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2009 August at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for August, 2009

New music Thursday: Royal Bangs, Cain and Annabelle!

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Once again, two fine bands have allowed us to either host or link to free mp3s of their music!

First up, Royal Bangs — a damn fine indie band from East Tennessee that we have on our cover. Read all about the guys here, then go over to their own website to download a song off of their new album, “Let It Beep”:

Download “My Car Is Haunted,” by Royal Bangs: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Visit the site for the band’s label, Audio Eagle Records, to purchase Royal Bangs goodness and other tunage.

Secondly — burgeoning folk duo Cain and Annabelle are finding quite the niche all over the country. Hit their Myspace site up to check out all those tour dates, then read today’s interview with them here.

Download “Side Porch Swing,” by Cain and Annabelle: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Download “Sycamore Tree,” by Cain and Annabelle: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “The Lake Takes,” by Cain and Annabelle: Click here

Written by wildsmith

August 27th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Big Ears Festival dates set for 2010

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There’s not much else to report, but the fact that the inaugural Big Ears Festival — which took place back in February in downtown Knoxville and profiled by us on the cover of Weekend — was successful enough to warrant a second year is awesome enough. No word on potential performers, but the dates, apparently, are set — Feb. 5-7, 2010 … at least according to a photo/poster that was uploaded to the festival’s Myspace site.

Written by wildsmith

August 27th, 2009 at 10:17 am

Robinella bids farewell to regular Barley’s gig

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Sunday marks the end of an era for Blount County girl and East Tennessee musical darling Robinella, who will perform her final regular gig at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City.

For the past 11 years, swing-dancers, jazz lovers, country fans and those who love the lilting warble of Robinella’s unique style of music could count on one thing — at 8 p.m., Barley’s would transform into a showcase for a local treasure. First with her ex-husband and later with the band he led — the CCstringband — she rose steadily through the ranks of East Tennessee musicians, releasing an album for Sony and a follow-up for the Dualtone label and landing steady gigs around the country, including a slot on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

Despite absences here and there around the birth of her children — Cash, 5, and Beau, now 9 weeks old — and occasional breaks while she toured, Robinella always returned to Barley’s for a standing Sunday night tradition. Now, however, it’s time to bring it to a close, she told me today.

“I’m just ready to not have a regular show any more,” she said. “I’m going to pursue my career in a different direction and try to make it doing some other things. I’ve got my two little boys, and I’ll be doing some weekend shows and some weekend traveling a little bit, and we’re planning on some big things for the fall.”

That includes a long-awaited follow-up to her 2006 album for Dualtone, “Solace for the Lonely.” She’s leaning toward calling it “Black, White and Gold” — as we first reported last fall — and it’ll feature 13 new songs, she said. There are no plans to shop it around to labels either, she added.

“No way! No more labels — you don’t even need them,” she said. “All I need is a serious web designer. That’s all anybody needs anymore.”

As a treat for long-time lovers of her Barley’s show, another record — “Live From Barley’s” — will be released on Sunday night. Featuring 16 or 17 songs, it’s being mastered this week, she said, and will feature dialogue and commentary in addition to old standards and fan favorites.

Sunday’s show will also be a goodbye extravaganza with special guests, including her ex-husband, Cruz Contreras, on mandolin; local pedal steel ace Tom Pryor; and perhaps Cruz’s brother, Billy, on fiddle.

“The first set will be older songs with friends, and the second set will be newer material and the newer sound with the new band,” she said.

Planning out the setlist for her final Barley’s show has been a difficult task, she added.

“It’s hard! I’ve got my second set done, but I’m still trying to decide what to do for the first set with so many guests and soloists,” she said. “They’ll play for three or four songs, I think, and then someone else will get up there with me. We’re going to kind of roll like that.”

Sunday’s performance, it should be noted, is most certainly not the final one of her career — merely the end of her regular run of Barley’s gigs. She’ll always have a home at Barley’s Taproom, however, according to venue booking manager Robby Dubov.

“This is something we’ve been thinking about doing for a while now,” Dubov told me today. “Instead of putting Robin in her every Sunday night, I would rather get her in here two to four times a year for big shows, and that’s just impossible to do with a weekly thing. My goal is to get her in here on a Saturday night for standing-room-only shows.”

Sunday nights at Barley’s will continue to be geared toward roots music, Dubov added, with an emphasis on making it a listening room sort of environment. He’s talking with a number of local and regional bands and will rotate the lineup like he does with other days of the week; when Robinella releases her new album in December, there’s a good chance the show will be at Barley’s.

“We’ll always work closely with her, and she’ll always have a home here,” Dubov said. “We’re just both going in a little bit different direction.”

As for Robinella’s future, she’ll continue to play mom to her two boys and wife to her husband, Webster Bailey. The family calls Maryville home — they live on Lord Avenue — and if she ever does decide to perform a regular gig, it’ll be in Maryville, she said.

But before any such plans are made, she’ll take the time to mourn.

“It’s sad! It makes me sad to go, but I think, you know, you can’t play in one place for your whole career,” she said. “They’ve been real good to me there, but I think it’s going to be good for everybody to do something different on a Sunday. I’m playing a couple of shows in Birmingham and Atlanta, but right now, it looks like I won’t be back around until my December release.”

For more information on Robinella, visit her website. For more info on live music at Barley’s, visit the venue’s website.

Written by wildsmith

August 26th, 2009 at 8:20 am

Changes at the Longbranch Saloon

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Some changes are afoot at the fabled Longbranch Saloon, that institution on “The Strip” that’s been a part of Knoxville’s live music scene for decades.

Out: Coffee Doiel, the guy who booked shows at the club for the past two years, raising the venue’s status as a bastion of edgy rock ‘n’ roll and a place where the area’s punk scene could congregate. According to Doiel, it happened almost two weeks ago — via a note.

“I came in, and there was just a note that basically told me I was fired and that the whole punk rock thing isn’t working out and that they want to do something completely different with it,” Doiel told me this week. “They said the place was getting too trashed. I called them later on that night, and they told me the exact same thing that the note said.”

“They” would be John and Diane Stockman, the venue’s overseers. According to Diane Stockman, Doiel’s services were discontinued because of an overload of punk shows and the destruction left in their wake.

“We were having a little bit of trouble with the punk shows causing damage,” she told me. “We’re still doing kind-of punk, but not necessarily the death-metal punk.”

It wasn’t like the Longbranch — long known as a local dive whose charm can politely be described as “rustic” or “shabby chic” — was being torn apart at the shows, she said; but Doiel and the bands he booked didn’t do such a hot job of cleaning up the joint when the shows were over.

“It was just a combination of things,” she said. “Although he did do a good job and booked a lot of bands, I just felt some of them were a little too much of the skinhead-type of bands. We’re just changing the format a little bit and toning it down a little bit more.”

Now in charge of booking — Jordan Sangid, who’s worked there for about a year and a half. He hopes to make the Longbranch an arena for different types of local music, and he’s committed to honoring the shows that Doiel booked before his termination.

“We’re keeping it a local dive bar, but with a little more pizazz,” he said. “We were having punk rock shows here every night, and when you have shows where people get into it and move around, things get broken. And things were getting broken every night.”

Two shows of note on the Longbranch schedule — both booked by Doiel — the hardcore outfit ANTiSEEN, scheduled for Sept. 19, and The Murder Junkies, the former backing band of the late shock-rocker G.G. Allin led by Allin’s brother, Merle. Sangid also is looking ahead to the first show he’s booked in his new capacity — The Pinstripes and Royal City Riot, a double bill scheduled for January 2010 at the Longbranch.

The fallout from Doiel’s removal, however, remains to be seen. According to him, the punk shows were always well attended, and the bar sold a large amount of beer.

“And it’s not like we were just having punk shows — there were all kinds of shows on the schedule,” he added. “Since I got fired, I’ve had a lot of bands call me, canceling because they don’t want to play. They say if I’m not working there, they don’t want to do the shows.”

While such a statement may sound conceited, local scene legend Christopher Scum hails Doiel’s accomplishments at the Longbranch.

“I see him as like the Rus Harper of the 2000s, because he’s done more for punk rock in this town than anybody since the 1990s,” Scum told me. “He’s sunk his teeth into it and made it his business to have a place for people to go see music. As far as violence goes — I can’t say how many shows I’ve been to since he’s been working there, but I’ve seen one fight that whole time. One fight — and that’s because some college students from Florida wandered in on a football weekend.

“If people were getting slam-dancing mixed up with fighting, that’s a different thing. There was always a little pit, but it was all in fun — you’d knock somebody down and then pick them back up. It was the spirit of 1976, man — a place I was proud, being an older punk myself, to see kids come out and behave and show  spirit in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. I think they made a grave mistake, but that’s their decision to make, obviously.”

For a full schedule of Longbranch shows or to contact Sangid, visit the venue’s new Myspace page.

Written by wildsmith

August 25th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Cutthroat Shamrock: ‘Rowdy Soul Tour’

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Stopped by “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville on Saturday night to say hey to the boys in local Celtic-rock outfit Cutthroat Shamrock and pick up a copy of the band’s new CD, “Blood Rust Whiskey.” As much as I enjoy “The Wake,” the band’s last album, this one’s a fine representation of the band’s evolution — more intricate musicianship, tighter harmonies and an intensity that’s more razor-sharp than ever. The boys like to put out that whole “drunken pirate” image, and they live up to that quite well. But make no mistake — when it’s flag is high and all hands are on deck, this ship runs tight. They may be a bunch of grizzled roustabouts, but these boys have it going on.

After Saturday’s show, at which they opened for The Hackensaw Boys, the band hit the road for a multi-city jaunt they’re dubbing “The Rowdy Soul Tour,” after the final track on the new album. Check out the band on Myspace to get a run-down of all the dates, and mark two in particular on you calendar — Sept. 24, when the guys will headline “Old City Live” behind Southbound in Knoxville’s Old City; and Oct. 24, when they’ll play the Knoxville Brewers’ Jam. You can also keep track of the latest tour happenings by following singer/guitarist Ben Whitehead on Twitter. While you’re poking around online, go here to read a March story we did on the band.

An adorable side note — my 3-year-old son, Ezra, has been a fan of C.S. since I first started playing him their music. He knows them only as “Shamrock,” and his favorite song is “South Australia,” off of “The Wake.” The guys graciously included the song in their soundcheck, just for him. He had such a good time on Saturday night, even though we didn’t stay long, that when we got home, he got out his toy guitar and “played Shamrock,” hitting random pre-programmed chords and growling his way through his own special version of “South Australia.” He sounded possessed by demons, shouting and singing so loud the veins in his neck were popping against his skin and his little face turned beet-red. I was indeed a proud papa. The kid may not be able to tie his own shoes (yet), but by God he appreciates good music. I’m gonna film it and post the video on the group’s Myspace page, I think.

UPDATED! The guys have graciously allowed us to include a track off the new album in our steadily growing library of music by local artists. Download it now and get a taste of what you’re missing, if you’ve never taken the opportunity to see Cutthroat Shamrock perform live.

Download “Dry Bones,” by Cutthroat Shamrock: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

As soon as we get a link to where you can purchase this fine album online, we’ll post it here.

Ska Freekend cancelled

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Originally, Ska Weekend was cancelled … we blogged about that here. A long-running Knoxville institution built up by ska player/fan Ben Altom, it featured some really great music, bringing some of the top ska acts to East Tennessee for a weekend-long gathering.

Then, some peeps stepped in to save it — renaming it “Ska Freekend” and scheduling it to take place Saturday, Aug. 29, at Club Catalyst in Knoxville’s Old City. We told you about that here.

Now, it appears, it’s back off again. I received this e-mail this morning from Club Catalyst:

“SKA has officially been canceled! So sorry. But we were not informed until Friday and spent 2 days trying to save the event, but the bands were no longer available. We gave it to Three Kings, who will have a DJ Party. My sincerest apologies for this, but due to the outside promoter’s lack of professionalism, most of the bands dropped out without us being told.”

Interesting. We poked around online — both the Ska Freekend website and the festival’s Myspace site haven’t been updated, but we did find this tidbit on the Myspace blog of ska band the Taj Motel Trio:

. Sorry folks, but due to some personal issues we’re not going to be able to attend Ska Freekend.  We’ll be doing at least one Knoxville show with some other great bands before the end of the year though, so keep your eyes peeled for that. “

If we find out anything more, we’ll let you know.

EDIT: After Mr. Altom’s comment below, I thought I should clarify that we never intended to associate him with the Freekend, or that is was in any way connected to Ska Weekends of years past. After Ben et. al. decided to take a break this year (again, the word cancellation was probably too strong), the Freekend evolved out of a desire by certain ska fans and promoters to put together something similar. Our apologies for any misinterpretation.

Written by wildsmith

August 24th, 2009 at 5:59 am

Free music! A roundup of free mp3s by local artists

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1220, “The Motor Mile”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy 1220 music: Check the 1220 Myspace site frequently for links

Kevin Abernathy Band, “All Her Tears”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy Kevin Abernathy’s CDs on CD Baby: Click here

Against the Opposition, “Pursue the Enemy”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Jeff Barbra, “Blame It on Vern”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy “Country Music for Country People” by Jeff Barbra: Click here

The Black Lillies, “Midnight”: Right click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Whiskey Angel,” by The Black Lillies: Click here

Cold Hands, “Taking a Ride”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Sex. Beats. Romance.” by Cold Hands: Click here

Diacon-Panthers, “Curses”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Make It Feel Better” by the Diacon-Panthers: Click here

The Dirty Gunnz, “Shake Your Sugar”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
The Dirty Gunnz on Myspace: Click here

The Dirty Guv’nahs, “We’ll Be The Light”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy “The Dirty Guv’nahs,” the band’s self-titled new album: Click here

The Dirty Works, “Wife Beater”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Biscuits and Liquor” by The Dirty Works: Click here

The Drunk Uncles, “Drunk Talkin’”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Drunk Uncles on Myspace: Click here

Facelock, “Cervical Dislocation”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Facelock, “Defy”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)

Mic Harrison and The High Score, “Long Time”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy albums by Mic Harrison, from his solo work to his collaborations with The High Score: click here

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

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, “Lookin’ for a Thrill”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” to download)
Buy “Spills and Thrills,” the new album by JPK and the One Four Fives: On Amazon.com, or on iTunes.

Scott McMahan, “The Loneliest Blues”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Scott McMahan on Myspace: Click here

Melungeons, “Blackwater Swamp”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

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

Seeing Skies, “Don’t Stop Breathing In”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Check out Seeing Skies on Myspace: Click here

Jonathan Sexton, “The Mountain”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy “Big Love,” by Jonathan Sexton: Click here

Teenage Love13, “Fun Religion”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy “No Excuses,” Teenage Love’s most recent album: Click here

Tim Lee 3, “Chuck Berry in Space”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy music by the Tim Lee 3: Click here

The LoneTones, “Gone Again”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy LoneTones music: Click here

Free music by regional/national artists!

“Friday (Pay Day),” by Space Capone: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“I Just Wanna Dance,” by Space Capone: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Space Capone on Myspace (where you can find a link to buying his music on iTunes): Click here

“Tupelo,” by Scissormen: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy Scissormen music: Click here

“Pilgrim,” by Red Collar: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy Red Collar’s CD: Click here

“Heavy Load,” by the Deadstring Brothers: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy Deadstring Brothers music: Click here

Cody Dickinson discusses the recent death of his father, Jim

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Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Hill Country Revue — the latter of which is performing Wednesday, Aug. 26, at Club Catalyst (125 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City) — was kind enough to open up to me this week regarding the recent passing of his dad, esteemed and celebrated Memphis producer/musician Jim Dickinson. You can read that here.

Written by wildsmith

August 21st, 2009 at 11:16 am

New music Thursday! Mp3 downloads from Scott McMahan, Dirty Works, Diacon-Panthers

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Dang, we love giving away tunes. Because most of the songs we offer are from bands right here in East Tennessee, and this scene is so diverse, so full of talent, that we want to climb to the top of the Sunsphere and shout it to the rest of the Southeast.

First up on this fine Thursday, we offer a great song by one Mr. Scott McMahan, a singer-songwriter whom we profiled in May and who’s holding court from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday at Bread of Heaven, that fabulous soul food restaurant in Alcoa. (We told you about that gig here.) Congratulations go out to Scott, who had to miss last Friday because his wife Trina had a baby! At 9 pounds, 3 ounces and 21.5 inches long, she was christened Novalee Ray McMahan.

And while this song may sound somber, it’s just what Scott does best. (Go read the above profile.) He’s a super-nice guy, and you if you’re out and about, drop by Bread of Heaven and give him a listen. And fill up on good food while you’re there.

Download “The Loneliest Blues,” by Scott McMahan: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Keep track of Scott’s upcoming shows, as well as news on when you can buy his CD online or in stores, by visiting his Myspace page: Click here

And now, for some other good stuff to give away!

We blogged about local indie-rock outfit the Diacon-Panthers not long ago, and in the Friday, Aug. 21 edition of Weekend, you can read a brand new story on the band and the making of their new EP, “Ride Again.” They’ve graciously agreed to allow us to give away a song as well:

Download “Curses,” by the Diacon-Panthers: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Make It Feel Better,” the 2008 full-length album by the Diacon-Panthers: Click here

And finally … regular readers know what fans we are of local singer-songwriter Christopher Scum, who earned a reputation as Knoxville’s answer to G.G. Allin for years. Here, you can read a review of his solo album that we did last year, and a recent interview with him here. Well, his punk band, The Dirty Works, will celebrate five years together on Saturday night at The Longbranch Saloon in Knoxville, and for Friday’s entertainment section, we decided to tell the band’s story from the perspective of his two mates, drummer B. Riot and guitarist Steven Crime. Read that interview here, then get a free mp3 from The Dirty Works!

Download “Wife Beater,” by The Dirty Works: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Biscuits and Liquor” by The Dirty Works: Click here

Written by wildsmith

August 20th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Ben Sollee at Stone Wall Gardens

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See??!?? See what I mean in the previous post??? Why haven’t I been told of this??? Don’t these people know who I am??!??

(OK, for those who lose the sarcasm in the translation from my fingers to the Web, that was a total joke. I’m not really that egotistical. Most of the time.)

ANYWAY … cello maestro Ben Sollee will be performing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at Stone Wall Gardens, 2743 Wimpole Ave. in Knoxville. Tickets are $25, or $20 if you’re a member of the gardens. For $40, you can get VIP seating and admission to a pre-show wine-and-beer reception.

We interviewed Ben back in December (click here to read) and wrote about the gardens back in July, when singer-songwriter Dar Williams played there.

Written by wildsmith

August 18th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

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