Colony House Revs Up Knoxville!


Colony House Revs Up Knoxville!

Sunday, indie rock band, Colony House brought their tour to Knoxville’s historic Bijou Theatre with The New Respects opening, a show that undoubtedly kept the vibrant crowd up and out of their seats for the night.

For those unfamiliar with The New Respects, listen to them. Like now. This Tennessee quartet of young twenty-somethings brings a bright-eyed twist to indie rock with a blues, gospel, and motown inspired sound. The band is comprised of Jasmine Mullen–daughter of Christian singer Nicole C. Mullen–and her three cousins, Lexi, Zandy, and Darius Fitzgerald. With hits like Trouble and Something To Believe In, Colony House’s Fall Headline Tour isn’t The New Respects first tour. With over four years in the business, The New Respects have opened for Switchfoot and Robert Randolph & the Family Band as well.

Once The New Respects left the stage, the crowd was warmed up for Franklin-based quartet, Colony House. Known for their high-energy stage presence, the band had fans jumping in no time. Colony House has toured with fellow indie rock favorites including NEEDTOBREATHE, Ben Rector, Switchfoot, and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and most recently performed at Moon River Music Festival in September. Playing fan favorites like, 1234, You & I, and Moving Forward, the Bijou ignited with people singing along–it was a true celebration of music and the emotion it brings!

Photos by Rebecca Potzner

Written by Tess Waibel

Chris Stapleton Captivates Knoxville!


Chris Stapleton Captivates Knoxville!

A cold, rainy fall evening couldn’t keep throngs of fans from crowding into a packed house to catch Chris Stapleton and his all-star Nashville band churn through a barn-burning set of country, rock and soul during his All-American Road Show tour stop at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Friday night, October 26.

The show opened fast and furious with rip-roaring outlaw country from up-and-comer Brent Cobb, touring behind Providence Canyon, his second major-label album release on the Low Country Sound label, an imprint of Elektra Records. His first major label album Shine On Rainy Day (2017) was nominated for a Grammy and peaked at Number 17 on Billboard’s Top Country charts. Later in the night, Stapleton brought Cobb back out during his set for a rousing rendition of “I Might As Well Get Stoned,” Stapleton’s party hit from the 2015 Traveller album.

Once Cobb and his band had the crowd nice and warmed up and late-comers continued to arrive, filling the arena towards capacity, it was country, bluegrass and Americana legends Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives who took the stage and whipped the eager crowd into a frenzy with hits like “Lesson in Love,” “Honky Tonk is What I Do Best” and rousing covers of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and “Orange Blossom Special” complete with an intense mandolin solo, along with a rowdy rendition of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” The audience was wowed as well by the Fabulous Superlatives’ Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Paul Martin’s deft ability to take over the mic for lead vocal duties on various eclectic surf rock, rockabilly and gospel songs and Stuart’s sizzling lead electric rock riffs, acoustic guitar and mandolin finger-picking, and all-around showmanship and panache on stage. Stapleton brought Stuart back up later for a rocked-up rendition of Stuart’s “Now That’s Country” where the two traded hot licks, as well as a wild Waylon Jennings cover: “I Ain’t Living Long Like This.”

The lights went down low during the final change-over and excited murmurs rippled throughout the sea of Stapleton devotees excited to see the longtime Nashville songwriter, who recently came into his own as a major solo artist after the explosive success of his 2015 solo debut Traveller, which went triple platinum and reached number one on the Billboard Top 200, scoring him the Grammy for Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance for the titular song.

Major performances of “Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 Country Music Awards, where he also won Album of the Year, and a recent SNL performance with Sturgill Simpson, catapulted the songwriter–who’d already penned hits for the likes of Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Sheryl Crow, and more– into the national spotlight for his passionately soulful voice and incendiary rock soloing. He’d toured opening for artists like Eric Church and then began touring with his current All-American Road Show format as an undisputed headliner in his own right. His 2017 album Songs from a Room: Vol 1 again won CMT Album of the Year and Volume 2 is selling well currently.

The house lights went black and the house PA blasted The Band’s beloved Southern-funk hit “Cripple Creek” as the band walked on stage in silhouette to tune. The lights hit and Stapleton blasted into “Midnight Train to Memphis,” “Them Stems,” “Nobody to Blame” and “Hard Livin,'” all from the Songs From a Room Vol 1 and 2 albums.

Stapleton welcomed the crowd, saying “We’ve played here a few times before,” listing barrooms like Cotton-Eyed Joe’s, Barley’s and Preservation Pub where he played either solo or with the Jompson Brothers, and the WDVX Blue Plate Special gig he did several years back with his old bluegrass outfit The Steeldrivers. He then paused for a minute, seemingly to appreciate how far he’d come, surveying the vast arena crowd in front of him, adding, “there’s a lot more of you now.”

The band then tore through “Millionaire” and “Fire Away,” the duet from Traveller with his wife Morgane, a successful songwriter in her own write who he met when they worked at adjoining publishing houses. The band played the aforementioned songs with Cobb and Stuart, and a few other highlights including “Broken Halos,” “I Was Wrong,” and “The Devil Named Music” with a special “Freebird” intro, before Stapleton eventually introduced the band in humorous extended sing-song tributes over the “Tennessee Whiskey” bass and drum groove before launching into the crowd favorite to end the set.

The crowd gave Stapleton and his band a standing ovation and for the encore they returned to rock hard once more on “Outlaw State of Mind,” setting guitars down in front of amplifiers at the end of the song to let audience members walk out in the dark to the emanating feedback fuzz, ears ringing with rock.

Written by Luke Brogden

Photos by Eli Johnson

Chvrches Lights Up Asheville


Chvrches Lights Up Asheville

The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville, NC slowly filled with the short set of LA based Lo Moon, opener for Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches, on October 9th, 2018. The stage, set with moody fill lighting and a darkening fog rising behind the band, was perfectly matched with the melancholic sounds from the four members. Reminiscent of mid-90’s heartbreak grunge meeting recent sounds with a likeness to Kings of Leon, the group proved captivating. The drummer, no doubt the heartbeat and backbone of the band, carried the set with an extraordinarily crisp percussion, as the singer tugged at emotions with tenor sounds of heartache. Their debut album, released this past February, is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy the rollercoaster of rock and ethereal sorrow.

Next up, Chvrches. A heavy bass line vibrated through the auditorium. The crowd was instantly on their feet as the backdrop composed of a grid of lights began flashing, upstage two leaning crosses lit up with stripes and static, followed by haunting electric beats and voices. After a minute or so, Johnny Scott (drums), Martin Doherty, and Iain Cook took their respective platforms. Last, Lauren Mayberry, front man and lead singer stopped front and center, lifting her arms to shoulder height pausing as the audience cheered on in anticipation, before the band leaned strongly into opening hit single, “Get Out”.

Mayberry’s youthful energy and fashion (sequined shorts, a midriff exposing tank, her “Love is Dead” necklace and dramatic pink eye makeup) supported her unique soprano voice and characteristic spinning and pacing to lure the auditorium in while contrasting lyrics and flashing colored lights rode atop steady volumes of synth delivering heartfelt messages often speaking to current politics. Mayberry lead the group through 5 more songs including “Bury It” from Every Open Eye, and more from 2017 Love is Dead, “Graffiti” and “Graves” before handing center stage to Doherty.

Transitioning from an almost distracted Mayberry, losing her place mid song, telling stories of ripped trousers and sharing her mother’s wisdom, “Everybody sh!+s”, Doherty stole the show with “God’s Plan” and “Under the Tide”. With an oversized long sleeved black t-shirt and a vocal authenticity making its way through piercing synth and blinding white and blue lights he brought life to the songs and the audience.

The second half while starting with more energy, offered more flashing colored lights, shrill electric beats and heavy bass vibrations, until Mayberry’s pacing stopped and the lights dimmed. Sitting on a low stool for “Really Gone”, her voice showed range and she seemed more natural, more present in a moment of calm. The set finished with “Leave a Trace” and “Clearly Blue” and the audience was left wanting.

The encore brought no surprise, but a welcomed treat with a stunning performance of “The Mother We Share”, a hit from The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches first album. Finally, “Never Say Die”, brought the audience in and seemed to hold them there even while Mayberry walked off stage. The audience was left to finish the last repeats of “Never Say Die” and Scott, Doherty and Cook shared a moment in the spotlight before the stage darkened and the house lights came up.

Written by Cara McKinney

Photos by Nathan Lopez

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite Bring No Mercy to Knoxville


Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite Bring “No Mercy” to Knoxville

Grammy Award-winners Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite brought an exceptional evening of blues ballads to The Mill & Mine performance hall Monday, September 10th.

Having just released their second collaborative album No Mercy In This Land, Harper and Musselwhite bring a new and exciting energy to the classic sounds of the delta blues. Harper at 48 years old and Musselwhite at 74 display a vast appreciation to tradition all while adding an innovative twist to create a bluesy sound of their own.

The show kicked off with jolting guitar riffs and roaring harmonic tones immediately captivating the audience that filled what Harper referred to as “the jewel of the South.” Harper and Musselwhite spent the first half of the show seated giving the performance an authentic back-porch blues feel.

Next came a shout out to the bartenders with “The Bottle Wins Again.” “Make sure to tip your bartenders” said Harper. The song reveals some of Musselwhite’s past struggles with drinking which he describes in an interview with Rolling Stone. He specifically talks about his struggles to stay sober after the murder of his mother. Musselwhite’s hardship is the primary subject to the title track of their new album “No Mercy In This Land.” For Musselwhite music helped him stay sober during his grief. These aspects of Musselwhite’s personal life are evident in the powerful melodies from his harmonica and the pain behind his vulnerable blue eyes.

More stand-out moments from the show include a mind-blowing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks,” and watching Ben Harper play most of the show with a bloody thumb after one of his guitar strings snapped. Add a bloody finger to an already extraordinarily authentic performance and you truly have a one-of-a-kind show.

The encore featured a powerful performance of “No Mercy In This Land” and a raw finale of “All That Matters Now” with a bone-chilling acoustic serenade from Harper.

Between Ben Harper’s singing and sliding and Charlie Musselwhite’s wheezing and wailing, there is no shortage of soul in their performance. Like the nature of the human soul, Harper and Musselwhite present an evolving sound while remaining deeply rooted in old time blues. That said, their distinct and original sound makes them one of today’s top must-see blues acts.

Written by Marie Kolzow

Photos by Johnson Giles