Wayne Bledsoe: Westwend combination works; Hendrix release unearths treasures

Westwend will celebrate the release of the albums by group vocalists Jonathan Maness and Wendy Crowe at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Boyd’s Jig & Reel, 101 S. Central St.

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Westwend will celebrate the release of the albums by group vocalists Jonathan Maness and Wendy Crowe at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Boyd’s Jig & Reel, 101 S. Central St.

It’s hard to know just what to call the upcoming CD release show by the group Westwend. The show will celebrate the release of solo albums by Wendy Crowe and Jonathan Maness, who are the singing-songwriting core of Westwend. And, Maness is also a member of the band Mountain Soul.

Both Maness and Crowe are music veterans. Maness is the son of a civilian contractor with the military and learned how to play guitar while his family was living in Germany.

“There really wasn’t much of anything else to do,” says Maness. “I sort of credit that with forcing me to have an interest in music.”

When he returned to the States, Maness took up mandolin to accommodate a gig at Tweetsie Railroad while he was attending Appalachian State University. He later worked backing up Valerie Smith and as a member of the Dixie Beeliners and Larkin Tunnel. He moved to Knoxville a few years ago.

Crowe grew up in Lexington, Miss., where she absorbed everything from Dolly Parton to Elvis Presley and Etta James, and she became a contestant in the 1998 Miss Mississippi pageant. She moved to East Tennessee a few years later and performed at Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede. She also fell in with the crowd at Ciderville Music, a lovably accepting group who put her in touch with Maness as a possible producer for an album she planned to record.

One odd commonality between the two is they had both performed in the Mayberry Days celebration in Mt. Airy, N.C. — Maness as an instrumentalist and Crowe impersonating show character Charlene Darling, but the two had never met.

“Last year when Wendy asked me to produce her album we started writing together,” says Maness.

The two began performing together in the summer of 2011. Maness says he was happy to have a project that wasn’t just his name.

“Plus, she’s way prettier than me, so it works on stage.” Review

“People, Hell and Angels,” Jimi Hendrix (Legacy)

Of all the great 1960s artists who died too young, Jimi Hendrix is the one who had the most tantalizing possibilities. His radical guitar style caused a cataclysmic change in music and was a first-rate songwriter. What might have he created had he lived?

“People, Hell and Angels” is at least a hint at where Hendrix was going . This release presents Hendrix with the Band of Gypsis group, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles (along with three tracks with Experience-drummer Mitch Mitchell). It’s bluesier and less showy than much of his earlier work.

Some of these recordings have been released in altered forms, but this is the first time much of this has been heard in the way Hendrix recorded it.

While other artists of the era seemed tied to their time, Hendrix, especially on the songs “Earth Blues” “Somewhere” and “Hey Gypsy Boy” sounds timeless.

Hendrix is one of the few artists whom every generation can make their own.

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