Kathleen Edwards Live @ The Square Room

Friday is going to be a great night for live music in Knoxville as Kathleen Edwards rolls into town for a show at The Square Room.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy a Kathleen Edwards show. Kathleen’s live set is irreverent, raucous, and just a helluva lot of fun. During her shows, she’s been known to have a few drinks, trade good natured profanities with audience members, and generally act like one of the guys. I don’t think I could recommend her performances any more highly.

I’ve seen Kathleen perform a handful of times now in a variety of venues and with a couple of different lineups. Each time, I come away impressed, and each show has offered its own unique story.

The first time I saw her was not long after the release of her 2003 debut album Failer. She was opening for Nickel Creek on the campus of Morehead State University (my alma mater and 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament participants). Kathleen was still a very new artist and still relatively unknown at the time of the show. As I recall, the posters on campus and the radio spots on the commercial radio stations didn’t even list her as part of the bill. I took it upon myself to become her one-man street team in Morehead. I played Failer non-stop on the air in the weeks leading up to the show and urged my audience to show up early to catch the opening act.

After the show (sound wasn’t great, but Kathleen still rocked out), I got a chance to chat with Kathleen at her merch table where I told her of my promotion efforts. We talked for a little while about the show, her album, and Johnny Cash. In the end… I left that night with an autographed copy of Failer signed, “To Nelson, Thanks for supportin’. Kathleen.”

I didn’t see Kathleen perform again until early last year just before the release of her 2008 album Asking for Flowers. She played a quiet singer/songwriter set in Knoxville on the WDVX Blue Plate Special with her husband and guitar player Colin Cripps. She had to clean up the lyrics to “The Cheapest Key” a bit since the whole thing was broadcast live on the radio (“B is for bullsugar” …but F was still her favorite letter). The quiet, (mostly) acoustic side of Kathleen is not one that often comes out, but was great to see. That was also the show where she told me of her desire to keep her record label’s panties untwisted.

A couple of months after that, my wife and I took a weekend excursion to Nashville to see Kathleen and her band play a full show at The Mercy Lounge (one of my favorite clubs around). This was the first time I actually got to experience an extended set with the full band, and it was truly something to see. Kathleen showed off her full repertoire that night by switching from acoustic to electric guitar… she even played some fiddle in a few places. She and sideman Jim Bryson engaged the audience with stories from their Nashville shopping excursion from earlier that day (Kathleen bought a t-shirt that said “Nashville’s One Hot Chicken” which she modeled for everyone during the encore), drank some Tennessee Whiskey, and even entertained an audience request for “Westby” from Failer. Another winning performance.

Heck… I even have a story from the show I missed in Knoxville. After the release of her 2005 album Back to Me, Kathleen came to town with My Morning Jacket for a show in Knoxville’s Old City. I wasn’t able to go because I still lived in Kentucky and just couldn’t make it to Knoxville in time. My wife made it to the show, however, and I am now the proud owner of another autographed Kathleen Edwards CD. This one simply says, “Nelson, Where are you? Kathleen Edwards.”

That night, I was somewhere on I-75 headed for the Tennessee border. Friday night, I’ll be at The Square Room and no one will have to ask that question.

Here are a couple of live tracks from Kathleen to whet your appetite for the show… and a couple of live covers courtesy of Youtube.

Kathleen Edwards: Hockey Skates (Buy Album)
Kathleen Edwards: Money Talks (Buy Album)

Edit: Here is a picture of the “One Hot Chicken” t-shirt that I referenced earlier. I wanted to include this pic in the original post… but I couldn’t find it. Luckily, my wife did.

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