As a thaw set in over Knoxville with balmy weather reaching over 50 degrees, there was a fresh energy in the air for the final day of The Rhythm N’ Blooms Music Festival. A quick look at my schedule revealed it was going to be an eclectic day as I had circles around acts with genres spanning from electro-pop to gospel.
The sun shining bright overhead, I decided that it was a good time to check out the Love Shack Courtyard Stage. Earlier in the weekend, I had caught up with Knoxville indie-pop rockers Art Smashes Records at a club set. With an unlimited supply of energy and their bright blend of guitar and synth, the group had a freshness that was clearly infectious to the early-afternoon festival revelers as heads nodded along and fans—new and old—boisterously cheered them on.
Keeping the outdoor vibes coming, I headed back to Pretentious Beer Company to enjoy a pint of a special beer made to celebrate the Rhythm & Blooms Festival—an IPA created in collaboration with Yee Haw Brewing Company. With a tasty beverage in hand, I was all set for storytelling Americana provided by Beth Snapp. Over gently-picked acoustic melodies, Snapp spun lyrical tales that impressively kept beer-drinking patio folks listening quietly. With her engaging style and a vocal clarity that demanded attention, Snapp managed to hold the traditionally-wandering festival crowd locked into her show.
Close by, I found the Young Fables had already amassed a standing room only crowd. Drawing from a range of influences, the duo added a modern twist to traditional country music. Proving that the walls of musical genres are meant to be broken, the pair added a slow-sizzling cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” which had the crowd swaying.
Returning to the Pretentious Beer Company, I found that the Rhythm N’ Blooms faithful were already there to take advantage of a secret show for indie electro-pop darlings, Sucre. Centered around singer and keys player, Stacy King, and her husband, Darren King (formerly of Mutemath and touring as DK the Drummer,) the group features heavy synth, furious drum beats, and smooth vocals. Even though the group had already played a show earlier in the day, I found myself standing on a bench to watch the show over the thick crowd that was alternating between shuffling in place and dancing to the beat.
Proving that warmth is relative, Los Angeles alternative rockers The Mowgli’s still found Knoxville’s rising temperatures to be chillier than their California home. However, they seemed to take it as a challenge as they moved around the stage on a mission to keep the festival crowd jumping. Featuring constant up-tempo melodies, rapid guitar riffs, and sunny drum beats, the band kept the now-partying crowd in a festive spirit.
Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a guitar to fill an entire room with music. Back at the Jackson Terminal, Knoxville guitar phenom Andy Wood had already taken the stage. Up front, people were clapping along; in the back, clusters of people stood nodding with approval as Wood wailed with fervor. Behind me the guitar player for another band at the festival (whose identity will remain anonymous) joked with his friends, “I was going to get up and play like that today! Really, I was!” Humbly downplaying his performance, Wood thanked the audience for coming out to, “…basically listen to a guy with a guitar.” The room filled with clapping and shouted requests, proving that his fans were enjoying what was anything but your basic instrumental show.
With bold lighting, stellar supporting singers, and a full, seasoned backing band, Paul Thorn took the Cripple Creek Stage to put on one final concert before the 2018 Rhythm and Blooms Music Festival would come to a close. Citing his gospel music upbringing and influences, Thorn brought a full tent revival atmosphere to the festival. Featuring—for good reason—the vocal powerhouse McCrary Sisters, the show left everyone, gospel fans and just fans that love music, uplifted and ready to see what 2019 will bring. Personally, I cannot wait because next year is the 10thanniversary of Rhythm N’ Blooms. I can just sense it’s going to be another magical experience.