If Friday night was bizarre at Pilot Light, and it was, Saturday evening was at the very least, eclectic and unusual at the Relix Theater in Happy Holler. The event was billed as a Grand Opening for Raven Records a few doors down and a fund-raiser for WUTK, but neither function took center stage.
The event started early for a venue like Relix, with Bradley Reeves of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Images and Sound (TAMIS). For the last several years he and his wife have devoted themselves to locating and preserving movies and sound recordings from the east Tennessee Area. They generally show some of the films on First Friday at the East Tennessee History Center on Gay Street.
On tap for this night was the first public showing of the director’s cut of “Incoming Freshmen.” It was an early version of the teen exploitation film which would ultimately produce “classics” like “Porky’s,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “American Pie” and a large number of others. What made this film interesting for the audience present was that it was written and filmed by UT students in the 1970s with extensive footage of UT and the strip as well as a few surrounding areas.
The film is pretty awful as far as plot and most of the acting. Interestingly, when it was picked up for distribution nationally it was altered dramatically and much more extensive nudity was included. This meant that the director’s cut has less nudity than the theatrical release which is the opposite of what you might expect. At least one person was present who was in some of the shots in the film. The rather large audience assembled reacted most to shots of campus from the 1970s.
My favorite part of the evening came next and was also presented by TAMIS: The Best of Cas Walker. While I’m very familiar with different parts of the Cas Walker legend, I’m not sure I’d ever seen footage of the show and while it was still on the air when I arrived in Knoxville I don’t remember ever watching it.
Seeing his rants on video had the crowd laughing from beginning to end. He explained (this was on television) that nothing is illegal if you don’t get caught. In running for office he stated he’d always been honest, though he was considering changing his ways given the behavior of others on council. He announced on television that one of his grocery managers would soon be fired. And on it went.
The musical section of the evening featured a good line-up. I finally got what I consider to be pretty good pictures of Jack Rentfro, Laith Keilany and Ben Maney. I promise I’ll slow down on publishing their photographs for a while. Jack’s poetry simply rocks and he continually surrounds himself with the best musicians. Please see them when you have the chance.
I stayed through The French and I enjoyed them. Their muscular, driving sound defines them as much as the quirkiness of their lyrics. While they aren’t necessarily my kind of band, I can see that others would really enjoy them. They remind me of Junior Brown, who I also never quite warmed up to, in that if you like a bit of humor in your music, you’ll probably enjoy them. For me it wears a bit thin after a bit, but it’s probably just me.
I’m not inclined to consecutive nights out after midnight, so I left after The French. The takeaway for me was that I want Jack Rentfro to get into the studio and I wish more people could see them. Also, I want to see more of what TAMIS has to offer. I’d encourage you to seek out both Jack and TAMIS.