Monday, January 31, 2011

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.

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