By Daniel Hoffman, musician

One of the best things about being a musician is the times when the unexpected happens—when you get a chance to play music with people you may have never met before and everything somehow comes together like magic. It’s a chance to make great connections with people that you may have not even spoken to. This is exactly what came together for the band at Megan McKay Ziller and Scott Ziller’s new brewery last Thursday night.

We were invited to hang out and try the new handmade beer at the not-yet-opened Peace Tree Brewery, and nobody said anything about performing, but we all decided to bring our instruments anyway. The beer was amazing as was the food and the company, and when we pulled out our instruments, we noticed three other musicians also setting up. None of us knew who they were, but we all introduced ourselves and jumped into it. The local musicians turned out to be Jon McLemore on guitar and vocals, John Bain on electric guitar, and Robert Woodle on the bongos. They did a great job at jumping into our tunes—taking beautiful solos, and catching the changes with ease. Even a tune we played in 7/8 time and that Middle Eastern time didn’t seem to phase them. A stab at the blues with cumbus (pronounced djumboosh) and cajón (percussion instruments from the Middle East and South America, respectively) also worked out great. We also got to hear Jon McLemore’s beautiful voice and John Bain’s great blues solos.

You can’t plan or arrange a meeting like this. It worked out so well precisely because it happened on its own, with everyone stretching just a little bit in each other’s direction to make it work.

Again a big thanks to Megan and Scott for all they did to make us feel at home and for knowing when to let things flow on their own to make the experience so meaningful.

Musicians with their instruments at a local pub.
Israeli Ethnic Ensemble's Talya Salon with Knoxville talent Jon McLemore and Robert Woodle. Photo by Evgeny Krolik.


We enjoyed having all of you here in Knoxville. We were filled with a part of you as you shared your beautiful music with us. Music is truly magic. I saw so many happy faces around me as we listened to your music. You gave us an exceptional gift. Thank you.

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