KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Waynestock was a cherished tradition for fans and musicians across East Tennessee. It brought together bands of many genres and created a community of people who worked to uplift a former music journalist in Knoxville.
On Feb. 2, Waynestock is set to return after the event's last meeting in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from happening for two years, and organizers said they were worried that the pandemic could have ended Waynestock.
"If Waynestock X was the last one, we thought, then it was a beautiful one to go out on," they said on social media.
They are set to return in 2023, and organizers said they wanted to give people a chance to heal from the pandemic and the loss of loved ones.
Waynestock is named after Wayne Bledsoe, a former music journalist who lost his son, Andrew. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rylan Bledsoe also passed away, a Knoxville musician and brother of Andrew's.
"We didn’t know when or where or who would even want to play, but at its heart, Waynestock has been about healing. It’s more than a musical showcase, more than an incubator of budding talent and a chance for scene vets to shine. It’s a time for us all to come together, to hug and hold one another, to remember the fallen and lift up their light and remind ourselves that when something horrific happens, we make it better by creating a raucously joyful noise," said organizers on social media.
This year's festival will also benefit a popular band member, J.C. Haun, who was injured in a crash. He performed with "Left Foot Down," and the band is expected to play once again during Waynestock.
Thursday night will be filled with music curated by Wayne Bledsoe, featuring bands that Rylan played with as well as the music he loved. Starsregardless will kick off the night, before moving to jazz from Keith Brown and Friends. One of Rylan's old bandmates, Chris Newman, will also take to the stage with Benjamin Savage for guitar pyrotechnics.
On Friday night, Leslie Walker and Dark Mountain Orchid will return to the stage before Adeem the Artist. Then, the festival will rock and roll with The Rectangle Shades and Mercy Lights. Haun's old band, Left Foot Down, will then close out the evening.
Saturday will mark the final day of the event with Lucy Abernathy, Horcerer, and Tim and Susan. BARK will take the stage after them, before Connor Kelly ATTW. The night will end with a performance led by Kelsi Walker.
The event costs $5 at the door, per night and it will be at the Relix Variety Theatre at 1208 North Central Avenue.