Chris Durman, Knoxville’s happiest frontman, the Smiley of Smiley and the Love Dawg, devotee of easy-going folk, is turning 50, and he’s having a party to prove it. The singer/guitarist plays crypto-Appalachian jug-band music that would not be improved with an actual jug. The songs might date from the 1920s or maybe last Thursday, because for those in the mood for it, this stuff never dies. Durman calls it up to suit every occasion.
On the bill is a reunion of his never fully split band Exit 65, whose local cult following once suggested they were a homegrown approximation of the Grateful Dead. When Jerry Garcia was approaching 50, he wrote a song about growing older called “Touch of Grey,” with its refrain, “I will survive.” He didn’t, but his general worldview does, as Chris proves.
Also on the bill is a performer you might not expect in this mix, one who turned 50 a good long time ago, Mr. John Myers. Formerly of the local 1950s doo-wop group the Five Pennies and the soul-era Hearts of Stone, Myers is Knoxville’s only resident Motown veteran that we know of. He’s made an unlikely alliance with Knoxville’s younger folkies and revels in it with grace.
It all happens at the Well, in underground Bearden, away from noise and bustle of downtown, where most bars are crowded with frantic kids looking for something you’ve already found, or aren’t looking for anymore. Just have another beer, the Tennessee-legal version of another toke, and enjoy the scene. The show also features the Lonetones and Kevin Abernathy and starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 26.