It’s nearly 12:30 AM as I’m writing this post, so you’ll see more photographs than words so I can get a little sleep before I go to work in a few hours. Tonight marked the kick-off of the fourth annual Waynestock Festival. It’s a great event benefiting various charities each year. For a $5 per night admission, it’s an amazing chance to get to know a range of local talent.
The first night kicked off with a songwriter panel discussion moderated ably by Tim Lee. Tim and Susan Lee are often credited in the Knoxville music community as being the heart behind the scene. It wasn’t the heart that was so much on display in the panel discussion as it was the intellect, both of Tim as moderator and the songwriters as they each discussed their craft.
Each attempted to detail their creative process and each of them detailed it differently. Sam Quinn described his songs as very personal and depressing, but I found his song about his father to be touching and personal, but not so depressing. His other song, well, I think I caught a line about “shoveling dirt in my mouth,” so depressing might cover that one.
Mike McGill writes for his solo work, but also for various other projects including the Drunk Uncles and the Barstool Romeos. In the funniest line of the night, he said he deals with writer’s block by watching “Everybody Loves Raymond.” His songs are more in a classic country vein and his rich voice suits them beautifully. If you haven’t heard the Barstool Romeos, you owe it to yourself to do so – and you have a chance tonight at Waynestock 2014 – so leave the house, drop five dollars and do it.
Black Atticus writes hip hop songs for his group Theorizt and hip hop and poetry pieces for himself. He talked about the idea that rap isn’t music, speaking in awed tones about the work Tu Pac did and how his songs can be laid down over musical tracks of all sorts and it works. Atticus says he likes to have an idea sit around a while before he works it into a song. He performed two spoken word pieces with musical choruses and each were stunning.
I’ve spoken about Kevin Abernathy before and how much I enjoyed his “Some Stories” album which came out in 2012. He has a band which totally rocks out and his solo acoustic work, which he said represents different sides of his art. An excellent guitar player, as well as vocalist, he confesses to writing songs from other people’s perspectives with very little autobiography slipping in.
Christina Horn is best known as the front-woman for Hudson K, a two piece indie rock band with Nate Barrett on drums. Classically trained, she talked about how her background informs her song writing. I found it fascinating that she has shifted instruments, going with more electronics than straight keyboards, which she said was prompted, at least in part, by the idea that she tends to fall back on the same licks on the piano and she didn’t want all her songs to sound the same. With great hooks, powerful vocals and her charismatic presence, they all sound good to me – solo or with Nate.
The Greg Horne Band ended the night with an hour-long set. Greg is one of those players about town who would be on anyone’s short list for the “Most Valuable Player” award. He backs up many people with his guitar and his vocals, but he also fronts a band which includes Barry Po Hannah on guitar, Chris Zuhr on Bass and Nate Barrett on drums. The band’s masculine, aggressive sound was a perfect counterpoint to the solo (mostly) acoustic songs we’d heard earlier. He closed the night with a blistering cover of the Faces “Pool Hall Richard.”
It was a great night and an excellent start to the series. Tonight’s not a work night. Get your dancing shoes on and come down to Relix by 7:00. $5 gets you in the door. Once inside you can buy raffle tickets for some great prizes, hear some great music and enjoy the full bar and Sweet Pea’s barbecue. You’ll be sorry if you miss it!