published Friday, December 16th, 2011

Phillips: Why bands shine brighter during holidays

Maybe I have too much junk cluttering up my apartment, but as I've grown older, the holidays have become less and less about "What am I going to get?" and more about "Who am I going to get to see?"

Thanks to our obsession with social networking, many of our loved ones can sometimes seem more like a series of Facebook status updates or posts to Instagram than flesh-and-blood people. Family gatherings at this time of year offer opportunities to put a face to a screen name.

While it may seem like I'm reaching here, the holiday season offers a similar opportunity to reconnect with local musicians.

Just like regular human beings, touring bands need family downtime during the holidays, and venues turn to local acts to fill in the gaps.

With Track 29 populating its schedule with big-name acts these days, it can be easy to forget that there are so many excellent acts right on our doorstep.

I was poignantly reminded of this last weekend when I went with some friends to see local blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Brian "Husky" Burnette at JJ's Bohemia. As usual, his foot-stomping electric howl and bourbon-soaked vocals were brilliant, which is why he's such a hot commodity the rest of the year in places like Florida and the Midwest.

Being able to see him -- or any local artist -- on his home turf was awesome, kind of like reconnecting with a favorite cousin over a plate of Christmas ham (or some other religiously unaffiliated meat product).

So while I'm grateful Track 29 has provided a home to artists such as Lucinda Williams and Of Montreal (coming April 6), I'm even more thankful that it and other venues are giving locals a chance to step into the spotlight during the holidays.

Here's are some options for reacquainting yourselves with the band next door:

  • Tonight, The Warehouse, 412 Market St., is hosting a slew of great local vocalists for a Christmas Spectacular benefit concert. Sweet Georgia Sound's Lauren Koch and former Glenn Miller Orchestra songstress Valerie Duke are among those who will perform. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, and proceeds benefit City Church's "I Dream of a Church" campaign.

  • Saturday, go hear some of the most beautiful vocals in the Scenic City when Jennifer Daniels performs at Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St. As a new mom, Daniels isn't seen on the scene as much these days, so this show offers a rare opportunity to hear why she made such a splash a few years ago. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

  • In addition to hosting marquee national artists, Track 29, 1400 Market St., has been a committed supporter of local music through events such as the genre-themed showcases slated for this weekend.

Tonight, blues/Southern rockers Blues Hammer, Collins Brothers Band and WTM Blues Band will take the stage. Saturday, indie rock/alternative acts Land Camera, Raenbow Station and The Hearts in Light are on deck. Tickets are $10 and doors open at 7 p.m. for both shows.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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