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2011 May at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for May, 2011

Music for kids on WDVX

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One of the nicest, hippest and most talented dudes in the East Tennessee scene is Sean McCollough, of both The LoneTones and the John Myers Band (and, on occasion, Evergreen Street). We wrote about him last year when he released an album for children, “This Is Our House,” and now he’s heading up a new program on local grassroots radio station WDVX-FM, 89.9 or 102.9. Here’s the press release:

Knoxville, TN- WDVX and the multi-talented Sean McCollough are teaming up for a weekly radio show, “Kidstuff,” premiering at 9 p.m. Saturday June 4 on WDVX. “Kidstuff” will be a show full of high-quality music geared the young and the young at heart. The show will present a mixture of live and recorded music and will eventually include a live audience once a month. Listeners will hear traditional music and original music from a variety of genres, cultures, and even music performed by kids themselves. Kidstuff will be both fun and educational.

“When WDVX approached me about doing a show aimed at kids, it seemed like a perfect fit. I have been performing for kids for nearly two decades, so creating programming aimed at a young audience is right up my alley,” said Sean McCollough. “Over the fourteen year history of WDVX I have always noticed how kids respond to music. ‘Kidstuff’ is the evolution of what we have been doing for a while with WDVX, especially the Blue Plate Special and presenting live music”

“We are so happy to have Sean McCollough as a host and Knoxville and East Tennessee as a home to launch this new program. We hope it reaches the kid in you,” said Program Director Tony Lawson.

Written by wildsmith

May 26th, 2011 at 7:27 am

Wanda Jackson on Jack White

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Rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson, performing at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville on May 27, knows her superstars.

After all, she once dated Elvis Presley, she recalled in an interview with The Daily Times Weekend section last year:

“I was right there working with him when all of this great stuff started to happen, so I was excited to be around him,” she said. “It impressed me. You have to remember, I was a teenager, and this was the music the teenagers loved. I loved it too, and I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to work with him, because he was causing such a stir.

“Sometimes Elvis and I would get to go out by ourselves and just have a bite to eat and drive around and talk, or maybe take in a matinee movie. That’s what I had to call dating him, even though when we lived in different states, so when I was at home, that was hard. But I still have his ring that he gave me, so we were officially dating.”

So when she says there’s only one contemporary rock star who could stand up to the King, you best take her word for it. And really, is it any wonder that one is Jack White — he of The White Stripes/The Dead Weather/The Raconteurs and producer of her most recent album, “The Party Ain’t Over”?

“The only one who stands up to Jack would be Elvis, and Elvis wasn’t that big a star when I was working with him. He was becoming that, but when I started, in 1955 up until his early movie career starting in ‘57, he was only doing select tours,” Jackson told us during a recent phone interview. “Jack has brought that same kind of excitement back for me. I even tell my audiences that I see a lot of resemblance in Jack and Elvis, just in their mannerisms, their ways of thinking, their love of life and enthusiasm for things, their focus.

“Elvis was very focused; he knew exactly what he was doing and understood what he was creating. He loved it at the time, but it kind of got out of hand for him. And Jack knows, too — but he has a handle on balance, and a wonderful little family, including a wife and two adorable children who he loves dearly. I’m glad he seems so well balanced where Elvis was so much younger and didn’t get that opportunity.”

Written by wildsmith

May 25th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

REVIEW: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers — May 24, 2011 at The Tennessee Theatre

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20100910-001-MountainSongSteve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, at the Fifth Annual Mountain Song Festival in Brevard, N.C.; September 2010. Courtesy of www.steepcanyon.com

Playing for two hours and receiving three standing ovations, well-known comedian and banjo player extraordinaire Steve Martin was more than a huge hit Tuesday night. He wowed a packed-out crowd at The Tennessee Theatre, performing all of his own music and showcasing the remarkable talents of the Steep Canyon Rangers.

“I know this is strange,” he told the crowd. He compared his banjo tour to waking up and discovering that Jerry Seinfeld had just embarked on a bassoon tour.  “That’s a must-see,” he chided.

Martin played tunes from both of his albums (“Rare Bird Alert,” a joint effort with the Rangers, and “The Crow”), including “Daddy Played the Banjo,” “Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back,” “The Crow,”  “Rare Bird Alert,” “Yellow-Backed Fly” and “Jubilation Day.” He switched out playing four different banjos and left the stage briefly to allow the Rangers to spill out all of their brilliancy.

This seasoned entertainer and Grammy winner kept the audience engaged the entire two hours, drifting back and forth between the humor he is known for and the bigger-than-life talent on the  banjo some are only discovering. He has been playing the instrument since the age of 16. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were early influencers.

The repertoire on Tuesday night was a mix of bone-tickling fun with the offering of “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs” and one number about Martin’s own dog, Wally, called “Wally on the Run.” One song Martin wrote from the viewpoint of Paul Revere’s horse, entitled “Me and Paul Revere,” will be performed by Martin at the Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C. He gave Knoxvillians a taste on Tuesday night.

The Steep Canyon Rangers received their most rousing applause for the a cappella rendition of “I Can’t Sit Down.” At one point in the performance Martin told the audience, “I am doing two of my favorite things — stand-up comedy and charging people for music.”

Those there to see if Martin still had it comedically weren’t disappointed. Those who were there to see if this comedian could really tease the banjo strings shook their heads in amazement. In the encore, Martin and the Rangers played a couple of teasers before bringing down the house with their magical take on “Orange Blossom Special.” And the audience refused to leave without hearing Martin’s best “King Tut,” bluegrass style.

He left everyone wanting more.

— Melanie Tucker, The Daily Times

Written by wildsmith

May 25th, 2011 at 5:47 am

Donna the Buffalo to headline Meadow Lark Music Festival at Ijams

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45283-250More summer festival coolness, courtesy of WDVX-FM and Ijams Nature Center. Here’s the full press release:

Two of Knoxville’s nationally renowned non-profit organizations, WDVX Radio and Ijams Nature Center,  have joined forces to create the Meadow Lark Music FestivalIn Tune With Nature, from 1-10 p.m. Saturday, June 18. The inaugural event will host the widely popular roots band Donna the Buffalo, famed for igniting a herd of fans with their rootsy, rocking style.  The festival lineup also features The Hackensaw Boys, Phil Pollard and the Band of Humans, Valley Young, Spirit Family Reunion and other locally popular bands in a full day of performances in the meadow of Ijams Nature Center.  The event is being supported by individuals and companies, including New Belgium Brewing known for its philosophy of environmental stewardship.

“Ijams meadow is a beautiful setting and a great listening space so having a roots music festival there will give people a wonderful music experience,” said WDVX General Manager Linda Billman. “Donna The Buffalo is known for its eclectic and often socially conscious music, so DTB is a perfect band for the festival’s debut and for launching the Ijams and WDVX partnership,” according to Ijams Executive Director Paul James.

Advance tickets to the festival are $20 and available at BrownPaperTickets.com.  A limited number of VIP tickets, which include special seating and hospitality are available for $75 each. The Meadow Lark music festival will include art and craft vendors, children’s activities, educational displays, and food vendors. Other founding sponsors of Meadow Lark include Elizabeth Eason Architecture, LLC, Three Rivers Market, knoxmusictoday.com, Tomato Head, and WBIR-TV.  Employees of Green Mountain Roasters are festival volunteers.

Ijams is located at 2915 Island Home Ave. in South Knoxville. For more information, visit the center’s website or WDVX online.

The everybodyfields reunite for Bristol Rhythm & Roots performance

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Thanks to “Ramblin’” Randall Brown and his fine blog, I was alerted to a partcularly delightful reunion taking place in September at the 2011 Bristol & Roots Festival — Americana darlings the everybodyfields will be reuniting for a one-off show.

The band got its start in the Tri Cities area (after founders Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews met as counselors here in Blount County at Camp Wesley Woods several years ago), and after the band split in 2009, both went on to pursue solo careers. After releasing an EP in 2009, Andrews is preparing for a June release date for her first solo full-length, “The Mirror,” and she’s scheduled a CD release show at Relix Variety Theatre for Friday, July 8. Quinn, who plays with his new band Japan Ten, released his solo album “The Fake That Sunk a Thousand Ships” last year. The two relocated to East Tennessee after the everybodyfields released 2007’s “Nothing Is OK,” and they’ve considered this area home ever since.

I talked to Jill this morning, and she said that it seemed fitting for the band to reunite for a one-time-only occasion at a festival that means a great deal to them both.

“Basically, we were just asked to do it,” she said. “We haven’t played together in a really long time, formally at least. And it just seemed like a good time to get together. Rhythm & Roots is one of our favorite festivals, because it really brought us up from baby musicians to real musicians, so it seemed like an appropriate time to do this.”

And while fans of the band, who were in the process of recording a follow-up to “Nothing Is OK” when the members broke up in early 2009, are hoping for something permanent, Andrews is quick to point out that probably ain’t gonna happen.

“It’s definitely prompting a lot of, ‘Are you guys getting back together?,’ but I’m very focused on my solo career at this point, and I think Sam is, too,” she said.

Andrews hits the road next month with J.D. Souther. Quinn can be seen next on Thursday, May 26, performing with his local “super group” King Super and the Excellents at The Square Room, part of the International Biscuit Festival. The Rhythm & Roots show, Andrews, added, will feature the rest of the band as well — Blount County’s Josh Oliver on keys (a Blount County boy preparing for his new solo album) and Tom Pryor and Jamie Cook, now of The Black Lillies, on pedal steel and drums, respectively.

Written by wildsmith

May 20th, 2011 at 7:55 am

Black Lillies headed to the Opry stage

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June looks to be a busy month for The Black Lillies, but front man Cruz Contreras didn’t hesitate when band manager Chyna Brackeen inquired if he wanted to squeeze in one more gig.

“I think we’re doing some sort of taping before, and we play a wedding in Pennsylvania the next day, so she said, ‘I don’t know if you have time to do this gig, but would you like to play the Grand Ole Opry?’” Contreras told me today.

The answer, obviously, was an enthusiastic yes — and so the band is slated to perform on the Opry stage in Nashville on Friday, June 17. It’s the latest feather in the cap of the band, which returns to a local stage on Saturday, May 28, when the Lillies perform at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville with Americana chanteuse Tift Merritt. (Tickets to that show are $25.)

“I know that WSM-AM 650 has been really supporting the band,” Contreras said. “They played ‘Whiskey Angel’ and they’ve been playing the new record (”100 Miles of Wreckage”), so I think that connection has probably been how we got put on that radar. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to happen this quick.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, however — ever since “Wreckage” was released in January, the Lillies have been on an uphill climb. It currently sits at No. 11 on the Americana radio charts; video director David McLister, who’s worked with Lady Antebellum, Leann Rimes and Dierks Bentley, will be filming a video for the song “Two Hearts Down” in June in Nashville as well. And on June 10, the band will perform at the Country Music Association’s Festival & Fan Fair.

If you’re in Nashville on the 17th and want to see the band perform at the Opry, tickets are $28.50 to $55; call 1-800-733-6779 for more information. Although Contreras says it’s a “big, big deal,” it’s not the first time he’s been on the Opry stage — he played there once before as the bandleader of his ex-wife’s former project, Robinella and the CCstringband, back in 2003 or ‘04.

“It’s definitely the ultimate stage for any country musician,” he said.

Written by wildsmith

May 18th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Clayton Center books “Friday Nights Live” concert series

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Old Time duo Boogertown Gap will be one of this season’s “Friday Nights Live” performers.

Last summer, while the Maryville College campus stood mostly empty, the staff at the Clayton Center for the Arts decided to serve up some weekly entertainment for the community at large.

“Last year, we had gospel, jazz, rockabilly, a Native American flute player — just really good stuff,” center Director Robert Hutchens told us back in the winter, when he announced that the “Friday Nights Live” series would return to the Clayton Center this summer. Well, the lineup has been posted on the Clayton Center’s website, and it’s quite the attractive offering of stellar music:

  • July 1: Bill Swann Trio (jazz)
  • July 8: Boogertown Gap (Old Time)
  • July 15: R.B. Morris (singer-songwriter)
  • July 22: 3CD (rock)
  • July 29: Ben Bolt (guitar)
  • Aug. 5: Pistol Creek Catch of the Day (folk/bluegrass/general craziness)
  • Aug. 12: Will Tate and 6ix Mile Express (bluegrass)
  • Aug. 19: Barry Roseman and Friends (jazz)
  • Aug. 26: Ensemble Swing Time Band (Big Band)

All performances take place at 7 p.m. in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Admission is $10. Start spreading the word, because it’s gonna be some great music.

“We want folks to think, ‘Hey, it’s Friday night — let’s see what is going on at the Clayton Center,” writes Marketing Director Cheri Compton.

Written by wildsmith

May 16th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

DevilDriver metal dude expresses admiration for Dolly

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Dez Fafara

One of the things I love about this job is the fact that musicians constantly surprise me.

Like a lot of rock writers, I’d heard of DevilDriver, a band I interviewed for the May 5 Daily Times Weekend entertainment section. Although they recoil at the label, the metal those dudes lay down is definitely melodic in a way that some of what’s out there these days is not. It’s been tagged as “groove metal,” sounds like it has some thrash elements, and the front man I talked to — Dez Fafara — is a tattooed maniac who talks about pouring all of his pain and anger into the music.

Which made it a little surprising when, during our phone interview this week, he expressed admiration for East Tennessee native and country diva Dolly Parton, especially when it comes to songwriting.

“I’m really good friends with Danny Nozell (Parton’s manager and president of Dolly Records), and he told me that she gets up every day, writes one tune, records it and sticks it in the vault,” Fafara said. “I’m really coming up on that kind of thing, because when you’ve got books and books and books of lyrics that’ll never be put to music, it becomes a natural resource.”

Dolly? Really?

“Any artist — country, rock, whatever — who’s been around that long is obviously an inspiration to someone like myself,” he replied.

These days, the guys are breaking in a new bass player after founding member Jon Miller went to rehab a few months back and decided to leave the band to focus on his recovery. Losing him, Fafara said, wasa wake-up call.

“This band parties harder than most bands, but we’re on a different level now,” he said. “A lot of us put ourselves in check after Jon left. He was the one who couldn’t conquer his demons, but the rest of us are not drinking a bottle of moonshine every night. We know when it’s time to party and when it’s not.”

That said, he hastened to add about the band’s upcoming May 12 show at The Valarium in Knoxville (with DownSlave, Scent of Remains and His Name Was Yesterday): “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want fans to not bring any moonshine for us to try!”

Written by wildsmith

May 4th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Whitechapel guitarist Alex Wade sets the record straight about ‘arrest’ in Germany

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The website Noisecreep reported it first, and since the boys in Whitechapel are East Tennesseans, it wasn’t long until Knoxville’s alternative weekly Metro Pulse picked up the news: The guys had been arrested and fined in Germany after destroying a motel room.

The story has it all — rock ‘n’ roll, debauchery, excess, clashes with the law. As it was put out there, Whitechapel guitarist (and one of three Blount Countians in the band) Alex Wade told me this afternoon, it’s an awesome story. Problem is, it’s just not true.

Yes, the cops were called when a couple of drinks led to a fire extinguisher mishap. Yes, it was a debacle, since the cops didn’t speak English very well and the band’s tour manager had to translate and settle the situation. And yes, hotel management probably weren’t saddened to see the guys move on to the next tour stop in Amsterdam with The Acacia Strain. But that’s about all there was to it, Wade said.

“Basically, the story is slight true but fabricated to be way bigger than it was to make a better story,” Wade said. “No one got arrested or ‘detained.’ While it’s slightly humorous and a good ‘tour story,’ I don’t want our band to be seen in that light, you know? We aren’t Motley Crue back in the day; I don’t want people thinking we’re disrespectful party animals.”

Indeed, their mamas — who are proud of their boys — would likely snatch them up by the ears if they thought otherwise.

The band is currently on a break from the road before getting back to it on the “Summer Slaughter Tour” with The Black Dahlia Murder.

Written by wildsmith

May 3rd, 2011 at 2:26 pm

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Jill Andrews announces tour dates to support ‘The Mirror’

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Back in March, we told you about the forthcoming full-length by East Tennessee chanteuse Jill Andrews, formerly of the everybodyfields.

Since that time, a couple of things have happened. (Don’t worry; that June 7 release date is still a go.) First, I had the pleasure of seeing her set at the Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival at the beginning of April, and it was mind-boggling in its beauty. I’m talking about the kind of awe that leaves you yearning for another song, another set, a lifetime with this woman singing these songs from that stage, over and over again. The new songs are bold and without restraint, in a way that Jill’s never accomplished before. As good as her work was with Sam Quinn … as good as her solo EP was … she’s thrown caution to the wind on this new batch of music and given over to the unrestrained abandon of a woman desperate to make her voice heard. When she lingers on those long notes, the cords in her neck thrumming with every octave, she and her music are things of exquisite ache and sorrow and hope and pain and loss and regret. She sings the feelings of a graveyard full of hearts on these songs, and I can’t wait to hear them.

Secondly … a press release from Big Hassle Publicity last week announced that she’ll head out on a month-long North American tour in direct support for acclaimed singer, songwriter and musician J.D. Souther, starting June 12 in Carrboro, N.C. That’s only five days after “The Mirror” comes out on Thirty Tigers; it was recorded, incidentally, with Scott Solter (Superchunk, The Crooked Jades) in North Carolina and Neilson Hubbard (Glen Phillips, Matthew Perryman Jones) in Nashville. The title track is headed for radio this month, and she’s at work on a video for it, according to Big Hassle.

No word yet on when she’ll play an East Tennessee release show for “The Mirror.” Here’s her list of complete dates:

May 28 – Brevard, NC – White Squirrel Fest
June 2 – Chattanooga, TN – Rhythm and Brews
June 3 – Bristol, TN – Border Bash
June 4 – Johnson City, TN – Blue Plum Festival
June 9  – St. Louis, MO – Twangfest
(June 12-31 Dates with JD Souther)
June 12 – Carrboro, NC – The Art Center
June 13 – Charlotte ,NC- The Blumenthal PAC
June 16 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub
June 17 – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theatre
June 18 – Montclair, NJ – Outpost in the Burbs
June 21 – Philly, PA – The World Café Live
June 23 – Norfolk, CT – Nancy Marine Studio Theatre
June 24 – Boston, MA – Johnny D’s
June 27 – Detroit – The Ark – C
June 28 – Cleveland, OH- Nite Town
June 29 – Cleveland, OH – Nite Town
June 31 – Evanston, IL – Space
September 16-18 – Bristol – Rhythm and Roots

Written by wildsmith

May 3rd, 2011 at 8:29 am

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