Shock spread quickly throughout Knoxville upon the news of deep-rooted musician Phil Pollard's death in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 29. Three months later, disbelief has given way to heartache as the local music community comes to terms with the loss of the vibrant multi-instrumentalist. Taking action in support of the Pollard family is a myriad of acts touched by Phil's musicianship and spirit through the second iteration of Waynestock.
Though a Virginia resident at the time of his passing, Pollard remained a dominant presence in Knoxville music remotely, often returning to his former home to join the handful of projects he once regularly fueled. To become as interwoven as he was into such a broad music scene is an astounding feat and in reflecting upon interactions with Phil, it is easy to see how he accomplished this. Despite Pollard's undeniable, albeit peculiar, musical brilliance, offstage the teacher and performer never revealed so much as a glimmer of arrogance or pretentiousness. Passionate in the expansion of his knowledge of all subjects, he showed a genuine interest in those around him, inspiring their interests through osmosis. And his love of music was particularly infectious.
"Phil was a doer, and that's who ends up in the middle of things," says local artist and Waynestock co-organizer Tim Lee. "He was an outgoing guy and a magnet for musical activity of all sorts. We, meaning the planning committee, would like to think that the wide variety of music we have lined up for Waynestock 2 is perhaps a reflection of Phil's diversity ...
"Phil was just kinda larger than life. Like I said, he was a magnet, super outgoing and easy to like. Even when you didn't agree with him, you couldn't dislike him."
The Waynestock event was initially arranged to gather support for the family of the late Andrew Bledsoe following their loss, and was thus named Waynestock: For the Love of Drew. (Waynestock gets its name from Andrew Bledsoe's father and News Sentinel music writer, Wayne Bledsoe.) The loving support and sense of community resounded so strongly that many of the original coordinators decided to revive the event, this time to benefit the Pollard family, raising money for the education funds of Phil's three young daughters. Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil will offer three nights of music, food, raffles and camaraderie for a good cause as friends, family and fans celebrate and honor the memory of an unforgettable character.
"It's important for the music community to rally around their own people," says Lee. "Unfortunately, sometimes it's easy to forget there's an actual 'community' until something like this happens. Our goal is to simply raise as much as we can for Phil's daughters. We have some very generous sponsors who've helped spread the word and/or donated items for raffle. Right now, it looks like we're gonna have some great raffle items, including a guitar and a banjo to be signed by all the performers. Also, we should have some various event tickets that will be highly sought after. Chris Ford from Sweet P's is gonna be set up to sell some of his fine barbecue, and he is donating all his profits to the cause.
"The best part of the first Waynestock was the sense of community and the love for the Bledsoe family that was in the air all weekend. I look forward to that kind of thing again, as well as the interaction of the various musicians. Last year, a lot of local players saw bands they'd never seen before. I hope to see more of that kind of thing happen this year."
Lee and his fellow Waynestock promoters hope to host future festivities on a recurring basis for a charitable cause yet to be decided.
"We've kicked around various ideas and plan to meet soon after Waynestock 2 to discuss the event's future," Lee says. "I think we all see it as an ongoing concern. Ideally, perhaps it could be turned into a foundation of sorts that could provide micro-grants to musicians in need."
Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil kicks off Thursday night (Feb. 2) at Relix Variety Theatre and continues through Saturday, Feb. 4, with more than 20 acts scheduled to perform, including an all-star tribute to Phil Pollard to conclude the festivities on Saturday evening. Doors open at 6 p.m. all three nights with a $5 admission each night.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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