The 7th annual Waynestock: For the Love of Drew Festival kicks off tonight, Friday, Feb. 3rd, and continues Saturday evening for round #2 of a music-packed show of talented artists. Bands such as Sweet Years, The Billy Widgets, Good Guy Collective, and more will be gracing this year’s stage at the Relix Variety Theatre, located at 1208 N. Central St. in Happy Holler. “It’s a real celebration of local music”, organizer Wayne Bledsoe describes of the event. “Some of the highlights for me this year, we have Sweet Years which are a great young band. In contrast to that, we have the John Myers Band. John Myers is eighty years old, probably eighty-one now, and he started in Knoxville singing in Doo Wop and R&B groups, in the 1950s. He recorded with a band called Hearts of Stone. He’s incredible, he’s great. Mic Harrison and the High Score, they’re one my all-time favorite live bands ever.”
The weekend bash of musical acts gives people “a wide variety of what this town has to offer and you couldn’t find a better atmosphere”, as Bledsoe puts it. Not only does the event showcase some of Knoxville’s best, the Waynestock festival helps organizations within the area. What is now a rockin’ gig with a cause has grown from the same vibe and community collectiveness that once came together to support Wayne Bledsoe and his family.
In 2010, Andrew Bledsoe, Wayne’s son, suddenly passed away from a heart condition. Friends and loved ones gathered to support the family and played music, in his honor. “The first Waynestock was people in the rock music community who were friends of mine who wanted to get together and do something for my family and that was extremely meaningful”, Bledsoe mentions. “It made me and my family feel very loved and appreciated, and there was just such a good vibe that first year. Then we wanted to give that vibe to the Pollard family, the second year, and it’s just continued on from then. It’s all ages, it’s just very welcoming and warm.”
Wayne Bledsoe described his son as a great friend to many and one who loved music. At a young age, Andrew played in a metal band called Psychotic Behavior. “Andrew then went on to sing with Human Fuse and he did a bunch of solo stuff, too. At the time that he died, he was planning on working on an album the next year”, Bledsoe says. To honor Andrew, WUTK keeps his song “Golden Wheat” on rotation.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Bledsoe
General Manager/Program Director Benny Smith adds, “WUTK is very proud to sponsor Waynestock, as it is a great example of what our local scene is all about…great music, good people, fun times, and all for a good cause”.
Waynestock annually raises money for local organizations in need, and this year’s beneficiary is The Pilot Light. Executive Director Jason Boardman states the funds will go toward renovating the venue. “We are so thankful to be chosen as this year’s beneficiary. The interior fixtures, seating and lights, made largely by volunteer help, are now 12-15 years old and need some help. We plan to use the money raised to replace and repair things that have always had to wait due to more pressing priorities. These are features that will make it a more comfortable environment to see a show”, says Boardman.
Past beneficiaries have also been organizations that could use the financial assistance and those chosen by Bledsoe and team’s mutual agreement. “The Community School of the Arts, we have a lot friends who teach at that and there’s not a lot of fundraisers for them. WUTK gets no money from the University and we think WUTK is very important. The Girls Rock Camp, same situation. There’s not a whole lot of money going into that and we all think it’s a great cause. This year, The Pilot Light, this is a club that everybody’s been to, they present music that no one else will present, they champion local artists, and with them becoming a non-profit, it’s sort of a perfect thing to raise money for”, says Bledsoe.
Waynestock garners tremendous support from the community at large. “Relix donated the space the first year and have donated every year since, and that’s always helpful. Sweet P’s always caters…Jay Nations and Jack Stiles of Raven Records also help a great deal handling the raffle and other things.”
With so much collaboration and good vibes from the community, Waynestock continues to care for and give back to others. So head on over and show some love! We’ll see you there. You can find us in the front row, rocking out to these bands:
Friday, February 3
7:00 – Exit 65
8:00 – John Myers Band
10:00 – Sweet Years
11:00 – Guy Marshall
12:00 – The Billy Widgets
Saturday, February 4
6:00 – Greg Horne Band
7:00 – Good Guy Collective
8:00 – Paperwork
10:00 – Electric Darling
11:00 – “The Departed: A Celebration of Artists Claimed by 2016,” featuring local guests. Who’ll be playing? What’ll they play? Show up and find out!