The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Mike Smith was on a Tuesday morning mission to show a friend some peacocks on a farm along East Tennessee’s Holston River.
He also knew he had a photo opportunity.
“I’d been there before and I knew it was gorgeous,” Smith said, less than an hour after the visit. “And I was right. There was fog coming off the river this morning with sunlight poking through.”
It was a moment that showed the East Tennessee State University photography professor’s enduring love for the landscape surrounding him, and a more directed way of working.
“I used to just drive slowly on the back roads around here, when I first came to Tennessee,” said Smith, who moved to Johnson City in 1981. “Now, I usually have a destination in mind.”
As part of the Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series, Smith will be in Lexington on Friday to talk about his work in conjunction with an exhibit of his photos in The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.
Smith’s photos show a distinctly rural landscape, slowly changing with suburban development and businesses.
“You see new development adjacent to old farmlands,” he said. “I parallel familiar, ordinary stuff with things like gas stations and material more corporate in nature.”
NICHOLASVILLE — Yes, it was the Church Music Tour.
And yes, the guys in the David Crowder Band showed up dressed in their Sunday best.
And this sold-out concert did in fact take place in a church — Southland Christian Church, to be precise. But it was also Friday night, and that was the spirit Southland’s visitors from Waco, Texas, embraced the most.
Throughout its career, David Crowder’s group has made complete albums, and Church Music is no exception. The band’s October release is a thorough exploration of contemporary music styles put together in an arrangement that mirrors a mainline church service. But DCB doesn’t tour albums. It tours its hit-heavy catalog. Like his albums though, Crowder arranges those hits into a concert as satisfying as his studio efforts.
New quickly mixed with old Friday night as early selections included the Crowder classic and worship staple There is No One Like You and the disco-drenched selection Church Music – Dance (!). The latter was yet another chance for Crowder to show his love of gadgets, employing the T-Pain ap on his iPhone to achieve a vocoder effect several band members demonstrated — guitarist Mark Waldrop singing Sean Kingston’s Fire Burning and bassist Mike Dodson invoking the prototype Autotune song, Cher’s Believe. A few tunes later, Jack Parker had the banjo out for the regular Bluegrass barn burner I Saw the Light and I’ll Fly Away.
We’ve particularly gotten used to seeing that Bluegrass bit at the Ichthus Festival, but one of the coolest things about Friday night was Crowder’s close proximity to the audience, allowing for the exchange of several gifts including a McDonald’s toy pony and a bottle of Dr. Pepper that had indeed been shaken.
What Crowder gave back was a whole new way to think about church music.
The concert opened with like-minded artists Seabird and Danyew who gave brief, rousing opening sets. Seabird’s portion closed with the evocative, defiant anthem Cottonmouth (Jargon) and included a winning new single, Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful, from the Dec. 15 release Rocks into Rivers. Phil Danyew’s set energized the crowd for the headliner, in large part thanks to drummer Brandon Lozano’s tireless and nuanced work.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich