You've heard of open-mic nights. Christina Horn, of Hudson K, and the new Relix Variety Theatre in the Downtown North neighborhood have started a series of what Horn is calling closed-mic nights to pair local singer/songwriters with the audiences brought in by local and regional touring bands—and to give them a chance to win a promotional and recording prize package that includes a slot opening for Hudson K next year. Horn based the idea on her experience at Eddie's Attic, a small club in Decatur, Ga., where John Mayer and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles have won open-mic competitions.
"I am so excited to get this series rolling," Horn writes in a recent e-mail. "I have been going to Eddie's Attic for a few years now and I always come home wishing we had something similar to offer in Knoxville. The reason I love it so much is because it was my first taste of what a listening room should feel like. Eddie's was also the first time a very green artist like myself got to experience a full room of people tuned into what I was trying to say and play. I always came out of there feeling like, ‘Yeah, I can do this music thing... people like it... people care.' Now I want to try and create that same feeling here at home."
The series—officially titled Listen Up Knoxville!—takes place every Monday at 8 p.m. The show starts with a round of singer/songwriters, who can sign up in advance or at the theater, with the featured band starting a 90-minute set at 10 p.m. Admission is free. Horn says the featured bands will bring in audiences who might not come to a simple singer/songwriter night and will increase the stakes for the amateur entrants.
The best local performers from each night will advance to a final competition round in December. The grand prize includes a session at Famous London Recording Studio, a professional photo shoot, poster design, and a performance with Horn's band. The local string group Lake Terrace Trio will be the featured band on Monday, July 26, followed by the local indie-folk band Valley Young. Hudson K, Matt Urmy, Taylor Brown and Co., Plainclothes Tracy, and the LoneTones are all expected to perform as featured bands later this year.