Tim Lee with Surprise Guests Kevin Abernathy and Greg Horne at the Pilot Light

Tim Lee 3 at Pilot Light, Knoxville, January 2012

This post has been slow in coming, but the night was so good, I can’t let it pass without a post and a glimpse at some of the pictures. It goes all the way back to First Friday this month. Urban Woman and I had delicious appetizers and beverages at 31 Bistro for a nice low price and then walked to the 100 block where my friend Mustapha was holding his official Grand Opening. We had mini-cupcakes and two great cups of Americano.

Urban Woman decided beauty rest was in order for her, so I walked her home and then went to the KMA for Alive After Five for the Streamliners with RB Morris. It ends early, so around 8:30 I walked over to Morelock Music on Gay street and listened to a little Old Time music for about an hour before walking to the Pilot Light.

Tim Lee, Susan Lee, Greg Horne and Kevin Abernathy

 My plan was to see the Tim Lee Three at 9:00 and then make it to Preservation Pub to hear Hudson K around 10:30. I’d seen nothing to indicate that Tim had an opening act and I knew Hudson K did, and so would be later taking the stage. The first indication that my schedule might not work out was that at 9:00 no one was close to getting on stage. I learned the show would start at 9:30, which I still figured would work out OK. I’d noticed Kevin Abernathy and Greg Horne were hanging out with Tim and Susan Lee, so I figured they would sit in for part of the show.

I talked with Kevin for a bit and learned, among other things, that he and his wife operate a kennel in south Knox County. He and everyone else were kind enough to put up with me while we waited for the show to begin. Of course, they were the show, and I realized Kevin was opening, which was cool, but I sensed Hudson K slipping off my list of possibilities for the evening. Still, it was pleasant watching the crowd slowly build. Most people seemed to have gotten the memo I missed about a later starting time, but the seats are comfortable and the waiting wasn’t unpleasant.

Kevin Abernathy, Pilot Light, Knoxville


Kevin Abernathy, Pilot Light, Knoxville, January 2012

Sometime after 9:30 Kevin took the stage and, as anyone who has heard him would expect, he was as good as ever – and this time with a twist, for me – he played solo acoustic. I’d heard him once before, at the Relix Theater last year, and he played with his band. As you might expect, his acoustic slot really highlighted the songs and the songwriting and I realized both were excellent. His guitar work is always going to be good, but maybe some of these songs get buried behind the band and might benefit from this sort of treatment more often.

Kevin Abernathy with Tim Lee at the Pilot Light

Tim Lee, Kevin Abernathy and Greg Horne, Pilot Light, Knoxville

As his set wound down he invited Greg Horne to sing harmony on a song and he added his great vocal touch. Greg seems to be the guy that all the guys want to sing with. He’s also an excellent musician and songwriter, of course. Tim Lee joined in, also, and the three of them finished Kevin’s set in great style.

Once Susan and Bill Van Vleet joined Tim on stage, the music turned to serious blues-based rock and roll – with a little punk element, I think, but they might disagree. The thing that rings true through every song is that this is a band with real soul. This is no manufactured, auto-tuned sterile money machine, this is a collection of people who want to play honest rock and roll and they know how to do it.

Tim Lee 3, Pilot Light, Knoxville, 2012

Time Lee 3, Pilot Light, Knoxville, January 2012

One of the highlights for me was a slow blues jam that I just could not get enough of. I kept thinking it sounded like some band, but the night was getting late and my poor memory mingled with fatigue and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Until the next day. I had my ipod on shuffle and hit a Zepplin song from, I think, their second album and realized that was it: Tim was channeling Jimmy Page. That might not sound possible if you haven’t heard Tim live. I’m telling you, I’ve heard Jimmy Page live and while I’m not saying Tim is as good as Jimmy Page – and I’m not sure anybody alive is – I’m saying Tim has the chops to bring Jimmy to mind.

Mobile Art Sales in the Old City after midnight

Around midnight I had absorbed all I could take in. I realized I had worked eight hours and then walked or stood for the next seven listening to music all around town. As I walked home I passed Preservation Pub and realized Hudson K was still playing. Maybe if I was sure they would have played a while longer I would have stopped in, but it was late, I was exhausted and I just didn’t have any more fun in me for that night. But it was a great night of music in the city and I went to bed a very happy Urban Guy.

Metropulse Music Hour at the Pilot Light

Pilot Light, 106 East Jackson, Old City, Knoxville, April 2011

April 27 marked the kick-off for what I’m told will be a monthly series. The inaugural show was held at the Pilot Light and featured Shortwave Society. These shows will be free (my favorite price), last one hour (minimal time commitment) and begin at 6:00 PM (before my bedtime). These are all very good features. I’d wanted to attend a show at Pilot Light for some time and I’d wanted to hear some of the bands they host, which seems to be a different set of bands from the ones I run into on my typical rounds. What had prevented me from doing it sooner was the typical starting time of 11:00. I often blog until midnight, but to be out to 1:00 AM or so before trudging home, especially on a work night is a pretty serious decision. I’ve done it, but not often.

Zues in some serious negotiations

On the way to the show I saw Zeus, who I’ve profiled before, but it was interesting to see him in an intense discussion with the manager at Cocoa Moon. He usually hangs back and talks to friends or passes through the square. I would have loved to have heard that conversation.

The most decorated of them all.

Knoxville Pipes and Drums, Market Square, April 2011

Next I ran into the KPD: Knoxville Pipes and Drums. After all that talk through the years of wondering what is under the kilt, I’d really be interested in knowing what’s in their head. I think I could bring myself to wear a big furry hat and a dress on the square for a large amount of money, but I don’t think I could keep a straight face. It’s good someone preserves such things, I suppose, and who can resist an extended bagpipe solo?

Short Wave Society at the Pilot Light, Knoxville, April 2011

Sarah Hurd on violin, Short Wave Society, Pilot Light, Knoxville, April 2011

By the time I got to Pilot Light Short Wave Society had started their show and a crowd of about thirty people had gathered, including a few I recognized from various downtown connections. My longer-term, regular readers may remember a post about the filming of a music video downtown which featured this band. They consisted of four members on this day, with Alexia Pantanizopoulos, who was in the video, missing from the lineup, leaving Curtis Green on drums, vocals and electronic beat processing, Grant Geren on guitar and vocals, Jason Day on keyboards and Sarah Hurd on violin, vocals and xylophone. The show spotlighted songs from their most recent CD, Voyeur.

Short Wave Society
Short Wave Society

Metropulse noted that their sound is difficult to describe or categorize and I certainly agree. Synthesizer and computer are as integral to the sound as guitar and drums. At various moments I could detect similarities or connections to Radiohead, the Kinks, Devo, the Dixie Dregs and Talking Heads. And that was one song. It really is a musical mash-up of epic proportions. The music is melodic and the superb, often falsetto harmonies really did remind me of the Kinks, though nothing else in the music likely would do so. Often changing tempos in an instant, moving from heavy guitar instrumentation to a few delicate notes on the xylophone, the mix is what makes the band riveting. 

Short Wave Society at the Pilot Light, Sarah Hurd on xylophone, April 2011

When you are feeling a bit musically adventurous, I’d encourage you to catch up with these guys. How many times have you pondered music and thought to yourself, “There definitely isn’t enough xylophone in rock and roll?” These guys are your answer. I’m posting a video below that gives you a pretty good sample of thier sound.

Civil Wars Erupts in Knoxville

Not the Civil War – the Civil Wars. Never heard of them? You must be really old. Like maybe twenty-six or seven. Judging from the audience assembled for their performance, the demographic definitely skews young. If that’s the case how does an over-thirty bloggaman find out about them? From his friend’s twenty-something, much-cooler-than-we-are daughter, that’s how. She encouraged her father to catch the 9:00 show at the Pilot Light, but he found that there was a 6:00 show at Disc Exchange, which is much better for aging working men.

The duo, comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White have enjoyed a couple of very big breaks. First, their song “Poison and Wine,” was featured in its full version on Gray’s Anatomy which resulted in a surge of itunes sales. Next, Taylor Swift called them her “favorite duo” and they were on their way. Their first full length CD, Barton Hollow, just came out and debuted at number twelve on the Billboard Charts and sat at number one on itunes for a week.

I listened to them on itunes and I wasn’t that taken. I could hear the good harmonies, but I didn’t hear enough of the edginess that I like in my music. Their sound definitely tilts in the direction of Americana, with a sort of alternative twist on folk music. At first it hit me as the Peter, Paul and Mary end of the folk spectrum as opposed to the Dylan extreme.

There were probably a hundred or more people gathered at the Disc Exchange for the live WFIV broadcast, which is a pretty big crowd for a space not built for crowds. The couple arrived at showtime and after a brief sound check and an extended guitar tuning adventure (it looked like a very old Martin – maybe a classical model similar to Willie Nelson’s famous guitar), they moved into the music.

Both their mannerisms and their vocal styling is more than a little quirky. In turns belting out harmonies and then, quickly shifting to delicate falsetto harmonies their music virtually demands intense concentration. And they got it. Throughout their set, hardly a stir was heard until the final, often very soft note. They seemed like a warmly genuine young couple (as in a couple in a group, not in a romantic couple – they are each married to someone else), staying in the store to smile for pictures and sign copies of their CD.

I’ll leave you with the video for “Poison and Wine” so you can form your own opinion. Sometimes for reasons I cannot control, blogger does not display video properly. If that happens when you are viewing the video, you can see it properly here.