Sundown Jam, Coffee House Jazz and Downtown Reggae

This past episode of Sundown found me with conflicting desires. I love Sundown in the City and generally enjoy it no matter who the artist happens to be. As I’d noted before (and as a result was called “stupid” or some such thing), I’ve seen Umphrey’s McGee and didn’t feel I needed to see them again. Still, it’s Sundown and I had friends attending, so that was tempting. Katy Free and Wendel Werner were playing at Remedy from 8:00 to 10:00 and I knew that would be great, plus that was Urban Woman’s preference. And then there were the Natty Love Joys playing at the Downtown Grill, but that started at 11:00 according to Metropulse and that’s pretty late for a work night. Still, the last time I saw them in the now defunct World Grotto they were a blast. What to do?

Zach Deputy, Market Square, Sundown in the City, Knoxville, May 2011

Long time readers of this blog will have a pretty good guess: I tried to do them all. Crazy. I know. But it’s all so good and each act is so different from the others. So I started at Sundown for the Zach Deputy portion of the show. What a blast. I’d never heard of him, so I had no idea what to expect. It’s hard to nail down his style because he does all sorts of music, but he plays a guitar and makes percussive noises with his mouth which he then loops with his computer set-up. He’s a one-man party. He’s also oddly charismatic. I’m not sure how it is possible to be charismatic while seated in a chair for an hour, but he is.

Katie Free on Vocals, Melanie Howe on Congas, Remeday Coffee

Wendel Werner on Keyboards, Remedy Coffee

After his portion of Sundown I rendezvoused with Urban Woman and headed for the Old City and Remedy Coffee. With Wendel Werner on the keyboards, Katy Free on Vocals, Melanie Howe on congas and a special appearance by Kolt Free, Katy’s younger brother, the evening promised to be a delight and it delivered. Katy’s usual mixture of jazz standards along with other great music performed in a jazz style, augmented by Wendel’s exquisite playing is always good. Melanie Howe’s percussion really pushed the music up a notch. All of them are excellent musicians and the playful musical reparte was great fun. Kolt’s appearance added a bit of variety and the pending high school graduate (he graduated that weekend) is clearly talented. As is often the case with sibling voices, their harmony’s really shined, particularly as I recall, on “All I Have to do is Dream,” the Everly Brother’s classic.

Umprhey’s McGee, Sundown in the City, Knoxville, May 2011

Crowd at Umphrey’s McGee show, Knoxville

After walking Urban Woman most of the way home, I cut back to Sundown and caught the last song by Umphrey’s McGee. The crowd was going crazy and it made me wish I could have been there for the whole show. Hands in the air, the dancing crowd clearly had the groove going on.

Natty Love Joys, Downtown Grill, Knoxville, May 2011

I couldn’t help but walk over to the Downtown Grill. I’d been told by someone on the street that the band would start at 10:00 instead of 11:00 like I’d thought. They did get going around 10:30 and I listened to their first set before calling it a night. Their great reggae groove is great fun for the dancers and their positive vibration (Ye-ah) is a reminder of all things good. The only downside was the vocals were mixed too low and the Downtown Grill isn’t the easiest place to listen to a band. There isn’t much room for standing near the music and there are only a few tables in the area. I suppose if you want the music to be background noise to your conversation, which seemed to be the case for many of the patrons, then seeing the band doesn’t matter. Of course, I’m not a background noise kind of guy.

Natty Love Joy’s, Downtown Grill, Knoxville, May 2011

And so ended a great night of music in the city. It was a perfect night for walking around the city and adjusting your groove as you moved from one genre to another. Every night should be that way. All of us need to adjust our groove now and again, don’t we? In another post I’ll show you some of the Sundown people doing just that.