Archive for September, 2009
Alas, singer-songwriter Derek Webb must have problems getting to East Tennessee. Yesterday, officials at The Square Room, located at 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville, were notified that his show, scheduled for Friday night, Oct. 2, has been cancelled. It’s a bummer, because this was a rescheduled show from a previous cancellation. Right now, plans are to try and bring him back in the spring, according to a venue spokesperson.
It’s a double bummer for yours truly, because I’d already written up my interview with him. Since his new album, “Stockholm Syndrome,” is great stuff, I decided to go ahead and post it for your reading pleasure. Here it is.
By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff
Turn on an episode of television drama on basic cable, and you’ll hear it tossed around casually.
Put it on a CD, and it’s not even likely to earn a warning sticker these days.
Unless, that is, your record label happens to be one of the foremost distributors of music by Christian artists in country. And if, by chance, you happen to be a singer-songwriter known for his introspective, spiritual lyrics and has made no secret of his religious beliefs … well, using the vulgarity that rhymes with “sit” is enough to cause an uproar.
To be fair, Derek Webb pointed out to The Daily Times, the controversy isn’t the big deal some might make it out to be. Although INO Records, his label, initially refused to release “Stockholm Syndrome” — Webb’s new album — the two quickly came to an agreement, with a “clean version” put out on the INO imprint and Webb’s original version available as a download on his website.
“To some extent, the folks I have heard from who make statements like that, who really can’t seem to get over the language on the record or whatever it is– some of them are just expressing that their preferences are not for what I’m doing, and I have no problem with that,” Webb told The Daily Times this week. “I don’t make music for mass consumption; I’m not a big pop artist, and I know my records don’t appeal to everybody. On top of that, I’m a super-complicated artist in terms of marketing, and I know some people hear it and just don’t like my general approach.
“If that’s the case, then I am completely OK with them not listening to my music. There’s so much out there, should go listen to something they enjoy. The people I’m looking for are people like me — the ones who stick with me and have been with me throughout my career. I realize I’m at a level of self-sabotage — every time I put out a record, I lose some people and gain some people.
“To be honest, if I never sell one more record, it would be thrilling,” he added. “I love where I’m at.”
Webb, a native of Memphis, got his start in music in the early 1990s, when he was brought on board the Contemporary Christian band Caedmon’s Call. The band’s debut album on the Warner Alliance label would make the Billboard charts and win the 1998 GMA Album of the Year award. Switching to the Essential Records label, Webb stayed with the band through 2003, participating on four additional albums that all landed on the Billboard charts.
After 2003’s “Back Home,” however, Webb left to pursue a solo career. Even back then, on “She Must and Shall Go Free” — his first solo album — Webb stoked the fires of controversy with lyrics like, “I am a whore, I do confess …” The song itself is about Christians seeking fulfillment outside of their faith; like some of the songs on “Stockholm Syndrome,” however, a certain segment of his audience found the words themselves disagreeable without looking at the bigger picture.
“What’s interesting and ironic about those statements as a whole is that they seem to be demonstrating my whole point, which is to look how much bigger a deal we make of what’s supposed to be peripheral to our beliefs and ignore what’s central to our beliefs, like 50,000 people who die every day from poverty,” Webb said. “I appreciate them for that, because that kind of is the point — for other people to see this discussion as it happens and view it as performance art: how these people come out to distance themselves from the profanity but make no statement about the line that comes immediately after.”
If anything, long-time Webb fans will find the radical shift in styles on “Stockholm Syndrome” even more of a shock. Although the building blocks of acoustic folk are present, the album is a sonic collage of electronic noise — a pastiche of dissonance and ambience that allows him to create a mood with some effects and a few loops, he said.
“Music for me is blue-collar work, so I’m always conscious of my overhead,” he said. “As much as I would love to tour with friends and musicians all the time, I just can’t really do that, so I wind up on the road a lot, just me and an acoustic guitar. Over the years, I have to reconfigure my songs for that arrangement. It’s been great to travel light and move quick, but it can get boring.
“That aside, it kind of goes back to my love for folk music, and folk music doesn’t really imply a style; folk music is more of an approach. I initially connected to it because of the protest singers of the ’60s, people who are transcendent and rally others and point them toward something more important than themselves.”
By focusing on the approach rather than the sound, Webb found himself in recent years following the thread of protest and cause-rallying down a curious path — into urban and hip-hop music, which he characterizes as “contemporary folk.” Discovering positive and message-oriented hip-hop artists gave him renewed purpose, and it opened doors to the new sounds that would find their way onto “Stockholm Syndrome.”
“These artists are telling the unfiltered stories of what’s happening in culture, and that’s what got me into that particular style,” he said. “Of all of my records, I feel like I had the least of intentions going into ‘Stockholm Syndrome.’ I don’t feel like I had any sort of plan or message or point I was trying to get across, or anything I was trying to lead people to.
“I feel like, more than ever, rather than have some sort of intention about it, that I’m trying to just do my job, and the job of any artist is to look at the world and tell what we see. That’s honesty, and it’s the only thing that informs these songs and the making of this record.”
The lineup for the 2009 Foothills Fall Festival, scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in downtown Maryville, has been finalized. Here’s the locked-in schedule, according to the festival’s website. Additions are in bold:
Friday, Oct. 16
6:15 Opening Ceremony, Flag dedication
6:30 The Dirty Guv’nahs (check out the cover story on the band in the Friday, Oct. 9, edition of The Daily Times Weekend section! The band also performs at Barley’s Taproom that night.)
7:30 Little River Band
Saturday, Oct. 17
1:30 Homer Hart
2:30 Mic Harrison & The High Score
4:00 The Trailer Choir
5:30 Justin Moore
7:00 Chris Young
8:30 Alan Jackson
Sunday, Oct. 18
2:00 Jackie Midkiff
3:30 Holly Alejo
5:00 Stephen Hunley
6:30 Sawyer Brown
8:00 Rodney Atkins
All italicized artists, incidentally, are ones I’ve either already interviewed for an upcoming edition of The Daily Times or will interview this week. You can read all of those artists profiles in the week leading up to the festival, when we’ll profile an artist each day. Our Friday, Oct. 16, edition will feature a slam-packed Weekend edition filled with interviews and additional festival information.
In early 2007, singer-songwriter Jodie Manross bid East Tennessee farewell to try her luck in New York City. We wrote about that here. Turns out, she’s done quite well for herself in the Big Apple, collaborating with Mark Lamb, himself a Knoxville expatriate and Circle Modern Dance alum who’s found fame with his own dance company in New York. You can check out some press on a recent work the two put on here and here.
In a couple of weeks, Manross is returning to Knoxville for a CD release show to celebrate her fourth album, “Myth of Solid Ground.” According to a just-in e-mail she sent out, the new album feautures production work from Knoxville’s own Greg Horne as well NYC music producer Sammy Merendino, Andrew Carillo (Joan Osborn’s guitar player), Graham Maby (bass player for Joe Jackson and Natalie Merchant), Rob Hyman (co-writer of “Time After Time” with Cyndi Lauper; producer of artists such as Patti Smith and Joan Osborn) and Darden Smith (Austin singer-songwriter) on back-up vocals.
There’s a song on the album, “Strength in Peace: A Song for Darfur,” that earned Manross an invite to the United Nations, she tells us.
The show takes place at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at The Glowing Body, 711 Irwin St. in Knoxville, and will feature guest apperances by Horne (who opens the show), her one-time Knoxville compatriot Laith Keilany (now in remission from a long, arduous battle with Stage 4 cancer) and Nathan Barrett. Lamb will also perform improvised dance during the show. The cost is $5. For more information, call The Glowing Body at 545-4088.
You’ve got one more opportunity coming up this weekend to check out the fabulous Black Lillies before the band — led by Cruz Contreras, formerly of Robinella and the CCstringband — head out for a national tour that’ll keep them on the road through December.
Here’s the e-mail we just received from the band’s manager:
WHAT: The Black Lillies live at Barley’s this Saturday, October 3. This is their last hometown show before kicking off a six week national tour this fall.
WHEN: Saturday, October 3 (immediately following the UT vs. Auburn game)
Knoxville, TN – Before kicking off their national tour in November, Knoxville’s The Black Lillies will play one more hometown show as a full band this Saturday at Barley’s. The show will begin immediately following the UT vs. Auburn football game.
In advance of the Barley’s show, they will play live on the new 11 O’Clock Rock! show on Market Square and give an in-studio performance on 90.3 The Rock, both on Friday, October 2.
Founded by multi instrumentalist and vocalist Cruz Contreras, co-founder of Robinella and the CCstringband, and singer-guitarist Leah Gardner (Maid Rite String Band), The Black Lillies have created their own unique brand of country, roots, rock and blues via Appalachia. The group, formed in 2008, also includes bassist Taylor Coker, electric guitar and pedal steel whiz Tom Pryor (the everybodyfields), and drummer Jamie Cook (the everybodyfields).
Their debut album, Whiskey Angel, was released in April of 2009 and the band has toured regionally throughout the summer. Highlights have included two performances at the Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival, an appearance on the live radio broadcast of Tennessee Shines (where they stole the show and were christened “an Americana supergroup” by host Jim Lauderdale), and two performances at Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
This fall, The Black Lillies will embark on a six week national tour that will take them across the country to Seattle. This will be the first national tour for the group. Prior to kicking off the tour, they will play several regional shows.
Tour dates are as follows (more to be announced soon):
Oct 3, 2009 – Knoxville, TN @ Barley’s Taproom
Oct 8, 2009 – Staunton, VA @ Darjeeling Cafe
Oct 10, 2009 – Thomas, WV @ The Purple Fiddle
Oct 23, 2009 – Knoxville, TN @ Laurel Theater – Cruz Contreras & Leah Gardner (duo show)
Oct 24, 2009 – Johnson City, TN @ Down Home
Oct 30, 2009 – Blowing Rock, NC @ Canyons of the Blue Ridge
Nov 11, 2009 – Nashville, TN @ Loveless Cafe Barn – Music City Roots
Nov 14, 2009 – Indianapolis, IN @ Spencer’s Stadium Tavern
Nov 15, 2009 – Benton Harbor, MI @ The Livery
Nov 16, 2009 – Chicago, IL @ The Elbo Room
Nov 19, 2009 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency
Nov 20, 2009 – Iowa City, IA @ The Picador
Nov 21, 2009 – Kansas City, MO @ Crosstown Station
Nov 22, 2009 – St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
Nov 24, 2009 – Fargo, ND @ The Nestor Tavern
Nov 25, 2009 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Latitude 44
Nov 27, 2009 – Duluth, MN @ Fitger’s Brewhouse
Nov 28, 2009 – Omaha, NE @ Barley Street Tavern
Nov 29, 2009 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews – HOLD
Dec 1, 2009 – Denver, CO @ Quixote’s
Dec 2, 2009 – Dolores, CO @ Dolores River Brewery
Dec 4, 2009 – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond’s Garage
Dec 5, 2009 – Portland, OR @ White Eagle Saloon
Dec 6, 2009 – Seattle, WA @ Skylark Cafe & Club
Dec 8, 2009 – Bellingham, WA @ Green Frog Acoustic Tavern
Dec 10, 2009 – Denver, CO @ Wash Park Grille
Dec 12, 2009 – Scottsbluff, NE @ 18th Street Bar & Grill
Dec 16, 2009 – Roanoke, VA @ Kirk Avenue Music Hall
Dec 17, 2009 – Richmond, VA @ The Triple
Dec 18, 2009 – Charlottesville, VA @ Fellini’s 9
Dec 19, 2009 – Whitesburg, KY @ Summit City Lounge
Back in April, I blogged about a particular song — “Midnight” — on the Lillies debut album, “Whiskey Angel.” Read that blog, and download the song, by going here. Read an April cover story we did on the band by going here.
Last Friday, we wrote about local indie-pop band Senryu, which performed a release show last Friday (Sept. 18) for “Dying in Fast Forward,” a new EP. Read that story here.
Band frontman Wil Wright e-mailed us this evening about something you need to keep an eye on tomorrow: One of our favorite music blogs, The Music Slut, will give “Dying in Fast Forward” its first big national review.
Here’s Wright with more:
“This is a very widely read and respected music blog and I anticipate that it will be a fairly positive review. It will be accompanied by the first available download of “Laughing In Slow Motion,” the sister EP to “Dying in Fast Forward.” It’s the same order as DIFF, but the songs have been reimagined by various producers. It’s some dancey and some experimental and I think a completely different take on our record, which I really like. It would really be great if you could all point as many people as possible towards the review/download. I think we stand to have another really, really big day of downloads with your help. Considering the number of readers that The Music Slut has, it could be a record day.”
So there you have it. Support Senryu tomorrow!
I suppose I’ll type up my interview and post it on this here blog. I just wish she were coming to town.
This just in:
The East Tennessee live music scene, like just about every other with a vibrant collection of artists and venues, is constantly changing. For those of us who write about it, keeping track isn’t always easy. For those who don’t keep up with the news, it can be even more baffling — showing up to see a band at your favorite venue only to discover the doors are locked and the shutters are drawn.
That said, here’s some info for you about several familiar and not-so-familiar venues in the East Tennessee area:
First up, Barley’s Taproom, located at 200 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City: Owned by Randy Burleson of Aubrey’s/Sunspot/Bistro by the Tracks/etc., it’s always boasted one of the best live music scenes in town. Now, according to my sources, Randy and co. are upping the ante. Renovations to Barley’s will improve access to the bar, and after all is said and done, they hope to squeeze 750 people into the downstairs area for big shows — like the one scheduled for Dec. 2, featuring seminal SST artist/Nirvana collaborators the Meat Puppets.
The second involves a space that’s owned/being renovated by Daniel Schuh, who also owns Knoxville Preservation & Development. From what I understand, it’s being called Relix — but I haven’t gathered, yet, whether it’s the same business as the Relix Variety Store, which opened in the spring at 1208 N. Central St. (the historic White Store building) in Knoxville’s Downtown North district. Schuh’s venue — and mind you, I’ve only spoken to others in the know and not the man himself (yet) — will feature a bar next door that, sources tell me, will likely be called The Hollow, in honor of the Downtown North area, which goes by the nickname “Happy Holler.”
In downtown proper, the venue formerly known as World Grotto is undergoing a radical transformation. I blogged about its closing here, and apparently the new owners — which, sources confirm, include Justin Nicholas and Jim Buckner, as originally reported by N-S business writer Carly Harrington — have been hard at work. The upstairs of the old Grotto has been completely gutted, my source tells me, to make way for the “upscale-vibe sports bar” the new owners want to install.
“They want to keep the prices low, but they want to make it look a little classier than the typical sports bar,” my man tells me. “They’ll have cocktail waitresses and lots of TVs.”
Downstairs, I’m being told, the new owners are still debating whether to keep the Grotto’s geode bar, set up behind the stairs. All seating areas are being refinished in leather, and the pass-through at the back of the downstairs area, from the side of the stage to the “chill-out” room, is being walled off to make room for a downstairs kitchen; a dumbwaiter will be installed to send food upstairs, and from what my guy tells me, the upstairs kitchen may be done away with.
As far as live music goes, there won’t be a lot of it. The new owners want to do a Sunday jazz night, but other evenings will feature deejays — dance nights, ’80s nights, etc. High- and low-top tables will be set up in the performance area to accommodate a “supper-club” type of feel on certain nights, and video/audio system improvements will stream special performances throughout the building.
And, get ready for a name change — the owners are leaning toward calling it Meridian, I’ve been told, although that may change as well: They were originally considering calling it Chameleon. From what I can tell, they’re aiming for a mid-November opening.
Finally, a little closer to home, I’m being told the new Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Maryville College campus — scheduled to open early next year — may find room for someone with a rock ‘n’ roll background on the payroll to help book shows. Since the center will be primarily a rental facility, the right connections may bring some big-name acts right here to Maryville, a win-win situation that lets the college capitalize on concession sales and the public to get some big-name entertainment without traveling all the way to Knoxville.
I’ll post more as things develop.
If you want a new CD from Knoxville poet/playwright/singer-songwriter/all-around artist extraordinaire — R.B. Morris — then get your ticket now. Right now. Because the fund-raiser show for Oct. 3, during which he — with your help — will put a little money aside to record a brand-spankin’ new album, is limited to 50 people. For more info, I turn you over to this just-in press release:
NEW RB MORRIS RECORD!!
How does that sound? I hope it sounds good because I have a new collection of songs recorded with a great band and ready to be released. This is the first time I’ve tried to engage fans in helping with that process, something that’s become quite prevalent with recording artists nowadays with all the changes in the music business. Business has never been my forte but I’m fixing to catch a big groove with it. I’m long overdue and I have a lot of music I want to release in a steady fashion beginning with this new record I’m calling Spies, Lies, and Burning Eyes. I hope you’ll help me do that by coming to this show or by just buying a CD in advance.
This special House Concert at “Williamswood Castle” (near Ijams Nature Park) is set up for raising the money to put out this new CD, and those who attend or who purchase in advance by mail will be the first ones to receive the new CD. The cover for the show is $25, which is $15 for the CD and $10 for the show. Hector Qirko who’s featured prominently on the new CD will be joining me for this special performance. Williamswood Castle is a beautiful private home in South Knoxville near Ijams Nature Center. The Address is 643 Alamo Avenue. For more information please e-mail me : firstname.lastname@example.org
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
In writing this week’s piece on the band Yo La Tengo (performing Tuesday, Sept. 22 at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville), I got to remember the last time I spoke with the band. Specifically, with guitarist/songwriter/singer Ira Kaplan. Even more specifically, about a 2004 concert at the now-defunct Blue Cats that ended in a lot of perplexed fans and buzz among local scene-goers that the group was antagonistic, etc. (Those scene-goers still haven’t forgotten that night: It’s the subject of a thread on local bulletin board Knox Blab, a favorite site of mine.)
In that 2007 interview, Ira told me about that infamous performance, and so for those of you who may have missed it in print, I reprint part of that story for you here …
Published: Jan. 25, 2007
The members of Yo La Tengo are not afraid of you, Knoxville. And yes – act up again, and they will beat your ass.
OK, not really. But it is fun to think that the critically acclaimed indie rock trio named its most recent album – last year’s “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” – after the concert that went awry the last time the band played in East Tennessee.
That was in October 2004, on the band’s “Swing State Tour.” It’s a tour, a night, that Yo La Tengo co-founder/vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Ira Kaplan remembers well. The venue – Blue Cats, in Knoxville’s Old City. The plot – hilarity, animosity and general weirdness.
“It was a weird night, for sure,” Kaplan told The Daily Times this week. “We had had great experiences in Knoxville previous to that, so I think that was part of what made the last one so weird.”
The band took a lot of flack from fans in attendance for the show, some of them dismayed by what they perceived as Kaplan’s antagonistic attitude. However, according to Kaplan’s version, he had good reason to get irate.
“We had no opening act, and we were doing this long show that changed every night,” Kaplan said. “Every show involved guest musicians and a comedian, and basically it was like a two- to three-hour show. We would come out with whomever the guests were that night, start playing, introduce the comedian before we took a break and then go back out. We never had a setlist; we’d just play each other’s songs.”
In attendance on the stage that night were members of Lambchop (the band opening for Yo La Tengo at Saturday’s Bijou Theatre show); New Zealand singer-songwriter David Kilgour; and singer-songwriter Sue Garner, among others. The comedian was Todd Barry, who entertained between sets.
“Todd was the comedian, and when he came on – and I don’t even know why – somebody threw a glass of ice at him, which was pretty dismaying,” Kaplan said. “If it had been a normal show, maybe we would have cut it short, but since it was the one and only opportunity to play with that particular group of people, we wanted to make the most of it. It was a really cool lineup, and typically any single night on that tour was different from any other night, so we were very excited to be playing with that group of people.
“And so I did something I’ve never done before, and something I presume I’ll never do again. My feeling about shows is that if the audience isn’t with you, you’re probably doing something wrong. I’m not big on telling people to be quiet no matter how much we want them to be quiet. Don’t get me wrong; I love it when the audience tells other members to be quiet. That’s fine with me. But that night, I did say that we wanted people to be quiet or leave, and I did say that I don’t care which one you choose.
“It was definitely a weird atmosphere, and I’m sure we contributed to it somehow, but I really don’t know what we did to make that happen,” he added. “We ended up having a great time playing, because that atmosphere seemed to charge things, and right after I said that, there was some really long, exciting song. It was a memorable night, that’s for sure.”
ADDENDUM: Bassist James McNew, when reminded of that 2004 show during a phone interview with us on Tuesday, kept his comments brief: “I’ve always enjoyed coming to your city — even after that night, that Blue Cats night, which kind of went off the rails in some ways,” he said. “I still carry that as kind of a fond memory of how we stuck together.”
Woooo! Get ready for some metal vets to show these punks how it’s done. Just got the following press release; emphasis added by me:
MEGADETH ANNOUNCE HEADLINING TOUR IN THE U.S.
New York, NY: Megadeth are proud to announce that they will be embarking on a headline tour, their first in support of their latest album, ENDGAME. The ENDGAME tour will feature Machine Head, Suicide Silence and Arcanium in support slots from November 14 through December 3. Warbringer will replace Machine Head on the bill, beginning on December 5.
Megadeth’s twelfth studio release, ENDGAME, will be released on September 15, to much fanfare, with early praise for the record flooding in, including a nod from the prestigious New York Magazine, which dubbed the record a “Want to Hear” pick, while the band had chats with RollingStone.com, Decibel, Revolver,Guitar World, AOL Noisecreep, Thrasher, among a host of others.
Fans and critics alike are deeming this Megadeth’s best, most visceral record of the decade. Known for their ferocious, unforgettable and brain-scarring live shows, the band will co-headline another throng of dates with fellow metal icons Slayer in Canada, beginning on November 8 and running through November 13, and will subsequently lay waste to venues in the States.
The band will also cap off their incredibly anticipated release week with a live performance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on September 17.
Dates for the ENDGAME tour are as follows:
Nov. 14 – The Orbit Room – Grand Rapids, MI
Nov. 15- Peoria Civic Center – Peoria, IL
Nov. 17 – Eagles Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 18 – The LC Pavilion – Columbus, OH
Nov. 20 – Madison Theater- Covington, KY
Nov. 21 – The National – Richmond, VA
Nov. 22 – Valarium – Knoxville, TN