It’s that time of the month again, and this may just be the one event that you can count on me blogging about each time it rolls around. It’s beyond great in a sea of greatness that is the Knoxville artistic community. With Scott Miller hosting each month, Jack Neely interviewing some of the wittiest people you’d ever want to listen to (Ben Taylor and Casey Driessen were hilarious last month) and four great musical acts combining the local and the national, you just can’t go wrong.
Tickets are cheap $10 advance and $15 at the door – and you are guaranteed to get more than your money’s worth. To have such quality artists in an intimate setting rarely lines up on a regular basis and you have it right now, if you support it. The Square Room can accommodate several hundred, though only a hundred or so are seated at this show (get there early) and last time ample room awaited people who didn’t show.
Every show features a blend of artists I know and artists with whom I’m less familiar. Often I have an opinion about who will be my favorite and I leave the show with an altered view. The most fun follows the show when arguments erupt among friends as to which performer topped the others.
This month’s show features local favorite, Kevin Abernathy, whose recent album “Some Stories,” drew the highest praise from Wayne Bledsoe I think I’ve ever read in one of his columns. Kevin is always a treat and he’s joined for this show by Missy Raines and the New Hip who are said to blend jazz, blue grass and rhythm and blues. The Ragbirds will also appear and are said to feature, “a fusion of folk-rock and pop hooks over danceable world rhythms.” Rounding out the quartet of artists will be Seryn who promises to be in similar vein to the Ragbirds.
The photographs sprinkled throughout this article are from last month’s show. As always, Scott gets the music started off in typically excellent fashion. Kelly McRae‘s smooth, rich vocals and acoustic band got the evening started with their country-influenced sound. She was followed by Casey Driessen who is best known for his work with the Sparrow Quartet which featured Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Casey and Ben Sollee. You might think it would be hard for a solo fiddle player to entertain an audience, but Casey uses loops as he plays to produce a full-band effect. He simply wowed the crowd.
Bronze Radio Return turned in an energetic set that reminded me of Mumford and Sons. There seems to be, predictably, a lot of that going around lately. The lead singer, who acted a bit unbalanced was fascinating to watch and they played capably enough. It didn’t strike a chord with me – much as Mumford and Sons haven’t, yet – though I’ll say I liked their music better listening to the studio versions.
Ben Taylor, son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, held the featured spot and filled it admirably. Easily predicted, he has an excellent voice, a folky style, competent and entertaining songs and he’s charming on a stage. Could anything else have been a genetic possibility? I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed him. He tells great stories and had to be one of the best interviews Jack has done for this series. He’s truly a serious artist worth watching. I hope there’s a place for him in today’s world of synthetic music.
So, there you have it: Scruffy City Roots. Get over to the Square Room and grab some tickets. I absolutely promise you that you will be glad you did.