Friday, January 6, 2012

First Night Knoxville, Part 5: Americana, Hudson K and the Circus

Hudson K and the Circus, First Night Knoxville

This will be the final installment of the First Night Knoxville 2012. What a great night. Thank you City of Knoxville and sponsors. We'll turn to other topics over the next week. I hope to see you guys tonight at First Friday which features the grand opening of Cafe 11 and performances by the Streamliners Swing Orchestra (guest appearance by RB Morris) at 6:00 PM, the Tim Lee 3 at Pilot Light and Hudson K at Preservation Pub (both at 10:00 PM).

Speaking of Hudson K . . .

Jack Herranen performs at the Knoxville Visitor's Center

My last gasp of music and amazement on First Night came in two very different forms. My favorite kind of music, though I love many varieties, is probably what today is called "Americana," even though the hip hop won my heart for the night. So, to feed my need for a fix of Americana, I walked to the WDVX studios and the Knoxville Visitor's Center to hear a bit of Matt Woods. When I arrived Jack Herranen, who is a veteran troubadour and current WDVX volunteer sometimes hosting the Blue Plate Special, played  a couple of songs. His soulful singing and world-worn guitar playing exemplified the talent we have at every turn in this city. He could have been the main act and I would have been happy.

Matt Woods, First Night Knoxville 2012

The main act, however, was Matt Woods. He's a local singer/songwriter who works in a classic country or southern rock mode. Since his set was acoustic on this night, it seemed more Americana than anything. He brings a potent cocktail of intensity and rhythm along with intelligent (without the loss of any redneck charm) lyrics. My favorite songs of the night were "Friday Night" and "Ghost of the Gospel," both of which are available for download from his site, linked above.

Matt Woods, First Night Knoxville 2012

After several of Matt's songs, I knew I needed to take the cross-town walk to the YWCA. Awaiting me there were several things that caught my interest. While I'm not much of a circus guy, the type of ribbon/ring dancing, sword waving acrobatic theatrics promised by Angela Howard and her Circus Friends seemed intriguing. Added to that was the allure of Hudson K and another venue that I'd never seen.

Christina Horn and the Circus at the YWCA, First Night Knoxville

My expectations for the sound quality were low. We're talking gymnasium. who ever heard a concert in a gym and thought the sound was good? Well, now I can say, "I have." I was startled and delighted when I entered the room and could clearly hear Christina's vocals. The sound was absolutely superb and the music was perfectly integrated into the performances.

Nate Barrett of Hudson K, Angela Howard Circus, First Night Knoxville 2012

And while I'm not a circus kind of guy, I have to say the performance by Angela Howard and friends was intriguing and fraught with a beautiful energy. The strength and grace of these ladies was visually arresting. I found myself holding my breath as they moved through the air on ribbons and rings, dancing through the air like shimmers of sunlight. I was mesmerized.

Hudson K and the circus, First Night Knoxville 2012, YMCA Gym
  
Ribbon Artist and Nate Barrett, First Night Knoxville 2012

Hudson K's performance, which seemed to me a very difficult assignment, was executed with such precision one might think playing with the circus is their only gig. It isn't, of course, but it's one I might not mind seeing reprised. Whether her vocals, her lyrics or her keyboard work, Christina's multi-layered artistry was put to excellent use. Catch her tonight at Preservation Pub.

So, that's it for my First Night adventures. I hope some of you enjoyed the journey. For the rest of you, I suspect that's a relief I'm moving on. Moving on, I am. I'll defer reporting on First Friday until after we've had some time to take an in-depth look at the comings and goings of downtown businesses. So next week we'll get about the business of business. In the meantime, watch for me at First Friday and say, "hello," if you  spot me.

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