WDVX 89.9 Blue Plate Special radio show serves the best regional and local artists of roots, bluegrass, folk, country, rock and much more, live and always free at the Knoxville Visitor Center from noon to 1 p.m. every Monday through Saturday.
On the Menu: What the Blue Plate Special is cookin’ up March and April, 2013
March 14: Sweet G.A. Brown / Cutthroat Shamrock
"If bluegrass and punk rock walked into an Irish pub and got kidnapped by pirates," they say, you get Cutthroat Shamrock. This band's Appalachian Punk got them a reputation built on no-holds-bar outrageous energy. It is Irish drinking music bred with Knoxville rock, and at noon on a Thursday, this should be nothing short of a spectacle. Paired up with them is Georgia based duo Sweet G.A. Brown, who promise to combine lyrical prowess with percussive beats that will get you moving. This hour of free live music is likely to draw a crowd, and those who attend should prepare for a loud and provocative Blue Plate Special.
April 1: Jack Rentfro and the Apocolypso Quartet
Quickly becoming an April Fool’s Day tradition, Jack Rentfro and the Apocolypso Quartet are back again this year for a darkly humorous Blue Plate Special performance. Rentfro’s spoken word lyrics will make you laugh, make you think, and leave you ready to take on the day with a fresh perspective. Water Tower’s psychedelic funk set will be an appropriate pairing for the show, bringing their retro sensibilities together with Rentfro’s modern attitude for a live performance just right for the yearly occasion.
April 2: Cereus Bright / Great Barrier Reefs
Hearing the Great Barrier Reefs play is like taking a dip in a 1970s swimming pool, washing over you all at once in its smooth yet electrifying sensation - vibrant, energetic, colorful and refreshing. This is a funk fusion Nashville based five-man group you may not have heard of before that is definitely worth a listen. Fronted by steel drum and complete with sax, drums, bass and guitar, they will work hard for your attention, bringing a fresh playful, soulful vibe from start to finish. You can catch them with local folk band Cereus Bright, known for their story-like lyrics and raw spirit, making for a diverse but surprisingly well rounded hour of live music on April 2 at WDVX.
The full schedule for the months of March and April can be found at www.wdvx.com/live-shows/blue-plate-special/schedule.
Clean Plate Club: Blue Plate’s finest for February and March, 2013
February 23: Mary Gauthier
The award winning singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier’s beautiful Blue Plate Performance was not just deeply touching because of her powerful lyrics and tasteful instrumentation; as if that wasn’t enough, she proved yet again to be an endearingly kind and approachable person, speaking honestly and openly to her audience and fans about her music and where her emotionally potent songs come from.
Open about her troubled past with being an orphan and battling substance abuse, Gauthier said during this Saturday broadcast, “My friends often ask me, ‘Are you okay? You seem happy but I heard your new songs and… well, are you okay?’ I just think that when I’m happy, I like to just feel it. But when I’m sad or troubled, I pick up my guitar and try to work through it that way.”
Indeed, her songs are deeply introspective and cut to the core of any person who has ever felt alone, ever rooted for the underdog, or ever worried for the well-being of fellow humans great and small. Her set list included “I Drink”, “Sister Cried”, “The Last of the Hobo Kings”, “Another Train” and “Mercy Now”, all exemplary of her absolutely incredible songwriting talent and keen understanding of human struggle. However, in real life, Gauthier’s smile is as warm as they come, and her unapologetically genuine personality is a victory in itself, clearly a hard-earned reward from the long journey to happiness.
February 20: Barstool Romeos
Local honky-tonk four man rock band Barstool Romeos created a positive stir in responses from Blue Plate attendees, showing off their down-home songwriting and well-rounded vocal harmonies and instrumentation. Barstool Romeos’ original songs written by Andy Pirkle and Mike McGill are solid from start to finish, unabashedly southern and confidently honest. If you get the chance to catch them around town, you won’t regret the decision. Be on the lookout for new tunes and new show dates!
February 22: Occidental Gypsy / Henry Wagons
Occidental Gypsies delivered as promised the aptly named "Gypsy Pop" opener set for international touring singer-songwriter Henry Wagons. The Gypsies did good work combining the old-timey jazz swing with more modern lyrics and energy. The following set from Wagons was nothing short of impressive, though, providing a nice contrast between the acts. Hailing from Melbourne, Wagons is a crowd favorite for his self-described "melodramatic pop-rock-tango." In the midst of a massive U.S. tour, Wagons was on top of his game despite the early stage call. He is entertaining both as an artist and as a person, sharp as a tack in his interview on the air with show host Red Hickey as well as in his personality-driven musical performance.
February 26: Mandi Rae / Driftwood
Following up a moving performance and story of recent loss from singer-songwriter and guitarist Mandi Rae, Binghamton, New York based folk/roots rock band Driftwood provided an energetic and memorable set. It was an hour driven by emotion for both performers and audience, and Driftwood’s four-piece combination of violin, acoustic guitar, banjo and upright base captured that intensity in an authentic, heartfelt delivery. This act is likely to turn up again soon in the festival circuits, seeing as they have already played with acts like Bela Fleck, Del McCoury, Railroad Earth, Rusted Root, The Wailers and many others.
March 5: Pat Hull / The Mumbles
Having just released his second studio album entitled Shed Skin, Pat Hull delivered a strong performance backed by several of his recording mates. Pat Hull’s striking qualities are found in the laid back but very sophisticated songwriting and smooth vocals, which quickly captured the Blue Plate Special audience into a silent trance. He proved he had wide vocal range in songs like “Full Parade”, astonishingly strong in high octaves, but he and the band exercised tasteful control and paid great attention to subtlety. The echo, sustain and acoustics were at once haunting and uplifting, reminiscent of Radiohead or Bon Iver, but altogether unique work and worth looking out for in the future.
Drums, keyboard and sax trio The Mumbles came on second set, and in a flash they immediately turned the vibe in whole new direction with some New Orleans jazz-funk fusion. Their performance was equally solid as the first, bringing a burst of energy into the room and getting shoes tapping in no time at all. Perhaps it is because The Mumbles have visited the Blue Plate Special several times in the past, but their immediate command of the stage and obvious instrumental prowess demonstrated a high level of comfort and professionalism. Solos by saxophonist Ejric Bernhardt had the audience cheering mid-song multiple times, and several listeners excited to catch them again the following Friday, March 8 at Barley’s Taproom in the Old City.