Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for September, 2011

Hayes Carll launches ‘Winter Shed Sessions’ in November

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A familiar face at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, will launch an expanded version of the venue’s indoor winter concert series. The intimate performances showcase what a singer-songwriter-driven show is all about — intricate melodies and an emphasis on the lyrics. Packages are on sale now for all five shows — $125 for assured seating and $100 for general admission for all five. If any single tickets are left, they’ll be $25 for general admission, $30 for assured seating.

Here’s the lineup:

Because of space limitations, only 100 of each set of tickets will be released. Individual tickets go on sale Oct. 21. Visit Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson online now to buy package tickets.

Think your band has what it takes? ‘Rock-Off’ at ‘The Shed’ deadline is Friday

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Local bands wanting to make some bank, win a title and help out a good cause have until Friday to turn in applications to the 2011 Rock-Off at “The Shed.”

A collaboration of WFIV-FM, i105, and “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson (1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville), the “Rock-Off” will pit six bands against one another to crown a champion. That champion will be guaranteed an opening slot for a show during the 2012 “Shed” season, and even more importantly, i105 General Manager Tony Cox said, all competing bands will get paid.

“Folks have to submit their information to us, and from that point there’s a panel of people who are going to listen to the music and determine who is invited,” Cox said. “They’ll be competing against other bands, but they’ll be getting paid to compete.”

Judging will be carried out by the audience. (It’s free for audience members to attend on Oct. 8 and 15, and three bands will compete on each of those two nights.) Audience members will be asked to cast a “penny vote” during the competition, with one penny equaling one vote and $1 equal to 100 votes.

“Jars will be placed around ‘The Shed,’ and the audience members can vote for their favorite band by dropping pennies — or dollars — into the jar,” Cox said. “The winning bands from each night will be chosen based on the number of votes, and they’ll get to come back for the final on Oct. 22 — and get paid again. So there’s some prestige that goes along with winning the ‘Rock-Off.’”

The best part — all money collected from the penny voting, as well as from the $5 cover charge that will be levied on Oct. 22 for the finale performance by the final two bands, will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. Each of the bands chosen to participate in the Rock-Off will receive $300 for their set, a CD of the live recording and a DVD of their set. The finals, on October 22, will be simulcast live on i105, Knoxville’s Independent Radio.

“There are only three bands performing each night, so it’s a select group, and the finals will come down to two of those bands,” Cox said. “The night of the finals, we’re going to play some live cuts back on the air. When you really get down to the root of it, it’s a really interactive way to support Second Harvest Food Bank.”

Interested bands must submit two original recordings (mp3 versions preferred) via email to: joe@myi105.com (Due to server file size limits, no attachments should be more than 10MB in size). Get it in by Friday in order to be eligible for the competition.

Written by wildsmith

September 20th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

i105 gears up for ‘Homegrown for the Holidays,’ vol. 2

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Local independent radio station WFIV-FM, myi105, is gearing up for the second edition of its “Homegrown for the Holidays,” a CD of holiday music by local artists sold to benefit a local charity.

The proceeds from sales of last year’s CD benefited Knox Area Rescue Ministries; the whole thing is an outgrowth of i105’s “Homegrown” show, hosted by Joe Stutler. Joe (and station GM Tony Cox) are big believers in the local music scene, and “Homegrown” — which broadcasts every week from Preservation Pub in downtown Knoxville — showcases local talent. “Homegrown for the Holidays” will feature 12 local acts recording Christmas songs for the CD.

The charity that will benefit from the CD is still being determined. New for this year, Cox told me — the artists involved are all contributing original holiday songs. Some, like Scott Miller, are donating a song to the CD; others will be recording their tracks on Sunday, Sept. 18 and Tuesday, Sept. 20. Those recording sessions will take place at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. The artists down to record those two days include Ryan Michaels, Hudson K, Martha Christian, The Songbirds, The Hotshot Freight Train, Brent Thompson, Roman Reese, Sarah Pirkle, Matt Woods, Scott McMahan, Karen E. Reynolds, The Drunk Uncles and Cutthroat Shamrock.

More information on the project will be released in the coming weeks, including word on whether there will be a similar release show as last year, which featured numerous acts on the album performing at “The Shed.”

Written by wildsmith

September 15th, 2011 at 7:58 am

Posted in Local media, Music

Tony Levin: ‘It’s not a bad experience at all to spend some time’ with King Crimson fans

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SMenLive1Stick Men live — (from left) Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin

It’s fair to say that fans of groundbreaking prog-rock band King Crimson are fanatical about the group’s music.

Only it’s not the kind of fanaticism your casual music lover would expect from diehard groupies. King Crimson bass player Tony Levin — who comes to town next week with his band Stick Men (featuring Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto) in a show featuring another Crimson alumni, Adrian Belew (and his band the Adrian Belew Power Trio) — learned that a long time ago.

“It’s different than what people would think; I’m not inundated with fans who know who I am,” Levin said. “It doesn’t happen all that often except during and after shows, and my opinion, a band gets the fans it deserves — and King Crimson fans are enthusiastic and have a passion for music. They’re not wild or out-of-control, and they’re certainly not there for your personality or your sex appeal. It’s about the music, so it’s not a bad experience at all to spend some time with them.”

Interestingly enough, Levin noted, he did just that — Aug. 22-26, he, Mastelotto and Belew held the inaugural “Three of a Perfect Pair Camp,” a King Crimson-centric week of music, stories and instruction at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, N.Y. It was so successful, in fact, that next year’s camp is now taking registrants — it takes place Aug. 12-17, 2012, at the resort, and the cost starts out at $1,210 for a week of tent-camping.

“Seventy-five of them came and spent night and day with us, eating meals and hearing King Crimson stories,” Levin said. “It was very fun and very enlightening, and when it’s like that, fans don’t need to cling so much.”

No doubt next week, the audience at The Bijou Theatre will be full of King Crimson fans. In fact, Levin expects it, even though Stick Men and the Adrian Belew Power Trio both have their own repertoires to offer up. And that’s OK, even if does feel like a boys-only club sometimes.

“Crimson fans tend to be guys,” Levin said with a chuckle. “In the old days, they would bring their girlfriends with them, and we would notice the girlfriends weren’t there after the intermission. After a while, King Crimson did some more ’shoulder-friendly’ music, where the unfortunate woman who got dragged to the concert could move her shoulders a little bit.”

Click here to read the interview with Levin published in this week’s Daily Times Weekend entertainment section.

Written by wildsmith

September 14th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Royal Bangs pumped for Saturday’s Pilot Light show

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Royal Bangs are (from left) Chris Rusk, Sam Stratton and Ryan Schaefer

A Royal Bangs live album? The boys in the band wouldn’t be opposed to it, singer/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Schaefer told me last week.

“I’d love too, actually; we sound so much different live that I’d love to document it,” he said. “It justs depends, because it’s so difficult to get it right. You listen to something like Dylan’s Albert Hall bootleg, and it sounds so good. It captures what was really going on in the room. A lot of time, the aesthetic of a live album can be distracting.”

Schaefer talked about the band, its status in the Knoxville music scene and this weekend’s two-shows-in-one-day assault on The Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City. Aside from a few last-minute, barely promoted benefit shows, the Bangs haven’t had a proper Knoxville date in a while, and going back to the venue that helped launch the group is a gratifying thing, Schaefer said.

“It’s something that we want to do, but we spend so much time on the road that it’s kind of difficult for us,” he said. “We really like playing The Pilot Light, and I think it’s important to support that venue. It was important for us, and it’s still the best place to see good music. That was the only place that would let us play when we were starting out.

“This weekend is kind of an experiment, doing two shows on the same day. It’s fun when it’s a small place and everybody’s packed in there, but we haven’t played an all-ages show in years in Knoxville. That’s going to be kind of exciting.”

Go here to read the full interview and get the details on Saturday’s show.

Written by wildsmith

September 14th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

“Ramblin’” Randall Brown wants to be your “Host With the Most” …

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“Laugh it up, Fuzzball!” So says Han Solo in “The Empire Strikes Back,” which has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except for laughter. Which is what you’ll be encouraged to do at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at Side Splitters Comedy Club, 9246 Park West Blvd. in West Knoxville, when the Second Annual “Host With the Most” fundraiser takes place.

Last year, local media personalities competed with one another, doing 6-minute stand-up routines that were voted on by the audience. Mitch Wheeler of 94.3 The X beat out Jennifer Alexander from B97.5, Oz from The X, Doug Shock from Metro Pulse and Erin Donovan from WBIR-TV, and 90 percent of the ticket proceeds from that night went to a charity of Wheeler’s choice, the Young-Williams Animal Center.

This year, we half-heartedly endorse (not because he’s not No. 1 in our hearts, but because it seems slightly cutthroat to root for one over the rest when it’s all for a good cause, and because we have no idea who his competition is) our man “Ramblin’” Randall Brown, an entertainment journalist extraordinaire for that big ol’ daily paper in Knoxville. You can read his excellent blog here, and if you didn’t know he’s also a long-time local rocker, you can read about his band Quartjar here.

To gauge Brown’s chances of success, we submitted the following multiple choice quiz. His answers are in bold:

1) I would describe myself as an East Tennessee version of:

  • a) George Carlin
  • b) Carrot Top
  • c) Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
  • d) Gallagher
  • e) Tony Clifton

2) My go-to subject matter:

  • a) Wife
  • b) Boy
  • c) Job
  • d) Sex
  • e) Bodily functions

3) My show is rated:

  • a) G — clean, family-friendly, no one offended
  • b) PG (or maybe PG-13) — I’ll give you a cue when it’s time to slap palms over the kids’ ears
  • c) R — Plenty of penis and poop jokes
  • d) NC-17 — Richard Pryor and Kathy Griffin had a baby, and his name is Randall Brown.

4) Person I hope does not compete against me: Mary Constantine, News Sentinel food editor. Her stories are hilarious.

5) Person I would love to have in the audience: That one really loud laughing woman that you hear howling on every comedy recording ever.

6) Tell us a joke: We’re always excited about new technology … until we get it. Remember 30 years ago when a lot of cars had talking alerts? “Lights are on.” “Door is ajar.” “Brakes are failing.” The tech exists now to do this a thousand times better, but nobody wants to hear that kind of nagging from their car. “Shut up and drive … er … be driven.”

Okay, that joke wasn’t the greatest, but I’m working on it.

Best of luck, Mr. Brown!

Written by wildsmith

September 12th, 2011 at 9:52 am

Waste and Regret back in action Saturday night at the Longbranch

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After The Unashamed broke up a few years back, drummer Michael Knouff parlayed his musical experience into a hardcore metal project called Waste and Regret. The 2004 Heritage High School graduate played drums in The Unashamed, but his experience on guitar gave W&R a plodding, Euro-metal sound that ran the gamut from speed/thrash on some songs to Mastodon-inspired dirges to Fates Warning-style operatic metal. All in all, it was a hell of a talented band, and the group played a number of shows with Whitechapel and other Metal Blade Records bands.

“We played with Whitechapel and Destroy Destroy Destroy; we played with The Protomen, whom I’m really good buds with,” Knouff told me this week. “We just wanted to play. We didn’t care who we played with; all we cared about is if we liked them and they liked us. We were going to play the show even if we were the oddballs, and that worked really well. I wasn’t having to do much booking; people were coming to me.”

But Knouff found himself doing more and more of the work and having more and more problems with his bandmates, whom he had recruited to start W&R in the first place. He eventually stepped away from the band, and because he owned the songs and the name, the other members tried to regroup under a different moniker but drifted apart after a couple of shows.

“I just didn’t want to do it anymore,” Knouff said. “I got away from it because I knew it wasn’t a healthy place for me to be, and there was some deep-seeded anguish and some bitter, bitter resentment. I was kind of thinking, ‘Do I continue doing this? Was it worth it, getting mistreated just to get where I wanted to in life?’”

From the end of 2009 until April of this year, he dabbled in other projects, playing as a fill-in drummer with other bands, doing acoustic sets, releasing an electronica EP and recording other groups in his own studio. At the beginning of 2011, he got out to the first show he’d attended in a while, and old friends who were glad to see him began asking about the status of Waste and Regret.

“I decided that if people really liked what you were doing and wanted you to get out and start playing, why not start this stuff back off again?” he said. “In recording different bands and being a guest musician, it taught me that maybe this is what I should be doing.”

And so with a brand new lineup — Mac Beightol (of the group Fenrir and a 2011 grad of Alcoa High) on bass; his old Unashamed bandmate Nick Clayton on keyboards; drummer Brad Rosson, a 2011 Heritage grad and a member of 1,000 Plane Raid; and vocalist Taylor Smiddy, who started Faces Over Olympus, the predecessor to Fenrir — Waste and Regret is back in action and ready to rock. The band will do so at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at The Longbranch Saloon, 1848 Cumberland Ave. (”The Strip”) in Knoxville. The show includes Fenrir, Exsected and Tabula Rasa, and admission is $5.

“We can go hang out, and everybody just starts talking about Waste and Regret like it was some big mythical legend,” Knouff said. “I didn’t think I made that big of an impact, but I guess we kind of did. The younger guys have the excitement for what we’re doing. You can hear it, and you can feel it in this specific reincarnation of the band. We’re focusing right now on the older songs that everybody likes, but instead of doing what you’ve heard before, we’re fleshing them out and freshening them up. We’re doing what I wanted to do back in 2008, which is have somebody play synthesizer.”

Written by wildsmith

September 8th, 2011 at 6:52 am

New Steed songs coming slowly, but surely

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Fans of local musical icon Todd Steed who were a little weirded out by last year’s “Unmind” project, take heart — the new stuff he’s putting together is sounding more rock ‘n’ roll than his ambient interests.

That’s not to say they’ll be ready to roll out any time soon, however, he told me ths week.

“It’s kind of in the stage where the songs are starting to come to me whenever they want,” he said. I’ve just been jotting down a bunch of ideas now — which means there will be another record in about two years. And right now, it’ll definitely be more band-sounding. It’s feeling more like a rock ‘n’ roll record. But when the songs come, I do what they tell me.

“I’m a good song husband. I have to be open to what they want to be and let them define that.”

In the meantime, Steed — of Smokin’ Dave and the Premo Dopes, Apelife, Opposable Thumbs and Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere — has music left over from “Unmind” he’ll probably release in the near future.

“I put together about an hour or two hours of music from the ‘Unmind’ record, almost none of which was used,” he said. “That’s a lot of work, but no work should be completely dormant if it takes that long. It’s very instrumental, but kind of pleasant. And when that’s done, then I’m going to get to work on finishing these songs, or letting these songs finish me.”

Written by wildsmith

September 7th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Music

Fenrir prepares to debut new sound, lineup at Saturday’s Longbranch show

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IMG_0499Fenrir — (from left) Christian Kanoa, Katie McCroskey, Nick Kirkland, Steve-O Sperling and Mac Beightol.

It’s tempting, given the perseverance of the guys in Blount County-based prog-punk band Fenrir, to make jokes about how they’re hungry like the wolf to make this thing go places. We did it the last time we wrote about the guys, over a year ago.

Such cheese would detract from the seriousness of the band, however, and if there’s one thing the members want you to know going into Saturday night’s show at The Longbranch Saloon (1848 Cumberland Ave., “The Strip,” in Knoxville), it’s this — things are serious. Mac Beightol, Christian Kanoa, Steve-O Sperling and Nick Kirkland have come to far and been through too much, relatively speaking, to be anything but.

A short history — Kirkland and Beightol met in kindergarten and started playing guitar around the same time — Kirkland on six-string, Beightol on bass. In the summer of 2009, they were recruited along with Kanoa on drums by an older singer who, according to Kirkland, wanted to start a “huge, avant garde, Between-the-Buried-and-Me-style band.” The guys wanted to move in their own direction, so they took control of the band and decided to find a new singer, transforming from Faces Over Olympus to Fenrir.

Sperling was added as the band’s vocalist; another friend was brought on to add second guitar; Sperling quit; the second guitarist was promoted to lead singer. Things seemed to be progressing nicely — the guys even managed to land themselves some endorsements. They aren’t much — certainly not the big-league kind that gets a band showered in free gear — but they went after them, and they got them.

“You just send out an email, and you ask,” Beightol told me recently. “You have to make yourself sound awesome, though. You have to be cocky, because if you’re not arrogant, they won’t look at you.”

Beightol’s endorsement is with Spector bass guitars; when he actually saves up the bank to buy one, he’ll get a discount. The band gets a page on the company’s website, and the company helps spread the word about Fenrir. They even set themselves up on a mini-tour, with dates on the books in North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and here in Tennessee. And then egos got involved, and the whole project jumped the rails.

“We had two weeks of shows planned, and our front man quit the day before we left,” Beightol said. “We were supposed to take a van, but the other band that was supposed to go with us dropped off the tour, and we couldn’t fit his friend in the car. So he quit.”

After spending a few days regrouping, they shifted gears — bringing on Katie McCroskey as the lead vocalist and altering Fenrir’s sound dramatically.

“She’s classically trained as a vocalist, and it’s worked out fantastic,” Beightol said. “She’s the first front woman to come out of the Knoxville scene in a long time, as far as heavy music goes. Her influences are more like Paramore, so she’s pushed us to sounding more like that, which is OK with us. We tried to get away from the heavier stuff anyway, because we were kind of stuck as to where we could play.”

Not long ago, Sperling was brought back to the fold, giving Fenrir a two-guitar attack once more. Now, the band has set its sights on Knoxville and getting out of Blount County, Beightol said — not to slight his peers (he’s a graduate of Alcoa High School, as is Kirkland) here in BloCo, but he doesn’t see it as a place brimming with opportunity.

“There are all kind of bands in Maryville, but it’s hard for anyone to get anywhere because they’re all pulling each other in a circle,” Beightol said. “The Maryville scene has just become a big ol’ repetitive circle. You can’t escape it. We still live in Blount County, and we’re working on a new album with Katie’s input. We just had to step back, work hard and bring something better to the table when we came back.”

Fenrir performs with Exsected, Tabula Rasa and Waste and Regret at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Longbranch. Admission is $5.

Written by wildsmith

September 6th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Music

Sarah Pirkle gets props from The NYT

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Any time one’s name is mentioned in The New York Times, it’s a big deal. And when it’s mentioned with a fine dose of praise from that esteemed publication, it’s even better.

Blount County’s Sarah Pirkle got some props from the Times in a recent review of “Somewhere South of Crazy,” the new album by bluegrass queen Dale Ann Bradley. Bradley, the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year for 2007, 2008 and 2009, recorded Pirkle’s song “Come Home Good Boy” for the record, and the NYT picked it as one of the album’s best moments: “The highlight is ‘Come Home Good Boy,’ an affecting, quietly enraged song written by Sarah Pirkle about sending a child off to war.” Read the full review here.

Bradley recently shot a video for the song, which first appeared on Pirkle’s 2010 solo record “Walking Tall Through High Weeds.” The video should be released any day now, and you can read about it here. Pirkle and her husband, Jeff Barbra, are putting the finishing touches on their gospel album, “Family Singing,” which should see the light of day any time now as well.

Written by wildsmith

September 4th, 2011 at 1:20 pm