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Nena Potter

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KNOXVILLE FESTIVALS: WayneStock Music Festival

Knoxville may be known to some as a hidden gem of the south but it is quickly becoming a mecca for live music enthusiasts in the southeast. It’s one of the only places I know where you can catch live *and completely FREE* music acts pretty much every day thanks to the WDVX Blue Plate Special. On top of this, our festival scene continues to not just grow but thrive with annual events like the internationally known Big Ears Festival, Second Bell Music Fest, and the more recent addition of Southern Skies Music Festival. With all this and so much more, our scruffy little city isn’t messing around when it comes to live music.

It doesn’t stop there though. Once you start to dive a little deeper into the local music scene, you’ll quickly discover Knoxville’s music community isn’t just a few bands consisting of friends who all knew each other in high school. It’s made up of an amalgamation of musicians, producers, journalists, radio and podcast hosts, promoters, venue owners, general enthusiasts (aka the friends of the bands who end up going to countless shows to show support), and many other unsung heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes all for the love of music and each other. Enter WayneStock: For the Love of Drew. 


WayneStock is an annual local music festival that is honestly less of a music fest and more of a love fest of local Knoxville musicians. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Who, pray tell, is Wayne and why does he have a whole festival named after him?” Honestly, valid question. The first time I heard about it, I had flashbacks to old SNL skits (Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth). However, the festival’s namesake comes from Wayne Bledsoe, a revered figure in Knoxville’s music community who has played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s musical landscape. With a career spanning decades as a music journalist, radio host, and fervent supporter of local artists, Bledsoe has become somewhat of a local living legend. His deep passion for music and tireless efforts to champion the local scene make him a pillar among Knoxville’s musical community.

While all of this alone might be enough for Knoxvillians to name a local music fest after him, the inaugural event was, sadly, conceived by Bledsoe’s friends as a way to honor his son, Andrew, after he suddenly passed away in 2010. The first festival came together within weeks in 2011 and the money raised went to Wayne’s family to help with costs associated with his son’s service. He had been so supportive of the music community for so long and this was the chance for the community to show their support back to Wayne. Every year since then, that same spirit lives on with proceeds from each annual event benefiting different individuals or organizations in need.

photo of the venue from happyhollerevents.com

Why Is It a Fave Fest??

WayneStock is an annual testament to community, collaboration, and the unyielding spirit of Knoxville’s music scene. With a lineup that mirrors the eclectic influences of the city, WayneStock encapsulates the essence of Knoxville’s diverse and thriving musical community. Not only does the festival bring together musicians from various genres, it also offers a platform for both emerging talents and seasoned artists to share their craft with a passionate audience. Local musician Sarrenna, who will take the stage on night one of the fest, says, “Waynestock is the best weekend of the year for the local music scene. All my favorite people come together to create 3 special nights of fun while simultaneously raising money for some of our own. You will see the best of who’s playing in Knoxville right now, a reunion show of Dishwater Blonde (🙀) and a best of the best finale tribute set that’s never to be missed!” One of Wayne Bledsoe’s unstated missions is to, “Give Knoxville music the attention it deserves” and WayneStock definitely aids in this pursuit. 

In addition to Sarrenna, acts in this year’s lineup include Maggie & Owen (they get a shout out because I sang Live Band Karaoke with them one time 😂), Econopop, Gamenight, Cruz Contreras and more. 

Tips from your Festie Bestie:

👉 DO bring cash. It is CASH ONLY at the door and only $10 buckaroos each night (this is honestly a great deal). Cards are accepted at the bar but cash still reigns as king in these here parts.
DON’T go to ONLY one night! I know, I know. If you’re like me, going out TWO… let alone THREE nights…IN A ROW is a very tall order but to get the full experience (and see all the great acts) you’re gonna have to plan on going the whole weekend. I’m sorry. I don’t make the rules.
👉 DON’T show up by yourself. I am a pretty big fan of flying solo to any and all events but if you’ve never been, this will most likely feel like you’re crashing a family reunion as it will seem like everyone knows everyone because well, they do. Bring a group of friends to hang out and enjoy the music.
👉 DO check out the other establishments in Happy Holler while you’re there! Grab dinner at Central Flats and Taps or a drink at The Oak Room beforehand.
👉 And finally, DON’T let the support for local music stop here. Find your new favorite singer-songwriters and bands and go to their shows (and buy their merch if they have it!).

So if you’re new to Knoxville or maybe just new to the local music scene, Waynestock is definitely a festival you’re gonna wanna check out. It’s one of those events that makes me fall in love with Knoxville all over again and hopefully will do the same for you. See you there! 


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