Live Music

Is it Freck, or is it Adams?

[With apologies to Richard Linklater, Philip K. Dick, and Rory Cochrane.]

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, piano player, work-a-holic Ryan Adams has a reputation for being a belligerent asshole, which, apparently, is doubly true when he brings his show to Knoxville. His concert at the Bijou two weeks ago lasted just over an hour, making it, by comparison to other stops on this tour, exactly half a concert. At 11:05 he looked at his watch and then spoke to us for the first time all evening, launching into a tirade against someone at his record label who had apparently rejected his latest batch(es) of songs. Since he was already five minutes beyond the curfew — or so he informed us — the show was over. He walked off stage, his bass player thanked us for coming out, the roadies began tearing down the gear, and we in the sold-out crowd eventually — and in disbelief — filed out.

But this post isn’t about Ryan Adams’ hissy fit. Or his distracting resemblance to Freck in A Scanner Darkly. Or the fact that The Bijou has never had a curfew. No, this post is about live music. And it’s about the years I spent as a broke-ass graduate student, unable to afford to see the shows that came through town. And it’s about the beautiful, beautiful Bijou Theatre, which, since reopening a few months ago, has booked a steady stream of fantastic acts, making Knoxville — finally — a worthwhile stop for all of those bands traveling to and from Nashville, Atlanta, and Asheville. Midway through his opening set the other night, Cardinals guitarist Neal Casal actually stopped for a minute or two to compliment the theater. “Usually a show only sounds good out where you’re sitting,” he told us. “But tonight it sounds really good up here, too.”

I’ve only seen two shows at the Bijou so far, Ryan Adams and Richard Thompson, but I have tickets for four more over the coming weeks.

  • Bruce Cockburn, August 30, second row center
  • Rhys Chatham, September 5, second row center
  • Calexico and Oakley Hall, September 21, front row center
  • Aimee Mann, October 4, third row center

Not bad, eh?