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2009 May at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

A cross between Rolling Stone, Soldier of Fortune and the Oxford American

Archive for May, 2009

Brewers Jam coming to Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson!

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If you just can’t wait until October to attend the annual East Tennessee Brewer’s Jam, the fine folks at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, have something to tide you over — the inaugural “Smoky Mountain Dragon’s Breath Brewers Jam,” scheduled to take place from noon to 5 p.m. June 20 at “The Shed” there at SMH-D. It’ll feature more than 80 brewers, live music by The Drunk Uncles and Ned Van Go and free admission to that night’s “Shed” show by country-rockers Caddle. The cost is $25, and proceeds benefit the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation. For more information, call 977-1669.

Written by wildsmith

May 27th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Saturday, May 30 at the Longbranch

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Got an e-mail from Bryan Baker, formerly of The Unashamed. That band came out of Maryville College and made a bit of a local splash before losing its female vocalist; the members have since parted amicably and gone on to separate projects. (Michael Knouff is now the guitarist for Waste and Regret, part of last weekend’s Maryville Metal Fest, which we profiled here.)

Baker’s new band is Bright Shining Lie, which will perform Saturday at The Longbranch Saloon, 1848 Cumberland Ave. (”The Strip”) in Knoxville. Also on the bill: Local rapper Confadential and Messes of Men, a band from Kentucky. Check out their pages. Here’s the flyer:


Written by wildsmith

May 27th, 2009 at 7:50 am

Coming Friday: “The K-Town Country Carnival”!

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If you’re over Knoxville way, you won’t find too many shows on Friday night with more of a Blount County connection.

For one thing, Jeff Barbra and his wife, Sarah Pirkle (a member of The Naughty Knots), call Walland home. Jay Clark … well, he’s played here so much that he might as well have a home here. Keith Nixon, playing with J.C. and the Dirty Smokers, stayed here for a while before deciding to give Nashville another go.

We highly recommend this show. And as a little enticement, our pal Mr. Clark has decided to allow us to offer the title track to his most recent album — “I’m Confused,” released last year — as a free download for a limited time only!

Here’s some info on the performers. Click the links, then come back here and get that song. It’s cleverly subtitled “A Christian’s Lament of How the Right Wing of the Republican Party Has Distorted My Faith.”

The Naughty Knots on Myspace

J.C. and The Dirty Smokers on Myspace

Jeff Barbra: Click here to read a cover story we did on him a couple of years ago

Keith Nixon: Click here to read last September’s interview with him

Jay Clark: Click here to read last October’s interview/story on the “I’m Confused” album release

Download “I’m Confused,” by Jay Clark: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Buy “I’m Confused”: Click here

Coming Friday: R.B. Morris!

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Our cover story on Friday is one Mr. R.B. Morris, unofficial poet-laureate of East Tennessee. He’s a playwright, poet, singer-songwriter, activist and an all-around good guy.

From a story we did a couple of years ago:

The man himself has long defied categorization, and even he admits that his body of work – poetry, stage plays, several albums worth of singer-songwriter driven folk and blues-rock – leaves many confounded as to how, exactly, to pin him down.

There are a lot of labels that fit – from hard-drinking roustabout to scholarly writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee (a position he currently occupies) to collaborator of some of the best musicians, known and unknown, in Knoxville and beyond. Many East Tennesseans may have a passing knowledge of Morris as a musician, but most don’t realize just how much he’s respected by his peers.

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams calls him “the greatest unknown songwriter in the country,” and country-rock maverick Steve Earle says Morris “is the reason I started writing poetry.”

Born at Fort Sanders, Morris has always made Knoxville his home, despite his occasional wanderings. He’s spent time in San Francisco, collaborating with the biographer of Jack Kerouac, and in Knoxville he’s taken up the cause of celebrating and clamoring for the recognition of Agee, Knoxville writer-extraordinaire who penned “A Death in the Family.” His concerts are as hard to categorize as his music.

His songwriting, and his spoken-word poetry, is starkly beautiful and haunting, and his solo acoustic shows usually hold audiences spellbound. There’s a melancholy sadness to his acoustic songs, and a shot of adrenaline to his rockers, all of which make up his three available records, “Take That Ride,” “Knoxville Sessions” and “Zeke and the Wheel.”

In anticipation of the cover story and the concert on Friday, May 29, at The Square Room, we’re honored to offer two free R.B. Morris downloads:

Download “Empire,” by R.B. Morris: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Download “City,” by R.B. Morris: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Buy “Empire” by R.B. Morris: click here

Written by wildsmith

May 26th, 2009 at 8:06 am

A distant sound of thunder: Maryville Metal Fest on Saturday

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Starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at Alnwick Gym — 2146 Big Springs Road in Maryville (near William Blount High School) — 10 bands will perform. Admission is only $5. It’s our cover story for this week. Read that story here.

Read about one of the bands, Awake the Suffering, by going here.

Read about another of the bands, Facelock, by going here

Free mp3 download! “Cervical Dislocation,” by Facelockright-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Free mp3 download! “Defy,” by Facelockright-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Free mp3 download! “Pursue the Enemy,” by Against the Oppositionright-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Written by wildsmith

May 21st, 2009 at 10:15 am

That time of year for Kamp glory!

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If he holds it, they will come.

“He” is Steve Kaufman, local businessman and a respected flatpick guitarist around the world. “It” is the annual summer instructional camp, held on the Maryville College campus starting June 15. “They” are some of the best musicians on the planet. Between them, they have enough awards, accolades and championships to fill a couple of tractor-trailers.

In their home states (and in some cases, home countries), they’re revered for their skills. Among the students they teach, they’re looked up to as quasi-deities that can do things with their instruments that leave most players staring slack-jawed in amazement. And for two weeks, they’ll put those skills on display at a series of concerts open to the public.

Yes, it’s time once again for Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Concert Series, held every night (except Sunday), which will run through June 26. It’s difficult to get across just how rare this gathering of musicians is — all of them, individually, can command ticket prices among their contemporaries and followers that’s a good deal more expensive than the $13 to $15 it takes to get in the door at Maryville College’s Alumni Gym over the next two weeks.

And to have more than one on the same stage in a single night … well, it’s nothing short of extraordinary. And it’s the reason Kaufman himself is at a loss when locals ask him which night will feature the best concert.

“They’ll say, ‘What’s the best night to come out?’, but it really doesn’t matter what night you come out,” Kaufman told The Daily Times last summer. “People tend to buy tickets toward the end of the camps because they hear those nights are the big finale, but I tell them, ‘No — every night is a finale.’ They may not be common names that everyone knows, but these are musicians who are world-famous. They’re all unbelievable.”

Kaufman, who makes a living through flatpick guitar instruction — both workshops and instructional merchandise — organized the first camp, a week of flatpicking, 14 years ago. Over the years, the camps have grown to include classes in mandolin, banjo, fingerpick guitar and old-time banjo. The camps make up the largest banjo, mandolin and flatpicking camps in the world, and the difficulty ranges from advanced classes to courses for those who have never played an instrument before.As the classes have grown, so have the need for instructors, and Kaufman annually recruits some of the best instrumentalists in the world every year. One of the traditions has been the nightly concert series, which has gained a reputation in its own right.


Monday, June 15: Steve Kaufman and Friends, Steve Baughman (Calif.), Cindy Gray (Nev.), Mike Clemmer (Townsend)

Tuesday, June 16: Fred Sokolow (Calif.), Mike Muddox (Colo.), Evie Laden (Calif.), Keith Yoder (Idaho)

Wednesday, June 17: Rusty Holloway (Knoxville), Casey Henry (Tenn.), Rolly Brown (Penn.), Johnny Bellar (Tenn.)

Thursday, June 18: Laura Boosinger (N.C.), Jeff Jenkins (Tenn.), Stacy Phillips (Conn.), Just Us Bluegrass Band (Tenn.)

Friday, June 19: Mark Cosgrove (Penn.), Chris Proctor (Utah), Dan Crary (Calif.), Bobby Hicks (N.C.), Kamp Kompanions

Saturday, June 20: Steve Kaufman and the Instructor Concert Finale

Monday, June 22: Steve Kaufman and Friends, Keith Yoder, Andy Owens (N.C.), Eric Thompson (Calif.)

Tuesday, June 23: Robin Kessinger (W. Va.), Mike Kaufman (N.J.), Kathy Chiavola (Tenn.), Gary Davis (Tenn.), Scott Nygaard (Calif.)

Wednesday, June 24: Tony McManus (Scotland), Cindy Gray, Casey Henry, John Moore (Colo.), Just Us Bluegrass Band

Thursday, June 25: Robin Bullock (Washington, D.C.), Bill Keith (N.Y.), Beppe Gambetta (Italy), Bill Evans, John Reischman (Canada)

Friday, June 26: The Kruger Brothers (Switzerland), Don Stiernberg (Ill.), John Carlini (N.J.), David Harvey (Tenn.), Kamp Kompanions

Saturday, June 27: Steve Kaufman and the Instructor Concert Finale

All concerts will be held in the Alumni Gym on the Maryville College campus. All of them begin at 7 p.m. and cost $13 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, call 982-3808 or 983-3330 to order over the phone prior to the day of the show or stop by Murlin’s Music World in downtown Maryville to pick up tickets. For more information, check out the concert series web site.

Written by wildsmith

May 21st, 2009 at 8:44 am

A few odds and ends before I head south …

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I have to confess that I’m suffering from a bout of short-timer’s disease, which is both good and bad.

It’s bad in that, pending a trip to the Florida Keys beginning early in the a.m., I have nothing witty or insightful to share. I sincerely tried to come up with something, but the mental and emotional batteries are drained. I’m ready for a road trip and some sun and tropical island air, and I don’t have it in me to inspire or entertain this week. Forgive me.

That said, you know I’ve got your entertainment back, so to speak. So here are a few items you should have on your radar; things to pencil on the calendar, if you will, since I won’t be around to bug you about them. Clip this column out. Tape it to your refrigerator. I’ll be back in the office on Monday, May 18. Hang on until then.

— Looking for a little bluegrass/gospel music for your Saturday night? Head over to Music Row of Maryville, 2808 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. The Sullivans, led by Bob Sullivan of BB&T, will perform. Admission is only $3. Call 983-8259 for more information.

— If you like dark, enclosed spaces and bluegrass — preferably at the same time — then the inaugural “Pickin’ at the Cave” might be for you. It takes place from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Cherokee Caverns, located at 8524 Oak Ridge Highway in Knoxville (near the Karns community), and the bands The Frost Bottom Boys and The New River Boys will perform. Admission is $10 and includes a tour of the caves; proceeds will go toward the formation’s upkeep and preservation. For more information, visit www.cherokeecaverns.net.

— Can we get a hand for Michael “Bluegill” Gill, an unabashed supporter of the blues (and live music in general) in East Tennessee? The dude is a tireless promoter of good music who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Which is why you should show up to the Knoxville Museum of Art, 1050 World’s Fair Park Drive in downtown Knoxville, at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15, to support “Bluegill’s Blues Bash.” It’s an extended version of the museum’s “Alive After Five” concert series, lasting until 10:30 p.m. and featuring three phenomenal bands: Nashvillian Miranda Louise; Kentucky-based outfit The Stella Vees; and blues disciple Zac Harmon, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., and has played with Dorothy Moore and Sam Myers, among others. Admission to the party is only $12. For more information, call 934-2039.

— If I were still a drinking man, I’d be out at Big Daddy’s Scoots and Sports Bar and Grill, 2641 Highway 411 S. in Maryville, next Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, for the big Wallypalooza Festival that takes place both days. This will be the 11th year of the annual festival, which started out as a birthday part for local boy and fest founder Walter Moore and has grown into a monster. Wally wrote us earlier this year to tell us about it, calling it “Maryville’s Ozzfest.” For only $5, you get in both days. At 7 p.m. on Friday, May 15, everything kicks off with an ’80s costume contest and performances by SellersWray, Mike “Stretch” Patty, Gun*Slinger and more. On Saturday, May 16, things heat up at noon, with performances by Middle Finger, Stonemosis, Trif3ct, The Levee, Food Stamps, Better Daze, Shallow Point and more. For more information, check out Wallypalooza online at www.myspace.com/wallypalooza2009.

— If I was a camping man (which I was until a friend borrowed my tent and the harsh North Dakota winds blew it into the Badlands), I’d head out to River John’s Island, 4134 Cave Mill Road in Maryville, next weekend (when I wasn’t at Wallypalooza). In years past, the event taking place there Friday through Sunday, May 15-17, has been billed as “Cocktails and a Concert.” This year, it’s been renamed in honor of the organizer, singer-songwriter Kirk Fleta. Fleta Fest 2009 will feature three days of live music — the T. West Band, GaNaSiTa, Bill Mize, Sierra B. and Richard Douglas on May 15; Scott McMahan, Greg Horne, Big Country’s Empty Bottle, Ben Maney and Countless Sheep, Hudson K and the Kirk Fleta Band on May 16; and Ben DeBerry, Emory Cannon and more on May 17. In addition, you can canoe, play games, whatever you please as long as you’re safe and respectful of the property, which belongs to the good folks at River John’s Outfitters. Admission is $15 a day for May 15 and 16 (includes a full day and a night of camping) or $30 for a weekend pass. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/cocktailsandaconcert2008.

— Don’t forget — the “Pickin’ Porch” at Wood-n-Strings Dulcimer Shop kicks off its 2009 Saturday night concert series next weekend on May 16. Owned by Mike and Connie Clemmer, Wood-n-Strings is a store of hand-crafted traditional Appalachian instruments with a national reputation; as such, some of the finest musicians to pick up a dulcimer stop by to perform at 7 p.m. every Saturday in the spring, summer and fall. The best part? It’s free. On May 16, mountain dulcimer player Butch Ross kicks everything off. Wood-n-Strings is located at 7645 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend. For more information, call 448-6647.

— If you’ve driven down East Broadway — across Washington but before the railroad underpass — you may have noticed a new space for musicians, The Rock Studios. Heck, you may have even heard a racket coming from there — 924 E. Broadway Ave., to be exact — because they’ve had a few shows and (we hope) will have more. We heard from the owner — Vic — this week, who writes, “We basically have a rehearsal studio for up-and-coming bands, some of which are very good. We’re trying to open an outdoor venue soon so some of these younger bands have a place to play.” If you’re interested in playing or practicing there, e-mail Vic at vixcrew@aol.com.

— Do you keep up with Weekend online? If not, there are myriad ways of keeping plugged in with what’s going on. Over at our Myspace pagewww.myspace.com/daily_times_weekend — we post a live music calendar daily, detailing your options for seeing some great live music and more in the East Tennessee area. We also do a weekly podcast — sort of an NPR “Fresh Air”-style radio show called “Backstage Pass” — where we interview various artists and mix it up with their music. (This week: local singer-songwriter Brandy Robinson, last week’s cover girl, and Nashville R&B extraterrestrial Space Capone, who performs tonight at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City.) You can find a new edition of the podcast to download, or just listen in your browser while you work, at http://tr.im/backstagepass. And you can keep up with everything on Twitter, that social networking site that’s become a hot commodity of late. Follow me there at http://twitter.com/TNRockWriter.

Of course, wait until I get back. It’ll be pretty lonely on the ol’ Interwebs without me next week, but you’ll manage.

Written by wildsmith

May 8th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Free music: Wilco covering Woody Guthrie …

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In browsing the website of Americana band Wilco — which recently performed at The Tennessee Theatre, a show reviewed here by yours truly — for information on the band’s new album, I discovered a free download of “The Jolly Banker” by Woody Guthrie. You can download that by going here. As a caveat — the band kindly asks for donations to support the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives; there’s a button to offer a few bucks for that worthy cause while you’re getting a free tune.

The new album, by the way, is simply titled “Wilco (the album),” and will be released June 30 on Nonesuch Records. Here’s the track listing:

Wilco (the song)
Deeper Down
One Wing
Bull Black Nova
You And I
You Never Know
Country Disappeared
I’ll Fight
Sonny Feeling
Everlasting Everything

For more information on the record, go here.

Written by wildsmith

May 6th, 2009 at 10:40 am

The High Score serves up some Cookie!

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Anyone familiar with the rock ‘n’ roll antics of local outfit The High Score knows that things just ain’t been the same since the departure of Chris “Cookie” Cook.

Sure, Robbie Trosper, Brad Henderson and Vance Hilliard (and before him, Jeremy Bain) have been rocking the backline for Mic Harrison, and they’ve played a few one-off shows for their own material — three albums’ worth, in fact: “Sexy Losers,” “We Showed Up to Leave” and 2007’s self-titled release.

We caught up with Robbie Trosper today as he was driving back from Johnson City for his day job, and he filled us in on the latest goings-on with The High Score — including a show on Friday night, May 8, with Cookie back in the fold at The Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City.

“Now that Cookie’s situation has changed a little bit, he can sneak out of the house and get away from the kids, so we’re writing again,” Trosper said. “We’re already demoing songs for a new record — I’ve got four, and we’ve worked on a couple of Cookie’s, so we’re getting right back into it like we never stopped.”

The new stuff, he said, is sounding raw and gritty, along the lines of “She’s a Heartbreak” from the self-titled album (which, if you scroll down, you can download for free). The guys tossed around a number of ideas, including splitting songs between an EP of mellow material and an EP of the harder stuff, but with Cookie back on board, they decided to throw everything in the blender and see what sort of concoction they could come up with.

At the same time, the band is working on a follow-up to “The Right Side of the Grass,” last year’s album by Mic Harrison and The High Score. The guys have five or six songs fully demo’ed, are off for the rest of the month and hope to get 15 or so done before going back out on the road for what appears to be the long haul.

Summer’s filling up, and we’re almost booked to the end of the year,” Trosper said.

The guys just wrapped up a jaunt to the Northeast, where they opened for Superdrag in New York and Boston and did a few one-off shows on their own. Needless to say, those Yankee girls fell all over themselves for the smooth-talking rednecks of The High Score bunch — Henderson and Hilliard.

“One girl up in Boston just would not leave Brad’s side and has since e-mailed him, saying that he’s her future husband because she just loooooves to hear him talk,” Trosper said with a laugh. “That’s what being in a touring band is — trouble and the craziest stories you have to whisper to your friends.”

Download “She’s a Heartbreak,” from the 2007 CD “The High Score”: Right-click here (select “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

Read our August 2007 cover story — and check out the hilarious photo shoot with The High Score dudes as nerds and some Hooter’s waitresses — by clicking here.

Read last summer’s cover story on Mic Harrison and The High Score by clicking here.

And hell, while you’re at it, click here to read a story about the other band on Friday night’s bill, The Invisible Giants (which includes former High Score bassist Jeremy Bain and former Dixie Dirt bassist Brad Carruth).

The goodness starts at 10 p.m. Cover is $5. Here’s a poster by Annie Clark-Rankin to commemorate the occasion:

Check out more High Score goodness online: www.myspace.com/thehighscore

Check out more High Score goodness online: www.myspace.com/thehighscore

Blount woman launches Stevie-and-Lindsey tribute

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We first told you about Blount County girl Brooke McMahan about four years ago, when she traveled to New York to compete in the “Night of 1,000 Stevies” competition at the fabled nightclub The Knitting Factory. Her fascination with Fleetwood Mac diva Stevie Nicks goes back years, and she’s got the mannerisms and the look down pat. Now, she’s apparently found a partner in Jesse Lawrence and started a new band — Never Break The Chain, a tribute to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

The duo performs for the first time on Saturday, May 16, at The Prince Sports Bar and Music Hall on Lovell Road in West Knoxville. Check out their Myspace page here. (And, just for s–ts and giggles, read our cover story interview with Lindsey, published a couple of years ago, by clicking here.)

Here’s the 2005 story we did on Brooke’s trip to New York:

By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff

While her friends are singing karaoke at Michael’s or line-dancing at Cotton-Eyed Joe’s tonight, Brooke McMahan will be a thousand miles away, pretending to be someone else.

She hasn’t flipped out and fled Blount County — she’s actually been selected to take part in a nationwide contest that culminates tonight in the “Night of a Thousand Stevies” gathering at New York’s famous Knitting Factory nightclub. That would be Stevie Nicks, the rock siren best known for her gothic-gypsy solo career and as the heart and soul of Fleetwood Mac. Each year, the Knitting Factory selects six performers to join previous contestants on stage for a night dedicated to Nicks.

The goal is impersonation; the end result is a head-trip of Nicks look-alikes on stage singing their favorite Stevie songs. This year, McMahan is one of those participants.

“My dad and I saw this movie, ‘Gypsy 83,’ that featured the ‘Night of a Thousand Stevies,’ and my dad said that I needed to be in it,” McMahan told The Daily Times this week. “I had been putting together a local tribute show to Stevie Nicks that I wanted to do myself, so I called the woman who did the wardrobe for ‘Gypsy 83′ to ask her if she would make me a shawl similar to Stevie’s ‘Gold Dust Woman’ shawl, for me to wear when I would perform.

“She started asking me questions, and when I told her what I did, she mentioned the ‘Night of a Thousand Stevies’ and said I should go for it. She told me where to send my picture and resume and a tape, so I sent it in at the last minute. Two weeks after I sent in my audition tape, I received an e-mail, and of all the people from all over the U.S. who were auditioning for this, I was one of the six chosen.”

Other contestants hail from Santa Barbara, Calif., Detroit, Flower Mound, Texas and Des Moines, Iowa. The night is known as the No. 1 Stevie Nicks fan event in the world and started 15 years ago with just four performers. McMahan will have soundcheck at 6:30 tonight and return for the start of the evening at 9 p.m. The impersonators hit the main stage at 10:30 p.m., and McMahan is the second performer. She’ll sing Nicks’ “If Anyone Falls,” and for the climax — the “Battle of a Thousand Stevies” that takes place with all the performers of the night at 4 a.m. — she’ll sing “Edge of 17.”

“I’ve always loved getting up and performing in front of people, so I’m really excited, but I’m a little bit anxious,” she said.

A native of Blount County, McMahan graduated from Heritage High School in 2001. She started singing karaoke when she was 15, and inspired by the classic rock her father listened to, got into Janis Joplin when she was 17.

“I saw the movie ‘The Rose’ with Bette Midler, and I was so fascinated with it,” she said. “I loved the character, which was based on Janis Joplin, and I loved that movie, and so I went out every Janis CD I could find. I just fell in love with her music.

“Getting into Janis as much as I did, I started listening to only classic rock. I had loved Stevie since I was little, and when I started singing all of her songs, I became known as ‘Little Stevie’ at karaoke.”

It was Nicks’ hit “Stand Back” that sealed it — when she performed it at a karaoke bar, she was encouraged by fellow patrons to keep singing Stevie. Since then, she’s performed at Michael’s, at the Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg and at karaoke bars throughout her travels. Eventually, she said, she’d like to carve out a career for herself — she writes her own music on the side — and when she returns from New York, she hopes the Stevie Nicks gig parlays into something bigger.

“I’m going for playing Vegas,” she said. And she just might have what it takes to win tonight.

“I’ve met Stevie several times, once in Nashville, once in Iowa and a couple of times in Detroit,” she said. “I got to go to soundcheck in Detroit for the final show of the last Fleetwood Mac tour, and I own her concert DVD, so I’ve picked up some things by talking to her and watching her perform. Little Stevie things that I hope will help me out at the contest.”