The absolute best weekly show downtown returns tonight at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Hosted by Paige Travis and Bob Deck for WDVX, Tennessee Shines airs from 7:00 to 8:00 PM each Monday night. Most often, two artists perform for a live audience with the interview questions interspersed. Generally a writer joins the mix adding poetry, fiction or non-fiction to the mix. Once the radio broadcast ends at 8:00 the live audience is treated to another thirty minutes of exceptional music.
The series actually started several years ago as a monthly event at the Bijou. This was during the phase in my life that Urban Woman and I were coming to understand we needed to move downtown. We didn’t see all the shows at the Bijou, but we caught a good many. Jim Lauderdale hosted a fast-paced two-hour show that was filmed for viewing on public television and WBIR.
Eventually, sponsorship and possibly other problems weighed on the project and it didn’t seem practical to move forward. Later it was reborn in the form it now assumes – weekly with a slightly different format. It’s a quick fun hour-and-a-half and I always learn something by listening to the performers talk about their music. Often I discover a good writer during the literary portions and it is always a good time.
The photographs in this post are from the last show I attended before the summer break. Chip Taylor is best known as the writer of “Angel of the Morning” and “Wild Thing.” It’s hard to imagine two songs much farther apart and sort of amazing to consider they each came from the same pen. He’s also performed with a who’s who of artists, produced many of them and also has had a steady, if not so commercially successful, solo career.
Tonight’s show features a couple of artists I’ve heard before and truly enjoyed. I caught Count This Penny at Boyd’s Jig and Reel last year and found their show to be a delight. The couple has been likened unto Everybody Fields, the Civil Wars and the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris duets. I’m not sure I would completely agree with these comparisons, but it gets you in the neighborhood. Their biggest success to date is playing with Garrison Keilor on the Prairie Home Companion.
Jay Clark is a local singer/songwriter and has a special gift of wit and poignancy that informs his song writing. Alternately making the audience laugh and want to cry, his songs are superb jewels. He’s also a gifted story-teller and we’re likely to see a bit of that side of his personality tonight. Joining them will be humorist Elizabeth Rose.
I can’t end today’s post without noting there is a 10:00 show at Barley’s which will absolutely blow your mind. Casey Driessen, who performs today on the Blue Plate Special and has previously performed on Tennessee Shines will be joined by a full band including local bass magician Daniel Kimbro. Casey plays fiddle, but that doesn’t begin to cover what he does. He’s played with Bela Fleck in the Sparrow Quartet, but his solo work is what sets him apart. This would be a good one to catch after the Tennessee Shines show.