eye (2006-20)

Blue Suede Knoxville

I, Audience

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Blue Suede Knoxville

Such a “reunion” has been arranged this weekend at Preservation Pub, its primary effort being to promote Memphis music label Makeshift’s fourth compilation, which features artists from both cities and will be available at the show. The Rockwells’ Tommy Bateman says of the Memphis-Knoxville connection, “It’s interesting. For some bands that don’t currently have a base in Memphis, that relationship is based on history. For example, sometimes it’s people who used to be in a band together [Bateman retains close contact with his old Memphis band, Passport Again ]. And sometimes Makeshift comes in contact with bands they think are likeminded.” Bateman’s newer project, Tommy Bateman and the Thunder Thieves , is made up of several multi-instrumental Rockwellians and some pals, bringing its hybridized orchestral-folk style to the show this Saturday. And Memphis’ The Glass plays with a squalling splendor that can only be described as chronistic—not at all like all that damn untimely Southern literature that singer Brad Bailey dismissed with an acrid wave of the hand in an interview with MP circa February.

The Makeshift Orchestra , which also goes by the alternate title Makeshift Travelling Circus , features different players on any given day, intended to showcase Makeshift’s diversity. For this show, one of the label’s founder’s, Brad Posthlelwaite , who also plays with Snowglobe and anticipates the release of his forthcoming solo project, will play with singer-songwriter Blair Combest . “It promises to be fresh,” says Bateman. “They’re definitely about constantly reinventing songs.” We’re betting, too, that in the spirit of experimentation, they’ll have some joiners up on stage. Check it out this Saturday, May 20, round about 10 p.m. at the Preservation Pub.

I, Audience

They wish they had some whisky.

At last, an announcer exclaims, “The show is fixin’ to begin. Can we give a warm welcome home to [drum roll] a man who’s traded licks with Joan Baez and Jerry Garcia , Ralph Stanley and Del McCoury , Jimmy Martin and the New York Philharmonic …our very own Mr. Frank Wakefield !”

A rust-bucket cheer goes up from the crowd as Wakefield wobbles onto the stage. He lifts a hand into the air and a devilish grin spreads across his face, which is partially obscured by bushy silver eyebrows. Then he lowers the hand until the fingers hook on the strings of his weatherworn mandolin. Like magic, the fingers start to wiggle.

All heckfire, past and present, suddenly breaks loose in the little auditorium. Chords shoot from Wakefield’s instrument with the velocity of lightning bolts, colliding mid-air with the audience’s thunderous applause. They know they’re in the presence of a homegrown Emory Gap madman. He cackles mid-song, I wrote this one for you.

Go.