The fourth edition of Scruffy City Roots happens tonight at 7:00 at the Square Room on Market Square. Unfortunately, I’ll miss this one and it looks to be a very good show. Longtime Knoxville favorite Mic Harrison, currently promoting his new album, “Still Wanna Fight,” which has a national release date of July 3 but is currently available in Knoxville only at the Disc Exchange will start the night with a Knoxville flair.
Scott Miller, who still considers Knoxville his town will play next along with Rayna Gellert. The two currently have a five-song EP called CoDependents which features Scott’s writing and vocals and Rayna’s strings and vocals. Tony Furtado who played Rhythm and Blooms and won many Knoxville fans with his instrumental prowess will return with a slot at tonight’s show. Ending the evening will be Lera Lynn whose excellent songwriting and powerful vocals form a deadly Americana double threat.
The photographs on today’s blog are from last month’s show which featured Todd Steed as the MC in place of Scott Miller. Todd’s wit and humor served him well in the guest slot. He insisted throughout the evening that Scott Miller was coaching a Boy Scout softball team that had made their way into the championship game. He took advantage of every trip to the stage to update the audience on the score in the big game.
Humming House opened the night and their harmonies and enthusiasm provided a rousing start to the evening. Their music tended toward string-band, old time with a very modern twist. They inhabit the same musical orbit as Old Crow Medicine Show. If this was an average night they would have easily been one of the best acts on stage. Average didn’t exist on this night.
The Theorizt played the second slot and, in some respects, seemed like an unlikely crowd favorite. They play very loudly and the middle-aged all-white audience would not be expected to be crazy about a hip-hop band. Of course, I love the guys. I think they make very intelligent, intricate hip-hop that supersedes the limitations of the genre. The guitar alone is worth the price of admission and Black Atticus is a poet on a hip-hop stage. They are truly a singular act and the audience at Scruffy City Roots totally got them. They had the crowd going crazy by the time they left the stage.
Who would want to follow that? What if you were a gospel singer doing a solo set with your guitar? Mike Farris is no ordinary gospel singer. He’s no ordinary singer at all. He so incorporates elements of blues and rhythm and blues into his set that it is sometimes hard to believe you are listening to gospel music. His vocals rank among the very best I’ve ever heard and his charisma reduces the audience to his minions. The crowd would simply not stop cheering at the end of his set. He has an album in the works and it is definitely one I’ll be ready for.
Will Hoge took the headlining slot and at the beginning of the evening I fully expected him to get the most response. He’s had some limited radio success and has played with some of the bigger names in country music including Keith Urban and Vince Gill. His gravely voice manages to be melodic while maintaining an aggressive edge. He seems to have a very large up side and I expect we’ll hear one or more of his songs on the country charts in the future.
Still, the biggest crowd response for the night probably went to Mike Farris who simply fills a room when he enters. Second would have to go to The Theorizt, which is no slight to the other two acts, it was simply an excellent night of music. The various artists all gathered onstage for a final, moving rendition of “The Weight” as a tip of the hat to Levon Helm who recently died. Mike Farris stated he would include a Levon Helm song every night from now forward.
And that’s what I’ve come to expect from this amazing series. You simply must make it to these shows, if not tonight, soon. Tonight would be your wisest course of action. A conflict in my schedule will leave my seat empty tonight, why not take it?