Steve Wildsmith

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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

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.