Blankfest: R.B. Morris

Singer-songwriter, poet and playwright, Knoxville’s R.B. Morris is a man of many talents. So it’s no small wonder that his current schedule finds him at pains to keep all his irons in the fire at one time.

“The main thing I’m up to right now is that I’m directing a production of the play I wrote (“The Man Who Lives Here Is Loony,” a one-man play about writer James Agee),” says Morris. “I’ve been in the middle of that, trying to pull it all together.

“But I need to make a new record,” he continues. “I don’t have any exact plans, but I’m just waiting to shift that to the front burner as soon as I can.”

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Morris is a critically acclaimed performer and poet with a handful of publications and a small collection of fine albums to his credit. His recorded output includes a couple of stellar releases on John Prine’s Oh Boy label — 1997’s “Take That Ride” and “Zeke and the Wheel” from 1999.

More recently, he issued the full-length Spies Lies and Burning Eyes on his own imprint, as well as a collection of traditional and mountain music entitled Rich Mountain Bound a couple years back.

Of late, Morris says he’s been playing one-offs and quickie tours with a couple of different line-ups. At Blankfest, Morris will be backed by local rock trio the Tim Lee 3, the 3 having accompanied him on a recent jaunt through Nashville on to Mississippi.

A notoriously deliberate worker, Morris says he’s uncertain as to the timetable for recording his next record, though he already has plenty of songs in the can. “Really, I’ve got way too many songs I need to get recorded,” he says. “I just need some arrangements, and the opportunity to get them together in a studio.

“But the material is there, and the musicians are there. I feel good about those things.”

As to his Blankfest performance, Morris promises a couple of new songs will be thrown into the mix. “It will probably be more of a rockin’ show,” he says. “It’ll be fun. I love playing with Tim Lee 3. They’re always game for anything. We’ll plug it in and we’ll make some noise.”

Look for the forthcoming production of “The Man Who Lives Here Is Loony” at Knoxville Museum of Art, starring local actor Joe Casterline on Oct. 27, Oct. 30, Nov. 3 and Nov. 6.



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