Chris Knight Plays At Songbirds Oct. 4

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chris Knight performs at Songbirds on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m.  Tickets are $25 and the show is for all ages.

Review for Chris Knight:

Chris Knight doesn’t like to say much. Won’t chat about his worldview or engage in conversations on his creative approach. For 15 years, seven acclaimed albums and a hard-nosed career that’s been hailed as “where Cormac McCarthy meets Copperhead Road”, Knight has always let his music do most of the talking. And on record – as well everywhere across America, from roadhouse taverns to major-city concert halls – his songs have had plenty to say. But with his latest album Little Victories (September 2012), Chris Knight has taken the discussion to a whole new level. 

His first album of new material since 2008, Little Victories is a record of blunt honesty, elegiac truths and the raw rural poetry of an artist who’s come into his own and intends to stay. And for a performer who’s been compared over the years to Cash, Prine, Earle and Nebraska-era Springsteen, Knight now stands alone as a singer/songwriter that has carved his own idiosyncratic sound and sensibility out of the dirt road American dream. Little Victories not only sounds like a Chris Knight album, but the best Chris Knight album yet.

“I don’t ever get in a big rush about things,” Knight says. “I can tour pretty good on what I got. I took my time, like I always do. Write a song every now and then. I don’t like to talk about politics, but I do write what I’m thinking about.” And if many of the songs on Little Victories seem to take a hard-eyed look at the current socio-economic climate, Knight – the former strip-mine inspector who still lives in the backcountry coal town of Slaughters, Kentucky (population 200) where he was raised – is upfront about their origins.

“About two years ago, we had a big ice storm here in Slaughters that just devastated the whole area,” he says. “We were out of power for close to a month, cooking in the fireplace and living by candlelight to survive. Things slowed down to nothing. When we were finally able to head into town, we saw lines of cars for miles outside the gas station. There were hundreds of people outside the hardware store who had nothing even before the storm hit. They weren’t prepared for the situation or for each other. I watched their behavior and reactions, and that’s when I started writing a bunch of songs I knew would be a part of this record.”

Little Victories also marks a reunion with producer Ray Kennedy, who’d engineered and mastered Knight’s seminal Enough Rope and two Trailer Tapes albums and is well known for his work with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, John Mellencamp and Lucinda Williams. “Chris wanted to make this record with his road band,” explains Kennedy. “And as we were tracking in the studio, the sounds I was sending back through the headphones were pretty tough and edgy. It made everybody crank their amps up higher and dig a little deeper. The sound of any record is about attitude and how it goes down, and much of this record went down like a rock record. Other than a few overdubs, it’s pretty much recorded 100 percent live.”

This organic approach gives the album an acoustic/electric texture that is both urgently gritty and fiercely expressive, with Knight’s twang-rich vocals to match. “Chris digs deepest of all on this record,” Kennedy says. “It’s the content of his voice as well as the character of the songs. And when you listen to this record a few times, you realize there’s a really unique social commentary woven in. I think he’s one of our greatest songwriters, period.”

The album’s 11 songs purely rank among Knight’s finest. There’s busted luck in “Lowdown Ramblin’ Blues”, hardcore tenacity in “Nothing On Me” and badtempered love in “You Lie When You Call My Name” (co-written with two-time Grammy winner Lee Ann Womack). Buddy Miller provides guest vocals on the ominous commentary of “In The Mean Time” and the ornery regret of “Missing You”. “Jack Loved Jesse” is a raging tale of criminal destiny co-written and featuring blistering electric guitar and vocals by former Georgia Satellite and frequent Knight producer Dan Baird. “You Can’t Trust No One” emerges as an unsettling paean to small-town American cynicism and anger, and “The Lonesome Way” is a gut-punch of slide-guitar, violin (courtesy Tammy Rogers of The Steeldrivers, who appears throughout the album) and bullheaded regret. The humble acoustic remorse of “Out Of This Hole” is Knight at his most plaintive, and the crushed dreams of “Hard Edges” carry a banjo-tinged melancholy. And if the title track not only finds Knight at his most cheerily optimistic (for Chris, at least), it also features vocals from his lifelong musical hero John Prine. “When I was 16, I got a John Prine songbook and learned about 40 of his songs,” Knight explains. “Used to play them for the kids in study hall at school every day. About 20 years later, I finally got to meet him when I opened a few shows for him. He asked me to come out and sing “Paradise” as part of his encore, and I got to play the blonde Martin guitar that was on the cover of his first album. I sent him “Little Victories” and he liked the song enough to be on it.” Chris treasures the moment when the two first listened to the playback of their distinctive twangs rasping joyfully together on the chorus. “‘Prine turned to me and said, ‘We sound pretty good together. Just like Phil and Don Everly.’”

So after 15 years, eight albums and a still uncompromised reputation as one of the best singer/songwriters in America, what has Chris Knight learned from it all? “I’ve learned that I’m pretty lucky to do what I do and make a living at it,” he says. “I’m really proud of this record, and it’ll be fun to play these songs live. For people who like my music and maybe even for someone hearing me for the first time, I think they’ll find songs on here that mean something to them and they can hang on to. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I think people are gonna be surprised.” And for Chris Knight, that’s victory enough.



Bill And Eli Perras Play At Charles And Myrtle's Saturday

Bill and Eli Perras, American Troubadours, will play at Charles and Myrtle's Coffeehouse on Saturday at 8 p.m. The coffeehouse is inside Christ Unity Church at 105 McBrien Road. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.  Review for Bill and Eli Perras: Imagine George Burns and Gracie Allen as a couple of sweet old hippies, and you have a start on what to expect ... (click for more)

Southern Adventist University Ensembles Kick Off Concert Season

The Southern Adventist University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony invite the public to their first concerts of the season.  The Symphony Orchestra will perform Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Under the direction of Laurie Redmer Minner, the Symphony Orchestra will present “Symphony in D minor” by César Franck and ... (click for more)

Black Creek To Pay For Engineer Firm's Review Of New City Road Up Aetna Mountain

City Transportation Director Blythe Bailey said Tuesday that the Black Creek Mountain Development Group will pay for a review by an engineering firm of plans for a new city road up Aetna Mountain to a planned major development on top. Geosyntec Consultants is charging $39,754 for the examination of the planned road that will roughly follow the track of the current dirt road that ... (click for more)

2 Bank Tellers Say They Are Positive Walter Rice Was Gunman Who Robbed Hixson Branch

Two tellers from the Hixson branch of the Bank of America testified Tuesday they are positive that Walter Frank Rice is the individual who robbed them at gunpoint last July 25. General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom bound a bank robbery charge against Rice, 36, of 4734 Sabrina Lane, Hixson, to the Grand Jury. She raised his bond on the bank robbery charge to $250,000, calling ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: 2018 Ig Nobel Awards

The word ‘ignobel’ is rarely used because only a few among us know that it means "characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness." About 30 years ago, a glorious group of great scholars took a literary hatchet to form the word into ‘ig nobel’ so it could be placed in the dictionary as a term that means “a satirical social criticism that identifies absurd research.” Think of ... (click for more)