I’ll wrap up my coverage of Waynestock with this post. In case you missed it and would like to see photographs of the second night, I posted that on Saturday in a departure from my usual schedule of taking one day off a week. I do not have time to do justice to this final installment as it is after midnight and I’m looking at about four hours sleep before I go to work.
I will say that I heard some amazing music all weekend and especially on Saturday night. I already own CDs by many of the artists who performed, but I picked up two new ones and they come highly recommended: The Barstool Romeos rocking country disk “Twisted Steel Sex Appeal” and John Myers, soul and gospel “I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” Very, very good stuff if you like that kind of music.
The final night started off with Jamie Cook who plays a regular guitar upside down because he is left handed. It gives his playing an entirely different sound and, I think, has an impact on his superb songwriting. Until last year he was the drummer for the Black Lilies, but left the group and now works with his own band. I’ve heard him acoustic and, now, electric and both ways are very good.
The act that stole the show, for me, on Saturday night was the John Myers Band. It was like a tent revival in the old south when he took the stage. Radiating an uplifting message throughout both gospel and secular soul songs, the performance was rapturous. John, originally from Tennessee, performed in rhythm and blues groups from the fifties into the seventies, but settled in Knoxville in the 1980s. He performs at odd spots around town from time to time (truck stops, Time Warp Tea Room, east Knoxville bars) and you really owe it to yourself to go see him when you get the chance.
Donald Brown brought his internationally recognized gifts to the stage, but leaned a bit heavier on soul and rhythm and blues than the classic jazz for which he is most famous. The show got off to a fun start with a cover of Booker T. and the MGs’ hit “Time is Tight” and it never slowed down, skillfully moving from jazz to r and b and back again. Ace players including the guitar instructor from the UT jazz program accompanied him, making the entire experience an aural delight.
From the first chords struck by JC and the Dirty Smokers, their show delivered fun and funny songs played with skill and precision. Their humor doesn’t overwhelm their care for the music, which I really appreciate. Even in a song with intentionally funny lyrics, the music is given center stage. They are a fun band to hear and you get the chance this week at Barley’s. Check out yesterday’s schedule post for the upcoming week for details.
I’ve seen Senryu at least three times, maybe four. Recently I’ve seen them at the opening of Scruffy City Hall, so I’ve had a chance to give them a repeated listen in a short amount of time. I’m not sure what has happened or if it is a combination of factors, but I like them better every time I hear them. Have they improved? Do I just “get it” now in a way I didn’t at first? I’m not sure. It’s a lesson that I probably shouldn’t write about a band until I know their music pretty well. Their songs are clever, sometimes funny and profound at the same time and melodically challenging. Rhythms change dramatically and without warning during a single song. And somehow it all works and comes across as pure fun.
The night ended with a tribute to Lou Reed featuring artists from throughout the weekend in an allstar band of sorts. Performances by Kevin Abernathy, Sean McCollough and others provided multiple highlights. While there was no “Walk on the Wild Side,” a sweeping sing-along version of “Sweet Jane” ended the night. The song also drew Wayne Bledsoe onto the dance floor which was fun for all to behold. While he was there the crowd joined in a truly heartfelt “Happy Birthday” to Wayne about 1:00 in the morning, ending another great Waynestock Festival. If you missed it this year, you really should consider catching it next time around.