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2010 May at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for May, 2010

30 Amp Fuse: Back together again

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While scrolling through the website for Knoxville-boys-gone-big Superdrag, I came across this juicy nugget:

I know some of the Superdrag faithful and message board regulars have been waiting on this one for quite a while, so I’m very pleased to announce that 30 AMP FUSE is back! It’s ON! It’s going down Friday, July 9 at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville, TN. Openers and special guests TBA. The guys (Mike Smithers, John Davis and WARTHOG’s Joey Sanchez) will perform the classic Wind-Up record in order from start to finish. If you’re a 30 Amp fan… you might want to consider making a road trip for this one.”


Written by wildsmith

May 27th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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Jason and the Scorchers: Where there’s smoke, there’s still fire

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Addie Rose Ringenberg has no problem with her daddy putting on some overalls, a straw hat and singing songs about pigs and chickens.

Put an electric guitar in his hands and songs about moonshine guys in his mouth, however, and it’s a different story. And she made no bones about it when dad — Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers, performing this weekend at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville — told her he and his old friend and bandmate, guitarist Warner Hodges, were putting the band back together.

“She said, ‘Dad, don’t you think you’re a little old to be in a boy band?’” Ringenberg told The Daily Times this week with a laugh. “Daddy’s too old to be doing that — it’s just too weird for her mind. The Farmer Jason thing was fine, because it was for her little friends and their little sisters and brothers. She could get behind that. Daddy singing to little kids is cool. Daddy trying to rock like the Jonas Brothers — that’s a little embarrassing.”

Like it or not, the Scorchers are back and, on the new album “Halcyon Times,” better than ever. The band is on the cover of this week’s Daily Times Weekend section and detail the comeback and new CD. It wasn’t easy, Hodges said, especially breaking in bass player Al Collins, who stepped in to fill the shoes of the severely ill original bass player Perry Baggs.

“He had to learn a lot of songs — on top of the new record, he had to learn another 70 songs,” Hodges said. “Jason and I take it for granted because we’ve done it so long they just pop out of us. The new record is as much his and Pontus (Snibbs, the new drummer) as it ours, so that was no problem. But the old material I was a little worried about. But he’s a monster player.”

New members, however, mean hearing the old classics with new ears, Hodges added. The band has found renewed interest in some of the songs that had become stale over the years and even dusted off a few that hadn’t been played in years.

“We started playing ‘My Heart Still Stands With You’ off of ‘Still Standing,’ and that dates back to 1986,” Hodges said. “It’s wonderful, and we’ve really been tearing up ‘Help, There’s a Fire’ — that’s just a wonderfully fun song. And then we do the classics that we’ve always done — ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie,’ ‘Broken Whiskey Glass,’ ‘Last Time Around.’

“But it’s kind of a weird thing — they went back and learned the record versions, and for Jason and I, as long as we’ve been in the band, the songs have mutated. The punches from the studio were gone and changes had been made. There were a few songs I had to go back and listen to myself and relearn so I could play them with the guys.”

And while the new material doesn’t sound that different from the older stuff, it’s probably not considered as edgy as it was back in the mid-1980s, when the thought of blending country and punk made traditional country musicians and industry executives cross themselves. But that’s OK, Hodges added — it still sounds good, and that’s all that matters.

“When we first started out, besides the hardecore fans on the streets of Nashville, we were treated by the establishment like we had leprosy,” he said. “They didn’t know what to do with us. There was a punk rock scene in Nashville, but when we would go into other towns, people didn’t know whether they were supposed to beat us up or take us home and feed us, as Jason likes to say.

“And sometimes the reactions were literally that ridiculous. People just didn’t know what to expect. Now, I think we’d be pushed as a country band. We were so outside of the envelope in those days, but I don’t think we are now.”

Sarah Pirkle sets release date for solo CD

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All hail the Duchess of Barb Hollow! That’s how we affectionately refer to Sarah Pirkle, that honey-voiced, fiddle-playing sweetheart from Walland who’s been a fixture in the East Tennessee music scene for several years.

She’s performed with her husband, Jeff Barbra (”The Duke”) … with the Maid Rite String Band … with The Naughty Knots … and on any number of local recordings. However, she’s often done so at the expense of her own music, which is every bit as divine as her collaborations might suggest.

Finally, she’s putting out her first solo album — “Walking Tall Through High Weeds.” It’s set for release on July 9, the same day as the CD release show, which will be held at Music Row of Maryville, 2808 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. No word yet on a cover charge, but you can have a CD waiting for you at the door if you pre-order it on Sarah’s website through Paypal. Heck, for $20, you can even get your name in the credits.

Check out Jeff and Sarah’s Myspace page for a video of a performance of the title track.

Written by wildsmith

May 27th, 2010 at 8:47 am

Hector Qirko bids adieu to East Tennessee

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It’s ironic that a guy whose band recently won the title of Best Blues Band in Metro Pulse’s Best of Knoxville poll is doing something that’ll make a lot of local music fans blue — leaving town.

Hector Qirko, that guitar god who’s been a fixture in the local music scene as a member of the Lonesome Coyotes, as sideman to poet/singer-songwriter R.B. Morris and as frontman for the Hector Qirko Band — which would have celebrated 25 years together this summer — has accepted a position at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. As a former South Carolina resident, I can’t say that I blame him; few cities are more picturesque than Charleston. It may be my second-favorite city I’ve ever spent time in. (The first being Key West, Fla.) And when you consider that Hector makes his living as an anthropologist — he’s been with the University of Tennessee for years — it only makes more sense, given Charleston’s long and storied history.

Hector wrote to me tonight: “I’m headed to Charleston, S.C., to take a job as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the College of Charleston.  It’s a great school and department and a wonderful opportunity to do some full-time anthropology (my job at UT was great too, by the way, but part-time, and necessarily so because my degrees are from UT as well — they understandably don’t tend to hire their own). So I’m really looking forward to it.”

In the meantime, you should forget about the fact that parting is such sweet sorrow and make plans to be in attendance at a big ol’ bash coming up — a double-bill featuring R.B. Morris and the Coyotes at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 10, on the Old City Courtyard Stage (located behind Southbound Bar and Grill/adjacent to Barley’s Taproom). It’s only $5, and Hector will be pulling double duty with both outfits.


It’s his last show in town for a while, we’ve been told, and it leaves his various projects with giant shoes to fill. The Coyotes will probably try and soldier on without him, given they have several dates on the books (including one coming up in July at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend), and R.B. can probably find another guitar-slinger to back his own playing and singing … but the HQ Band may well have to significantly scale back its appearances when Hector’s able to make it back — if they play at all. On his own website, Hector comments on the Metro Pulse win by stating, “This one means a lot to us, because HQ has taken a job in Charleston, S.C., and it’s a very nice way to go out.”

And, he added to me, don’t count him out of the local scene altogether: “It’s not so far from K-town that I won’t be able to look in on, and hopefully play with, my old friends from time to time.”

Best of luck, Hector. You’re a helluva good dude and will be missed. For old time’s sake, here’s my 2008 review of his band’s album, “Old School.”


Written by wildsmith

May 25th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Summer concerts at Biltmore

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That palatial estate just outside of Asheville, N.C. — Bilmore — will kick off its 2010 concert series on June 4. The lineup is pretty good:

  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, performing June 4 at Diana at Biltmore.
  • The Original Drifters, performing June 11 at Diana at Biltmore.
  • Brandon Heath, performing July 16 at Diana at Biltmore as part of the Faith Renewed Celebration Weekend.
  • Gaither Vocal Band, performing July 17 on the South Terrace as part of the Faith Renewed Celebration Weekend.
  • An Evening with Mary Chapin Carpenter, July 22 on the South Terrace.
  • Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, performing July 23 on the South Terrace.
  • An Evening with Steve Miller Band, July 29 on the South Terrace.
  • The Legendary Temptations, performing July 30 on the South Terrace.
  • Christopher Cross, performing Sept. 24 at Diana at Biltmore.
  • Kathy Mattea, performing Oct. 1 at Diana at Biltmore.

A variety of ticket, dining and accommodations packages are available for all of the concerts.  Tickets do not include or require estate admission. Performers and dates are subject to change. Biltmore Twelve-Month Passholders receive a discount on general admission and reserved seating. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.biltmoreconcerts.com or call 866-336-1255.

Written by wildsmith

May 24th, 2010 at 9:26 am

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Mountain musician has local connection

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From a recent press release:

“The Good Old-Fashioned Way” is the first Hamper McBee release in over thirty years, and his first-ever CD release. (The rare Rounder Records LP that first featured a number of these recordings fetches plenty dough.) This expansion features Charles K. Wolfe’s original liner notes.

“The late Hamper McBee was a moonshiner, carnival barker, and ballad singer of legendary proportions. First ‘discovered”” and recorded by folklorist and performer (and Knoxville resident) Guy Carawan in 1964, Hamper’s prodigious talentand personality won him admirers not only in his native Smoky Mountains but throughout the folk music world, where his wholly unique approach told-time ballads and lyric songs struck like revelations. He drew from both the oral tradition and from records — he especially loved Bradley Kincaid,Vernon Dalhart, and, surprisingly, Burl Ives — to create a repertoire entirely his own, and that he sung in a warm, powerful voice seasoned by prodigious quantities of cigarettes, booze, and joie de vivre. Recorded by renowned country music scholar Charles K. Wolfe and filmmaker Sol Korine at Hamper’s home in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1977, ‘The Good Old-Fashioned Way’ compiles the best of McBee’s traditional ballads, affecting original compositions, and outlandish, side-splitting stories of life on the carnival circuit, at the moonshine still, in the back of Sheriff Bill Malone’s patrol car, and as Hamper McBee. You’ve never met anyone like him before. You’ll be glad you did.

“In 1978, Director Harmony Korine’s father Sol Korine shot a film about Hamper called ‘Raw Mash.’ Sol spent six months in the Tennessee mountains with Hamper McBee and says that McBee drank 24 cans of beer a day and never got drunk. The film captures Hamper making his legendary moonshine in the woods (that did get him drunk). Sol tells me “These were the characters my son (Harmony Korine) grew up with.”

You can watch a clip from “Raw Mash” here

Written by wildsmith

May 24th, 2010 at 8:39 am

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The Drunk Uncles: Adventures in Music City

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Nashville may not be ready for the likes of The Drunk Uncles, given that city’s proclivity for pretty-boy country-pop and doe-eyed teen waifs who sing songs about getting their little prepubescent hearts broken. But the Uncles went anyway, Jeff Barbra told me this weekend:

“The Uncs just got in from a Nashville run. We did the WSM ‘Music City Roots’ show at the Loveless Cafe on Wednesday night, which is hosted by Jim Lauderdale and announced by Eddie Stubbs. We, apparently, went over big. They want us back on a big time slot.”

No doubt. Here’s an excerpt from a write-up on the Uncles’ performance:

The Drunk Uncles! They need at least one exclamation point. Six guys with plenty of beards and good humor, the Uncles hail from East Tennessee where genuine country music still reins supreme. They brought the full Telecaster, pedal steel and fiddle contingent and the full-on cactus/rhinestone shirts, along with some big bold singing and a slow waltz tribute to their hero Vern Gosdin. “If I drink too much beer, before I get out of here,” sang Uncle Jeff, “It’s not my fault, just blame it on Vern.” And then that’s when they brought out Larry Cordle. He’s the kind of cat you almost have to move to Nashville to know about and appreciate. Revered as a bluegrass songwriter and singer, he had his biggest moment in the national spotlight a few years ago when George Strait and Alan Jackson had a hit with his song “Murder on Music Row” and the dang thing won CMA Song of The Year, a surreal triumph of irony if there ever was one. And of course, that’s what they sang last night. Thanks for visiting Cord. Please come back and sing for us again.

The next day, the guys did the “Coffee with Cody” show, featuring host Bill Cody, and apparently were well-received there, too. And the cool part? Barbra writes, “WSM has had to move their offices/studio out of the Opry Hotel, due to flooding of course, and put together a makeshift studio in the original broadcast tower building that was built back in 1932. The Drunk Uncles were the first band EVER to  perform a LIVE broadcast out of that orginal WSM building … pretty damn cool.”

Congrats on making some history, fellas.

Check out the Uncles online. You can catch the Uncles locally next on June 5 at World’s Fair Park, when the band performs as part of the Smoky Mountain Blast. Here are a couple of tunes the Uncles have been so gracious in allowing us to share:

The Drunk Uncles, “Drunk Talkin’”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Drunk Uncles, “The Man I Couldn’t Be”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

Written by wildsmith

May 24th, 2010 at 8:10 am

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Flood of Love benefit set for Sunday at Vernon’s

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Just saw the weather forecast for the weekend, and Sunday looks to be a gorgeous day. Highs in the low 80s, only a 20 percent chance of showers … which means you can’t use the skies as an excuse not to go to the “Flood of Love” benefit taking place from 2:30-6:30 p.m. at Vernon’s Grill, 9670 Countryside Center Lane in West Knoxville.

It’s being put on by some Farragut High School alumni to help out some classmates who lost everything during the recent deluge that did so much damage in the Nashville area — Michelle Spampinato Anderson, Sharon Walker Calvert and Jason White.

According to the website: “Music will be provided by Tall Paul, Michael Crawley, Frankenfoot, David Helton, Doug Shock, Jason Ellis, Tod Sheley, Chris Youngblood, Logan Murrell and other guests. This family-friendly event will have face painting and a kid zone complete with a sno-cone machine, cotton candy, inflatable basketball hoop game, bounce house, slide and small climbing area courtesy of Ultimate Mega Parties. Delicious food provided by Sandbars Coastal Cooks.

“Auction items include Bruce Pearl autographed basketballs, opportunities to meet Coach Pearl and Coach Dooley, lunch at the UT Training table and tour of the sports facilities for six (6) people, multiple pairs of tickets to see the Atlanta Braves and Tennessee Titans, a pair of 50 yard line tickets to see the Vols – complete with parking pass next to Neyland Stadium, various sports memorabilia items, spa packages, gift card packages, resort packages, restaurant gift certificates and even a beautiful white dogwood tree. FHS alumnus and ‘Reno 911‘ creator Ben Garant has graciously donated a leather jacket worn by his character Deputy Travis Junior — complete with signatures from the ‘Reno 911′ cast.”

It’s free to attend; show up and have some fun.

Written by wildsmith

May 21st, 2010 at 6:27 am

Brann Dailor of Mastodon chooses his words carefully

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Had a great interview with Brann Dailor, drummer for the Atlanta metal band Mastodon, last week. The band performs at 7 p.m. Friday, May 21, with Baroness, Valient Thorr and Between the Buried and Me.

We’ll be putting that full interview up on The Daily Times Weekend site in a few, in which Dailor talks about the group’s most recent album, “Crack the Skye,” and the story beneath the Byzantine tale of a paralyzed boy and his astral projection adventures. It’s also about the suicide of Dailor’s sister, Skye, who killed herself when she was a teen. It’s had a lifelong impact on Dailor, obviously, and in discussing it in the context of this record, he’s had to choose his words carefully, he told me.

“My only regret with it was there were some interviews that came out where I maybe said too much about the situation and maybe embarrassed some family members, and that wasn’t what I wanted to do at all,” Dailor told me. “I think they’ve forgiven me; I just wish that I could have had a couple of sentences back. So now I just watch myself and what I say.”

His family, he added, will be attendance at Friday night’s show — some of them, anyway, including his father and his grandmother, who’s never seen him play. No doubt, he said, his success with Mastodon is something they view with pride.

“My whole family’s been super-supportive and proud of me,” he said. “I think they kind of can’t even believe I’m a success. I mean, I dropped out of high school, and I think after my sister died and we had some home problems, I don’t know what anyone expected me to do.

“They weren’t like, ‘He’s going to be super successful’; I mean, they all wanted the world for me. But it’s hard for people to rebound from stuff like that, when your life is in peril at such a young age. So I think they couldn’t be more proud of what I’m doing now.”

Written by wildsmith

May 20th, 2010 at 9:14 am

Relay For Life comes with some live music this year

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The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life takes place this weekend on the Maryville College campus, and with the event is a chance for you to (a) get involved in a worthy cause and (b) see some great live music.

According to the national website, “The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.”

The Blount County chapter will kick things off on the Maryville College campus, and to entertain the Relayers, organizers have booked some live music for the event. Here’s this weekend’s schedule:


  • 4:30 p.m.: gospel artist Dave Seratt
  • 7 p.m.: soul/R&B band Smooth Groove


  • 11 a.m.: Pistol Creek Catch of the Day
  • 1:15 p.m.: country artist Laurel Wright

According to a statement from organizers, “These performers are generously lending their talents to support the efforts to fight cancer and celebrate and remember those who have battled it.”

This year’s Relay runs from 3 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Check out the Blount County chapter’s Facebook page.

Written by wildsmith

May 19th, 2010 at 4:42 pm