Waynestock 2012: For the Love of Phil, Night Three

Wayne Bledsoe, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

The third and final night of Waynestock promised to be the craziest of the bunch and it delivered. The bands were all high-energy and seemed genuinely excited to be there. Wayne Bledsoe spoke and, in the context of his namesake festival, that always seems emotional. As he said, perhaps we can hold this event next year without having suffered a tragedy. Phil’s wife, sister and brother also spoke and his wife, particularly, seemed moved by the outpouring, but also strong and determined to bring home Phil’s belief in the power of music.

Phil Pollard’s wife speaks while his sister and brother look on

Scott and Bernadette West also took the stage, but while Bernadette had difficulty speaking given the emotion of the event, Scott seems to have never met a microphone he wanted to surrender. He proposed a toast or two to Phil as well as telling a funny story about Phil putting together the Band of Humans in less than a day in order to play a slot at Preservation Pub.

The French, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville
The French, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville
The French, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

But, of course, the night, as every night, was about the music. The French started the night with a country-flavored set. It was hard to get a bead on exactly what they were trying to do. I’m pretty sure most of what they sang was serious, but served with a sly glance to the side. They used a good bit of French – and I don’t mean Francois. Some of the songs seemed to need a bit more work with lengthy repetitious lines that could be trimmed entirely or augmented with additional lyrics.

The Theorizt, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

The Theorizt, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

The Theorizt, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

The Theorizt held the second slot for the evening and their performance was strong, but was marred by technical problems. The sound was never quite right all night and in their set, the guitar was inaudible. This is a tremendous loss for any band, but the first time I saw them it was as if the guitar was a third front-man. Not so on this night. I also felt their mikes could have used more treble as I had a hard time understanding most of what was said. I still feel they are bursting with potential and I’m enjoying them in my Ipod.

Todd Steed, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Todd Steed, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Todd Steed, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Todd Steed and Tim Lee, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Todd Steed followed The Theorizt and his set was strong, though heavy on his older material. Dave Nichols played bass (he showed up later in the evening playing various brass instruments) which seems strange to me given his great gift on guitar. Todd took the leads and I have to say I found his playing to be strong throughout the night. Toward the end of his set he was joined by Tim Lee on a flying V guitar and, as you might imagine, the music hit a new level.

Senryu, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Senryu, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Senryu, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Senryu played next and I’ll say they’ve grown on me since last year. I’ll concede the front man, William Wright has a presence, though it’s pretty understated. They are certainly able to captivate a crowd, wild thrashing evident in every direction. Finally, Wayne Bledsoe seems to really like them, so who am I to say anything? I must simply be missing the point. I will say when Wright and the bassist played a stripped down set for the Blue Plate Special recently I was pretty impressed.

Band of Humans, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Band of Humans, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

The finale was the Band of Humans, with many special guests attempting to fill the void left by Phil’s death. It was a fun set that included many of the favorites popularized by Phil and his band. Naturally, the Gettysburg Address had to be read and there were many stovepipe hats and a general craziness from one end of the stage to the other. This set didn’t start until midnight and by 1:30 AM I’d had about all the fun I could take for one night, so Shaft and I headed home.

Band of Humans, Waynestock 2012, Relix Theater, Knoxville

It was another great year for Waynestock and I hope there will be many more. If you’ve missed them so far, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for it next year. There is too much talent in the Knoxville music community to hear it all, but having them all in one space in such a short span of time really helps. And it is just so, so good.


Waynestock 2012: For the Love of Phil, Night Two

The Lonetones, Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

The second night picked up the energy from the first night and cranked it up a notch. I got there a bit late and only caught a portion of Sarah Schwabe’s set and my camera still had issues, so I got no pictures of her performance, which I regret because it was really good and it was obvious she enjoyed being reunited with her Jass Band.

Lisa McLeod and Jake Weinstein perform acrobatics

The Lonetones played next and played with quite a bit of muscle. This was the most rock and roll I’ve ever heard them sound, though they certainly haven’t turned into the Tim Lee Three. I really liked the amped-up sound and the songs they played may have had some new material mixed in. It all sounded very good and their performance feature a guest flutist from the Band of Humans and acrobatics to the side of the stage.

Jack Neely at Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

Jack Neely made an appearance amid references to him being on the stage dressed in a diaper along with Phil Pollard. I missed that one and it isn’t so much an image I’ll dwell on. In any case, he introduced RB Morris who likewise reminisced about Phil and played a great set of somewhat less familiar songs, including “Old Road,” “Dreaming” and “Someone.”

RB Morris at Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

RB Morris at Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

RB Morris at Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

One emotional highlight of the evening was his introduction from the stage of Madeline Rogero who didn’t take the microphone, but stayed in the audience after waving to the crowd and enjoyed the music for a couple of hours. You know there was a fancy party she could have attended with much more important and powerful people, but she didn’t. She chose to be with regular people and talented artists in a bar in Happy Holler. You have to love that. The crowd roared approval and RB launched in to “City” which is one of my all time favorite songs by anyone and is, of course, the song about Knoxville which Mayor Rogero quoted in her inaugural speech.

Madeline Rogero at Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

The Tim Lee 3, fronted by Tim and Susan Lee stormed onto the stage next – or at least after the loss of power was resolved. They were as good as always, though they didn’t have the chance to stretch things out like they do in a full show.

Tim Lee 3 at Relix, Knoxville, February 2012

Tim Lee 3 at Relix, Knoxville, February 2012

Kevin Abernathy joined them and that’s always a power guitar treat. Enough thanks can’t be expressed to Tim and Susan for all the work they’ve done each of these two years to make this event happen. In any supportive community there are always good people doing the work in the background to make life better for everyone else and, I suspect, in Knoxville’s music community, that would be Tim and Susan.

Tim Lee 3 at Relix, Knoxville, February 2012

Kevin Abernathy joins Tim Lee 3 at Relix

Tim Lee 3 with guest at Relix, Knoxville, February 2012

After the Tim Lee 3, the coolest moment of the night took place when Phil’s parents took the stage to remember their son and to thank Knoxville for loving him. It was obvious Phil’s father is no shrinking violet himself and it was easy to see Phil in him. He also wore Phil’s famous stove pipe hat onto the stage.

Phil Pollard’s parents take the stage at Waynestock II, Relix

King Super and the Excellents closed down the show

The evening ended with King Super and the Excellents, of whom I’d never heard. They are a very talented band with the potential to add something very different to the Knoxville music scene. As you might guess from their name or from their zany attire, the group is sort of a Dadaesque send-off of a band. The trick for them, it seems to me, will be getting past the shtick and remembering that the music is what will make them, not the antics.

King Super and the Excellents, Relix, 2012

King Super and the Excellents, Relix, 2012

That said, they are very versatile and touched bases from Philly-esque R and B to powerpop (the most popular with the bar crowd) and even very credible covers of Pink Floyd. The musicianship and vocals popped all night. I really hope they will focus on the music as much as the revelry. The crowd went absolutely crazy during their show and I think everyone was exhausted by midnight.

I had one strange moment as I exited: Just before I got to the door I was grabbed forcefully from behind by a young man, who I assume was an employee, and he demanded frantically to know whether I had a drink in my hand. I assured him I didn’t and he pushed past me onto the sidewalk. When I followed him I realized there were two police cars outside with lights flashing, patrons detained and more police on the way.

I find the scene interesting because I’m assuming the issue was the open container law. If the police were actually targeting people who had just stepped outside with a drink – maybe to smoke a cigarette – that seems pretty grossly unfair given what I had seen earlier in the evening: People walking everywhere downtown with glasses of wine held in front of them. Pretty inconsistent.

Night three coming up next!

Waynestock 2012: For the Love of Phil, Day One, Special Weekend Edition

Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

Those of you who read my blog daily know that I don’t usually publish on Saturday and Sunday. This time I need to make an exception. There is so much to talk about and cover that waiting until next week to jump into Waynestock seems untimely. I’ll start with night one. There are so many pictures to work through that I’ll have to break it up that way. Sadly, my night one pictures were a disaster which is what happens when you are comfortable with one setting on your camera and you mess up that particular setting. More on photography in a later post. Changes are coming on that front.

Red Hickey of WDVX, Relix Theater, February 2012

Sarah Pirkle, Jeff Barbra, Jay Clark, Greg Horne and Kevin Abernathy

The first Waynestock occurred last year around this time in the Relix Theater. The untimely death of Drew Bledsoe, a local musician and the son of Wayne Bledsoe, the beloved local music critic, led a group of artists to organize the event as a fund raiser. No artists were paid for their work and the event became a celebration of the local community of musical artists with much help from many people, but particularly Tim and Susan Lee of the Tim Lee Three. I blogged about the three day event here, here and here.

Sarah Pirkle plays a waltz, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Jeff Barbra at the Relix Theater, Knoxville

This year’s event is held in honor of Phil Pollard who died recently at a very young age. He was intimately connected to many of the artists who are playing in this year’s concert. He is best known for his work in the Band of Humans, but he also played with Sara Schwabe and her Yankee Jass Band, as well as drumming for many other artists. As much as anything he was known for his sense of the absurd, tender concern for children and simply as a bon vivant. Proceeds from raffles, food sales, admission and all other sales go to the Pollard family to help with his three daughter’s college expenses.

Jay Clark with Greg Horne, Relix Theater, Knoxville
Greg Horne, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Kevin Abernathy, Relix Theater, Knoxville

This year’s event started much as last year’s with a singer/songwriter showcase. The line up across the stage this year included Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle (who would later cut quite the dancing figure!), Jay Clark, Greg Horne and Kevin Abernathy. Highlights for me included Sarah’s beautiful waltz, Jeff’s Tom T. Hall and Jay’s “Bringin’ Home the Bacon.” Greg and Kevin’s songs were also excellent and each of them added nice guitar support to the others. I’m really getting to like Kevin playing acoustic, although he can wail on an electric guitar.

Young Girl takes photographs with her Ipod

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Red Hicky hosted the event and kept the music flowing and the raffle packages moving, adding her charm and grace to the transitions and leading the crowd with a toast to Phil every time she took the stage. There would prove to be many, many toasts to Phil as well as to Ed Corts and Rocky Wynder who were also part of Knoxville’s music family and who died recently.

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Relix Theater, Knoxville

While I enjoyed the entire evening filled with musicians on my Ipod, I have to say one of the very few not on my Ipod took the spot for my favorite of the night. Jack Rentfro and the Apoclalypso Quartet were incredible. The are not a quartet – or at least they weren’t last night – and you will hear no calypso music if you are fortunate enough to hear them play. What you will hear are powerful poems recited by Mr. Rentfro over a persistent jazzy jam. Beatniks? Yes, with a good bit of gloom and depression. While you won’t hear calypso, you will hear apocalypse. The best moment was when he dedicated the next piece to Stacey Campfield and repeated the refrain throughout, (something like), “Isn’t it hard to hate the thing you love?” I’ll just let it say what it says.

Ian Thomas, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Ian Thomas, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Ian Thomas was next up and his set was very good. I haven’t heard him in a while and I think he’s really grown as an artist. His singing and presence both seemed more mature than that last concert or CD. Maybe it’s time for him to record again. His voice was easily the draw for his set and it’s hard not to think when listening to him, “Why can’t this guy be a country star?” Of course, a couple of minutes listening to contemporary country music radio and that question is answered. If I could give him one suggestion, it would be: lose the kazoo. Cute? Yes. And annoying to me after a very short time. Fortunately he didn’t play it much.

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville, February 2012

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Christabel and the Jons closed out the evening and, as always, gave an interesting, though mellow show. Her soft swing had couples on the dance floor, as had Ian Thomas before her. Highlights for me included her versions of a couple of Hank Williams songs as well as a Webb Pierce song. Now that’s real country music. In that universe maybe Ian could be a star, as well as Christabel.

Christabel and the Jons, Relix Theater, Knoxville

It all ended around eleven and the crowd went home happy. I think a number of us were excited to think about night two. I’ll cover it in another post.

Waynestock: For the Love of Drew, Night Three

The final night of the three night festival offered an exciting musical line-up and promised to be an emotional night with Psychotic Behavior, Drew Bledsoe’s band slated to be the final act on the schedule. The crowd grew as the night progressed and must have topped three hundred before it was over. The thing I learned on this night is how amazing Wayne’s breadth of understanding of music must be to write as sympathetically as he does regarding such a large range of musical styles. While my critiques lean more on what I like and what I don’t, he can recognize quality even if the music may not be his first choice.

Katie and the Bass Drums, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

How did I learn this lesson, grasshopper? By listening to the bands he has praised in his columns and who played on this particular evening. First up was Katie and the Bass Drums, in which there is neither a member named Katie or a drum of any kind, bass or otherwise. The act consists of one person doing comic routines cloaked with minimalist music the theme of which is almost exclusively sex. In the 1970’s I had a friend who was totally taken with Cheech and Chong and would listen to their albums repeatedly. I decided that I only needed to hear a joke once and that I really didn’t have much use for comedians in general. I still feel that way. It wore thin for me very quickly and, as with most comedians I hear, the sadness just over powers the humor. Listen at the link above and decide for yourself.

Westside Daredevils, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

The Westside Daredevils began their set at 8:00 and had a very easygoing, likeable sound. Some songs had rapid-fire clever lyrics like the Barenaked Ladies and sometimes they sounded more like Phish without the extended jams and endless lyrical repetition. I liked the music live and I like the recordings on the web page even more. I did think they could use a charismatic front-man. They seemed as if they might be more comfortable in their living room or in the studio than in front of a crowd. I found a great video on their Myspace page, but it is five years old. In it they sound more like Wilco or the Jayhawks, so I’m not sure where they fall, but I enjoyed them very much.

Tim Lee 3, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

Tim Lee and Kevin Abernathy, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

One of the bands I most looked forward to seeing was the Tim Lee 3. They put out a double CD in 2010, Raucous Americanus, and Wayne ranked it as the seventh best album of the year. I’d already heard Tim play with Hudson K, so I knew I liked the playing. I’d also learned that the Lees (his wife plays bass) had a great deal to do with organizing this event. I came away convinced they are not only excellent musicians, they are great people. Blues based rock and roll with a southern twang enveloped in a controlled explosion, the music did not disappoint. When Kevin Abernathy joined Tim onstage, the performance was stunning. Raucous Americanus was the only CD I bought on the spot and it deserves to be listed among the best. I also love the production of the CD and the fact that in their live show the vocals are always out front. At the end of the day, I’m a lyric sort of guy.

RB Morris, Tim Lee 3 and Greg Horne, Waynestock

RB Morris, Waynestock, Relix Theater

RB and Hector Quirko, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

I’ve discussed RB Morris in this space recently, and I’m planning an upcoming post on his poetry, so I won’t go into too much detail about his set. It was electric with excellent backing by the Tim Lee 3 with Greg Horne and a guest spot by Hector, which is always a pleasure. I have to say I think I prefer RB with just his guitar. It felt as if he was pushing just a little too much so that his beautiful melodies were flattened just a bit. He started the set with Empire which is one of the most perfect songs I’ve ever heard. If you don’t have it on your ipod, hit that link and plop down your ninety-nine for an absolutely gorgeous classic. On the whole it was another wonderful set by RB. Somebody needs to cover this guys’ songs and make him some serious money. He deserves it. His album “Spies, Lies and Burning Eyes,” available on his web site and at the Disc Exchange was given the number one nod by Wayne in his end of the year ranking.

Senryu, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

Senryu, Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville, January 2011

Senryu changed the vibe entirely after RB’s set. Alternative/Indie? I’m not sure what the word is. I kept thinking of the Cure, but I think that was more because of the lead vocalist’s haircut than the music, though it did sometimes meander in seductive sort of psychedelic swirl. The singer had a habit of singing partial lines into the microphone and then moving away for the remaining lyrics, which meant I couldn’t catch them. The crowd loved them and knew the lyrics, so this was no loss for them as they belted them out. A minor mosh pit developed and I took my old bones to higher ground. I think I was squarely out of my demographic. See what I’m talking about Wayne’s range?

Wayne Bledsoe at Waynestock, Relix Theater, Knoxville

Wayne took the stage next to thank everyone and to talk about a few of his memories of the band Psychotic Behavior, which included Drew, playing in his basement, fighting in the yard and playing their first gig. The crowd was silent and the emotion was strong. As he left the stage he introduced Psychotic Behavior who played with an empty microphone at the front of the stage. Their set was very emotional. I was reminded of the first time I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd play “Freebird” after Ronnie died. A single lead guitar line played his vocal spot and I cried. Drew’s presence was made powerful by his absence and for this night the music lifted in his honor.

Psychotic Behavior with empty mic for Drew at Waynestock

It was a great three days of music, respect and support among the family of Knoxville musicians. I’ve known that Knoxville has an amazing array of talented bands and singer/songwriters, but to see them all come together for something bigger than themselves and to lay their gifts on the table in honor a special man among us and one gone was something to experience, remember and cherish.

There is only one way to end this post. Below is a recording made not long before Drew’s death, accompanied by photographs of him through the years.

For the Next Few Days, It’s Waynestock!

If you are like me, you hear about great local bands, but you never seem to be able to catch some of them with the greatest buzz. I probably do catch more than my share, but I’m still missing some. Hudson K, The Malungeons, Tim Lee 3 – I haven’t seen any of them. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an opportunity to see them all together? Well, the time has come.

It’s called “Waynestock: For the Love of Drew” in honor of Wayne Bledsoe whose son Drew died at twenty-three years of age last month. If you don’t know Wayne Bledsoe, you must not care much about music or you must be new to Knoxville. Wayne has written about music in the Knoxville News Sentinel since 1984. I moved to Knoxville in 1982 and I can’t remember a time when I haven’t enjoyed reading Wayne’s columns. I always found his critiques to be spot on and he always pushed me to explore music I would not have noticed otherwise. Even when I didn’t like some of what he said about my various musical heroes, in the end, I would recognize the validity of his comments. He’s also always been open to being contacted when I’ve had questions or comments and is quick to respond to a humble reader when contacted.

So, the shows are to raise money to help with his expenses, but I think they are more to celebrate the life of Drew, who made his own contributions to the local music scene, to express appreciation for Wayne and to raise a glass in a pretty spectacular way to local music. The shows will be held in what I’ll call the downtown extension of Happy Holler at the Relix Theater (1208 N. Central Avenue). Thursday night is free and the next two nights are $5 each. How can you go wrong?

Here’s the schedule:
Thursday, January 27 – FREE
7pm – Singer/Songwriters-in-the-Round: Greg Horne, Jake Winstrom, Sean McCollough, Steph Gunnoe and more!
9pm – The Bearded
10pm – Hudson K

Friday, January 28
7 pm – Quartjar
8 pm – Todd Steed & the Suns of Phere
9 pm – Kevin Abernathy Band
10 pm – Mic Harrison & the High Score
11 pm – The Melungeons
12 mid – The Drunk Uncles

Saturday, January 29
7 pm – Katie & the Bass Drums
8 pm – Westside Daredevils
9 pm – Tim Lee 3
10 pm – RB Morris
11 pm – Senryu
12 mid – Psychotic Behavior (w/Ben Savage of Whitechapel)

I’m hoping to catch every night, but we’ll see how that goes. Occasionally real life gets in the way of what I would like to do. Of course, I’ll let you know what I see and hear. I hope to see you there.

Enhanced by Zemanta