Monday, November 23, 2009

20 Days in November - Day 18: Chris Knight

Regular readers already know how fanatic we've become regarding Chris Knight, so it was no surprise how much we have been anticipating his show at IOTA Club since its announcement. Some artists are worth a road trip and we've taken a couple to see Knight. This summer I slept in the Armory in Harrisonburg with my two dogs in order to see an outdoors hows and about twelve months ago we drove 6 hours to see him play at the The Evening Muse in Charlotte, North Carolina. All worth it. Yet it was a relief only having to drive a few miles to see him this evening in Arlington.

We arrived in time as opening act, Milton, took stage. He is a New York City based singer/songwriter and is apparently quite popular in the city - and why not. He has an interesting deep, raspy voice that commands your attention. I really liked his song "Booker", a tribute to the legendary New Orleans pianist, James Booker and his self-inspection in "Just a Man". And early the following morning I visited his website and listened to his jukebox. "Everybody Loves You", "Grand Hotel", "All the Time" - all good songs. Maybe worth a road trip to the big city.

Knight was eager to get started and quickly took over once the stage cleared, once again, accompanied by Chris Clark. That meant we were going to hear some mandolin. But Knight was in rare form this evening - usually he takes a low key attitude - yet when a few customers walked out early - Knight's sarcastic humor took over. I've never seen this side - and it continued the rest of the night. Ironically, the customers were simply friends of Milton and had exited the venue in order to greet the musician. But between the "rants" - Knight gave a great musical performance - about 100 minutes of continuous music.

Now when I claim to be a Chris Knight fanatic, it exposes itself every morning when I walk my dogs and for whatever reason I cycle through a selection of his songs - the number of songs dependent on how far my oldest dog wants to go. It starts with It Ain't Easy Being Me; Dirt;
House And 90 Acres; Enough Rope, Devil Behind the Wheel, Long Black Highway, and Oil Patch Town. Don't ask me why these. I don't know. And he obliged me with almost all these songs - yet I've never heard him play "Long Black Highway" live. And "Crooked Road" is quickly being added to this list; this is just such a powerful song and exemplifies how Knight can take a basic concept and force his audience to personally feel as if they were the subject. Driving to the show, we took a right on Danville street and wondered out loud if we'd hear that one from Heart of Stone. Yep, along with "Hell Ain't Half Full". He showed his comic side introducing this last song by stating the the customers leaving must be atheists or drug dealers - the antagonists in the song. Although he abruptly changed his mind and said that these groups are welcome at his shows - as long as they buy a tee shirt, or hat, or key chain.

For whatever reason, he played more songs from his self titled CD, Chris Knight than any other CD: "Love And A .45", "Framed", "House And 90 Acres", "The River's Own", and his signature song "It Ain't Easy Being Me". I just love Clark's mandolin in that song. A Pretty Good Guy was well represented with "Becky's Bible", "Oil Patch Town", and "If I Were You". The first and last are another two songs where Knight gets the audience immersed into a story. The only complaint, besides "Devil Behind the Wheel", I think The Jealous Kind has fallen out of his repertoire. My favorite album. But what can I say; this show was as good as expected. Come back soon.

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