Archive for June, 2011
We’ve added some new .mp3s, free for you to download, to our library over the past month or so. Every so often, I like to put them together in one place as a local music library, if you will. Here’s what we have in total:
The New Vernacular, “Soup Kitchen”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The New Vernacular, “Welcome to the Line”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The New Vernacular on Facebook: click here
Joe the Show, “Welcome Goodbye”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Joe the Show, “Home”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Joe the Show online: click here
Homemade Wine, “Her Kiss”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Homemade Wine, “Sweet Adele”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Homemade Wine online: click here
Homemade Wine merchandise: click here
Marvels of Peru, “It Doesn’t Matter”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Marvels of Peru, “Too Much Too Fast”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Marvels of Peru on Bandcamp: Click here
Kelsey’s Woods, “Santa Fe”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Kelsey’s Woods: “Long Road to Heaven”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Kelsey’s Woods online: Click here
The Moonshine Cherrys, “Grey Skies Ohio”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Moonshine Cherrys, “Road Dog”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Moonshine Cherrys, “Luv Truck”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Moonshine Cherrys online: click here
Buy Moonshine Cherrys music: click here
Will Tate and 6ix Mile Express, “Angeline the Baker”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Will Tate and 6ix Mile Express, “Ernest T. Grass”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
6ix Mile Express on Myspace: click here
Big Trouble, “Prophecy”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Big Trouble, “Black Widow”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Big Trouble, “Freedom”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Big Trouble on Myspace: click here
Buy Big Trouble music: click here
On My Honor, “The Pan Song”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
On My Honor, “Who Wet My Mogwai?”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
On My Honor on Facebook: click here
Buy On My Honor merchandise: click here
Scott Miller, “Appalachian Refugee”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Scott Miller, “Joyful, Joyful”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Scott Miller online: click here
Buy Scott Miller’s CDs: click here
John Myers, “Highway Rider”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
John Myers, “Liza Jane”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
John Myers on Myspace: click here
R.B. Morris, “Amsterdam”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Plato’s Perfect World”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Spy in My Brain”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Empire”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
R.B. Morris, “City”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy albums by R.B. Morris (including his most recent, “Spies Lies and Burning Eyes”): Click here
Angel Zuniga Martinez, “Definitely Love”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Angel Zuniga Martinez, “The Man”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Angel Zuniga Martinez online: Click here
Kata and the Blaze, “Lie to Me”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Kata and the Blaze, “Wanted 2″: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Kata Hay online: Click here
Buy music from Kata Hay, from her solo work to material with The Blaze: Click here
Hollywood, “Get It Gyrl”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Hollywood, “Kool-Aid”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Hollywood on Myspace: Click here
Skyfall, “Everything to Me”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Skyfall, “Bliss”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Skyfall, “A Breath Away”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Skyfall, “Then It’s Settled”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Skyfall online: Click here
Senryu, “Halfwild Boys”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Senryu, “Jericho Ruins Everything”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Senryu, “Inklings”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Senryu, “Papillon”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Senryu, “Hometown Bounce”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Help yourself to most of Senryu’s catalog (for free!): Senryu’s Band Camp site
Pegasi51, “Time Slows Down”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Pegasi51, “Take a Seat in the Back”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Pegasi51 online: Click here
Cain and Annabelle, “Side Porch Swing”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Cain and Annabelle, “Sycamore Tree”: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “The Lake Takes,” by Cain and Annabelle: Click here
Against the Opposition, “Pursue the Enemy”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
The Black Lillies, “Midnight”: Right click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
The Black Lillies, “Two Hearts Down”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
The Black Lillies online: Click here
Buy Black Lillies music and merchandise: Click here
The Dirty Guv’nahs, “Wide Awake”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Dirty Guv’nahs, “We’ll Be The Light”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Dirty Guv’nahs, “Saguaro”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
The Dirty Guv’nahs, “Brown Little Bird”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy “Youth Is in Our Blood,” the band’s new album, and other Dirty Guv’nahs merchandise: Click here
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”)
The Drunk Uncles online: Click here
Buy “Smashed Hits,” by The Drunk Uncles: Click here
Mic Harrison and The High Score, “Jellico”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Mic Harrison and The High Score, “Long Time”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Mic Harrison and The High Score, “Never Gonna Drink Again”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Mic Harrison, “Christmas Time at the Dixie Lounge”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy albums by Mic Harrison, from his solo work to his collaborations with The High Score: click here
Melungeons, “Blackwater Swamp” (live): Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Melungeons, “Blackwater Swamp” (studio version, 2010): right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Melungeons online/purchase “Blackwater Swamp”: click here
Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir, “The Mountain”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir online: Click here
Buy Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir merchandise: Click here
Teenage Love13, “Fun Religion”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Teenage Love 13, “Someday”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Teenage Love13 online: Click here
Tim Lee 3, “Chuck Berry in Space”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Tim Lee 3 w/Amy Ray (of the Indigo Girls), “Cortez the Killer” (live from The Earl in Atlanta): Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Tim Lee 3, “Dig It Up”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Tim Lee 3 online: Click here
Buy music by the Tim Lee 3: Click here
Free music by regional/national artists!
Snowglobe, “Kanaka Rapids”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Snowglobe, “Happy”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy Snowglobe music: click here
“Barstool,” by Chris Berardo and The DesBerardos: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“The One,” by Chris Berardo and The DesBerardos: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“So Good So Far,” by Chris Berardo and The DesBerardos: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
The DesBerardos online: Click here
“Something to Believe In,” by Mark Wagner: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“Here for You,” by Mark Wagner: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Mark Wagner online: Click here
“Friday (Pay Day),” by Space Capone: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“I Just Wanna Dance,” by Space Capone: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Space Capone online: Click here
“Tupelo,” by Scissormen: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
“My Christmas Wish,” by Scissormen: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Scissormen online: Click here
In case you needed one more reason to head to Wilderness at the Smokies Resort for a summer getaway weekend … here it is, especially if you have pre-teen daughters prone to screaming, crying and fawning over their favorite musical idols.
You may not have heard of the duo Jenny & Ashley — yet. But chances are their visibility will increase nationally, and especially here in East Tennessee, now that the full might of the Disney machine is behind them.
The Wisconsin girls are being groomed as the latest teen sensations by the same folks that turned Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers into objects of child worship. The sisters — born Jenny and Ashley Cooke — have announced they’re shooting a music video at Wilderness at the Smokies, located in Sevierville, on Saturday night, July 16. And they want a crowd, which means fans who want to be a part of the shoot have an opportunity to get in for free.
Here’s the deal — if you want to take part, you need to do a couple of things.
First, find an old pair of shoes. (And by old, we don’t mean so beat-up they look like you were standing too close to a shotgun blast.) Second, take those shoes to Wilderness in the Smokies, where the first 500 people to do so will get a pass to take part in the photo shoot. Third, keep checking back on the website Ackermann Wire, when the announcement will be made that passes are available for exchange for those shoes. (Which, in case you’re wondering, will be given to Soles 4 Souls, a shoe recycling charity that gives shoes to people in need; it’s a favorite charity of the two teen singers.)
Come July 16, bring the pass you got in exchange for your shoes to the resort — which isn’t normally open to the general public — and you’re golden; not only that, you’ll receive a free day pass to return to Wilderness at the Smokies. If you’re coming for the video shoot, special parking will be provided. The shoot itself is expected to commence later on that evening.
Who are these girls, you ask? Jenny (15) and Ashley (13) are originally moved to Pleasanton, Calif. when they were in elementary school. The sisters discovered their talents early while performing in a number of theater productions and quickly made the move to acting and modeling. Jenny appeared as a model and cover girl for Kohl’s television and print advertising and also started acting. Ashley quickly caught the bug too, and modeled for both Levi’s and Kohl’s in television and print advertising. They followed their dreams to Los Angeles, where Jenny and Ashley work regularly with Disney, Nickelodeon and Fox Television.
“Jenny and Ashley also became known as accomplished musicians and songwriters in Los Angeles. Initially they were drawn to country music because of its storytelling style. Their demo songs caught the eye of music executives in Nashville and they were asked to record several songs on Nashville’s Music Row with the help of Tim McGraw and his producer Darran Smith. Their first single, ‘Indescribable,’ was co-written by Ashley and received national radio airplay. Their first EP, ‘Beach Weekend’ — which is an upbeat pop album – was just released on iTunes and Amazon and is a perfect fit for the music video that will be shot at Wilderness at the Smokies, the Southeast’s largest indoor/outdoor waterpark resort. Because of Jenny and Ashley’s relationship with the Jonas Group (a management company that works with the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato), and their working relationship with both Disney Studios and Nickelodeon, a television show featuring the sisters is currently in development and could begin airing as early as this fall.”
For the video shoot, the girls will be bringing their full band from Los Angeles, as well as a production team and director to manage the video shoot. (We’re proud to add that Rick Laney, a former Daily Times staff writer and now vice president of Knoxville’s Ackermann PR firm, will serve as production consultant for the project.) Those who plan on being a part of the shoot are asked to bring their bathing suits; although some people will be directed to be in the water, not everyone will get to be; some of the attractions will likely be closed. In other words, follow directions and listen to the production crew, if you manage to become a part of the project.
After the shoot, Wilderness at the Smokies will show its appreciation for your involvement by giving everyone in attendance a free wristband good for one entire day — from open to close — at the waterpark resort (to be used any time in the next two months). In addition, Jenny and Ashley will stick around after the concert to meet the special guests.
Here’s some welcome news from one of East Tennessee’s favorite adopted sons — singer-songwriter Scott Miller has a new song coming out July 12, but you can get a demo version of it right now, for free.
“Lo Siento, Spanishburg, W. Va.” is the first song from Miller since the release of “For Crying Out Loud” a couple of years back. That one came out on Miller’s own label, F.A.Y. Recordings, and the new song winds down with a refrain that makes good use of those initials. (We’ll let you listen to figure out what, exactly, F.A.Y. stands for.) It’s being billed as the first single from his forthcoming studio album, and Miller issued a statement through his PR company with the story behind it. It’s described as “a story of the Real Americana,” bringing light to Spanishburg, W. Va., a “beautiful little town on the banks of the Bluestone River that was named after Spanish Brown, one of its first inhabitants, whom settled on what is now known as the Miller Farm (no relation).”
“I’m a Virginian,” Miller writes. “The hardest thing for a Virginian to do (besides write a Declaration of Independence, found a nation or invent the Reaper) is to marry a West Virginian. Why? Because as soon as you say ‘I do’ you give up half your jokes … but I did marry a West Virginian. My wife is from the town of Athens, West Virginia in Mercer County. Up the road from Athens is the town of Spanishburg.
“Every time I’d pass by, I would start to envision what I thought it would be like there: Like the road attraction South of the Border in South Carolina with cheap Baja shirts and fireworks? Or maybe a quiet town with sleepy eyed señoritas and a kick ass Mexican restaurant! Turns out Spanishburg is a quaint little town not yet discovered by the land grabbing retirees of Northern Virginia (it’s only a matter time…). That is what is happening to the town where I grew up just across the border into Virginia: soon the people that grew up there won’t be able to afford to live there. It’s the way of the world, I guess. Poor folks build it, rich folks buy it.”
Download the F.A.Y. version of the song: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
In other news — Miller will do three shows with singer-songwriter Hayes Carll this month in Tampa, Atlanta and Wilmington, N.C. … and he’s working on a new segment for WDVX-FM called “This Americana Life,” which will feature Miller interviewing various Southern residents about the things they do that make this area so damn great. And while “Lo Siento” may well wind up on a new album, there’s a lot more writing to be done before it’s ready to go, he told me last week. In fact, he may end up releasing a series of digital singles several months apart before going back to the studio to cut a full-length.
“Why should I stress over raising money to make an album when I can put out the songs I’ve got and let them work for me?” he said.
Hey, remember back less than three months ago, when we told you about “Boom in the Park” Music Festival, the day of classic rock that was going to accompany the Labor Day BoomsDay fireworks show?
Remember? The one featuring Lou Gramm, formerly of Foreigner; John Elefante of Kansas; Bobby Kimball of Toto; Mickey Thomas and Starship; country musician Chuck Wicks, Columbia Nashville teen recording artist Jordyn Shellhart; and country songwriters Benita Hill, Kirsti Manna and Bernie Nelson? That was gonna be at World’s Fair Park?
Yeah. Ain’t gonna happen.
Hot off the wire:
Knoxville, Tenn. (June 21, 2011) – The Boom in the Park Music Festival scheduled for Sunday, September 4, 2011 has been postponed until September 2012 due to a change in concert promoters. Event organizers decided to push the Music Festival back one year to allow adequate time for a new promoter to book an exciting lineup for the 2012 festival.
“Boomsday is one of Knoxville’s signature events, and it is very important to continue to provide our community with a top-notch event year after year” said Kim Bumpas, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for KTSC. “With the change in concert promoters and the time constraints of booking musical artists, we felt it was important to postpone the event and debut Boom in the Park in 2012.”
The 24th annual Boomsday Festival will take place as planned on Sunday, September 4, kicking off at 1:00 p.m. on Neyland Drive and Volunteer Landing. Fireworks begin at approximately at 9:30 p.m. For event information and schedule visit www.boomsday.org.
For more information please contact Kim Davis at (865) 342-9119 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Royal Bangs: (from left) Sam Stratton, Ryan Schaefer, Chris Rusk
It took a while, but Knoxville indie rockers Royal Bangs are playing a local show at last.
Over the past year, the band has exploded nationally, releasing a new album (“Flux Outside”) on Glassnote Records, performing on “Late Night with David Letterman” and more. One thing they haven’t done, however, is play a show in their hometown. Not because they haven’t wanted to, drummer Chris Rusk told me today; it’s just been impossible to schedule one.
“We were gonna do a local show a couple of months ago, but it just didn’t work out,” he said. “The day we were scheduled to do it ended up being the day we traveled to New York to do ‘Letterman,’ and we just couldn’t pass that up.”
They tried to reschedule once, but then a European tour came up, and South By Southwest and … well, the list goes on. In case you haven’t figured it out, these guys are smoking-hot right now. Which means it’s probably a good thing that Friday night’s (June 24) show at The Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City, is sort of a last-minute affair, because no doubt the guys command a crowd right now that would push the venue’s front wall out into the middle of Jackson.
However, Rusk said, it wasn’t always that way. Which is why the guys were keen to make Friday’s show a fundraiser for the venue, meaning all proceeds go to owner Jason Boardman and his heroic efforts to provide an establishment for music you won’t hear anywhere else in town.
“That’s kind of where we started,” Rusk said. “They let us play there when we weren’t bringing anybody out (to shows). We’ve been playing together since high school, and we played so many shows there to no one, but they kept letting us come back. Besides that, it’s my favorite place to see shows. It’s really the only place in Knoxville where I can see the kind of music I like.”
The guys will be joining former Bangs bandmate Brandon Biondo’s (one of many) project, Walsh. Typical Pilot Light showtime is between 10 p.m. and God-knows-when. The cover, while not officially nailed down, should be around $5.
Next up for the band — the guys will host a four-night residency at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas from Thursday, June 30 thru Sunday, July 3, performing two shows each night.
Like many colorful characters to emerge from the Crescent City, Papa Mali — born Malcolm Welbourne — is something of a New Orleans legend.
He’ll perform in Maryville this weekend with his latest project, 7 Walkers (a group he founded with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann), and we interviewed him this week about that group and that show. As we started to hang up, he offered something fascinating — he’s actually a former resident of Knoxville.
He’s always been something of a wandering minstrel, ever since seeing The Meters perform when he was 12 set him on his guitar-playing path. That was in 1969, and by the time he was 17, he’d hit the road and “was hitchhiking around the south, playing guitar on the streets for passing change, playing in juke joints, forming short-lived bands or backing up blues and soul singers,” according to Wikipedia.
Around that time, he said, he came to Knoxville. The year was 1975, and he didn’t stay long.
“I was just there for a few months, because I went up there to join a band that was just kind of getting off the ground,” he said. “We were all living in this double-wide trailer, and this guy comes to the door one day, and I answer it. He asked if he could come in, and I said, ‘I dunno; who are you?,’ while he kept trying to look over my shoulder. And he said, ‘I’m the guy your bandmates stole this gear from.’ And I said, ‘You know, let me get back to you on that.’
“Apparently, these guys had stolen all of their equipment from this guy. I told them I didn’t want to be in a band with a bunch of thieves, so I left town the next day.”
The group didn’t even have a name yet, so no great loss. But that’s not the end of Papa Mali’s Knoxville tales. About a year later, he was hitchhiking around the country with his dog and a girlfriend when he fell on hard times — something “I was doing on purpose because I wanted to emulate my heroes and distance myself from my middle-class suburban roots,” he said with a chuckle. The trio landed back in Knoxville, and Papa Mali did some street-busking while making a home for himself in the long-gone, infamous Hotel Monday on the Cumberland Avenue “Strip” near the University of Tennessee campus.
Even back then, the rooming establishment had something of a reputation as a home to miscreants, artists, drag queens and more. It was located near Sam and Andy’s, stretched above the old Vol Market and is something Papa Mali remembers it well.
“There were winos and junkies passed out in the hallways, and I think it was $25 a week,” he said. “The room was basically a lightbulb hanging in the center of the room, a mattress on the floor and a sink, with a common shower area that was one of the most disgusting I’d ever seen. My girlfriend, she couldn’t handle it, and it was so bad I made her take the dog with her.
After about five months, I thought maybe I should get out of there. Then, one night, a guy in the upstairs apartment got murdered by his wife, and I heard the whole thing — the shot, him hitting the floor, everything. That’s when I said, ‘Yeah, it’s time, to go.’”
Next week, singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell will come to East Tennessee on the last leg of his “Chinaberry Sidewalks Tour,” promoting the memoir he released in January. We talked to him about that this week, and he mentioned that one of the memoir writers he most admired in determing how to craft his own was Mary Karr, author of “The Liars’ Club.”
As it turns out, he’s working on a new album with Carr, inspired by his work on “Chinaberry Sidewalks” and her own writing skills. It’s shaping up to be an all-star effort, Crowell told us.
“She and I wrote all the songs, and since she doesn’t sing we roped ladies like Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Norah Jones into taking the female narrative, while the male narrative will be taken by guys like Loudon Wainwright, Kris Kristofferson and myself,” he said. “It’s sort of a who’s-who of Americana superstars. We’re taking a song and making it a collaborative, cohesive piece where we sing and play with each other, and we’re not far from having it done.”
It’s no secret that Jeff Barbra is no fan of what’s considered mainstream country music these days.
He’s good buds with Larry Cordle, the man who wrote “Murder on Music Row,” about the death of traditional country music. His band, The Drunk Uncles, are standard bearers of the “Kill Nashville Pop” movement, a grassroots organization dedicated to bringing back “real” country music to Nashville. So it was with great joy when, roughly a year ago, he discovered a radio station right here in Blount County that made him grin.
“I grew up listening to this same old format,” Barbra told me of WKVL-AM 850, transmitting from a station that’s little more than a year old and located at 261 Gill St. in Alcoa. “It reminds me of the old WGAP from 30 years ago.”
The station was once owned by WIVK, who gave it to the University of Tennessee. UT sold it to local preacher J. Bazell Mull, who in turn sold it to Horne Radio. The current owners are Jim and Johnnie Sexton, former owners of Knox Air who share Barbra’s fondness for the country music of yesteryear. They discovered the station was for sale roughly 18 months ago and decided to pursue it.
“Jim’s retired from the airline business, and this little station came up for sale and was having transmitter problems,” Barbra said. “Jim’s the kind of guy who likes to tinker with things, and he loves country music. He aw this station as a way for him to go mess with the technical end of things and a way to put on traditional country music full time. So it’s a labor of love for him.”
Not long ago, Barbra was going over the state of the finances he and his wife, local music teacher and fiddler extraordinaire Sarah Pirkle, share in their Barb Hollow household. Playing music is a good gig if you can get it, obviously, but it doesn’t keep the lights on during lean times. He’d already been trumpeting the station’s old-school format, so he dropped Jim Sexton a line one night and got a reply the next afternoon. The two set up a meeting, and Barbra was brought on board to sell advertising and work the promotional angle for the fledgling outfit.
“I’m coming from a different perspective, from a musician’s standpoint, and I explained to those guys how many younger folks are listening to this station,” Barbra said. “They’ve gotten a lot of feedback from older folks, but there are a lot of younger folks tuning in. The only alternatives are the bigger stations playing the new country-pop, and they’re wanting the real deal.”
At 50,000 watts — the maximum allowed for an AM station by the Federal Communications Commission — WKVL stretches across East Tennessee and into the Carolinas, and Barbra said the Blount County station has the potential to serve as East Tennessee’s version of WSM-AM, the Nashville station that broadcasts the Grand Ole Opry.
“We have the same wattage that WSM puts out, and my vision is to make this the WSM of East Tennessee, which it can be,” he said. “This is where it all started anyway before they took it down to Nashville.”
Already, Barbra is bringing on board some sponsors who appreciate the music AM 850 plays. This week, Morelock’s Music owner Matt Morelock and local lit-rocker Phil Pollard are coming in to cut a commercial for Morelock’s downtown Knoxville music store, a 60-second spot the two wrote themselves.
“That’s what’s cool about this station — even the commercials are funny and good,” Barbra said. “This whole thing has a hometown feel, and that was a big selling point for me to contact them. I think that’s so important, man, to stay in touch with the hometown people.”
Soon, Barbra and Pirkle will launch their own show on the station. Tentatively titled “Jeff and Sarah Live,” it’ll be a one-hour program devoted to showcasing local musicians that will air at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays.
“For example, Sarah’s been teaching for a long time now and has students who are full-grown adults, out gigging and are just tremendous musicians, and we want to bring them in,” Barbra said. “There are a few people we have in mind who don’t fit on other stations because they might be too country. And we want to bring in some of the older guys from here in Blount County who just can’t make it Knoxville.”
The 11 a.m. time is designed to compliment, not compete with, WDVX-FM, the grassroots radio station broadcasting out of Knoxville with whom Barbra, Pirkle and most traditional country, Americana and bluegrass musicians throughout East Tennessee have had a great working relationship for years.
“I do realize how much and appreciate how much WDVX has done for me and Sarah,” he said. “They’re the reason we have a career today. We want people to be able to tune in to ‘The Blue Plate Special’ at noon every day, but the hour before on Tuesdays, they can tune us in. There’s no competition whatsoever. We just want to do something different and put our show on before they go on the air; that way people can enjoy both.”
When he’s not playing Don Draper for the station, Barbra has his hands full with a number of other projects. The Uncles have roughly 85 percent of their new album finished, he said, and hope to finish recording sessions at Music Row of Maryville before the band performs at September’s Rhythm and Roots Festival in Bristol. A gospel record that he and Pirkle have been working on for several months is 95 percent complete, he estimated, and he’s crossing his fingers that several of their songs getting cut by higher-profile artists will lead to discovery of their songwriting talents by more and more people.
“Off our gospel record, there’s a song Darrell Webb and I wrote that Rhonda Vincent is putting on her live gospel DVD that she’s going to be recording at the end of this month, and Dale Ann Bradley just cut Sarah’s ‘Come Home Good Boy’ for her new album, which is coming out in the fall on Compass Records,” he said.
Hard to believe it’s been seven years since I interviewed Merle Allin, brother of the late infamous shock rocker G.G. Allin. It was a fascinating interview, and one of the few that earned me a letter to the editor. (The writer, if I remember correctly, was horrified that I would write about a band he considered to be a worthless purveyor of trash.)
Merle’s band, The Murder Junkies, are coming back to East Tennessee tonight — to the Longbranch Saloon on the fabled Cumberland Avenue “Strip” in Knoxville. They’ll be playing with Wampus Cat, La Basura del Diablo and The Lucky Bastards, and it’s the final stop on the band’s spring “Road Killer” tour, which is incidentally the name of the group’s most recent album. Showtime is around 8 p.m.; no word on the cover, but based on past Murder Junkies shows, I’m guessing it’s roughly $10.
In memory of G.G. and as a nod to Merle, here’s that interview from December 2004 …
Murder Junkies carry on depraved legacy of G.G. Allin
Published: December 3, 2004
ON THE WEB: www.murderjunkies.com, www.ggallin.com
By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff
To his diehard fans, G.G. Allin was a god. To his detractors — which, prior to his death of a drug overdose in 1993, numbered much larger — he was on a par with the Antichrist.
Perhaps no other person in popular culture has generated as much controversy as Allin, who took rock ‘n’ roll depravity to levels unheard of before and not matched since. From his shocking songs — “Young Little Meat” and “Expose Yourself to Kids” were some of the tamer titles in his repertoire — to his on-stage antics that often ended in bloodshed, riots, death threats and arrests, he forced society to re-think what it meant to defend freedom of speech.
Chances are good he’ll never be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and that his legacy will always focus on his theatrics rather than his music, but his old band, The Murder Junkies, are still going strong. And bandleader and guitarist Merle Allin remembers G.G. as more than just a cyclonic freakshow of a man that he turned into on stage. For Merle, he was his kid brother.
“G.G. was just like you hear me talking to you now,” Allin said in a recent phone interview with The Daily Times. “He loved to talk about music, about politics, about whatever. He was basically as normal as anybody else when he was just hanging out. But he had a need to push buttons.
“People pushed his buttons when he was around people who tried to impress him. There are so many ignorant a–hole people out there in general, it’s enough to irritate me every day, and when you’re like my brother and you have a short fuse, it doesn’t take much to send you over the edge.
“Most of us can tolerate the idiots around us more than some people,” Merle Allin added. “He happened to be one of those who couldn’t tolerate other people’s [crap]. And when people were afraid of him, he sensed that, and he used it.”
One thing’s for certain — G.G. Allin wasn’t a phony. He lived the lifestyle he espoused, blowing any meager earnings from performances and recordings on drugs, hookers, booze and pornography. He started playing rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1970s, and over time, his act grew more and more dangerous and sadistic. He rarely performed for more than 10 to 20 minutes before clubs shut him down, starting off in a jockstrap and winding up in the buff. He beat himself bloody with broken bottles, torn cans and the microphone (which he occasionally used to sodomize himself).
He attacked his audience physically and with his own body fluids, including his excrement, which he would either eat or sling at the crowd. He once attempted to have sex with a dead cat an audience member tossed onto the stage, he corresponded with imprisoned serial killer John Wayne Gacy and he promised to commit suicide on stage during a Halloween show. (The drug overdose took his life before he could take his own.) While he was still alive, Allin appeared on numerous television talk shows, including Gerald Rivera and Jerry Springer, and was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary, “Hated,” directed by Todd Phillips (the same guy who would go on to direct “Old School,” “Road Trip” and “Starsky and Hutch”).
Despite his vile tendencies, he continues to hold sway over a throng of loyal fans — those on society’s outer fringes who applauded his absolute freedom of expression or couldn’t turn away from what basically amounted to a human train wreck, a force of primal fury that satisfied every degenerate craving of his out-of-control id.
“He was a genius, and a great songwriter,”Merle Allin said. “He wrote great lyrics, and he got more … records out than most artists. I can see people thinking it’s garbage, but anybody that can be that productive and put out that much product with a market for it has something going on.
“And the Murder Junkies were a part of it, you know? I think we were a big part of it toward the end. We did more shows with him, and I think we’re probably known to be one of his better bands, too. We spent 1991 to 1993 touring with him, and we’re not ashamed of our past. It’s part of who we are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“We don’t do the same type of things G.G. did when he was alive, but the music is the same and the attitude is the same,” he added. “Our singer does his own thing, but we do play some of the old classics as well as some new stuff and some of the stuff we wrote with G.G. We’re basically just old-school punk, and that’s just our style. Nobody else sounds like us, and 99 percent of the bands we play with suck.”
Merle Allin was along for the ride with G.G., during their troubled childhood and during his final years. (Their father was a rigid fundamentalist conservative who didn’t allow conversation or any sort of light when night fell and allegedly dug the family’s graves in the basement of a two-bedroom log cabin where G.G. and Merle grew up.) He admits that at times it was downright frightening — like certain dates in Texas, when howling protesters chased the band out of town or when mobs would trap the members in their dressing rooms.
“I don’t know how we ended up getting out alive,” Merle Allin said. “He was too far ahead of his time for everybody, and now that he’s dead, it’s cool to be into him. It’s more safe now, especially since he’s become a legend since his death. And I admit, we kind of benefit from that, too. Obviously, we played with him and we enjoyed touring with him, the antics he did and the danger involved.
“It was the most exciting time any of us will ever experience in rock ‘n’ roll. If you went to one of our shows back then, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we got to enjoy it together. There won’t be anything like it again.”
There’s a massive Christian music festival taking place at the end of August, and through this week, you can buy wristband tickets for a great price.
Through Friday, June 10, VIP tickets to Worship in the City, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27, are only $38 for a weekend pass/$20 for a Friday-only pass and $22 for a Saturday only pass. After Friday, the price will rise to $46 for a weekend VIP wristband, $24 for a Friday-only VIP wristband, and $30 for a Saturday-only VIP wristband. VIP wristbands purchased at the gate will be $48 for the weekend, $28 for Friday and $30 for Saturday. The cost of a general admission wristband will not change on June 10.
Both VIP and general admission wristbands will include access to the regional/local stage, choir stage and all park activities; however, only those with a VIP wristband are guaranteed access to the main stage lawn. A jumbo-tron featuring a live stream of the main stage will be available for those with a general admission wristband. Artists performing on the main stage Friday will include MercyMe, Jars of Clay and Shane and Shane, and artists performing on the main stage Saturday will include Third Day, Hawk Nelson, Blind Boys of Alabama and Alberto and Kimberly Rivera.
In addition, the community will be invited to participate in our Feed the Need initiative, a combination of efforts designed to help alleviate hunger here and around the world. Festival organizers have joined forces with both Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian organization that distributes food to critically starving and malnourished children and their families the world over. Festival-goers and other community members will be asked to donate one hour of time over the course of the weekend to help prepare 1 million highly nutritious, prepackaged meals for Kids Against Hunger. From the staging area in the Knoxville Convention Center, Kids Against Hunger will redistribute those meals to starving children and their families in over 60 countries through partnerships with humanitarian organizations worldwide. In addition, Worship in the City will provide both financial and in-kind support to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, which provides food, services and education to address the nutritional needs of people at risk of hunger in 18 East Tennessee counties. In order to support this work, organizers will donate $2 from every ticket sale to Second Harvest and sponsor a canned food drive throughout the weekend. In addition, organizers have arranged to keep 10 percent, or about 10,000, of meals packaged for redistribution to those experiencing chronic hunger in the East Tennessee area.
Besides live music, festival-goers will have access to live performance entertainment, exhibitions, art and events for families, all providing fun and education in an inclusive, child-friendly environment.
For more information about Worship in the City, including ticket prices and event specifics, visit www.worshipinthecity.com.