Steve Wildsmith

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Knoxville Film & Music Festival organizers announce schedule, lineup

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UntitledThey’re having a big shindig tonight to announce the schedule and lineup for the 2014 Knoxville Film & Music Festival, and while we love getting the scoop, we certainly want to encourage you to attend — not just tonight’s event at Scruffy City Hall, the newest venue by Knoxville visionaries Scott and Bernadette West (and the official home of the KF&MF), but all of the upcoming festival events, screenings and concerts.

Here’s the official schedule:

  • Thursday June 5: Market Squaroo festival kickoff featuring six bands hosted by the group Tree Tops and Knoxville Music Warehouse (Copper Into Steel, Roots of a Rebellion, Maps Need Reading, The Jojax, Lines Taking Shape, Kink Ador and Masseuse) at Scruffy City Hall and Preservation Pub
  • Friday, June 6: Talent Trek presents the K24HFF Five Year Celebration at Scruffy City Hall (”Join us as we show our favorite 24 Hour films of the past five years and kick off the music with our headlining band, Unknown Hinson,” according to the press release.)
  • Saturday, June 7: Band Eat Band Finals in Scruffy City Hall (”See the best East Tennessee bands fighting it out for their chance to win $3,000 worth of prizes — followed by a HUGE party at Scruffy City Hall.”)
  • Sunday, June 8: Tennessee Film & Music Celebration at Scruffy City Hall (”An all-day film and music event featuring a mixer for Tennessee musicians and filmmakers, live music, and our Tennessee film screenings with a $500 prize for the Best Tennessee Film”) featuring the Brad Walker Orchestra and a special command screening of “Voyage” by Knoxville filmmaker Alex Oliver.
  • Monday, June 9: Workshop (An Introduction to Feature Filmmaking)
  • Tuesday, June 10: Singer-Songwriter Finals at Scruff City Hall on Market Square (”This competition with a $2,000 prize has been going on for over 10 years and has launched the careers of many great Knoxville musicians.”)
  • June 11-13, Film Screenings at Scruffy City Hall — “Fantastic films from around the world. Our screenings focus on music docs, shorts, music videos, documentaries, and animation. The ‘Best Film of the Fest’ this year will take home $1,000! Enjoy the films with a nice cold mug of our exclusive festival beer, Beer Murray. We will feature film inspired beer and food pairings, great films, and presentations by filmmakers from around the country.”
  • Saturday, June 14: The 5th Annual Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festival (”Red Carpet Gala at 6 p.m. followed by screenings at 7 p.m. and our famous Wrap Party at 10:30 p.m.”)

According to the press release, “This is the second year for the Knoxville Film & Music Festival and the fifth year for the Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festival, events that drew 5,400 people to downtown Knoxville last year. The festival is truly Knoxville’s ‘indie’ film and music event of the year.”

“What we have created is the Knoxville equivalent of ‘American Idol’ for local filmmakers and musicians,” reads a statement by Festival Director Michael Samstag. “While we draw film submissions from all over the United States and from many other countries, we really love celebrating the work of East TN filmmakers and musicians.”

As it has grown, the Knoxville Film & Music Festival has been able to attract well-known film industry executives to East Tennessee. This year’s judges include:

  • Frank Agnone, executive producer of “South Park”
  • Lela Meadow-Conner, executive director, Tallgrass Film Festival
  • David Dwyer, actor, “The Blind Side”
  • Joel Trussell, Disney animator

In addition to local films, several national films will premier at the 2014 Knoxville Film & Music Festival. Those films include:

  • “Papaya: Make Some Noise” (world premiere)
  • “Led Zeppelin Played Here”
  • “Amanda F–ing Palmer on the Rocks” (Tennessee premiere)
  • “Obey the Artist” (Tennessee premiere)
  • “Satellite” (starring Luke Wilson; Tennessee premiere)
  • “Anything Made of Paper” (Tennessee premiere)
  • “Blackout on Swan Pond” (Movie about the Kingston ash spill)

Tickets for the year’s Knoxville Film & Music Festival are available as full festival passes ($50), VIP festival passes ($100) and ultra-VIP festival passes ($250, includes a limo ride to the Red Carpet Gala). Single-event tickets are also available.

All Knoxville Film & Music Festival details and tickets are available on the festival’s website.

Sad news, friends: The Well in Bearden is no more

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We reported about it before it opened, and we were there on the weekend of the soft opening when Gina Truitt showed Knoxville what was possible with ingenuity, passion and dedication. When all is said and done, however, those things can only take a person — and a business — so far, and we’re extremely bummed out to report that The Well has come to the end of its run.

She wasn’t going to announce it until today (May 6), but social media users let it slip last night, and within a couple of hours, local music fans were lamenting the venue’s closure. I caught up with Truitt this morning, and while of course bummed out about having to shut The Well’s doors, she’s looking ahead and trying to stay positive. (And if you know her, then you’re well aware her enthusiasm is infectious and her optimism is one of the things that drew people to her bar over the years. With a big smile and an effervescent bounce in her step, she was a fireball of energy, slinging drinks and taking food orders and doing whatever bands needed to make their sets rock to the fullest.)

“Financially, it was always just sort of a little bit behind what it needed to be,” she told me. “If I had more time and energy and money, it could be a great thing, but I don’t have those things anymore. I did the best that I could, but now I’ve got to call it quits. Not that I want to — but finances and everything else being what they are, it’s something I have to do.”

The space itself (4620 Kingston Pike) hasn’t had a whole lot of luck with long-running businesses over the years, from 4620 Jazz Club to 4620 Reinvented to Velvet, but over the course of 2.5 years, Truitt built a watering hole that stood out as a “Cheers” sort of bar for the local scene — a place where you could hit up a show and find Wil Wright (Senryu, LiL iFFy) taking money at the door and Zac Fallon (Playboy Manbaby, Katie and the Bass Drums) behind the bar and Matt Woods, Truitt’s beau and a hell of a singer-songwriter in his own right, picking up the slack. There was always a familiar face nursing a beer or listening to the music, and the warmth of the place made it a perfect stage for roots-oriented rock ‘n’ roll, comedy and just about anything else. At the bottom of a staircase beneath a shopping center, it had an uber-cool speakeasy vibe that those of us who love this scene found both welcoming and exclusive. If you were at a show at The Well, you felt like part of a crowd that was urbane, witty and down-to-earth in a way that couldn’t be replicated in a thousand other frat-boy establishments along “The Strip” or in the Old City.

And the shows … man, The Well was host to some great ones. From Dale Watson to The Queers to Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires to Local H, Gina brought some amazing bands to town, and more importantly, she offered a stage to locals who filled that cavernous room with all the joy and bombast of guys and girls who knew they had to bring their A-game because they were playing to friends and peers as much as they were to fans. One of my favorite memories was the release show for “Wand Ambition” by LiL iFFy and the Magic Hu$tle crew, when the fog machine set off the smoke alarms. We had to evacuate to the parking lot momentarily, and when the cacophony resumed, the power to the sound system took a bit to get turned back on. Not a crew to let the party lag, iFFy and the boys hit the floor in front of the stage and did a freestyle version of “Order Up” that was so damn much fun everyone there was grinning like we’d been huffing nitrous.

What kind of a proprietor is Truitt? Since deciding to close the doors, she’s hustled herself to reschedule the shows on the books there at other venues around town. It hasn’t been possible to move all of them, but she’s done what she can, and over the next few weeks, she and her crew will go through the motions of shuttering the business for good. As for Truitt …

“I’m excited, because my friend Michelle owns the Bean Tree Cafe on the Pigeon River,” Truitt said. “I’m going to help her and see the water and the stars and the sun and take a lot of naps. I’m going to have a little bit of me time, which I haven’t for 2.5 years. I need to sleep and take a break, and that’ll be nice. I might have some big plans later, but for now, that’s what I’m doing.”

You deserve it, Gina. Thank you for what you’ve done, and for giving this scene a slap on the back, a kick in the ass and a stroke to the ego for the pasts 2.5 years. I’ll always wear my Well T-shirt with pride.

Written by wildsmith

May 6th, 2014 at 7:11 am

Posted in Local venues, Music

Wallypalooza 2014 set for April 4 and 5

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Wally Miles (left) and comedian Waylon Whiskey

Wally Miles (left) and comedian Waylon Whiskey

Our hearts go out to Wally Miles, creator of the local music bash known as Wallypalooza. He lost his brother Ted recently, and his heart’s hurting, but he’s determined that the show will go on.

Ever since the last Wallypalooza — held in January 2013 at the now-defunct Thirsty Turtle in Maryville — Miles has been laying low. He found a new job, a new relationship and a new direction for his life, and it seemed his days of putting together a massive party that showcased local music were behind him.

(For those unfamiliar with Wallypalooza, they started out as a birthday celebration for Miles, a 1997 graduate of Maryville High School and a longtime resident of Blount County. He invited friends to the lake in 1998 to celebrate the day, and they enjoyed an afternoon of music blaring from an old boombox. The next year, someone came up with the idea of getting a rock band to play for the annual gathering. Over the next 14 years, the event was christened Wallypalooza and grew into the monster that it is today. And starting in 2008, when he booked three bands (Middle Finger, Stonemosis and Half of Something) at also-defunct Nater’z Sports Grille in Maryville, it’s become a beast over which he has little control, at least in terms of how many people show up.)

But when the folks who run Blackstock Auditorium, 940 Blackstock Drive in Knoxville’s Warehouse District, called and asked him to do Wallypalooza one more time, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity, he told us.

“I’ve always wanted to do it on that stage, because I’ve been sneaking in there since I was a high schooler and it was the Electric Ballroom,” Miles said of the venue. “I remember seeing Danzig there in 1995 with Marilyn Manson and a young,  upstart band named Korn. I couldn’t tell you what I did last week, but I can tell you about that show!”

It’s the first Wallypalooza event to be held outside of Blount County, and if it were any other venue, he added, he’d probably not consider it. But doing it at Blackstock was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I never thought it was possible, because people told me for years one day I’d get in there, but I just shrugged it off,” he said. “Then the guy who does the booking asked me what I was going to do for Wallypalooza this year, and I was just straight-up honest and told him I hadn’t been thinking about it. He asked me to do it there,  and I talked it over with the missus and said, ‘Look, here we go again!’”

His girlfriend (Linda Shelton) gave the event her blessing, however, and Wallypalooza 2014 is now set for April 4 and 5 at Blackstsock. The lineup includes:

• April 4 — Something Wicked, Big Trouble, Joe Coe, Evince, The Bad Dudes, Rot Iron and The Dirty Gunnz; and

• April 5 — Catalyst, Indie Lagone, AfterLife, Imprint, Shallowpoint, Big Pushy and Crome Molly.

The shows begin at 8 p.m. each night, and the cover charge will likely be somewhere from $5 to $10, Miles said.

Written by wildsmith

February 28th, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Goodbye, Groundswell Collective

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When the Groundswell Collective opened in early 2012 at 1215 Magnolia Ave. in East Knoxville, organizers had dreams of a democratic community center that would host live music, offer meeting spots for proactive social organizations, throw neighborhood block parties and organize workshops on all manner of topics.

They succeeded admirably, fostering community through a do-it-yourself philosophy “that uses resources and education to cultivate social justice,” according to the website. “By providing consolidated information about other groups, spaces, and events, we hope to spark engagement with others outside Groundswell and in Knoxville.” Within the first three months, Groundswell had already played host to a yard sale, field day, home-brew workshop, and Linux-installing party.

Unfortunately, Pellissippi State recently bought the property to expand its Magnolia Avenue campus, and the tenants of Groundswell are being evicted. To commiserate, mourn and celebrate, they’ll hold one last show at 9 p.m. Saturday at Groundswell, featuring the bands Steaks, Buddy System, Maker, Sprocket Gobbler and Criswell Collective. It’s free to attend (BYOB), so show up and say goodbye to a community treasure.

Written by wildsmith

February 4th, 2014 at 10:55 am

Posted in Local venues, Music

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“World Class Bluegrass” at the Clayton Center … and more!

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WDVX-FM is a phenomenal steward of great music shows in the Knoxville area — Friday night’s “World Class Bluegrass” show at The Bijou Theatre, featuring The Grascals and The Boxcars, is one example — but next year, the station is branching out.

On Jan. 11, the station will present a “World Class Bluegrass” show at the Clayton Center for the Arts, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway on the Maryville College campus, and it’s a good ‘un featuring two of the  most respected bands in the genre: the Del McCoury Band and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, with opening act (and Blount County girl!) Jesse Gregory and Faultline. Tickets go on sale Friday, Nov. 22, at all Knoxville Ticket locations, from the Clayton Center for the Arts box office, by phone at 656-4444 and online.

There’s also more. It’s not a “World Class Bluegrass” show, but just as dandy: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, a husband-wife duo who make amazing music together (he with the Flecktones, she with the Sparrow Quartet, of which he’s been a part in the past), will perform a show at the Clayton Center on March 9; tickets go on sale Monday, Dec. 2, and they’ll be $30 and $35. The concert came about thanks to Richard Battaglia, a 1974 graduate of Maryville College who’s served as the house engineer and tour manager for Fleck and his trio of highly skilled jazz-meets-everything combo — bassist Victor Wooten, percussionist Future Man and harmonica player Howard Levy — for years now. I’m not sure if he told Fleck about the venue or gave him a tour; either way, Fleck wanted to do a performance there.

Don’t forget the other goodness coming up at the Clayton Center next year as well: Americana artist Paul Thorn will play the Lambert Recital Hall on Jan. 16 as part of a fundraiser for Interfaith Health Clinic (tickets are $35); ukulele phenom Jake Shimabukuro will showcase his talent in the Recital Hall on Feb. 6 (tickets are also $35); actor Hal Holbrook will bring his acclaimed “Mark Twain Tonight” one-man show to the Clayton Center stage on March 8 (tickets are $20-$45); country group Diamond Rio performs on Nov. 11 (tickets are also $20-$45); and comedian Jon Reep, fifth-season winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” performs May 2 (tickets are $10-$25).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there’s a whole lot more going on at the Clayton Center, and you can find out on the venue’s website.

Blackstock owners plan to re-open on Wednesday

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The Blackstock will be open for business on Tuesday, according to owner Daniel Leal and operations manager Jay Harris.

After local news agencies reported earlier today that the venue — formerly the location of The Valarium before changing hands late last year — was closed by the Tennessee Department of Revenue for nonpayment of taxes, Leal and Harris released a statement on Tuesday night:

“The Blackstock Entertainment Venue is pleased to announce that we will be open for business tomorrow morning and for every foreseeable day after that. We inherited a legacy of difficulties when we opened the doors of the Blackstock (from the previous business owner and management of the Valarium & Ciderhouse and from changes in management of the current business). There are always speed bumps on the road to success, but the show WILL go on. There will be a few difficult days ahead proving that the current ownership has no connection with the previous owner and thereby has no fault in their liabilities and obligations. Our mission remains: to provide the best entertainment experience in Knoxville.  We are looking forward to an exciting fall in an intimate 1,500 person venue and rocking Knoxville again! In the spirit of Monty Python, we continue to look on the bright side of life: ‘Well, at least we are caught up on our taxes!’”

According to Harris, he’ll be in his office at the venue on Wednesday morning, and Wednesday night’s “Locals Only” show — a free 8 p.m. performance by Capgun Alliance, Another Fable and Later that Day — will go on as expected. He sees no reason future shows will be put on hold, he said, nor any reason to believe the current difficulties will interrupt the venue’s various services such as liquor availability to the clientele.

According to Harris, the brouhaha has been, in a word, a “misunderstanding” that won’t affect the venue’s future.

Written by wildsmith

August 13th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

“The Shed” gearing up for another jam-packed concert season

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Last month, we talked to Aaron Snukals, marketing and special events director for Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson — 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville — and he revealed some of the names on tap for this year’s “Shed Concert Season,” which kicks off the first weekend in April. He revealed a few names — The Kentucky Headhunters, Blackberry Smoke, Mustang Sally, Todd Snider, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Wylie Hubbard, James McMurtry, The Flatlanders, Marty Stuart, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and Leon Russell among them — and now the first two months of dates have been announced.

Tickets to the following shows go on sale March 1:

Obviously, it’s gonna be a busy, crazy spring at “The Shed,” and for the SMH-D folks in general: the Tennessee State H.O.G. Rally takes place in Maryville May 28-June 1, and SMH-D is the rally’s official headquarters and venue. Look for more details on a downtown Maryville street party that will coincide with the rally in the coming weeks. Call “The Shed” at 977-1669 for more information on ticket prices; shows all start at 8 p.m. If you have the scratch, your best bargain is a season pass — $195 for every show at “The Shed” this season (barring extra special events, of course), which runs through October.

Patterson Hood on the 2/14 Weekend cover

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This Thursday’s Weekend cover guy is Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, who performs Saturday, Feb. 16, at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. We talked at length about his most recent solo album, “Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance,” and, of course, his band.

“We’ve got a tour in March for about two weeks, and then we’re going to come home and go straight into the studio,” he said of the Truckers. “Because we did (2010’s) ‘Big To Do’ and (2011’s) ‘Go-Go Boots’ at the same time, it’s been a little over four years since we did anything. We’ve got some new songs, and it feels good. The band (which lost bass player Shonna Tucker in 2011 and John Neff late last year) has gone through some changes and some rough times lately, but we seem to have come out on the other end in a good place. We’re smoking hot right now, and we’re very excited to go in and record.”

As for the title track of “Heat Lightning” — funny story about that. Hood’s sister worked on the record with him and pointed out that heat lightning, technically, doesn’t rumble. That precipitated a friendly sibling argument between the two.

“We bickered back and forth, and in the end even though I said it was still gonna be the name of my goddamn album, it was bugging the shit out of me, but I didn’t want her to know it,” he said with a laugh. “So I ended up doing some research, and I found out that it does rumble! You just don’t hear it because it’s so far away! Just because you don’t hear it doesn’t mean it doesn’t rumble; therefore my title is even more perfect.

“So I printed out a link talking about that, and I mailed it to her. Along with a picture of me shooting her a bird.”

Written by wildsmith

February 12th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Dawes, everybodyfields, Erick Baker, Time Jumpers to headline Rhythm N’ Blooms 2013

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RNB_LOGO_2013Organizers of the Dogwood Arts Festival teamed up with Attack Monkey Productions queen Chyna Brackeen today to announce the 2013 Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival lineup, and it’s a good ‘un. Without further ado, here are the artists that’ll be performing at the event, which takes place April 5-7 in Knoxville:

And that’s not all, according to today’s press release: More artists will be announced. Other details:

Venues include The Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum, John Black Photography Studio, Latitude 35, The Square Room, the Bill Lyons Pavilion on Market Square, the Knoxville Visitor’s Center and, new for this year, venues in Knoxville’s Old City, including Barley’s Taproom, Boyd’s Jig & Reel and Crown & Goose. Trolleys will run back and forth between the various venues, so you can park and ride without missing a show.

Tickets: A $175 VIP pass gives access to all shows all weekend in addition to priority seating and parking, a VIP welcome reception, artist meet n’ greet and more.  The $55 weekend-long festival pass provides access to all of the performances and venues occurring over the course of the weekend. Day passes for each day are $25. Passes can be purchased online at www.rhythmnbloomsfest.com, or in person at the Knoxville Visitor Center.

This year’s sponsors include Blackstone Brewing Company, sponsored by Pilot Flying J, and produced by Dogwood Arts and Attack Monkey Productions. Additional sponsors include: Sharpie, Young Professionals of Knoxville, Sound Ventures, Bandit Lites, Rik’s Backline Pros, Visit Knoxville, WDVX, WFIV, WUTK, Knoxville.com and Metro Pulse.

‘Scruffy City Ramble’: The shows will go on

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38_EdpThis week, Metro Pulse reported some interesting news regarding booking and shows at The Square Room over in Knoxville.

Kenny Woodhull, the guy behind the former Old City venue New City Cafe, blogged a bit about it on Jan. 18, and in an email exchange a few weeks ago, he told me that his organization New City Resources — which has put on several shows at Old North Abbey in Knoxville — was partnering with 4MS Entertainment, the organization behind The Square Room, to put on shows there, including a March “Talk Is Cheap” performance, a show in April by Andrew Peterson and the band CALEB and a show next week by Christian singer-songwriter Michael Card. In addition, “We’ll be hosting a weekly songwriter’s night on Thursdays starting soon,” Woodhull wrote.

So what does this mean for “Scruffy City Ramble,” the variety show/concert series produced by Chyna Brackeen of Attack Monkey Productions, the company that’s presenting the Feb. 20 Tift Merritt/David Wax Museum show? That remains to be seen, Brackeen
told me on Wednesday, despite Metro Pulse’s report that it’s “on hold” for the time being.

“We will still have the Feb. 21 show — it’s been scheduled, it’s still on, and it’s still happening,” she said, adding that Henry Wagons, Sturgill Simpson, Lydia Salnikova and This Mountain. “At this point, The Square Room had a conflict with the March date, and we agreed to give that up. I’m not sure if we’ll do a March show or not, since I’m slammed with the Black Lillies (whom Brackeen manages) performing at South By Southwest and planning for the Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival (which takes place the first weekend in April). But we plan to pick back up in April.

“Right now, we’re looking at venue options. I would love to keep it at The Square Room, but they’ve advised me that they have a conflict on Thursdays. We would like to work out something for one Thursday a month, but if we can’t, we’ll be looking at other venue options. Because ‘Scruffy City Ramble’ is such a big production, we can’t move it off of Thursdays at this point, but that’s certainly a conversation I’m willing to have down the road.”

Stay tuned for what will develop for “Scruffy City.”

Written by wildsmith

February 7th, 2013 at 12:01 pm