Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jennifer Knapp Returns to the Stage

Author: Susan L. Prince

On Wednesday, November 18th, I experienced something that I had waited many years for. I drove the 2.5 hours from Jackson, TN to The Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN to see and hear one of my favorite musical artists ever, Jennifer Knapp.

I know I wasn't the only one in the theater absolutely bubbling over with glee that Knapp is back on the stage to use the wonderful gifts and talents God has given her. The woman has been out of the music scene since 2002 when she left the stage and basically vanished from music, leaving a gaping hole in the hearts of her many die-hard fans, of which I am one.

In 2001 Katie and I had the privilege of meeting Knapp in Memphis when she was the opening act for Jars of Clay at the MidSouth Fair. While it was exciting to meet the boys of Jars, we hurried past them to get to who we really came to see! It was a blast to be able to talk with her and say "you rock!" She was kind and gracious and looked at the both of us and said "this is great!" while she listened to us share about the impact her music has had on us and shared small bits of testimony. It is a memory I hold very dear.

Since the day Knapp re-entered the music world I have been following her on Twitter and MySpace. People keep encouraging her to do the Facebook thing, but apparently with all the imposters out there, she has run into some trouble "proving" she is indeed the real JK. You better know I will be her "friend" as soon as I learn she's on FB!

I received a tweet one day from Knapp that she would be performing at The Belcourt and I was all over that! I wanted to go see her, but there are some logistical things to consider. I would be working that day, need to drive the 2.5 hours to Nashville, back again and work the next day. I had made prior arrangements to have Friday off that week to see Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) so I was not privy to another day off. I wondered if I could handle all the traveling and work and all my other commitments that week. Also, I really would have liked to have Katie go with me, but now she is married and living in Alabama, starting a new job, too, so that didn't seem like a possibility. This would leave me driving back and forth alone and attending the concert by myself.

I posted on FB about the concert and that I would be going alone, and my friend Debbie saw that post. She inquired about when and where and while we shot posts back and forth, she visited The Belcourt Theater online, bought tickets spontaneously, and came back with "I'm going, too!". So, we had our first road trip together to go see Jennifer Knapp! It was so much fun!

Knapp received a standing ovation as soon as she stepped on stage. The place was energized with fans all excited that she was about to play only her third show in seven years. She opened with "A Little More" and another familiar tune and the place was all abuzz with enthusiasm!

Knapp made it no secret that she felt a bit inept on the stage. She was obviously very rusty and awkward not knowing where to place herself, "what to do with her hands", and failing to "be cool" and flick a pic into the audience. She poked fun at herself for not really getting into the "rock and roller" thing and said "I can't even be cool and flick a guitar pic right" and as she tried the thing fell at her feet. She tried again and it dropped in front of her. It was hilarious!

An audience member called out and asked for a pic and Knapp obliged. As she was about to flick it in that direction the audience member said "let me come up and get it". We all laughed as Knapp nodded and said ok, walked to the edge of the stage where she handed off the pic to the fan who came up to retrieve it. It was classic! I laughed!

Thing is, none of us fans care how awkward and rusty Knapp is on the stage. All we cared about was the fact she was there playing her inspired music for us. I loved the performance, and in fact, the awkwardness visually just made it all the more endearing to me. It was raw and it was REAL. It was Jennifer Knapp!

She has such a rapport with the fans and it was like having a close friend visit, chatting over song in the living room. I adored her performance. She played some old familiar tunes and invited Amy Courts to sing with her on some stuff and that was absolutely wonderful. Most of the evening however we were introduced to new stuff Knapp has written. What a treat! After all these years, hearing new stuff was amazing! The new songs have the Knapp familiarity, yet they are new and fresh, and I was all giddy! You can hear two new songs on her Myspace, "Letting Go" and "Mr. Gray" which represent her sound very well.

I am so looking forward to her new album which is tentatively set for a release early in 2010. After getting a sneak preview of the new songs, I can NOT wait for this CD to drop! It is going to be amazing and Knapp will not be playing such small venues much longer.

I plan to get to her every performance within a reasonable driving distance. Hopefully, one of these day, Katie and I both will attend her show together. It will be a double blessing that day! Woohooo!

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