The first night set the bar high and the second night met the challenge. Paige Travis hosted and the night started off with a bit of an International flair with Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego. Kukuly Uriarte has called Knoxville home for some years, but was born in Buenos Aires, which is a long way from Tennessee. Her music is a fusion of South American folk and Americana with a little jazziness thrown in for fun.
One highlight of the night for me was her version of a song from the St. James Hotel recordings. That’s pretty deep digging into Knoxvilliana for a local person, let alone someone who wasn’t born here. Her rendition of this early country song was just as convincing as her delivery of folk songs from South America. With her distinctive, tasty guitar licks, excellent vocals and crack backing band, this is a very nice group to catch. She’s very photogenic, too, don’t you think?
After South American folk music, then entertainment turned to just what you might expect in east Tennessee: Klezmer music! Dor L’ Dor who appear to be a dominant force in the field brought their updated version of Jewish music to the stage with all its quirkiness. The guys had fun with the obvious unique nature of the music, sometimes blending Elvis tunes into the middle of traditional Jewish songs. Still, it’s not often around town that one hears songs sung in Yiddish and the beautiful vocals were well delivered by a lovely young lady. Of course, it’s not over until the Shofar says it’s over.
Johnny Astro and the Big Bang rocked the house with their big sound and high energy rock and roll. I’d heard a bit about them around town, but this was my first chance to see them live. They lived up to the buzz and I’d enjoy hearing them again. The dual lead guitars were a pleasure with all-around excellent work. The music shares a bit with punk as far as attitude – much of it seemed angry, though I couldn’t catch all the lyrics. In another sense, it’s just old-fashioned, angry rock and roll. There may be a little Black Keys influence going on. Good stuff.
Guy Marshall is another band making quite a buzz lately and I’d missed them around town, so I was glad to see them up next. Husband and wife team Adam and Sarrenna McNulty share lead vocals, but Adam is the center of the dynamic of the band with a quirky charisma. Some of the songs veered in a alt-folk direction while others were more alt-country.
At least one of the songs reminded me very strongly of the Felice Brothers and it occurred to me what a perfect opening band Guy Marshall would make for them. Memo to the Felice Brothers. For this night, they would be the band I would most likely buy their CD (of the ones I don’t already have) and I believe I understood they are going into the studio soon.
Sam Quinn sprang into action next and showed me what I’d missed with the Everybodyfields. I’ve heard Jill Andrews from that band and I’ve seen Sam Quinn playing behind Jamie Cook, but Everybodyfields broke up before I got to see them and I’d never heard Sam’s vocals, which are powerful and unique. I honestly wasn’t sure about it at first, but he really grew on me through the set and won me over. Some of the music reminded me of the Flying Burrito Brothers. That late-sixties/early-seventies connection was cemented during the finale when he returned to perform excellent versions of “Like a Hurricane” and “Cortez the Killer,” both Neil Young songs.
It didn’t hurt anything for Sam that he was joined by Jamie Cook on drums and Tom Pryor on guitar, both on loan from the Black Lillies. Tom, particularly, was a show of his own. He came into the hall at the last possible minute, never took off his coat and kept his toboggan on for a long time. He looked as if he’d slept in his car for the last several days and the band didn’t seem to have practiced enough to coordinate their efforts without significant instructional time between songs. Sound like a mess? It wasn’t. A recording would not reveal any of the onstage disarray. Tom just gets more and more amazing on guitar. The second they finished, he grabbed his equipment and ran out the door.
Paige Travis, the host for the evening, introduced Wayne Bledsoe who teased her about writing him an irate letter years ago complaining about his review of a Judy Bats album. Wayne thanked everyone for supporting Waynestock and briefly relived its origins before introducing the Tim Lee Three to guide a rotating group of musicians through the finale.
Tim and Susan were joined onstage by Greg Horne who took a turn at a solo number. Kevin Abernathy joined and the entourage perform his “Drama House.” Black Atticus took a turn or two as soloist and guest rapper, followed by Sam Quinn who performed the Neil Young numbers. Mike McGill, of the Drunk Uncles, joined in for several spirited numbers including the crowd-pleasing “Women, Whiskey and Pain.”
R.B. Morris eventually joined the growing throng for a couple of songs including the glorious “Then There is a City,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs by anybody. Black Atticus added a little hip-hop sensibility to “Distillery.” Jodie Manross joined for “Angel from Montgomery,” dueting beautifully with R.B.
It was worth the price of admission to hear R.B. sing, “When I was a young girl . . .” The night ended, for me, with Bill Alexander and Cecilia Miller dancing to the final notes before we all spilled out into the night sometime after 1:00 AM Sunday morning, a very satisfied crowd.