Archive for the Jennifer Nicely Category

Tennessee Shines Recap

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo, Jennifer Nicely, Tennessee Shines, The Duhks, The Lovell Sisters on January 30, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

It’s Friday morning now, and I’m still basking in the glow of Wednesday night’s edition of Tennessee Shines. I was finally able to attend a taping of the show, and I was not disappointed. Of course, Alejandro Escovedo rocked the pillars of the Bijou Theatre during his portion of the show… but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

Tennessee Shines is a monthly concert series that takes place in downtown Knoxville, TN that is recorded live for radio syndication and local television. It’s very similar to other syndicated programs such as Mountain Stage and E-Town. Each performance features over two hours of music and is actually recorded as two separate one-hour radio shows. The first hour on Wednesday featured The Lovell Sisters and Alejandro Escovedo while the second hour focused on Jennifer Nicely and The Duhks. Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale is the host who holds the whole thing together by introducing the artists, conducting short interviews, and sometimes sitting in with the featured performers. It all makes for a rather enjoyable experience.

First up on Wednesday night were The Lovell Sisters, a family band made up of Jessica, Megan, and Rebecca Lovell… aged 21, 17, and 16. Their age belies their skills, and they were a great way to start the show. The sisters breezed through a set of traditional tunes and original songs. They even threw in a Hendrix cover for good measure. The girls are already Merlefest regulars and should only get better with age and experience.

We’ll skip ahead in the night a bit now to Jennifer Nicely, who opened the second hour of the show. Jennifer is an East Tennessee native who produces beautifully textured singer/songwriter fare that is based primarily in folk and jazz. Jennifer played a brief set filled with laid back atmospheric grooves. Her set provided a nice calm after the storm that Alejandro Escovedo produced.

The Duhks rounded out the show with their signature mix of… well… how do you describe The Duhks exactly? Their influences cover many styles including traditional string band music, pop, jazz, Celtic, Afro-beat, and Latin rhythms, and their sound is constantly evolving.

This was my first time seeing the band with their new line-up featuring the vocalist/percussionist brother and sister combo of Sarah and Christian Dugas. Sarah Dugas is also a songwriter who contributed several original tunes to the group’s latest album Fast Paced World. She owned the stage as she belted out tune after tune while fiddle player Tania Elizabeth whirled and twirled around and banjo player Leonard Podolak stomped about the stage. Christian Dugas and Jordan McConnell kept perfect time on drums and guitar.

The highlight of their set was the closing song which was a medley called “Ship High in Transit/Magalenha.” The song began as an instrumental piece showcasing McConnell and Elizabeth before erupting into a percussion and vocal piece that relies heavily on Latin rhythms and features lyrics sang in Portuguese. This is a very adventurous band that is not afraid to take you along on the ride with them.

Here’s one of their more straightforward numbers… and a song they played Wednesday night… “You Don’t See It.”

The Duhks: You Don’t See It (Buy Album)

Of course… the highlight of the night for me was Alejandro Escovedo. I’d been geared up for his set for some time, and I was fully prepared to rock out with the Real Animal. It was all I expected it to be, Alejandro provided a blistering set of fiery Rock & Roll that may have been too much for some in attendance. I saw a few people with fingers in their ears, a few people seek shelter in the lobby, and was told of one couple who (not so) kindly asked the sound table to cut back the volume a bit. It was a bit of a departure from the usual Tennessee Shines performance where artists generally are less amped and more acoustic, but I was too busy rocking out to care.
Alejandro blazed through six songs from his 2008 album Real Animal (my fave of ’08) and old favorite “Castanets.” His set was way too short, but still quite enjoyable. It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything live that could match the fire of “Chelsea” or “Castanets.” Simply put, if Alejandro Escovedo comes to your town… Go. You’ll be better for it.

Here’s a live version of “Castanets” from the Por Vida Fan Club CD to get you through the day and the words I wrote about the studio version of the song the last time I mentioned it here.

“My favorite Escovedo song, “Castanets,” comes from my favorite Escovedo album (2001’s A Man Under the Influence), and is one of my favorite songs of all time… period. The guitar lick on this song sets the track on fire and refuses to be extinguished for the next 3:27. This is, in my opinion, one of the great barroom rock songs ever recorded, and I will not be happy until everyone knows this tune.”

Alejandro Escovedo: Castanets (Buy Album)