Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Student’s short film features college rock heroes, including Tim Lee

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windbreakers

If you trace the lineage of rock ‘n’ roll through its various sub-genres, you’ll come across some interesting characters and bands that, unless you were living in those respective scenes at the time, you might not know existed.

Take college rock (see also: jangle-pop), for instance. Not the stuff you hear today on a station like WUTK-FM, great though that might be. We’re talking music from the early 1980s, when the guys in R.E.M. were working on an EP called “Chronic Town,” a sound that fell outside of punk and New Wave and everything else going on at the time. It wasn’t the most popular, and the bands wouldn’t conquer the world (R.E.M. being the exception, of course.) But bands like Let’s Active, Rain Parade, The Windbreakers and more helped set the stage for the ’90s alt-rock revolution, even if they get little credit for it today.

Thanks to Camilla Ann Aikin, a University of Mississippi graduate student, some of those musicians are getting a little credit these days. To complete her master’s thesis in Southern Studies, Aikin put together a short documentary titled “We Didn’t Get Famous,” a fantastic piece of Southern college rock history that features local rocker Tim Lee. Tim and his wife, Susan, front local power trio the Tim Lee 3, but back in those days, Lee was part of The Windbreakers. And as the resident expert on those times and that sound, he gives Aikin’s film two thumbs up.

“I thought she did an excellent job,” Lee said. “When I met her, I was really impressed by her knowledge. She’s young — in her 20s — but she knows her music inside and out. She knew stuff about music from that era that even I didn’t know about — just some very obscure stuff. It was very impressive.”

Aikin has plans to expand on the film, Lee said, and there are tentative plans to screen the documentary at a Fourth of July part at Lost and Found Records in Knoxville.

The video coding for this blog is wonky, so click on this link to go watch it.

Written by wildsmith

May 28th, 2012 at 7:09 am

Fishbone doc to screen at Gatlinburg film festival

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Fishbone02

In perusing the press release for the 3rd Annual Gatlinburg Screen Fest, scheduled for March 25-27 in the Sevier County town I affectionately refer to as “Myrtle Beach in the Mountains,” I ran across this awesome little nugget:

Gatlinburg Screenfest will also be screening the documentary “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone.” This film is a documentary about the band Fishbone, musical pioneers who have been rocking on the margins of pop culture for the past 25 years. From the streets of South-Central Los Angeles and the competitive Hollywood music scene of the 1980s, the band rose to prominence, only to fall apart when on the verge of “making it.” Everyday Sunshine is narrated by Emmy award winner Laurence Fishburne. Directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, it debuted last summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

I don’t know how much concert footage is included in the film, but hopefully it’s enough to give some insight into the tour de force that Fishbone is in a live setting. These cats are human tornadoes when they take the stage.

Also scheduled to be screened: the world premiere of the documentary “Nashville Rises,” a short film documentary narrated by Billy Bob Thornton, presented by Skydive Films, Lavorsia Pictures and IGBA Productions, about the power of the human spirit and how neighbor helped neighbor to overcome the flood in Nashville that took place in May ‘10.

Check out the festival’s website for more information.

Written by wildsmith

January 17th, 2011 at 8:42 am

Hal Holbrook: Memories of East Tennessee

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Film work on “That Evening Sun” wasn’t the first time Oscar-nominated actor Hal Holbrook has done a movie in East Tennessee.

Holbrook remembers a small part he had in the 1965 film “The Fool Killer,” featuring one of the last appearances of actor Henry Hull, and his time spent filming it in East Tennessee. (He remembers it shooting north of town; on the website IMDB, the filming location is listed as Louisville, Tenn., right here in Blount County.)

Wherever it was, Holbrook’s part was that of an old man — a dirty old man, no less.

“I was 30-something years old, and they used that old-fashioned makeup with glue and cotton batting to create a heavy crust on your face, and it shrank,” Holbrook told me this week. “It was horrible! I had the dried egg all over my shirt, fly was half open and this heavy makeup on. And we were working on this farm up there. Well, it was hot, and between takes, I would lay across the woodpile just to rest myself. It was the only available thing away from everybody, and I would just lay on it and rest my bones.

“This old lady who owned the farm — her husband had passed on, and she was pretty old herself — she thought I was the real thing! She started to get interested in me, asking me how my health was and if I was married. And the crew got in on it, encouraging her. And this lady proposed to me! She asked me if I wanted to marry up with her and, according to Bible practice, she would deed the farm over to me.

“For the next 15 or 20 years, every time I did ‘Mark Twain Tonight’ in Knoxville, some of the crew from that film were there, and we’d always talk about that lady and have a good laugh,” Holbrook added.

Written by wildsmith

September 2nd, 2010 at 11:02 am

Bill Maher on garbage and pope-ish wizardry

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Despite his characterization of religion as mass delusion … despite his comparisons of Tea Party followers to special needs students … despite his vitriolic loathing for right-wing stupidity … those things still aren’t the most pressing issues that comedian/political pundit Bill Maher believes are the most important right now.

In fact, he told me during a recent phone interview, one has only to look South — off the shores of the Gulf Coast states — to see what is.

“It’s the environment,” said Maher, who performs Saturday at The Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville. “Global warming gets most of the attention when it comes to environmental issues, but those are not the only environmental issues that we have. We’re killing the oceans off — they’re becoming much more acidified and toxic, and right now, there’s a giant swirl of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean that’s the size of Texas, and it’s not bio-degradable.

“All this stuff that gets a big eye roll from the right wing, like it’s Al Gore trying to create some sort of myth to destroy the American economy. But it’s not a myth — it’s actually happening, and I don’t understand why it’s not more important to people. It’s where you live, it affects how you live and it’s happening right now.”

Of course, with so much oil billowing up from that busted BP pipe, such earnestness from what many people see as a funnyman hits a little too close to home. Which is why Maher will never run out of his share of religious jokes — especially after making “Religulous,” his documentary that explores and mocks the world’s religions. In it, Maher traveled the world talking to religious leaders and devout followers, and he came away with some eyebrow-raising impressions.

“Jerusalem — it’s the funny hat capital of the world,” he said. “Every religious sect in the world has a stake in Jerusalem, and they all wear a different outfit. That whole capital is a Fellini movie. It’s known as a holy, religious place, but it looks like a circus, and if you spend a week there, you come away with just the idea that human nature is such that it’s blown away by a costume.

“I mean, look at the pope with that funny hat he wears and the robes — he’s literally dressed as a wizard! I don’t know how Catholics can keep a straight face when he wears that pointy hat! And he always has this look on his face that seems to say, ‘If I wasn’t infallible, could I get away with this?’ People are blown away that he’s wearing something people don’t wear on the street. But so is Lady Gaga — but we’re not worshiping her!”

Saturday’s performance begins at 8 p.m.; tickets are $58. Check out our cover story interview with Maher in Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend entertainment section.

Written by wildsmith

May 19th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

‘Wild and Wonderful Whites’ gets Blount County screening

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Back in November, we caught up with local boy Robb “Storm” Taylor, a Heritage High School grad (class of ‘85) who’s been working for the past several years on a documentary of Jesco White, the famous “dancing outlaw” of West Virginia.

First featured in a PBS documentary in 1991, White grew to — and into — something of a rural legend: a hard-living, hard-drinking backwoods hillbilly who carries on the tradition of mountain dancing, a mix of clog and tap that’s native to Appalachia. Taylor’s documentary — “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” — raised White’s profile even more, and after being featured at a number of prestigious film festivals around the country, it’s getting a proper screening here in East Tennessee.

(Click here to watch the trailer. Or you can click here to rent and watch it online.)

It’ll be shown on Friday, June 4, at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. It’s a limited-seating event — only $100 tickets will be sold. Those cost $15; get them here.

Despite his various ventures, Taylor has remained a Blount County resident. While at UT, he was part-owner of The Underground, a dance club where he served as deejay. During that time, he befriended P.J. Clapp, a South-Doyle high graduate who would go on to stardom as Johnny Knoxville. From there, he did some traveling with and production work for the MTV show that Knoxville made famous — “Jackass.” He had an idea for his own program, and after returning to Maryville to work in real estate and development, his idea was turned into a program on the Turner South network. “Yokel” ran for a season before Fox acquired Turner South and slowly killed the network.

Johnny Knoxville serves as producer for the White documentary; in addition to that, Taylor has recently launched a new pop culture publication, One Eighty Magazine.

I ran into him Friday at “The Shed,” and he said The Whites will likely be making the trip down from West Virginia to attend the June 4 screening.

Check out Storm’s shout-out on the “Jackass World” website, as well as the Facebook page for One Eighty Magazine.

Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts gears up

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This weekend, a lot of media attention will be focused on Knoxville, where the groundbreaking Big Ears Festival will be taking place. Hats off to Ashley Capps and his company, AC Entertainment, for putting together a truly spectacular festival of underground, avant garde, off-the-radar pop and unheard-of classical genius; we’ll have a few artist profiles of our own in this coming Friday’s Weekend entertainment section.

A little closer to home, however, there’s still big things happening. Starting Friday night, the newly built Clayton Center for the Arts will kick off its grand opening weekend with a concert by country artist Jo Dee Messina; tickets are still available and range from $36-$46. We put together a nice little Clayton Center package, including an interview with Jo Dee, a look at last-minute preparations for the grand opening gala on Saturday night and a timeline of the center’s construction, in last Friday’s Weekend. But that’s just the beginning of Clayton Center goodness taking place over the next several months. A few concerts have been announced already, a few are late additions to the lineup, and a few are outright surprises. Here’s a roundup of what’s coming to the Maryville College campus as the center’s season gets into full swing:

Beyond that, the fall season is currently being booked, and while official announcements have yet to be made, there are a few hints out there online. Bluegrass goddess Missy Raines lists on her website an Oct. 7, 2010 date at the Clayton Center with fellow bluegrass maestro Sam Bush.

Written by wildsmith

March 22nd, 2010 at 7:06 am

Clayton Center for the Arts tickets go on sale Friday

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Friday is the big day — tickets go on sale for upcoming events at the almost-completed Clayton Center for the Arts, construction of which is wrapping up on the Maryville College campus.

Earlier this week, readers of The Daily Times got a glimpse of the new Steinway pianos in the recital hall; starting Friday, they can begin planning their social calendars around several of the events taking place at the center in the coming months. Those events include:

  • Maryville High School Orchestra Valentine’s Day concert with special guest Mark Wagner: 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $11 adults in advance/$14 at the door and $6 students.
  • Jo Dee Messina: 8 p.m. Friday, March 26. Tickets are $36, $46 and $56.
  • Grand opening gala: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27. Tickets are $20.
  • Contigula Brothers recital (benefit for the Adams Foundation, in the center’s Recital Hall): 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28. Tickets are $26 adults/$11 students.
  • BANFF Film Festival: 2 p.m. Monday, March 29. Tickets are $10 advance/$12 day of screening.
  • Delores Ziegler/John Wesley Wright vocal recital (in the Recital Hall): 8 p.m. Monday, March 29. Tickets are $15.
  • Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys with Cherryholmes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29. Tickets are $24.50, $29.50 and $36.
  • Ball in the House (five-man R&B vocal group): 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30. Tickets are $20/$16 students/$11 Maryville College students
  • “Our Town,” a production of the Maryville College Department of Theatre (in the center’s FLEX Theatre): Thursday, April 29 thru Sunday, May 2. $7/$5 Maryville College students
  • Wood and Strings Puppet Theatre (in the FLEX Theatre): 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 14. $12 adults/$5 MC students

In addition, the Clayton Center for the Arts will serve as a local Tickets Unlimited outlet, allowing visitors to the box office to purchase tickets for most Tickets Unlimited events in the East Tennessee area. For more information, visit the center’s website, call the box office at 981-8590 or visit in person at 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. The box office opens for business at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

Written by wildsmith

February 3rd, 2010 at 10:26 am

Dixie Werewolves, local actor Bruce McKinnon get a little screen time on Lifetime …

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Local actor Bruce McKinnon has a starring role in the upcoming movie on The Lifetime Network called “The Wronged Man,” and there’s also a cameo by local Southern rock outfit The Dixie Werewolves. Daily Times LifeTimes Editor Melanie Tucker wrote a story about it earlier this week (you can read it here), and if you’re interested in seeing the film, you can do so at 7 p.m. Sunday at Two Doors Down, 118 E. Broadway Ave. in downtown Maryville. (Jeff Breazeale, guitarist/singer for the Werewolves, co-owns the bar.)

It’s being billed as the “local premiere” of the film, and since McKinnon and the Werewolves will be in attendance, it’s as fancy of a red carpet event as you’ll find around these parts.

Admission is free; the film will screen at 8 p.m. Food will be provided as well, but leave the kids at home — Two Doors Down is a smoking facility, so it’s 21 and older only. Call 980-7771 for more information.

Two Doors Down online: Click here

Dixie Werewolves online: Click here

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January 14th, 2010 at 11:09 am

A LOOK AHEAD: Big Ears Festival 2010

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In case you missed it, we’re breaking down the conversations we had in last Friday’s edition of Weekend with various movers and shakers in the local entertainment scene to give you an idea of how entertainment in 2010 is shaping up. Today: Big Ears Festival 2010, a conversation with AC Entertainment founder/CEO Ashley Capps.

Despite his profile as one of the brainchilds behind Bonnaroo and the guy who gave his initials to East Tennessee entertainment corporation AC Entertainment, it’s doubtful even Ashley Capps could have convinced music writers at publications like The New York Times or Pitchfork that an avant garde music festival held in his hometown would be a massive success.

So he didn’t set out to do so. He just planned his first Big Ears Festival, held last February, and let fate take care of the rest.

As it turns out, the event was more successful than even Capps could have hoped — and if you look at his track record, the guy has an uncanny knack for calling these things. Simply pulling it off was a coup; having it so well-received by fans, artists and the media has made anticipation and buzz for Big Ears 2010 even bigger.

“The first Big Ears was really an idea I had been thinking about and contemplating for several years,” Capps told The Daily Times during a recent interview. “The big excitement was finally launching it in the first place after having thought about it and talked about it for such a long time. And from the artists and the audiences that attend, it was very affirming and gave us a lot of fuel for continuing to develop the concept and bring it up to another level for 2010.”

Already, the initial lineup has been announced — legendary Minimalist composer Terry Riley was introduced as the artist-in-residence for this years festival (scheduled for March 26-28 at various venues in downtown Knoxville), and earlier this month, the big names were rolled out: Vampire Weekend, Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Andrew W.K., The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly/Doveman/Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), The xx, Javelin, DJ/Rupture (solo), DJ/Rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond, the Calder Quartet, Gyan Riley and jj.

For some, it was a surprise; last year’s focus on avant garde music was groundbreaking, but this year’s talent seems to have more of a pop element. Given that it’s likely Big Ears will be a part of the East Tennessee entertainment scene for years to come, get used to such changes, Capps said.

“It was never the intention of Big Ears to create a strictly avant garde music festival,” he said. “That doesn’t interest me that much. I love avant garde music, but the principle was to bring that world together with other musical worlds. From the beginning, the limitless ideas has been a beautifl thing to me, and I think that’s been part of the success. Who knows? It may not always be an annual event; I can imagine it happening several weekends a year, each having a different character and focus to it.

“(In 2009), we had too many options. We had a wealth of possibilities, and ultimately you have to make decisions about what you feel works and what you feel might work better … in a slightly different context, and so forth and so on. I like improvisation, but you always start with a basic theme. This year, we have two — Terry Riley, and the secondary theme is taking some of that influence he’s had in the world of pop music and exploring some of those connections, many of which may not be obvious to anyone except me.”

Making those sorts of connections — whether they’re music or business-related — has made Capps the success that he is. Not only does his company book and manage both The Tennessee Theatre and The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville, it contributes booking to other venues (such as The Valarium), organizes such events as Bonnaroo and Sundown in the City and has now moved into the realm of artist management, taking on two particularly talented clients — ukulele phenom Julia Nunes, and banjo goddess Abigail Washburn.

His radar for both the not-so-obvious is what makes Big Ears 2010 so appealing — wondering how it will work within the confines of the Big Ears concept is intriguing. Add to that the addition of a musician like Andrew W.K. — known by casual fans for such hits as “Party Hard” — and it gets even more interesting. Capps, however, sees it as a gleeful sort of opportunity to throw the Big Ears hipsters who fawned over a group like Antony and the Johnsons at last year’s festival a curveball … to in fact force them outside of their comfort zone, should they choose to participate again this year.

“To what extent I was aware of him, I put him in the box of being a guy who does party music,” Capps said. “But when I started talking to a string quartet about coming to perform Terry Riley’s music, which they’ve been doing for years, they started talking about all of these projects they were doing, and one was with Andrew W.K. I had heard about the tour they did together, and I started checking out the YouTube video and talking to Andrew’s manager, and I myself became aware that this is an amazing artist who’s pushing himself on a number of different fronts.

“To me, it’s completely consistent in keeping with what the Big Ears vision is. The last thing in the world I want is for Big Ears to become a predictable thing. It’s extremely important for me that it’s full of surprises.”

And if it gives Knoxville a little share of the limelight, showcasing East Tennessee as a place where the unusual and the magical can happen alongside the traditional, then all the better. Obviously, Capps and his crew don’t have to put on Big Ears in East Tennessee — if they can take several hundred acres of Middle Tennessee farmland and turn it into Bonnaroo, they could probably put on Big Ears in just about any city. But it works, and Capps is glad of that.

“There’s a certain assumption by some people that it’s our homebase and where we are, and there might be a little bit of truth to that, but I really believe that Knoxville is a fabulous place to do it,” he said. “Part of that has to do with the way Knoxville’s downtown has rebounded and become an exciting place to be. There’s a tremendous amount of character to it — so many historic buildings and downtown businesses that are unique, and if you add that to the fact that we have these fantastic venues all within walking distance of one another, it’s really easy to figure out. We chose Knoxville because of that infrastructure.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how much the press and so many of the artists and fans have embraced Knoxville. One of the artists from last year’s festival is planning to move here because he really enjoyed the experience so much.”

Written by wildsmith

January 4th, 2010 at 8:12 am

“Rebel Scum” documentary on The Dirty Works to get a screening

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Finally … “Rebel Scum” gets its due.

That kick-ass, long-in-the-works documentary about Knoxville band The Dirty Works, which has been roughly five years in the making, now has a local screening date — Saturday, Jan. 16 at Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon, 100 N. Central St. in Knoxville’s Old City. No word on an exact time or whether there will be an admission charge, but we’ll let you know as soon as we know.

In the meantime, the band is ramping up for a busy 2010, frontman Christopher Scum tells us: “We have the movie premiering in several cities, we have the 7 song EP called ‘Get Wrecked’ coming out, and I will have a brutally honest CD coming out by spring called ‘Tracks,’” he said. “It’s gonna have eight or 10 new songs on it, and then I’m gonna put some old stuff (maybe never before released) on there; I’m thinking about 18-20 songs.”

The last time we wrote about the documentary, he described it as thus: “We just got in the van, went to our gigs across the South and it all got captured on film. Now they’re going to put it in some documentary form. It could be great, or I could hate it, I don’t know.”

Check out some Dirty Works/Scum goodness:

The “Rebel Scum” trailer

“Get Wrecked” video

Download the song “Fifty Acres,” by Christopher Scum: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Christopher Scum on Myspace: Click here

Download the song “Wife Beater,” by The Dirty Works: Right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy “Biscuits and Liquor” by The Dirty Works: Click here

Read a July interview we did with Scum

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December 16th, 2009 at 9:03 am