I’d never heard Roman Reese perform before last week. I’d heard his name about town. Last winter I met Adrian Hardcore (as I recall) who sang his praises and noted that he had spent the night on Roman’s couch while he was in town for his Blueplate Special performance. He seemed taken aback that I could live in Knoxville and not know him as a musician, if not a person. After that I watched for an opportunity to hear him in person, but never seemed to be able to line up my schedule and his.
Joe listens as Roman Reese performs at the Preservation Pub Speakeasy, Knoxville
The weekly i105 Homegrown broadcast from the mercifully smoke-free Speakeasy in Preservation Pub presented me with the opportunity I’d been waiting for and I wasn’t disappointed. Joe moved his chair and microphone onto the stage this week and that worked much better since people didn’t walk between them as they talked and the audience could see the two of them as they talked. Roman showed himself to be a bright, personable and self-effacing interviewee.
Roman Reese, Preservation Pub Speakeasy
Of course, the music is the matter at hand and it was excellent. It may not be for you if you like your music to put you in a happy frame of mind. I generally like my music, movies and books listing toward the depressing side, so for me it was delightful. I did get a bit squeamish during his song detailing how to dispose of a body after committing murder, but that was the exception.
Roman Reese, Preservaton Pub, Knoxville
The grit in his voice matched topics like drinking, murder, getting drunk, bad relationships and consuming prodigious amounts of alcohol. His most recent album, “Listen Before Dialing,” includes several songs I’ve really enjoyed. He performed “Away From Me,” which reminds me of some of Cruz Contreras’ work with the Black Lilies, “Hemlock” and “Enough of Your Lies” from that album. My favorite cut is probably “Beer I Fear,” which is a clever take on drinking with various buddies such as Jack and Jose and the perils associated with each. His playing is good, his voice is excellent and his songwriting is the draw. I’d encourage you to follow the link above or go to itunes and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Tonight at Preservation Pub the Homegrown show will present local singer-songwriter Karen Reynolds who is host of the local “Writer’s Block” show which focuses on Knoxville songwriters.
Finally, a word about something that has happened in the Knoxville music community and warrants a comment or two. Phil Pollard, a local musician and human being extraordinaire has died. A memorial service was held today and many people downtown are in mourning. This also bears a mention: in an effort to help people who might not otherwise be able to attend the services in Virginia, Scott and Bernadette West came up with the idea of chartering a bus on their dime. It was one of the most thoughtful and moving gestures I’ve seen in a while. Sending healing wishes to friends and family and thanks to the Wests.