Wayne Bledsoe recently wrote of a night in Knoxville in which he heard an incredible range of music and declared this a golden era for our local music scene. His suggestion was to get out and enjoy it or regret it later. It’s very good advice. From Friday evening through Saturday evening this past week I was able to hear jazz (twice), the blues, Spoken Word with Music, Hip Hop, Indie and Symphonic Pop. I did this without going to any of my four typical music venues, Pilot Light, Barleys, Boyd’s Jig and Reel or Preservation Pub. I didn’t attend the WDVX Blue Plate Special nor did I make it to Market Square for Irish and Irish-Punk sounds there.
For now, I’ll stick to Friday. I started my evening at the Knoxville Museum of Art to the blues sounds of Bad Moon Blues Band. They pride themselves in playing the typically underplayed blues songs, from deep cuts from your favorite blues artists to songs by artists of which most of us have never heard. The guitar and saxophone work sparkled from beginning to end in this delightful show. As with all Alive After Five shows, the band had the crowd up and dancing. You owe it to yourself to catch one of these Friday shows.
A bit of the blues under my belt, I stopped by Market Square, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Then I did something I very rarely do on a weekend: I got into my Prius. A party waited at Ijams, which seems like downtown’s little wilderness, so I’ll claim it for this blog. I stopped at James White Fort and took a photograph of our favorite city as the sun set.
After crossing the bridge and wending my way through Island Home I arrived at Ijams, which is just over two miles from my downtown home. The occasion was the Glowtastic Classic Bash, an event celebrating birthdays for Stephanie, Whitney, and Amanda. After the event was planned, Whitney learned she would be leaving Knoxville for Florida and the party took on an additional farewell to Whitney theme.
Party goers were encouraged to wear white and/or glowing objects of whatever sort. There were flashing rings and shirts, glowing earings, LED Hoola Hoops and more. I dressed in black, of course, which unfortunately highlighted the lint on my jacket under the glow of the black light. Not cool. A single bright light illuminated the band while a small disco ball hovered over their heads. A bright fire blazed outside.
The ambiance generated by all these various light sources and the glow of the party goers (and my jacket lint, lest ye forget) made for a magical setting. The wine helped with that, as well. Unfortunately, my strength in photography is shooting perfectly still objects in the harsh noonday sun. I found if I didn’t use a flash, I got a blur. The flash allowed me to capture the scene, but it destroyed the cool lighting. I start photography classes tonight so I can serve you better in the future.
When I arrived, Laith Keilany played his oud and Preston Davis played a groove on his double bass while Charity Edward wore out a LED illuminated hoola hoop. It was just the beginning of the mash-up of artistic expression to be found throughout the evening. Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet delivered their spoken-word, jamming groove set next. Charity danced with them, as well. Sometime member Ben Maney is one of my favorite musicians to watch and he played the keyboard into submission. Jack sometimes wore a skull, sometimes a beret and always wore his smirk as he spat out his jaded observations about life in our corner of the planet and beyond.
Black Atticus brought his freestyling hip-hop self to the stage next and wove a birthday message to the ladies of the night (!) into his stream-of-consciousness wordplay. Backing was provided by remnants of the quartet.
The night ended with a performance by Nate Barrett (drums) and Christina Horn (keyboards and vocals) of Hudson K. For some portions of their set they were joined by Claire Metz dancing and performing with her sword. The interplay of the music and Claire’s exotic movements formed a perfect match. Christina and Claire’s friendship probably plays a part in making it all work better as they each weave their art to augment that of the other.
So, it was a great night of music, right? But there was more. I ended the evening quietly, back in the city at Bella Luna on the square where the jazz played until midnight thanks the dancing riffs of Emily Mathis on Keyboard and her mellow vocal stylings. Backed by some of the very best jazz musicians in the city (and beyond), Donald Brown, Keith Brown and Jamel Mitchell, it’s solid enough to please the hardest to please jazz snob. Kelle Jolly joined her for a couple of songs and added her flourish, as well, providing just another facet to a multi-faceted line-up.
So, the night finally ending, I walked home with some of the best sounds our city has to offer rolling around in my head. This truly must be a golden era. There is a sparkling array of stars within reach on any given Friday or Saturday night in the city. As Mr. Bledsoe said, you are either relishing it or later you will regret it. Get out and support live music.
And happy birthday ladies and, sadly, goodbye Whitney.