori Amos is unmistakable, but her sound has more of a punk element to mix with the intense confessional and classical elements. It’s almost as if Patty Smith tutored Tori Amos and we got Hudson K. I could not hear the lyrics as well as I could have wished and my pictures were all duds, so I don’t have anything to offer on that front. I will encourage you to go to her web site and read up on a coming concert and video filming February 17.

And so, night one ended around 11:00 for me. It was a great start for what promised to be a fun three nights.