Tennessee Songwriters Week Knoxville Showcase, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, February 2023
In 2019, under the hand of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee Songwriters Week was established to celebrate the singers and songwriters, as well as venerable venues that are a part of who we are as a state. Since that time 3,500 songwriters have participated in showcases across the state. Partnering “with The Bluebird Café, NSAI, Taylor Guitars, music venues and local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers and partners across the state, competitions are held leading to the awarding of a Taylor Guitar and a chance to play the Blue Bird Café for each of the winners.
Through the early days of this month, songwriters performed their original works at about 50 state-wide venues. Locally, rounds were held at Geezers Brewery, Barrelhouse by Gypsy Circus, Next Level Brewing, and The Concourse. The winners from these venues, as well as other East Tennessee competitions, joined at the Bijou Theatre last week for the final round to determine the single winner from our region.
The showcase, presented by Visit Knoxville and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, was held last week at the Bijou Theatre. Angie Wilson, of Visit Knoxville, opened the night, which was emceed by Evie Andrus. Past Showcase winners Travis Bigwood and Tyson Leamon performed, opening and closing the show, respectively. Evie dutifully dug deep into her repertoire while the judges deliberated.
For the night, there were sixteen performers, broken into groups of eight before and eight after an intermission. Judging was supplied by an all-star cast from the local music community; Wayne Bledsoe (Knoxville’s finest music critic for the last forty years), Red Hickey (from WDVX), Mick Harrison (long-time writer, singer, and performer, currently with the High Score), and one Emi Sunshine.
In the end, after an evening filled with solid-to-excellent songs, Melanie LaFoy (whose band is Nightjar) took home the Taylor guitar and will perform at the Blue Bird Café representing east Tennessee. It’s an honor for her and she’ll carry a lot of history with her to Nashville representing an area that has produced a large number of great songwriters and artists, including many who left here for Nashville and fortune and fame.