If Knoxville is not world-famous for music, the city has witnessed and nurtured so much musical ferment that it’s been called the Cradle of Country Music. The buildings where Flatt & Scruggs first recorded, and where the Everly Brothers first broadcast, are still central to downtown Knoxville. The theater that hosted Roy Acuff’s first live show in 1932 is the same room where, 65 years later, Chet Atkins gave his final concert. And all that’s just a couple of blocks away from the hotel where Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff stayed after the last concert of his career–and where Hank Williams spent the final hours of his life.
Downtown Knoxville’s country and classical traditions interacted with jazz and blues, too, through unique performers, like the string-jazz anomalies the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, who made their first recordings in downtown Knoxville in a legendary Columbia-Vocalion project of 1929-30. Known as the Knoxville Sessions, those recordings are soon to be released as part of an international effort.
An easy two-hour walking tour will tell the full story of downtown Knoxville’s place in music history. Join Jack Neely on a stroll through the city and hear what gave Knoxville it’s name as the Cradle of Country Music.
Tours will start at Boyd’s Jig & Reel at 2pm and 5pm on Sunday. Tours will last approximately 90 minutes and will finish back on the festival footprint beside Boyd’s. Space is limited so sign up early.
The first reaction people have when The Pinklets start playing is to smile.
How could you not?
The Abernathy sisters, Lucy, 14, Roxie, 16, and Eliza, 12, seem like a force of nature and no one is quite prepared for it. The Pinklets’ songs are smart, concise, catchy and honest. The sisters command the stage with a combination of confidence and goodwill and they’re devoid of any TV-talent-show schmaltz. These girls know how to rock and there’s nothing phony about it.
Great artists know how to communicate and it doesn’t matter if you’re planning for your junior prom in high school or asking for your senior discount at the Golden Corral, The Pinklets connect.
I first heard lead singer/guitarist Lucy sing an original song when she was 10 years old. Typically when a kid that age writes a song it’s about something they haven’t really experienced yet. Lucy, though, wrote about what she was going through at 10 with the skill of an experienced adult songwriter.
The Pinklets started at about that same time with all the seriousness that kids start anything with, but as the sisters got better at their instruments and Knoxville musical greats started shaking their heads over how good the girls were, it became pretty obvious that this was no kid’s goof.
Ashley Capps, co-founder of Bonnaroo, saw The Pinklets at Waynestock in 2016 and booked them for Bonnaroo that summer. The crowd loved them, but the Abernathy sisters didn’t let it go to their heads. They just kept working.
Every time I see The Pinklets they get better. When I had them on my live radio show “The WDVX 6 O’Clock Swerve” in the fall of 2016 I was amazed at how intuitive Roxie’s keyboard work had become and the nuance and skill that Eliza had developed on the drums in just a few short months. In addition, the sound had become much richer with Roxie and Eliza now adding vocals.
As good as The Pinklets are now, I can’t imagine what they might become. The band’s debut album will be released this spring. Better catch them in town while you can.
Rhythm N’ Blooms 2017 is shaping up to have a lineup that rivals those of years past. I am anticipating the Rhythm N’ Blooms debut of one of my favorite local artist: Shayla McDaniel
Shayla is a singer-songwriter that seamlessly blends jazz and alternative pop, playing multiple instruments including bass, acoustic guitar, and piano. McDaniel was featured as a guest on my WUTK 90.3 FM’s Gold Standard Hip-Hop Show where I, and listeners, got to know a fantastic person with great energy. She has hit the scene hard with local performances where she lets her passion shine through and her live on-air performance was nothing short of amazing, I can’t wait to see her hit the stage and give off that same vibe to the audience.
“I’m super excited to be performing at Rhythm N’ Blooms!! It’s one of my dreams come true!” Says the 25 year old McDaniels. “My band will be playing with me. That will be a lot of fun, and we’ll be playing some songs from the new record “26 Letters” too.”
Along with performing, the Knoxville artist is also looking forward to enjoying the other performances. “I’m looking forward to hearing a lot of the other bands. It’s a really solid lineup with a good mix of flavors. One band that I’m eager to see is Lee Fields and the Expressions.” I could not agree more with Shayla. Shayla will be accompanied on the line up by other local bands such as William Wild, Cruz Contreras, and more.
For those wanting to check Shayla out before R&B she performs March 3 as part of the From the Living Room songwriter’s showcase at Barleys. March 11 she shares her talent at Scruffy City Hall as part of the Women in Jazz Jam Festival.
The Rhythm and Blooms Music Festival takes place rain or shine April 7-9 in Knoxville, TN and promises to be a weekend of awe-inspiring music and creativity.
To keep up with Shayla follow her on social media at @shaylamcdaniel and visit her website at www.shaylamcdaniel.com. You can also find her music on Spotify and Itunes.
The Epiphone Art Guitar Contest is back for it’s 5th year at Rhythm N’ Blooms!
The 15 winning designs will be illustrated on the guitars and voted on during the Dogwood Arts Rhythm N’ Blooms music festival, April 7th-9th, 2017. Dogwood Arts is excited to announce that all students who design a template were eligible this year to be one of 15 chosen for guitar illustration. We’ve narrowed down the designs and the students are currently working on bringing their design to life on the Epiphone guitars!
The Epiphone Guitars will be on display at Awaken Coffee during the festival as part of the Dogwood Arts First Friday programming presented by First Watch.
The winner of the Guitar Design Contest will receive 2 Festival Passes & Art Supplies!
Awards and Prizes
Best-of-Show: Art Set & two  Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival Passes for winning student and sponsoring teacher each
Second Prize: Art Set valued at $50 and two  Saturday or Sunday general tickets
Third Prize: Art Set valued at $50 and two  Saturday or Sunday general tickets
The 12 additional winning students will receive two  Saturday or Sunday general admission tickets to Rhythm and Blooms and will receive a certificate of participation
When Gogol Bordello released its first album, Voi-La Intruder, in 1999, there probably weren’t many people who weren’t members of the band who thought the world needed a Ukranian-Russian-Israeli-Ethiopian-American folk-punk band. There probably weren’t many people besides Eugene Hütz who had considered that such a thing could exist.
Now, almost 20 years later, Hütz and his crew are six albums deep into one of the 21st century’s most unconventional experiments in demolishing conceptual borders and genre boundaries. The band’s most recent album, Pura Vida Conspiracy, from 2013, is as urgent and politically pointed as Voi-La Intruder. It’s a project that feels more important than ever in 2017.
Gogol Bordello combines the folk traditions introduced by whoever’s in the band at the time—there are eight current members, from Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the United States, and a dozen other musicians with international roots have rotated in and out of the band over the years—with the volume and speed of punk. You could think of the band as a pan-international version of the Dropkick Murphys, but it’s more complicated than that.
Hütz was born in Ukraine and landed in the United States in the early 1990s. He had spent several years after the fall of the Soviet Union in refugee camps in Europe. When he finally got to New York, he encountered a community of immigrant artists, musicians, and writers who helped him shape his vision: music by and for exiles and refugees.
Gogol Bordello’s music is enormously fun—loud and punchy, with short, memorable choruses to shout along to—but there’s a sense of purpose in it, too. Hütz and his fellow travelers have no regard for convenient marketing labels, but their Gypsy punk cabaret hybrid isn’t the kind of smooth crossover cocktail you’d get from some multicultural acts; in Gogol Bordello’s concoction, the differences in traditions are as important as the similarities. It’s explosive music, full of contradictions and complexities, not easy listening. It reflects the political, practical, and cultural effects of globalization.
“Culture is a living being. The minute the culture is not challenged, it dies. In order to keep it alive, you have to be countercultural,” Hütz told The New York Times in 2002. It still applies.
We are thrilled to announce that we will be adding music to the Lonesome Dove Patio this year at Rhythm N’ Blooms. Tim Love’s restaurant is a recent addition to the constantly expanding Old City neighborhood.
16 years after the birth of the Lonesome Dove, chef Tim Love opened his third restaurant, Lonesome Dove Knoxville, home to his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. Located on Central Street in Old City, it highlights both new and classic chef Tim Love dishes.
Be listening for more sounds coming from the Lonesome Dove Patio as the restaurant is looking to provide more entertainment to their space in the coming months on First Fridays and other special occasions.
Every year without fail, Rhythm N’ Blooms delivers a cacophony of delectable sounds to a city recently emerged from the grips of winter. As a college student, this sonic smorgasbord also serves as my light at the end of the tunnel: The festival close to the end of the semester that reminds me that life isn’t just textbooks and Five Hour Energies. After delving into this year’s lineup, never has that sentiment rang truer to me.
The festival holds a variety of acts that will appear is dizzying. Headlining California indie rockers Young the Giant, having released their third album, Home of the Strange, last August, are hot as ever right now. The album peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and it’s easy to see why. Every song is catchy and utterly infectious. It only takes about 15 seconds before I’m grooving along to the poppy stylings of “Silvertongue”. I personally feel that “Something to Believe In” has the potential to be a generational anthem. Having never seen them live before, I’m excited to see how they tackle these polished studio tracks live when they hit the Old City this April.
While the prominent headlining acts are awesome, Rhythm N’ Blooms really shines with this year’s group of local performers. Cruz Contreras makes his return to the fest, having performed with his band The Black Lilies in 2014 then taking on the festival as a solo act in 2015. When he takes the stage in April, he will have just come off the European leg of a tour with the Black Lilies. While I love having him as the international cultural ambassador for Knoxville (I mean, who could do it better?), it’ll be keen having his Americana stylings back home.
Gezellig Records signees Peak Physique will be making their Rhythm and Blooms debut as well. I swear that their electro-synth-rock sound fills whatever space they’re playing, no matter the size. When I saw them perform at Scruffy City Hall as part of WUTK’s exam jam, the world just dissolved and was replaced with immediacy. What mattered was the then and there. It’s not just good local music: It’s good music period. It’ll be sheer bliss seeing them perform again.
I hesitate to call this year’s Rhythm N’ Blooms a magnum opus because each year has just gotten better. While the line up is great, it insinuates that this is as good as it gets. The fest has only gone up hill, and this year’s fest looks to be the stepping stone to even better fests in the future.
Luckily, I had the jump on listening to John Moreland a few months before his name turned up on the Rhythm N’ Blooms lineup. Brian Paddock (Shimmy) of Shimmy & The Burns, a Knoxville based roots rock outfit, was the first one to tip me off to this cat, and I’ve felt indebted to him ever since.
The first thing you notice when you listen to John Moreland is his distinctive, gruff voice. It’s powerful enough to cut through and grab your attention immediately, yet it’s gentle enough to give you that warm feeling like all your problems in the world are going to work out okay.
While his gravelly voice is wonderful, what really sets Moreland apart is his songwriting. His voice will draw you in, but his lyrics will break your heart. The songs that he writes are poignant and hauntingly beautiful, and his songs can stop you dead in your tracks. That’s why it was a complete shock to learn that he got is start in music playing in punk and hardcore bands.
He cites the time he first heard Steve Earle’s “Rich Man’s War” from his 2004 record The Revolution Starts Now as a pivotal moment in his development as a songwriter saying that upon hearing it, “totally feeling like somebody punched me in the chest.” That’s interesting, because the chest punch simile was the way I described my first time hearing John Moreland’s “Hang Me In The Tulsa County Stars.”
He’s described as “alt-country,” and he would be my exhibit A in support of my theory that music publications invented the term “alt-country” specifically for country singers who are simply too talented and too original to be thrown in with the likes of Luke Bryan. (Sorry to pick on just Luke Bryan. That’s my shorthand for all overly commercialized country music.) If we’re into labels, I’d like to use a term for which I credit Josh Smith of Handsome & The Humbles, Sad Bastard Music. (As it turns out, “sad bastard music” comes from the 2000 film High Fidelity, and Josh had been passing that quote off as his own. Sad!) They’re tunes to which you can sip whiskey at the end of a long week and get lost in their beauty.
In a really strong first wave of Rhythm N’ Blooms lineup announcements, John Moreland is a must-see act. Plain and simple. You’re gonna want to see the big guy from Oklahoma boomer sooner, rather than boomer later…. Eh… Eh… So I’ll just see myself out. Okay. Thank you for reading. Don’t let that horrible joke ruin it. See John Moreland.
Pretentious Beer Co. is the brain child of Knoxville glass artist, Matthew Cummings. The crafted beer bar celebrates all things craft and handmade. featuring craft beer, soda, kombucha and music. Matthew’s studio, Pretentious Beer Glass Co. is located right next door and you can enjoy your beer while watching the glasses being made.
PBGC originated from a small drinking club at the Mellwood Arts Center in Louisville, KY. Each Friday afternoon, Matthew would take off work early to sit in the courtyard and drink great craft beer with friends and co-coworkers. After a couple too many the club decided that he should make beer glasses for everyone.
He designed the Hoppy Beer glass and gave each member a customized version of that glass. After making that first glass, Matthew started to notice a lack of unique beer glasses for craft beer. “It was just such an obvious problem that it was invisible…hiding out in the open.” He started the Pretentious Glass Company as a remedy for that problem and spent over 6 months making, testing, and refining designs that highlight different styles.
All the glasses are made by hand in his studio located here in Knoxville, TN. No machines touch the beer glasses from PBGC! Despite the volume and breadth of distribution of these products, it is all still a one-man operation with the help of a few friends. This venue and artist is one you can’t afford to miss this year at Rhythm N’ Blooms!
We’ve teamed up with The Flower Pot to bring the best Rhythm N’ Blooms bundle for your secret admirer. Nothing shares your love more than a bouquet of flowers and tickets to Rhythm N’ Blooms! Just head over to http://www.knoxvilleflowerpot.com and order your favorite bouquet and you can add on tickets during check out. Did we mention the bundle features early bird prices?