Waynestock 2012: For the Love of Phil, Day One, Special Weekend Edition

Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

Those of you who read my blog daily know that I don’t usually publish on Saturday and Sunday. This time I need to make an exception. There is so much to talk about and cover that waiting until next week to jump into Waynestock seems untimely. I’ll start with night one. There are so many pictures to work through that I’ll have to break it up that way. Sadly, my night one pictures were a disaster which is what happens when you are comfortable with one setting on your camera and you mess up that particular setting. More on photography in a later post. Changes are coming on that front.

Red Hickey of WDVX, Relix Theater, February 2012

Sarah Pirkle, Jeff Barbra, Jay Clark, Greg Horne and Kevin Abernathy

The first Waynestock occurred last year around this time in the Relix Theater. The untimely death of Drew Bledsoe, a local musician and the son of Wayne Bledsoe, the beloved local music critic, led a group of artists to organize the event as a fund raiser. No artists were paid for their work and the event became a celebration of the local community of musical artists with much help from many people, but particularly Tim and Susan Lee of the Tim Lee Three. I blogged about the three day event here, here and here.

Sarah Pirkle plays a waltz, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Jeff Barbra at the Relix Theater, Knoxville

This year’s event is held in honor of Phil Pollard who died recently at a very young age. He was intimately connected to many of the artists who are playing in this year’s concert. He is best known for his work in the Band of Humans, but he also played with Sara Schwabe and her Yankee Jass Band, as well as drumming for many other artists. As much as anything he was known for his sense of the absurd, tender concern for children and simply as a bon vivant. Proceeds from raffles, food sales, admission and all other sales go to the Pollard family to help with his three daughter’s college expenses.

Jay Clark with Greg Horne, Relix Theater, Knoxville
Greg Horne, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Kevin Abernathy, Relix Theater, Knoxville

This year’s event started much as last year’s with a singer/songwriter showcase. The line up across the stage this year included Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle (who would later cut quite the dancing figure!), Jay Clark, Greg Horne and Kevin Abernathy. Highlights for me included Sarah’s beautiful waltz, Jeff’s Tom T. Hall and Jay’s “Bringin’ Home the Bacon.” Greg and Kevin’s songs were also excellent and each of them added nice guitar support to the others. I’m really getting to like Kevin playing acoustic, although he can wail on an electric guitar.

Young Girl takes photographs with her Ipod

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Red Hicky hosted the event and kept the music flowing and the raffle packages moving, adding her charm and grace to the transitions and leading the crowd with a toast to Phil every time she took the stage. There would prove to be many, many toasts to Phil as well as to Ed Corts and Rocky Wynder who were also part of Knoxville’s music family and who died recently.

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

While I enjoyed the entire evening filled with musicians on my Ipod, I have to say one of the very few not on my Ipod took the spot for my favorite of the night. Jack Rentfro and the Apoclalypso Quartet were incredible. The are not a quartet – or at least they weren’t last night – and you will hear no calypso music if you are fortunate enough to hear them play. What you will hear are powerful poems recited by Mr. Rentfro over a persistent jazzy jam. Beatniks? Yes, with a good bit of gloom and depression. While you won’t hear calypso, you will hear apocalypse. The best moment was when he dedicated the next piece to Stacey Campfield and repeated the refrain throughout, (something like), “Isn’t it hard to hate the thing you love?” I’ll just let it say what it says.

Ian Thomas, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Ian Thomas, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Ian Thomas was next up and his set was very good. I haven’t heard him in a while and I think he’s really grown as an artist. His singing and presence both seemed more mature than that last concert or CD. Maybe it’s time for him to record again. His voice was easily the draw for his set and it’s hard not to think when listening to him, “Why can’t this guy be a country star?” Of course, a couple of minutes listening to contemporary country music radio and that question is answered. If I could give him one suggestion, it would be: lose the kazoo. Cute? Yes. And annoying to me after a very short time. Fortunately he didn’t play it much.

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Christabel and the Jons closed out the evening and, as always, gave an interesting, though mellow show. Her soft swing had couples on the dance floor, as had Ian Thomas before her. Highlights for me included her versions of a couple of Hank Williams songs as well as a Webb Pierce song. Now that’s real country music. In that universe maybe Ian could be a star, as well as Christabel.

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville

It all ended around eleven and the crowd went home happy. I think a number of us were excited to think about night two. I’ll cover it in another post.