Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for March, 2010

Estrogen on the horizon: Indiegrrl’s “Women in the Arts Conference and Festival” set for August

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Coming Aug. 19-22 to Knoxville: the Indiegrrl “Women in the Arts Conference and Festival.” This should be really cool, and if you’re a female artist interested in being a part of the weekend’s showcases, take note of the info below — you have until Wednesday to get your submissions in!

About Indiegrrl: “Indiegrrl works to create networking, educational, and showcasing opportunities for women in the arts regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation or political views and does not tolerate discrimination in any form.” VISION STATEMENT: To promote the creation, performance, and appreciation of music and arts for women.  To support the creation and production of new musical and artistic works by emerging and well established female artists, and to contribute to the professional advancement of those artists.  To support women in taking charge of their music and arts careers through providing educational forums, networking avenues, and opportunities for exposure.”

About the conference/festival: “The 2010 Indiegrrl Women in the Arts Conference and Festival is an annual event taking place August 19 – 22 in Knoxville, TN. Both men and women are invited to attend; however, showcase artists must identify as female and bands/groups must be female fronted. A festival format has been included in this year’s event giving to give artists more opportunity to be seen by the general public. Indiegrrl accepts a wide range of music genres, as well as comedy and spoken word performers. All are welcome to sell their merchandise at their corresponding performance venues. Attendees are responsible for their own travel expenses to and from the conference.”

Ladies … submit to showcase now! The deadline is Wednesday, March 30; those chosen will be notified by April 30. If chosen, you must attend the conference as well; however, you’ll be given a discounted price on a conference pass. (see the Indigrrl website for more details.) You can also go to the site to download a mail-in showcase submission, or do so online through Sonicbids (for a $30 fee). Whatever you do, do it soon, because Wednesday is the cut-off.

Written by wildsmith

March 29th, 2010 at 9:11 am

We’re in trouble now: The Melungeons are coming

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It’s no secret that many of us who cover the East Tennessee music scene are fans of Rus Harper. Not only is he one hell of a nice dude, he’s also this area’s version of Iggy Pop when he takes the stage — preening, pouting, raging, gibbering and prone to all sorts of freakery that appalls good, decent folk who spew blood from the eyes when they see a rock ‘n’ roll frontman clad in panties, fishnet thigh-highs and combat boots.

Our last proper story about Rus was a year ago, when his band Teenage Love13 released the killer punk album “No Excuses.” He and bandmate John Sewell posed for some great photos with members of the Maryville Police Department and were good sports about it all, especially considering their younger selves had no love or respect for law enforcement. Over the weekend, he sent me two tracks from a new album on the horizon by another one of his projects, The Melungeons. (We first wrote about that band in 2006.) There’s no CD release date set, but it’ll most likely be at The Pilot Light; in the meantime, below is the album cover.

Check out Rus and all of his freakishness online, visit The Melungeons on Myspace and download the title track from the new album, “Blackwater Swamp,” here:

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

BlackwaterCoversmall

Written by wildsmith

March 29th, 2010 at 8:47 am

Two Doors Down goodness …

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If you’ve never stopped by Two Doors Down, 118 E. Broadway Ave. in downtown Maryville, you’re missing out on a rowdy good time. The folks who run the place book live music at least three times a week and sometimes more often, and they’ve got some good stuff coming up:

  • Friday, April 16, Texas bluesman Wes Jeans will rock the house. According to his online bio, he was ranked as one of the “Top Young Gun Guitar Players by Guitar Player Magazine in 2004, and back in 1996, he entered the International Jimi Hendrix Competition in Austin, placing second out of roughly 1,500 other guitarists. His bio states that “Al Hendrix, father of Jimi Hendrix, told Wes, ‘In my eyes, you won because you played straight from the heart like Jimi!’” The best part about it — that’s gonna be a free show. It starts at 9 p.m.
  • Coming up at the end of April — April 29 and 30, to be exact — local Southern rock/country outfit The Dixie Highway Band will be shooting a video at the bar. Co-owner Jeff Breazeale tells us that the band has contracted with a Knoxville production company (still working on figuring out which one) is coming in to shoot the extravaganza, which will be part documentary, part live show. It’ll be called “Two Nights at Two Doors,” and the band is trying to get as many fans as possible to pack the joint. There will be a $5 cover, and merchandise touting participation in the video shoot will be sold. In addition, several guests will sit in with the band, including Breazeale (who fronts his own outfit, Dixie Werewolves), local harp man Doug Harris and Dale T. Sharp. Local actors David Dwyer and Bruce McKinnon will also be a part of the night’s events, and the video will splice interviews with band members into its shots of the crowd and the show. “We want to have a big crowd with everybody dancing and raising hell for that,” Breazeale says.
  • Finally, Breazeale’s annual “Boogie on Broadway” (formerly “Boogie on the Bridge”) concert is set for Sunday, May 30. It’s an all-day event, and tickets are $10 — but that gets you all the barbecue you can eat and 10 bands performing throughout the day, including the Werewolves, Dixie Highway, The Reigns Band, Nuthin’ Fancy, Phillip and Valerie Sharp and others to be named later.

Written by wildsmith

March 29th, 2010 at 8:32 am

Jo Dee Messina: When the writer becomes part of the story …

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As journalists, we make it a rule not to get involved in the things that we cover.

Unless we write an opinion column, we’re dissuaded from taking part in politics. We’re observers … chroniclers … scribes. We cover the news, not make it.

Which made it extremely bizarre when country star Jo Dee Messina called out The Daily Times during Friday night’s performance at the new Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus.

It started after her second song, “I’m Alright,” when she opened up the floor for questions from the audience. Clad in tastefully ripped jeans and a faux leather jacket that played up her flame-haired biker-babe image, she was relaxed and good-natured. Her band played most of the show sitting on the easy chair and sofa that were part of the stage decor, all added as part of her intimate “Music Room Series” of shows.

Then, she noticed Daily Times photographer Daryl Sullivan in the corner, taking pictures. She asked him which publication he was working for, and when she repeated his answer — “The Daily Times” — the crowd cheered. (Gotta say, it’s nice to get recognition from the audience.) Messina, however, arched one eyebrow.

“Let me tell you something about The Daily Times,” she said. “You all think it’s a small paper. A hometown paper. But it’s not. It’s a lot more than that.”

She went on to describe how she did an interview with yours truly for the March 19 edition of Weekend — an interview in which she discussed her frustrations with her label, Curb Records, and her inability to put out an album for the past several years because of it.

Curb executives, she said, apparently read The Daily Times. As does Great American Country. As does AOL. Because all of them picked up the story that ran in Weekend, and Messina found herself in some hot water over her comments.

Now, she never complained that it was a bad article, or that she was misquoted — in fact, she called it “beautiful” and admitted that she doesn’t like to bite her tongue. But the label asked her to release a statement either clarifying or recanting some of her remarks … which she has yet to do, she proudly pointed out.

At that point, she moved on to other questions. And I couldn’t resist. I raised my hand. And identified myself when she called on me.

It took a second for my name — and publication — to sink in. Then she did a double-take.

“Oh s–t! You’re the guy who wrote the article!” She giggled and turned toward the band, obviously a little taken aback. But she rebounded quickly, jokingly declaring, “I’m not answering any more of your questions!” She went on to say, “Let me tell you — you’re a big deal. People are reading your stuff.”

A couple of songs later, she remarked that she was a little nervous, knowing I was in the audience and that I might write something negative if I wasn’t impressed.

Relax, Ms. Messina. I was very impressed. Your voice is beautiful, your showmanship is masterful and your stage presence is dynamic. I hate I had to leave early, but I’ll share with you a snippet of my notes:

“Incredible voice! Any label that would shut her down is run by asshats.”

Written by wildsmith

March 26th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Andrew W.K.: Identity crisis?

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If you follow the career of party-rocker/motivational speaker/Calder Quartet collaborator Andrew W.K. at all, you might have heard rumors over the years that he’s a prefabricated construction — a conglomeration of ideas and individuals designed to sell records and mess with heads.

Back in 2001, around the release of his debut album “I Get Wet,” a number of critics and insiders accused him of being a corporate stooge because of his meteoric rise and seemingly out-of-nowhere success story; the previous year, a UK magazine ran a story on someone called “Steev Mike” with accompany photos of Andrew W.K. and the latter’s discography. “Steev Mike” was listed as executive producer on “I Get Wet,” as well as on Andrew’s 2006 DVD “Who Knows” and “Close Calls With Brick Walls,” released domestically this week.

To deepen the mystery, Bulb Records — the label that released his first two EPs, “AWKGOJ” and “Party Til You Puke” — created a web page with references to “Steev Mike” that were later changed to Andrew W.K. By 2004, the mysterious “Steev Mike” had created a number of websites that consisted of coded messages and the promise of top-secret information, and a final message directed to Andrew W.K. himself was pretty direct: “You know how much I believe in you and all that you stand for, because I stood for it first. You know how much I love your music, because I created it. You know that I love the way you look and act and talk and sing and dance because it was born in my brain.” Around the same time, Andrew’s own website was hacked and similar messages were posted, prompting Andrew to respond with the statement: “PLEASE DON’T BELIEVE STEEV MIKE. I USED TO CALL MYSELF STEEV MIKE A LONG TIME AGO AND IT’S NOTHING NOW. Someone is trying to confuse you and make me look bad.”

Over the years, Andrew has addressed the controversy in a number of interviews, telling the British magazine Front last year that Steev Mike did executive produce “I Get Wet” and that “most of what you’ve heard is exaggerated but the parts that are true may be more disturbing than you’d hoped.” In September of last year, he talked to The Guardian (a British newspaper) about the attack on his website: “At the end of 2004, an old friend of mine got in some business trouble and basically decided to take it out on me. To cut a long story short, this person is someone I worked very closely with and had a formal and family business relationship with. Due to various complaints this person had with me, they were able to turn my life and career upside down. I wasn’t allowed to use my own name within certain areas of the US entertainment industry and we were in a debate about who owned the rights to my image, and who should get credit for ‘inventing’ it. This made my life complicated and intense for a few years, but I kept working and doing whatever I could to keep moving forward.”

As recently as December, a lecture, recorded at Madame Jojo’s in London in September 2008 was published, and the recording features Andrew W.K. claiming that his “persona” was actually created by a committee that included himself, his dad and others. He goes on to say, in the lecture, “I’m not the guy you’ve seen from the ‘I Get Wet‘ album … I’m not that same person. I don’t just mean that in a philosophical or conceptual way. It’s not the same person at all.” He backtracked on his official website back in January, and as he told me a couple of weeks ago during an interview to promote his Big Ears Festival performance, a lot of the controversy has been blown way out of proportion.

“There’s always been confusion over my back story, with people asking, ‘Where did you come from? Why did you appear overnight? Why can’t I find out information about you?’” he told The Daily Times. “A lot of bands rise up over the years and finally, after many albums and releases and touring, have a big hit and blow up. But I didn’t have that history, so it made people very paranoid.

“At the Madame Jojo’s lecture, we decided to try a new approach — to take the same accusations about who I am and where I started and whether I’m a real person and try to address it differently. I really should have thought a lot more about it before I agreed to say that or go in that direction. I don’t want to say it’s a mistake, but you can’t expect to say stuff or experiment with how people perceive stuff without gauging their reactions first.

“We just thought, well, if we deny all of this, won’t that make it worse? So we thought, let’s try a less commonly used approach,” he added. “But that didn’t work either. Now, I’m just being up front about everything. I tell people, ‘Here’s what I can talk about, here’s what will always be kept private, here’s what I won’t talk about.”

Ultimately, he told me, he’s the same dude who’s “Party Hard” became a frat-boy anthem back in 2001. He’s the same dude on the cover of the “I Get Wet” album with his nose gushing blood. In other words, he inhabits the same physical body … but the mind and the heart and even the body itself have undergone changes. That’s human nature, but in the entertainment industry, that can sometimes get you crucified.

“To me, I don’t choose to come up with a persona,” he said. “This wasn’t a creation in that way. The music wasn’t a creation, but I’m myself. I look at it this way — if someone enlists in the Marines, in order to accomplish what will be necessary in the Marines, there aren’t just a number of physical steps, there’s also a change of mindset you must undergo.

“I wouldn’t say about someone who does that, ‘Oh, he has a Marine persona and his real persona.’ I would say that in order to accomplish certain tasks, there are certain ways you use your body and certain ways you use your mind. I look at it like that — I had a mission to accomplish, and it took me doing things with my body and my mind that were required to accomplish what I had to do at the time.

“It’s more about trying to do the best job that I can, and even if it’s considered entertainment, you’re performing,” he said. “When the activity or the goal you want to accomplish is entertaining or performance, you’re taking action and making a choice of what to do and how to do it, but that doesn’t make you somehow less of a real person.”

Written by wildsmith

March 26th, 2010 at 11:52 am

Posted in Festivals, Music

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Jay Clark announces new live album, DVD

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Local singer-songwriter Jay Clark, who now calls Blount County home, dropped me a line this morning announcing a new project — a double-disc live album and a separate DVD scheduled for a May 1 release. Here’s how he describes it:

“It was recorded as part of the ‘Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s’ television show that airs nationally on a number of PBS stations.  Cruz Contreras played the whole show with me and the CDs and DVD (sold seperately by the way) include not only 21 tunes representing a hodge-podge of the songs from my three studio records but also the stories about how the songs came about.  I’ll be using the show at The Laurel Theater with Jeff Barbra (we’ll be doing a song swap) on May 1 as the ‘release show.’ Hippie Jack has become a good friend of mine, and I not only play at his festival every Memorial Day Weekend but help out as well.  It’s the best grassroots festival that I know of, and in my opinion, the best kept secret in Americana music.  The CD is actually going to be titled ‘Jay Clark … Live at Jammin’ with Hippie Jack’s.’

Written by wildsmith

March 24th, 2010 at 7:16 am

Fleta Fest: It’s on like Donkey Kong

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A couple of years ago, we profiled “Cocktails and a Concert,” the annual festival held on River John’s Island in Blount County that’s organized every year by local singer-songwriter Kirk Fleta. That was a banner year; last year, however, wasn’t so great, at least as far as the weather was concerned:

“Last year the heavy rains, 100 percent forecast for flash flooding and the weather people telling everyone to ’stay home’ kinda killed the turnout, although the weather was beautiful all day Friday and Saturday, and the music was fantastic!” Fleta wrote to me this week. “This year I checked the Farmers Almanac, and we will have less precipitation than average as opposed to last year having substantially more than average! In addition we will have more than a thousand square feet of shelter around the stage so that the show goes on rain or shine! It happened two years ago during a light spring shower and it made the show nice, cozy and intimate. This festival is growing and getting better every year!”

The name is also being changed to “Fleta Fest,” something the easygoing Fleta insists is not his doing.

“It’s due to the crowd staging a ‘coup d’etat’ at the end of a fantastic Saturday night a couple of years ago,” he writes. “They all started chanting ‘Fleta Fest, Fleta Fest!’ So I was forced to change the name, and of course honored at the same time!”

Here are the details …

WHEN: May 14-16

WHERE: River John’s Island, 4132 Cave Mill Road, Maryville

LINEUP (so far!): Brent Thompson Band, Hudson K, Ben Maney & Countless Sheep, Kirk Fleta Band, Richard Douglas, Alex Thompson, FishSticks, Ni Crow, Terry “Teep” Philips, Brad Blackwell, Ben DeBerry, Scott McMahan and Emory Cannon

HOW MUCH: $35 for a weekend pass; $18 for a day pass

AMENITIES: According to Fleta, “Bread From Heaven was our food vendor last year, and I have yet to contact them but hopefully they will be again. Pam Munson will set up her massage therapy tent and we hope to have some hippie bead vendors as well. Ta Dye 4 Ink will set up to sell and let the festival goers make thier own tye dye shirts. Julie Costner (local Maryville artist) is doing the art work and will be ready with that in a couple of days.”

Written by wildsmith

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:57 am

Introducing Unscene Records and “They Have Chosen a King”

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My buddy Bryan Baker of the band Bright Shining Lie dropped off a cool little package while I was out of town last week — a Walkman, a cassette of new music and news of a new project.

It seems Baker and his BSL bandmates are starting up a new record label called Unscene Records. It’s a small project they hope will grow into something better, and the first release is a 20-copy, limited run cassette by local artist Fei Rei (pronounced “Faye Ray,” like the movie star). It’s an idea that’s been brewing for several years now, Baker told me today.

“For the past four-ish years, I’ve been really hardcore into the underground idea scene and labels like K Records and Dischord — so really, I’m not doing anything new or interesting, since I like that model and it’s a guideline to go by that’s easier than changing it or doing something new,” he said. “There’s a lot of cool stuff in Knoxville, and my main goal is to help out a lot of younger bands in this area. There are a lot of smaller indie labels in Knoxville making cassettes and 7-inches and all of those couture indie forms of media, but it pertains to a specific sect of people in Knoxville — the indie-hipster crowd.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are a lot of kids who play punk or doom metal or math rock who haven’t read a million biographies on Ian MacKaye (Dischord founder and member of both Minor Threat and Fugazi). The concept of producing and releasing your stuff independently is a pretty daunting thing to look at. I just thought it would be good to do something regional.”

Fei Rei’s release, called “They Have Chosen a King,” works within the noise genre, Baker said — though many of his works border on sound sculptures, and his most recent release follows a narrative. It’s “the story of a turn-of-the-century factory worker who is plagued at nights by constant nightmares of strange creatures. These become so bad they leak into his waking world until finally the nightmarish and arcane creatures of his nightmares rise up out of the ocean and claim him as their lost king.”

You can get a copy of the cassette, as well as approach the Unscene guys about collaborations, at unsceneknoxville@gmail.com. You can also check out the label on Blogspot. Baker said he’d like to find some local spoken-word artists with whom to collaborate on a free compilation that would be distributed in area stores and venues to generate interest in the label.

As for Bright Shining Lie, the band hopes to begin recording on its new album/EP next weekend. Baker and Michael Knouff, his old bandmate in The Unashamed and now in local metal act Waste and Regret, have been purchasing recording equipment so their respective band can do their own projects.

Written by wildsmith

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:41 am

Rhythm-N-Blooms update

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Back in January, we told you about Rhythm ‘n’ Blooms, which takes place next month. Lo and behold, it’s almost here — and damn if the lineup doesn’t look spectacular! Check out the schedule, which you can find over on the festival’s website:

Friday April 16th, 2010

The Square Room (4 Market Square, downtown Knoxville)

Noon – 1:30 pm – WDVX Blue Plate Special at the Square Room – Rhythm ‘n Blooms special edition extended show

Market Square

6:00 – 8:30 pm – Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Concert: 6 Mile Express & 18 South

Remedy Coffee (125 W. Jackson Ave., Knoxville’s Old City)

5:45 – 7:00 pm – Harpeth Rising
8:00 – 10:00 pm – Todd Preston

Crown & Goose (123 S. Central St., Knoxville’s Old City)

9:00 – 12:00 am – Slow Blind Hill

Preservation Pub (28 Market Square, downtown Knoxville)

10:00 – 1:00 am – Black Cadillacs


Saturday April 17th, 2010

The Square Room

12:00 – 1:30 pm – Rollin’ Highway Revue
2:00 – 3:00 pm – Shotgun Party
3:30 – 5:00 pm – Pokey LaFarge
5:30 – 7:00 pm – Kristin Andreassen
7:30 – 9:00 pm – Yarn
9:30 – 11:00 pm - Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
11:30 – 1:00 pm – Soulgrass Rebellion

The Bijou Theatre (803 S. Gay St., downtown Knoxville)

12:45 – 2:15 pm – Ballhog!
2:45 – 4:15 pm – The Old Ceremony
4:45 – 6:15 pm – The New Familiars
6:45 – 8:15 pm – Samantha Crain
8:45 – 10:15 pm – The Dixie Bee-Liners
10:45 – 12:15 am – The Drunk Uncles

Barley’s Taproom (200 E. Jackson Ave., Knoxville’s Old City)

2:00 – 2:45 pm – Hot Seats
3:00 – 3:45 pm – Rhythm Brewers
4:00 – 4:45 pm – Travis Mann Band
5:00 – 5:45 pm – Medford’s Black Record Collection
8:45 – 9:00 pm – Greensky Bluegrass
9:15 – 10:30 pm – TBA
10:45 – 1:00 pm – Dawn Landes and the Hounds

Barley’s Patio

1:00 – 2:00 pm – Angel Snow
2:30 – 3:30 pm – Old Haul
4:00 – 5:30 pm – Taylor Brown
6:00 – 7:00 pm – Kevin Hyfantis
7:15 – 8:30 pm – The Songbirds

Remedy Coffee

5:00 – 6:00 – Sarah Hargett
6:30 – 7:30 pm – Stephen Sebastian
8:00 – 10:00 pm – Danielle Madison

Preservation Pub

10:00 – 1:00 am – TBA


Sunday April 18th, 2010

Knoxville Botanical Garden (2743 Wimpole Ave., East Knoxville)

1:00 – 2:00 pm – Yarn Acoustic
2:30 – 3:30 pm – Elliot Brood
4:00 – 5:00 pm – Kris Delmhorst
5:30 – 6:45 pm —  The Black Lillies
7:15 – 8:30 pm – Carrie Rodriguez
9:00 – 10:30 pm – Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore

UT Trial Gardens (off Neyland Drive on the University of Tennessee campus)

5:00 – 7:30 pm – RB Morris & Hector Qirko

Remedy Coffee

1:45 – 2:30 pm – The Songbirds
3:00 – 3:30 pm – Ben Sollee
4:00 – 5:15 pm – Kelsey’s Woods
5:45 – 7:00 pm – Megan McCormick
7:30 – 8:45 pm – thecitylights

Get this — a festival pass, which gets you into all of these shows is only $40. Booyah.

Written by wildsmith

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:08 am

Posted in Festivals, Local venues, Music

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Clayton Center, “The Shed” and now The Capitol

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Heath Claiborne, owner of The Capitol Theatre (127 W. Broadway Ave.) in downtown Maryville, dropped me a line yesterday to tell me he’s making a stronger effort to bring ticketed events to that fabulous old concert hall.

We profiled his renovation efforts when the theater first opened in September 2008, and since then, it’s been a marvelous addition to downtown Maryville. On the final Friday of the month, the Big Band known as The Streamliners does a night of swing dance as part of the Last Friday Art Walk, and Claiborne tried his hand at concert promotion with a series of events over the next couple of years. Comedy duo Bean and Bailey filmed a DVD there, local band Christabel and the Jons shot a video there and all manner of local, regional and national artists have played there: Hypnotist Jon Dee, local Big Band the Brad Walker Orchestra, local rockers Seeing Skies and local-boys-who-have-hit-it-big Disciple even rocked the house.  (And we can’t forget that the theater is the unofficial home for local drama group Foothills Community Players, who stage regular productions there.)

Now, more events are on the schedule. Here’s what’s coming up at The Capitol:

  • The Streamliners at 8 p.m. Friday, March 26, as part of Last Friday Art Walk; $12 advance/$15 at the door
  • Soul Connection at 7 p.m. April 30, as part of Last Friday Art Walk; $12 advance/$15 at the door
  • “An Evening with Bill Landry” at 7 p.m. May 6. “The Heartland Series” host will speak in support of the Downtown Maryville Association; dinner begins at 7 p.m., catered by Sullivan’s Downtown, and the program starts at 8 p.m. Live music and an auction will be a part of the evening as well; tickets are $55.
  • Comedian James Gregory for two shows at 7 and 9 p.m. June 18; tickets are $27.

In addition, Claiborne mentioned that he’s hoping to bring Edwin McCain to the venue; we’ll see how that pans out. (Especially since McCain says on his own website he’ll be at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville on Friday, April 30. Maybe he’ll hit another East Tennessee venue while he’s in this area?)

Written by wildsmith

March 23rd, 2010 at 8:42 am