Chris Knight

Pearl Street Warehouse Presents

Chris Knight

Kevin Royal Johnson

Sun · November 12, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm


This event is 21 and over

This show is GA seated. Seating is first come first serve.


Chris Knight
Chris Knight
Ten years and five acclaimed albums into one of the most uncompromising careers in
American music, the singer/songwriter whose work has been compared to Prine, Cash and
Nebraska-era Springsteen by some the toughest music writers in America may have finally
conquered his most demanding critic of all: himself.
“Right now, this is my favorite record,” Chris Knight says of his new album, Heart Of Stone. “It
might just be my best. For some reason, there’s a cohesiveness here that’s not like anything
I’ve done before. But at the same time, it’s not real predictable. There’s a lot of texture to it as
well, but it’s a simple record. I don’t know how that happened. But I know it when I hear it.”
Then again, Knight has always been an artist of fierce instinct and uncommon paradox. A
former strip-mine reclamation inspector, Knight still lives in the rural coal town of Slaughters,
Kentucky (population 200) where he was born and raised. But it’s been on record – as well as
everywhere from rowdy Texas roadhouses to hushed New York City theaters – where Chris
has forged the reputation for a stark and often-ferocious honesty that led one writer to call his
music “where Cormac McCarthy meets Copperhead Road.”
“I still don’t know what to call myself,” says Chris. “When people ask me what kind of music I
play, I tell ‘em my music is country and rock and folk and roots rock and even pop. I think this
album sounds that way, too.” Produced by Dan Baird (of Georgia Satellites fame, as well as
producer of Knight’s widely-praised A Pretty Good Guy and The Jealous Kind discs), the 12
songs on Heart Of Stone represent a creative maturity unlike anything Knight has done
before. The music itself is a richly organic sonic mosaic where snarling guitars and pounding
drums live alongside mournful violas, plucky banjos, B-3 organ and even the occasional
trombone and bouzouki. And for an artist known for his narratives about busted lives and
broken dreams, Knight’s new songs now carry a hard-fought wisdom that gives his characters
deeper seams of pain, pride and ultimately, hope. “I’m conscious that I know a lot more than I
did 7 or 8 years ago,” Chris says. “Lately I’ve been writing about more internalized thoughts
and situations, about what I feel rather than maybe tell a story. I can’t keep playing the same
thing or telling the same stories in different ways. Getting comfortable with what you do is a
big part of it, I guess. I wasn’t afraid to say what I think, play what I play, or put what I want on
this record.”
“These are the songs of a grown man,” says producer Dan Baird, “and it’s not just the lower
body count. Chris is much more comfortable with his voice, his writing and the recording
process than he’s ever been before. He wanted to make a really lowdown record, kind of like
a rock band playing these really rural songs. And I wanted to try anything to get as much of
who Chris is now on the record as possible.” Baird, who co-wrote 4 of the album’s songs, took
a wholly organic approach to letting Knight and the musicians find the songs in the studio.
“We set up a small drum kit, 2 amps and a little p.a. in one corner for Chris and the band to
flesh-out the songs together. So rather than do a chart, put on headphones and make a mess
of it while we tried to figure out why Chris wanted to kick every ass in the room, we all tried
different stuff until we found the feel he was looking for. It was kind of a Blind Man’s Bluff and
Easter Egg Hunt rolled into one sometimes, but when we got it right we’d jump to our
positions and record it. We knew it when we heard it.”
The unpredictable power and texture of Heart Of Stone makes itself clear with “Homesick
Gypsy,” the potent opening track driven by parade drums, slide guitar, trombone, banjo and
bouzouki. “Hell Ain’t Half Full” is a razor-edged rocker with an unflinchingly fierce moral core.
“Almost There” is a sinister snarl of hard-luck, while “Another Dollar” explodes with vicious
guitars and Chris’ surprisingly howling vocals. There’s a mournful strength to “Danville”,
hardcore regret in “Miles To Memphis” and a coming-out-of-the dark joy to “Maria”. He
delivers both sides of love-gone-wrong with the unexpected optimism of “Something To Keep
Me Going” and the haunting pain of “My Old Cars”. Knight is at the peak of his storytelling
power with “Crooked Road”, an elderly miner’s heartbreaking elegy to “good dreams gone
cold” filled with love, loss, doubt and faith. But it’s the album’s title track that may be most
unforeseen tale of all, in which broken promises and a broken home cannot break a struggling
man’s resolve. And while the album’s closer “Go On Home” may seem like a taciturn mission
statement, Chris’s plainspoken standpoint is tempered with tenacity, acceptance and a defiant
wisdom. “They’re all pretty hard-nosed songs,” Chris admits. “But it’s as unified as collection
as I’ve ever recorded. People may not always agree with the attitude of my music, but my
point of view has always been pretty clear. With this album, it’s probably more visible. I want
to be able to stand on stage singing these songs and have people believe that what I’m
saying is the way that I feel.”
For fans, critics and even Knight himself, this record is the one where it all comes together.
It’s an album that is alternately raw and rocking, quietly powerful and significantly truthful in its
scope. Most of all, Heart Of Stone is the sound of a remarkable artist coming into his own.
You’ll know it when you hear it.
Kevin Royal Johnson
Kevin Royal Johnson
Kevin Royal Johnson began playing music as a solo performer when he moved to the Washington, DC area in 1984, where he started out on the pub circuit, most notably with singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter.

In 1991 he formed Kevin Johnson and the Linemen with Eric Brace (who later went on to form Last Train Home). Between 1991 and 2001 the band released four records under the SAM Records label. During that time and since, Johnson shared the stage with numerous singer-songwriters, both with The Linemen and as a solo artist, including Warren Zevon, Steve Earle, Ricky Skaggs, Dave Matthews, Marshall Crenshaw, Jesse Winchester, Dave Alvin, Matthew Sweet, Alex Chilton, Iris DeMent, Alejandro Escovedo, Peter Holsapple, Loudon Wainwright III, Richard Buckner and many others.

Johnson's first album with the Linemen, Memphis for Breakfast, was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and produced by Grammy-nominated John Alagia, later known for his work with Dave Matthews, Liz Phair, and John Mayer. Johnson's second album, The Rest of Your Life, was again produced by Alagia and designed by Jeff Nelson, co-founder of Dischord Records and drummer for Minor Threat. Johnson's third album with the Linemen, Parole Music, was produced by singer-songwriter Charlie Chesterman, formerly of Scruffy the Cat. The liner notes for Johnson's fourth album Sunday Driver, were written by author George P. Pelecanos, noted for his writing work on The Wire and the upcoming 2017 HBO series, The Deuce.

In 2012, The Linemen added New York singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Gregg to their lineup. In the fall of 2016 they released their first album, Close the Place Down, recorded by Andrew Taub (noted for his work with Keith Richards, Spoon, and others) at Brooklyn Recording and worked once again with John Alagia, who mixed the album in Los Angeles.

Other musicians who have contributed to Johnson's recordings include Bill Kirchen, keyboardist Mookie Siegel of RatDog, singer-songwriter Barbara Brousal, guitarist Dave Chappell, and singer-songwriter Karl Straub.
Venue Information:
Pearl Street Warehouse
33 Pearl St SW
Washington, DC, 20024