Any news report on Mississippi is bound to have a soundtrack of a mournful acoustic blues guitar and scenes of rustic shacks — just like reports on East Tennessee are prone to have scenes of shacks to the sound of banjos.
So maybe there's a natural kinship between Jackson, Miss., and Knoxville, Tenn. Both have solid music scenes full of diversity, little noticed outside their areas. While legal segregation no longer exists in the South, Cody Cox, of the band Liver Mousse, and Garrad Lee, a Jackson promoter, did notice that music was self-segregated.
"At the (venues) where there was hip-hop there was never a rock act and places where there was rock you never saw hip-hop," says Cox in a call from Jackson. "We were confused as to why no one ever had this coming together. So we decided that instead of just talking about it, we'd do something."
In early 2012, Cox and Lee organized the first Blender night, which not only had hip-hop and rock artists performing on the same stage, but collaborating on music.
The show was such a success that the two decided to repeat it and spread it. This Saturday the two will bring the event to Knoxville with Knoxville Blender.
The Knoxville event will present Knoxville hip-hop act The Theorizt and rock act The Tim Lee 3 along with Liver Mousse with Jackson rappers 5th Child and James Crow.
The Knoxville connection traces back to Tim and Susan Lee of Knoxville's Tim Lee 3 visiting Jackson, the area where the couple are originally from.
"We played a show with Liver Mousse and stayed with Garrett," says Tim Lee. "They told us about the Blender show; we just thought it was incredibly cool. Before we left that week we were making plans (for the Knoxville show)."
It was natural for the group to approach The Theorizt, one of Knoxville's top hip-hop acts, to join.
"Atticus (Theorizt member Black Atticus) was all about it," says Tim. "We just had to juggle a couple of things to make it work."
Tim, who co-founded the Windbreakers in Jackson at the dawn of the 1980s, says Jackson's music scene is better than it's ever been.
As an example, Liver Mousse, the husband and wife team of Cox and Caitlin McNally, are creating raw and raucous music with a do-it-yourself vibe.
"We get a lot of comparisons to the White Stripes, but we don't sound like the White Stripes," says Cox. "We're kind of all over the place genre-wise. ... When we recorded the first record ourselves and we had just a makeshift little set-up. We didn't even have a full drum kit. We used a film canister for a snare — just sort of making it up as we were going."
Cox had been in several bands, but it was McNally's first. Seeing her enthusiasm while giving the duo's first album a first-listen was inspiring.
"We just drove around the neighborhood and listened to it, just ourselves, for an hour. And just seeing that genuine amazement of 'People can actually listen to what we did on the radio,' I got a whole rejuvenated mind-set about all that stuff!"
The whole Blender concept could also help give bands in both Knoxville and Jackson a little bump out of their musical comfort zones.
With: Liver Mousse, Theorizt, Tim Lee 3, 5th Child and James Crow
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Well, 4620 Kingston Pike
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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