You know a pop culture “thing” is probably on its way out when I realize it’s happening, so it is with some trepidation that I point out a little Indie mini-trend. For the last several months I’ve noticed an increasing trend of cross-pollination between musical and acrobatic arts. I first had a few photographs of the trend here with Hudson K and the Angela Howard Circus at the YWCA Gym at First Night Knoxville.
The next time I saw such a thing it involved the Lonetones with Lisa McLeod and Jake Weinstein at Waynestock in the Relix Theater. Lisa and Jake are sometimes seen around downtown on stilts, generally with Jake playing a squeezebox, but that night they worked the trapeze while the band played.
Generally a trapeze is involved with one or two performers moving in the air to the music. Variations abound, such as hooping to the music most recently seen at Cinco De Mayo during King Super and the Excellents’ set. That same night and others I’ve seen fire twirling set to the music. None of it is carefully choreographed, but the performers smoothly sync their varying arts.
Recently I was able to hear a great night of music involving some examples of this unique marriage of arts. First I heard Jenna and the Accidentals at KMA and that’s always good. With the Accidentals Jenna emphasizes more R and B and funk, whereas with the Cool Friends she focuses like a laser on the blues. In whatever case, she was excellent at Alive After Five. I always have a hard time taking good photographs in that space. The light there kills me.
From there I walked back into downtown and actually got in my car. The next show was at Relix and I’m not quite good with taking that long walk at night even though I hate getting in my car to drive to music when so much is walkable from downtown. Happy Holler is aobut a mile and a half from the center city. Relix is the other of my photographic nemesises (Is that a word?). I’ve never been happy with my pictures there and on this night Hudson K would perform and I’ve never gotten good pictures of Christina. I wound up working almost exclusively with a zoom lens.
HuDost opened the night with Moksha Sommer and Jemal Hines were joined onstage by Melissa Hyman on cello and Nate Barrett on drums. I’ve written about their music a couple of times before having heard them at Preservation Pub and on the Blue Plate Special. Their music is Americana/Middle Eastern/Indie music. It’s really indescribable and awesome. Moksha is an excellent vocalist and Jimal is an amazing guitarist. Melissa is great on the cello and adds a little glow to any performance while Nate, member of Hudson K is everybody’s favorite drummer.
The acrobatics for the night were provided by Biz’Cirque and the Wing Project. In addition to the trapeze we enjoyed an impressive sword-play deomonstration and hooping. I think I could watch a beautiful woman hoop for hours and never get tired of it. If backed with great music it’s a spell-binding thing. All those elements were in place that night.
This night marked the first time I’d heard HuDost with a drummer and it added tremendously to the sound. Of course, Nate Barrett can make anyone sound better and Moksha and Jimal can make a lot of noise on their own. Melissa had joined them for a few dates and fit seamlessly with the sound.
Hudson K performed the final set and they were really on. The sound was good for them after a bit of problem during the set by HuDost. Their music is difficult to describe. It assumes the quirkiness of Christina Horn who seems to have made quirkiness into a science. Her ever-evolving hair style and dress is often as surprising as the music. And the music was excellent. I was able to hear nuance to their music that due to poor sound or too much volume I’ve missed before.
Biz’Cirque and the Wing Project made the night all the more magical and I think we will likely see more of this type artistic marriage for a while. I’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil, but I’m thinking their may be some artistic connection or similarity. I’d encourage you to find one of these troups and enjoy their magical acrobatic aerobatics. Of course, I’d encourage you to catch these great bands.
One final musical word for today: great music will be heard in Knoxville for the next couple of nights. Justin Townes Earle will play the Square Room on Thursday night and his country/Americana is well worth your money and time. His father is Steve Earle and that is completely irrelevant once you hear Justin. While there may be connections in their music, Justin has charted his own course as he’s matured as a musician and found his own sound.
Also, Blue Mother Tupelo will play Boyd’s Jig and Reel on Friday night. Go. See. Them. I wrote about their previous show at Boyd’s which was absolutely phenominal. Get there early to find a good perch for the show. The food at Boyd’s is superb and if you’re lucky, you might get the waitress(the blonde) who is pictured above- and below – as part of the Wing Project.