Rusty Odom and Blank Newspaper have, for the second year in a row, put together an incredible celebration of local and regional musicians, comedians and burlesque performers. It’s a continuation of the many years of excellent support the newspaper has given local music and musicians. This past Saturday beginning at 5:00 PM and running to well past midnight in several venues, the festival took over Market Square.
I’m going to run through my evening quickly – there’s no way I could hit it all – since I’ve spent my day wading through over 300 photographs. I weeded it down to 120, which I’ll post on Inside of Knoxville’s FB page. For now, I’m going to drop a sample on you, with a brief description of what I heard and saw.
I started off at the Market Square Stage with Lilly Hiatt. With fresh material from her recent release, “Royal Blue,” she seems to be having a good time performing the new material. Her powerful vocals are a heavy presence but, like her father, her lyrics are too good to be ignored. She was a great addition to the festival and, in a few years, will probably be seen as an amazing steal for the series.
As a general rule, I try to hear new acts when at one of these amazing showcases. It’s such a chance to catch artists I’ve heard about, but haven’t made it out to see. On the other hand, there are artists I can’t help but see over and over because I love their music so much. One of those bands, for me, is the Barstool Romeos. Mike McGill, Andy Pirkle, Josh Sidman and Eric Keeble have been on my repeated playlist since their 2012 album “Twisted Steel and Sex Appeal,” made it onto my itunes. Real country music looking you straight in the eye without blinking. It’s the honest thing. If you hate current country radio, you’ll love these guys. They were great, as always and had Tim Lee adding his amazing licks over, under and around everything. Great stuff.
The David Mayfield Parade is a fun band I first heard at Rhythm n Blooms. The music is solid and straight-forward. He and the band have great fun without irony. He works up a sweat in the first ten minutes and then spends the rest of the show on his back, off the stage, climbing, crawling and inching his way back up, handing his guitar off to audience members and generally engaging in craziness. He didn’t disappoint in this show and by its end, the crowd was his. I had people around the periphery of the square asking me, “Who was that guy.” Not hard to guess he made some new fans.
Brent Thompson is everybody’s favorite singer, moonshiner, provocateur and general all-around good guy. He’s got his finger in so many things, I’m not sure where he finds time to practice music – at which he is very talented. He and his band gave a very soulful and fun show in Scruffy City Hall.
I also stopped in a couple of times and caught some comedy at Cocoa Moon. Jeff Blank and the other guys with QED Comedy Lab had the crowd – which was substantial-to-packed every time I stopped in – laughing raucously. The Comedy lab improved in defense, alternately, of spoons, forks and sporks. You would have had to be there. I caught the funny set later on by J.C. Ratliff voted the funniest man in the world – or east Tennessee or something. It made his hair turn green, as I understand it.
I always have to hear a little Tim Lee 3 and I caught part of their set in Preservation Pub. They were as good as always: good music and good people. Knoxville is lucky to have them. I also listened to most of Mr. Ill and the Medicine, laying down their fun, old-style hip hop. Wu Tang Clan and more was hurled off the stage. They inspired some of the most interesting dancing of the night.
I ended the night with two bands I’ve heard many times, but enjoy very much each time out. It was a return for the Black Cadillacs in their most recent, stripped down version sans keyboards. If anything, the band seems more energized than ever. Photographing them presented a good challenge simply because of their constant motion. Their 2012 Album “Run” is never far from my playlist. It’s a good one to check out.
I ended the night with Guy Marshall in Preservation Pub where they played to an absolutely packed house. I wrote about them on Friday, so I won’t belabor the point here, but they are one of the very finest groups working in Knoxville today. Lyrically, vocally and instrumentally, they have the whole package. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, more people are catching on to their rising star. If you haven’t bought their recent album, “The Depression Blues,” you’re missing an excellent set of music. Buy it today.
Accolades go to Rusty for pulling this great event together. Blank Newspaper supported the local music community in a massive way for years, now, and continues to do so. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.