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2013 January at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for January, 2013

Coming to a TV near you: The Jeff Jopling Band?

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58781_444222085621688_866554495_nThe Jeff Jopling Band on stage at Two Doors Down

The guys in the Jeff Jopling Band have decided: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Jeff Jopling has adapted that philosophy of late. Like many people who turn on the boob tube and see reality TV on every channel around the clock, he’s quick to lose interest. From the low-brow mud-and-redneck fests of “Honey Boo Boo” to the talent highlights of less insipid shows like “The Voice,” there’s only so much you can take, right?

Well, Jopling told me this week, he’s about to have to change his mind. Or, as he puts it, “I guess I’ll have to either change my opinion of reality TV or change my opinion of myself and begin a period of self loathing.”

He’s kidding, of course, and whether you like reality TV or not, he and the boys — Jopling, Austin Stepp, Daniel Cromwell and Jerry Sullivan — would like you to assist them in getting their own reality show. (And if you don’t like reality TV, think of it this way: Helping the JBB get a show will be a public service by adding a little class and talent to the airwaves.)

Here’s the story from Jeff:

Several years ago the younger brother of my college roommate from Maryville College moved to LA. He was a theater grad from UT so he moved out to LA to pursue a career in acting. After years of heartbreak and obscurity, he finally landed a job at a company called Crash Hat Entertainment. This company’s main purpose is to come up with concept ideas for new reality TV shows and pitch those ideas to networks. So as he got his foot in the door at the entertainment company, he heard them talking about an idea of a show that they wanted to pitch to the country music networks.

That, of course, caught his attention as he has plenty of experience with country music being from around here. The concept for the show they were mulling over was to follow a country band around — not a band that was really “making it,” but rather one that is up and coming. And moreover the interest to the show is to portray the juxtaposition between performing shows at night and then having their respective day jobs.

So my friend told them about us and about a month or so ago they called me and started asking for our information. I sent them pics and videos of us talking and interviewing one another as well as performances and that was all I heard for about another month. Then out of the blue they call and said that they pitched this idea along with about 30 other concepts to their agent at William Morris who submitted them to the networks. Apparently CMT, GAC, Spike TV and (for some reason) the History Channel have all said that they want this show. So out of the 30 concepts submitted this is the only show that got the interest of any networks.

Now the networks all want to see actual footage, so the company is flying out some camera guys to film our show at Two Doors Down on Friday night and then will be joining us all day on Sunday to film us working on the farm and having a band rehearsal and a bonfire. You know … all pretty standard country stuff. They will be here for three days of filming to do a 3-minute trailer to give to the networks, and at that point the networks will begin a bidding war over who wants the show the most.

Jopling stresses that nothing is set in stone until a deal is signed on the dotted line; it’s possible the networks see the trailer and decide they hate the concept or don’t like the Jeff Jopling Band and pass on developing a series. But the fact the company is flying its crew all the way to Blount County from Los Angeles is a pretty big deal, and the chances of it developing into something big are at least on the table.

“Everyone has been so nice to us about it,” Jopling added. “We really found out about this the week of the 11th when we played at Two Doors Down. Austin was telling Jeff and Lisa (Breazeale) about it, and they asked where we were performing when the camera crew was coming to town. At the time we had a show booked at Boomerangs in Madisonville for that night, and Jeff and Lisa had Dixie Highway booked at Two Doors.

“Well, Jeff and Lisa got together with Dixie Highway, and they decided to let us have that night at Two Doors instead so that we could have a bigger hometown crowd at our local watering hole. I really was blown away that the boys in Dixie Highway were so cool as to let us have one of their nights at Two Doors. And it’s also really cool that Jeff and Lisa are being so supportive.”

As are the rest of us. So show up to Two Doors and give the Jeff Jopling Band some hometown love on Friday night. It’s a free show, and the music will get started around 10 p.m. Read last October’s cover story on the Jeff Jopling Band here.

Written by wildsmith

January 24th, 2013 at 8:38 am

Wallypalooza: The End. (No. Really! Wally swears!)

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323189_239985662711999_151461354897764_684817_3848353_oWallypalooza founder Wally Miles (left), and local comedian Waylon Whiskey

OK, so local promoter Wally Miles has been saying each Wallypalooza spectacular he’s put on for the past couple of years has been the last one. He readily admits that it’s sounding more and more like a KISS farewell tour every time he does so.

But this one, he promises, is it. And I have a feeling he’ll stay true to his word on this one. After all, Blount County’s answer to “Van Wilder” is headed to school this fall for — what else? — marketing, and he’s already put together some bangin’ shows at The Thirsty Turtle Pub and Grub, 2641 U.S. Highway 411 S. in Maryville.

Speaking of, that’s where the next (and FINAL! REALLY!) Wallypalooza is taking place on March 1 and 2. Without further ado, here’s the lineup:

Friday, March 1: Christopher ScumBetter DazeAfterLifeJoe CoeBelfast 6 PackDivided We StandScent of Remains

Saturday, March 2: Rebel MountainCatalystBig TroubleShallowpointIndie Lagonethe Michael Gunnz BandCrome Molly.

The start time is 7 p.m. both nights; admission is $5 at the door. Given that this Wallypalooza is scaled back to only two nights, we suggest getting there way early, for several reasons: One, it’s going to be PACKED, and second, you don’t want to miss the opening acts … particularly on Friday. It’s a point of honor for me that Wally’s booked Christopher Scum to open up Friday’s festivities; the guy’s a legend in the Knoxville music scene and a hell of a songwriter. (Click here to download and listen to “Fifty Acres,” an unflinching look at a pretty damn horrific childhood. And yes, it’s autobiographical.)

You can read our coverage of previous Wallypaloozas here, here and here. Be there.

Hector’s coming back to howl with the Coyotes!

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Hector-QirkoHector Qirko

If you’re missing that genteel guitar god Hector Qirko, who moved to Charleston, S.C., in 2010 to take a teaching position at the College of Charleston, buck up: He’s coming back to East Tennessee for at least one gig.

For more than three decades, Qirko brought flair, panache and a helluva guitar-playing face to the East Tennessee music scene as a partner to local singer-songwriter R.B. Morris, in long-gone bands like Balboa, with the long-running Hector Qirko Band (which won the 2010 Metro Pulse Best Blues Band award) and with the Lonesome Coyotes.

The Coyotes, in fact, will be performing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at The Grove Theater, 123 Randolph Road in Oak Ridge, and Qirko is making the trek to East Tennessee to participate. As an added bonus: Dana Paul of the band Rich Mountain Tower, which released three albums and played around East Tennessee in the early 1970s, will be a part of the Grove Theater concert as well.

I reached out to Hector a couple of months back, asking him how he’s doing. Here’s what he told me:

“I’m having fun anthropoligizing and living in Charleston. Music-wise, I’ve been playing mostly acoustic and mostly at home, although some gigs as a duo with another K-town expat, Kevin Crothers (formerly of the Knoxville band Sea 7 States), on bass. Pretending to be a singer-songwriter has been interesting, and it has actually led to my writing more songs, but I guess I’m not as sensitive as the job requires — I’m increasingly wanting to make more noise! So I figure a little electric band is in my future.”

Written by wildsmith

January 7th, 2013 at 11:30 am

More “Spirit”: Jeff and Sarah’s radio show expanding in 2013

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Hard to believe Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle have been on the air for more than a year, co-hosting their “In the Spirit” radio show since August 2011.

When we talked to them around the show’s humble beginnings, their goal was a simple one: To play “just good, inspirational music — from Sam Bush to Sam Cooke, from Bob Marley to Bob Wills, from Loretta Lynn to Mahalia Jackson,” Barbra said.

“Basically, it’s what you would hear if you came to our house on Sunday mornings,” Sarah added. “It’s what you’re going to hear from our collection while we make you breakfast.”

But 2012 has been good to the duo, and starting Sunday, Jan. 13, “In the Spirit” will air twice on Sundays: From 8-11 a.m., and from 4-7 p.m. They won’t be a repeat of one another, meaning the evening show will stand on its own and feature different music — including some more upbeat numbers that might sound a little too wound up for the a.m. hours.

In addition, the two are incorporating a new segment into the show: “In the Moment,” a 15-minute interview/performance segment recorded at the couple’s house in Blount County’s Barb Hollow community. One recent guest: Local picker/guitar teacher Roscoe Morgan.

“In the Spirit” airs on WFIV-FM, i105, which can be found at 105.3 on your FM dial.

Written by wildsmith

January 4th, 2013 at 11:52 am

The Theorizt scaling back but not breaking up

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theoriztThe Theorizt: (From left) Joseph “Black Atticus” Woods, Jarius Bush and co-founder/guitarist Mike Miller, who’s since moved to Boston.

Fans of groundbreaking local hip-hop outfit The Theorizt caused a hell of a stir last month when the band announced it was cutting back on live shows for the foreseeable future. The hysteria boiled over, and soon fans were wondering if the New Year’s Eve show at Preservation Pub wouldn’t be the band’s final appearance.

Not so fast, says member Joseph “Black Atticus” Woods.

“It’s not literally out LAST show ever; it’s the last show for a while until we record another project and get some musicians that can get comfortable with our sound and pace,” Atticus told me in an email. “Everyone else has literally had one to two practices and before they know it, they’re on stage going full steam ahead with us. This hasn’t allowed us to recoup from Mike Miller going home to Boston and Nick Burkhalter joining the Air Force.

“I don’t care how good (a) guitarist (is); everyone needs time to grasp a sound and dig in, and with our live show schedule, there was no room or time for that to happen. So yeah … we’re looking to have the live show machine up and running, just at a more realistic pace.”

At the same time, Atticus added, the band members — new and old — have played so often of late that they’re wearing out the group’s catalog: “New blood (music wise) is needed. Also, our drummer and his wife are expecting a baby soon, so the slowing down of the live show aspect was inevitable. By all means, please let ‘em know that this is NOT our last show, but definitely the last one for a while.”

So there you have it. Read our 2012 interview with Atticus, Jarius Bush and co-founder Mike Miller here.

Written by wildsmith

January 4th, 2013 at 11:33 am

Calling all local bands: Prepare for battle!

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With the dawning of a new year in the local music scene, two upcoming music contests promise to give one lucky band or musician some momentum in the months to come.

The first is the “$3,000 Scruffy City Band Eat Band Competition,” sponsored by WFIV-FM i105, Blank Newspaper, Rock Snob Recording and Preservation Pub. The grand prize: $3,000 cash, one week in Rock Snob Recording Studios and a one-hour on-air interview with i105 — plus a show on the Market Square stage when the fine folks at P-Pub gear up for their outdoor concert series later on this year.

To enter: send an email to booking@prevervationpub.com; in the subject line, write “$3,000 Band Eat Band Competition.” Include the following information: Band name, contact information, city, number of band members, a three-word description of your music and links to songs and/or videos. It’s open to bands and musicians of all styles.

Criteria to win:Bring a big audience to see you play, wow the audience with your songs and showmanship, be original and be cool,” according to the Facebook event page.

The competition begins on the second Tuesday in January and will continue every Tuesday night through May. Semi-finals will be held in June (with $100 and $200 prizes awarded), and the finals will take place July 27. All shows will take place at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square, downtown Knoxville.

Also getting under way this month: the “Hard Rock Rising” contest, sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe Gatlinburg. The grand prize is a world tour of Hard Rock locations around the planet, and most of the competition takes place online.

Requirements: A ReverbNation band page with a minimum of 50 fans. All genres of music are welcome, but original songs are a requirement.

Getting started: “Like” the Hard Rock Cafe Gatlinburg official page on Facebook and stay up to date for updates. The registration begins Monday, Jan. 7, and is open until Jan. 21.

Get the word out: Start spreading the word! All voting will be conducted by “Liking” Hard Rock Gatlinburg’s Facebook page and voting via the Hard Rock Rising 2013 ReverbNation app. Voting begins on Jan. 28, so get the word out early and often. (Note: Even bands not in East Tennessee can register at the Hard Rock Café Gatlinburg; however, for the first round of voting, all votes (via member locations on Facebook) must be within a 100-mile radius of Gatlinburg.

The top 12 vote-getting acts will compete in a live competition at Hard Rock Gatlinburg Feb. 18-15, and the winner from each market will then go on to compete in an online voting competition to determine the top 25 bands. Those 25 will be reviwed by Hard Rock and industry officials to determine the grand prize winner, which will be announced May 6.