Tonight is the third installment of Scruffy City Roots hosted by the Square Room and produced for local network and state-wide public television and broadcast live here, it’s a can’t-miss monthly feature on the Knoxville music scene. I’ve not missed one so far, and I plan to be there early tonight to get a seat. Each of the last two performances have been standing-room-only. You can find my comments and photographs from the inaugural show here.
The photographs in this post are from the second installment and it was a wonderful show. Callaghan opened the show and I think she was Urban Woman’s favorite. Talented and beautiful, she is very kind to the ears and to a camera. While Urban Woman found her silky smooth vocals and easy-listening style just the soothing antidote to a long day at work, I need a little more edge to my music and the rest of the night would provide just that.
Knoxville’s own Short Wave Society took the stage next and, while Urban Woman didn’t get them, I really enjoyed them. I first blogged about them here when they showed up at my home and virtually begged me to write a blog. Next I saw them at Pilot Light and wrote about it here. It was my first time to listen to their music and I came away very impressed. That was the case this time around with their catchy melodies and quirky, unpredictable tempo changes. Radiohead comes to mind, but maybe with more punch. This is a very creative aggregation of musicians who we’ll likely hear from for quite some time.
Mariah McManus followed Short Wave Society and it was hard to imagine a twelve-year-old following the ambient attack by her predecessors, but she held her own in fine fashion. Actually, I’m told she is twenty, and while she hardly looks the part, she sounds every bit like a thirty-year-old whose seen the world and come back to tell the story. Her voice is powerful and has just enough edge to keep my interest. She seems destined for a higher orbit. I’d encourage you to find her music and check her out.
Lanhorne Slim was the headliner for the night. In town for the Rhythm and Blooms Festival, he would headline on the Market Square Stage the following night. In a word, he was phenomenal. A folk singer? Yes, but – with edge, energy and wit. Less James Taylor and more John Prine with a stronger voice, he’s a force in concert and he easily had the audience in his control.
The night was hosted by Benny Smith and Scott Miller and interviews were conducted by Jack Neely. As with the first show, there was a large finale, but this time it had a bit of a twist. Instead of all the performers gathering onstage for a song they all know, Mr. Miller had something just a bit perverse in mind: a poetic recitation. The group took turns reading verses of Robert Service’s poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” which seemed to please some of the cast and baffle others. I’ve included a video of it below for your pleasure.
Tonight’s lineup will be just as good, with Will Hoge, Humming House, Mike Farris (who I recently featured and included a video here) and Theorizt, Knoxville’s premier hip-hop band. It promises to be a great time. The show starts at 7:00, but I wouldn’t be much after 6:00 getting there if I were you. And if I were you I’d definitely be there. Seriously.