Shady Banks and Friends to offer some cool musical relief at Vienna
By Steve Wildsmith | (email@example.com)
Ask most musicians who inspired them, and they’ll hearken back to a particular song that riveted them as a child, or their first concert at which a certain rock star captured their attention.
Christopher Lovoy, however, goes back to his dad every time he’s asked about his musical origins.
“My father was in a band called The Wild Vybrashons back in 1969, and they did a song by Stevie Wonder called “A Place in the Sun” that I recently started to cover,” Lovoy, who performs under the stage name Shady Banks, told The Daily Times this week. “They had covered that song in 1969 — I believe he was 18 years old — and it went to No. 1 on the Southeastern charts for a couple of weeks. They ended up playing with The Monkees and the Little Rascals. I guess, growing up, it never really hit me what all that was about until I started experimenting with my own writings. But when I look back at my father, he was already there, cutting records and making music.” Originally from Shelby, Ala., Lovoy followed his parents — Al and Diana, who live in Maryville — up to Blount County seven years ago. The Lovoys used to vacation in East Tennessee, and once the younger Lovoy got settled locally, he started picking up music as a hobby. As an employee of the National Park Service, he worked out West for almost two years, and that was a catalyst for his own career, he said.
“That pretty much opened up my eyes to different kinds of live music, and it really reignited my ability to get into it,” he said.
After coming back to East Tennessee, he settled in the Sunshine community outside of Townsend, where he and some friends began hosting jams on the banks of the Little River. As word spread, more and more musicians began showing up, and Lovoy became part of a loose confederation of like-minded artists who embraced the free-spirited nature of Old Time and mountain music on the shores of a wild mountain river.
He was integral to the formation of local outfit Sunshine Station but soon struck out on his own, veering off into a genre that channels equal parts John Prine and the Avett Brothers.
“I ended up being by myself and writing music, and I wrote 30 songs or so over six or seven months,” he said. “Two other members of Sunshine Station came with me when I left because they were more into the genre I was, and I had a couple of other friends I had played with, so we set up in my cabin for months and months without gigs or anything, just playing the songs I’d written with my friends. And it just snowballed into what it is today.”
He describes what he does when he and his bandmates — billed as Shady Banks and Friends (“I grew up on the river in Alabama, and I eventually wound up on the river in Tennessee, so it’s kind of a joke,” he said), which performs Saturday night at Vienna Coffeehouse in Maryville — as folk-Americana, a broad field that includes bluegrass, Old Time and more. The group has picked up steam in recent months, having recorded a five-song demo and started work on a full-length album Lovoy hopes to have ready in the next four months.
This weekend, he and his bandmates — Whitney Maddox, Kevin Majors, Brian Williams and Don Bock — will entertain the Vienna crowd, but one man in particular will no doubt be smiling mightily when his son takes the stage.
And Lovoy will look down at his dad and smile right back.
“He and my mom had three kids, so that sort of put an end to his career, but everything boils back to that,” Lovoy said. “Today, when my father comes and sees me play, it fuels him to see me, and vice-versa. I think it takes him back somewhere.”