Cafe Four hosts Scruffy City Roots

Set for Scruffy City Roots, Square Room, Knoxville

Hosts for Scruffy City Roots

As I wrote in my guide to music festivals and series recently, it seems the former incarnation of Tennessee Shines has split into to entities. The first is Tennessee Shines at WDVX each Monday night, broadcast live on that station. The other is Scruffy City Roots, live from the Square Room on Market Square, and in some respects it is more like the original Tennessee Shines than is the current Tennessee Shines.

Scruffy City Roots is hosted by Scott Miller with interjections for broadcast and advertising purposes by a WUTK personality and interviews of the musicians by Jack Neely. The entire affair is being leveraged in every direction, with a live radio broadcast on WUTK, segments including backstage footage to be shown on WBIR and thirty minute segments to be broadcast on Public Television later this year. Additionally, it is streamed live via their website (linked above). Got that?

Scott Miller, “I Made a Mess of This Town”

What matters is the quality of the show, of course, and if the first show is any indication, there is no concern on that front. Scott Miller opened with his standard, “I Made a Mess of This Town,” after which he welcomed the studio audience of around three hundred fifty people. Approximately seventy-five seats were provided for the first people to arrive when the doors opened and the others stood behind them. While the view could not have been as good from the back, the enthusiasm seemed to fill the room.

Jack Neely interviews Cruz Contreras and Eric Baker
Rayland Baxter, Scuffy City Roots, Knoxville, March 2012

Odessa Jorgensen and Rayland Baxter, Scruffy City Roots, Knoxville

The first guest artist on the inaugural show was Rayland Baxter, a singer-songwriter from originally from Tennessee and currently living in Nashville, who was accompanied by a lovely violinist, Odessa Jorgensen, who also sang a wonderful harmony. The songs were excellently written and nicely performed and tended toward themes of friends and nature. He said allergies were hurting him, but his vocals sounded good to me. He was prone to whistling a bit and did a great job of it, though I could have used it in fewer songs. It wasn’t until the interview with Jack Neely that I realized that he’s the son of Bucky Baxter, pedal steel guitar player extraordinaire, who I saw perform with Bob Dylan a dozen times or more back in the 90s. (Video of Rayland Baxter at the end of this post)

Delta Rae, Scruffy City Roots, Square Room, Knoxville, March 2012

Delta Rae, Scruffy City Roots, Square Room, Knoxville, March 2012  

Jack Neely interviews members of Delta Rae

The show also included Delta Rae who is not a woman and has no connection to the Delta that I could determine. They are a group from North Carolina and if they haven’t spent some time as a house band in a praise church, I’m really off my game. The gospel influences were clear in their harmonies and the imagery in their lyrics. The group is heavy on harmony vocals to good effect and is probably aided in that effort by the fact that the group includes two brothers and a sister as well as a life-long friend building those harmonies. The music straddles a line somewhere between gospel, pop and Americana and is well worth a listen. (Video at the end of post)

Scruffy City All-Stars, Square Room, Knoxville, March 2012

Cruz Contreras and Eric Baker, Square Room, Knoxville, March 2012

Cruz Contreras and Jill Andrews, Square Room, Knoxville, March 2012

The Scruffy City All-Stars played the last hour of the two hour show and the core of the band included leader Cruz Contreras and two other members of the Black Lilies. Cycling through during the hour were Robinella, Jill Andrews, Eric Baker and a gentleman whose name I did not catch.

“Knoxville Girl”

Robinella performs “Oh Lonesome Me” at the Square Room, Knoxville

The songs were heavy on east Tennessee Roots, with Robinella doing a wonderful “Oh Lonesome Me” in homage to Don Gibson. Cruz and Eric did an excellent rendition of the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie.” The aforementioned gentleman joined Cruze in a morbid (is there another way?) rendition of Knoxville Girl. A Dolly Parton song also worked into the mix, if I recall correctly.

The entire entourage crowded the stage for a finale of “Tennessee Jed,” which seemed appropriate enough. The evening ended on a strong note and everyone went home very happy. I might have liked to have seen R.B. Morris join the band for Thunder Road, but maybe that will happen somewhere down the line.

“Tennessee Jed” performed by the entire musical cast, Square Room

I have to tell you that I will try very hard to be at every one of these shows. It was that good. I’d encourage you to join me. Just don’t get my seat if you want more pictures like these. And speaking of that . . . this is just a fraction of the shots I took. I’ll post these and more in the coming days at my current repository for such things at the Stuck Inside of Knoxville Facebook page. Stop by and see what I’ve got – and “like” it while you are at it.