Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
An astute listener has to ask: Did Shooter Jennings really have a Skeletor lunchbox as a kid?
A semi-autobiographical song on his most recent album, “The Other Life,” would seem to indicate so. The song — “The Low Road” — details a particularly fragile point in young Shooter’s life that led to his daddy giving him some fatherly advice:
“When I was in school some boys was pickin’ on me / pushed me down at the playground and I skinned my knee / Lord I wanted to cry, and it occurred to me / took my Skeletor lunchbox and took out his front teeth …”
No, Jennings said with a chuckle. It wasn’t strictly a Skeletor lunchbox.
“I had a He-Man lunchbox,” he told The Daily Times recently. “Sometimes a fan will tell me, ‘They didn’t make a Skeletor lunchbox!’ I know. They made a Masters of the Universe lunchbox. I’m obsessed with He-Man and Transformers. I’m more interested in that stuff than sports.”
He’s not a total sci-fi geek — the current wave of comic book movies don’t appeal to him so much, but he definitely considers himself a film buff.
“I heard ‘Spring Breakers’ is great, and I’ve heard mixed reviews on Rob Zombie’s new movie (”The Lords of Salem”),” he said. “I’m more of a horror buff than I am a comic buff, but I’m into that stuff. And I’m excited to see Zac Snyder’s ‘Superman’ movie.”
The best horror film he’s seen of late? The 2010 Canadian horror film “Beyond the Black Rainbow.”
“It’s really weird, sort Stanley Kubrick-y, and kind of slow, but there are three scary scenes that were absolutely terrifying,” he said.
Jennings performs (with opening act Kelsey’s Woods) at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 25 at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. Tickets are $20.
Call it “Old Rockers Week,” but we’ve been digging up some interesting stuff on some of the dudes who helped shape what the East Tennessee music scene is today.
In case you missed it, in today’s (May 23) edition of The Daily Times Weekend section, we profiled Chick Graning, he of Doyle High School, Teenage Love and alt-rock fame achieved through bands like Anastasia Screamed and Scarce. And the other day, the ol’ iPod shuffle brought a Carl Snow song to the deck, so we thought we’d check in with the grizzled ol’ rocker to see what he’s been up to of late.
Snow, in case you’re a casual local music fan, is a burly guitar-slinger whose list of bands over the years is as impressive as it is obscure: Koro, Red, Screamin’ Boy Blue, Big Stickmen, 30-Amp Fuse, Whitey, Birdhouse and THAT, just to name a few. He was Knoxville’s answer to G.G. Allin long before his protege Christopher Scum, but over the past several years, he’s dropped off the radar. He put out the album “Useless” a few years back, played some shows with the Carl Snow Band and re-emerged with Carl Snow’s Summer of Love around 2007, playing here and there until his bandmates departed for other opportunities and obligations. Snow, meanwhile, has waged an ongoing battle against Hepatitis C, and his health problems are the main reason he hasn’t played out in recent years.
“It’s hard for me to say, ‘Sure, let’s go play Budokan 12 weeks from now,’ because I might not be able to get out of bed,” he said.
He took the standard Interferon treatment for a year, but it didn’t take; neither did Ribaverin and any number of other drugs his doctors used to attack the disease. He just completed a recent round of chemotherapy, which was a failure as well, he said. But he’s not letting it get him down, because he’s working on a new album (due out in the next couple of months), spending time with his wife, Cindy, and enjoying where he’s at in life these days.
“Life’s good otherwise,” he said. “Recording everything you want to do, the way you want to, with absolutely no time pressure or no peer pressure, is fantastic. I’m doing a whole record again, but it’s a Carl record this time — it’s not all sweet and fluffy, like (”Useless”). It’s more like ‘Raw Power.’ I even actually play guitar solos all over it, and that’s really weird; I haven’t done that on tape since Whitey. It’s stripped down, just drums and bass and guitar — me, Mike Armstrong and guys that come in and out of the studio.
“I’m mastering everything over here (at his home studio, Moss Hill Media), and we’re doing everything pretty much — about 90 percent — analog. We don’t do anything unless it’s in one take. There’s no punch-that-in, punch-that-out. It’s fun, and I’m painting a lot, too. That’s what old rock ‘n’ rollers do — they paint and they do their better records when they’re dying.”
He laughs at the morbidity of the joke while acknowledging there’s a kernel of truth to it, but Carl Snow isn’t going down without a fight. Always a tattooed giant of a man, he continues to hit the gym regularly, and he’s gotten his bench press up to 450 pounds. Friends and peers who see him out occasionally — at places like Lost and Found Records, where he performed on Record Store Day back in April — remark that he looks good. And while he and Armstrong plan to play more dates in the months to come, he’s not looking to start a new band, he said.
“I don’t see any kind of band thing happening, really, unless some chipper little 20-something-year-old jumps up and says, ‘I wanna play bass!’” he said with a chuckle. “I’m too old to put up with BS, and there’s nowhere to play — besides, I go to sleep at 9. I definitely can’t do The Pilot Light; they’re not even open when I go to bed!”
Besides — not that he wants to sound like Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” character from 1980s-era “Saturday Night Live,” and not that he cares if he does — playing live ain’t what it used to be, he said.
“There used to be an audience; now, there’s a crowd,” he said. “It’s not like they’re really there to hear music. So unless people say, ‘Yes, we want to hear you play the songs,’ I’m not going to waste my f—— time. That’s just the way it is now, and the people I run with, we’re all well over 40. Nobody wants to put up with an 18-year-old puking on his shoes.”
In the late 1990s, before she would go on to front Dixie Dirt, singer-songwriter Kat Brock teamed up with her high school boyfriend Joe McLemore — the guy who taught her to play guitar — and drummer-about-town Dave “The Animal” Campbell to form the band subbluecollar.
The group released the “Daydreams” EP and parted ways amicably when Brock felt called in a different direction. McLemore and Campbell would go on to form The Coveralls with Bryan Garvey and Chris Canada, Dixie Dirt came and went, Brock moved to Nashville and then to Brooklyn, eventually coming back to East Tennessee four months ago with a trunk full of dreamy shoegaze home recordings. We’ll catch you up on her journey and the road back to Knoxville — she’s working at Tomato Head on Market Square and aiming to become a certified personal trainer — and on her upcoming solo show at The Pilot Light on Tuesday, March 26. Look for the story in Thursday’s Weekend edition.
The big news, though, is her journey back to rock. Her searingly personal songs are part of her, but back home, she wanted to have fun. Her first weekend in town, she called McLemore and the two played; wanting to start a rock band, she went to see The Coveralls at Barley’s Taproom.
“That’s when I realized that I don’t want to assemble a band; I want them,” Brock told me today. “They rock!”
And so subbluecollar is back in business.
“It makes me happy,” she said. “They have a brotherhood I can’t explain. It’s something I’ve never seen before, and it’s like their little sister came back. We have a history that really shows.”
They’ve been practicing hard for a show coming up April 20 at Barley’s in Knoxville’s Old City and are planning to hit the studio soon after; the bulk of the material is new, with only four songs from the late 1990s — “Trackstar,” “Rocketship,” “Funny Red Eyes” and “Anthem” — surviving.
“It’s just nice. Really, really nice,” Brock said.
There was a moment during Waynestock 3 when the tragedy that spawned this whole beautiful thing came rushing back.
Kevin Abernathy was on stage, singing his heartbreakingly gorgeous song, “Love Alone.” It’s a track that first appeared on his sophomore album, “Beautiful Thing,” and one he re-recorded for his most recent solo effort, “Some Stories.” It’s also the song he played on stage at The Bijou Theatre during Andrew Bledsoe’s memorial service.
Working the front door with Andrew’s dad, Wayne — the guy for whom Waynestock is named — I caught a glimpse of it in the man’s eyes, which brimmed with tears. It wasn’t the only time he got emotional over the weekend — his remarks to the assembled crowd before the all-star jam that brought Waynestock to a close included a few as well — but it was a reminder of how Waynestock started.
“There would be laughter, bouncing off the walls … smiles in photographs up and down the halls … if you could live on love alone …”
The tears, however, were few and far between.
This year’s Waynestock rose money for the Community School of the Arts. Although the past two Waynestocks were held in response to tragedies — the death of Andrew in late 2010 was the catalyst for Waynestock 1, held in early 2011, and the death of beloved local musician Phil Pollard in late 2011 was the driving force behind last year’s event — this year was different. As one of the organizers, I freely admit my uncertainty of how well another Waynestock would be received without such visceral pain driving the momentum.
It’s human nature, really. When Andrew died, those of us who love Wayne wanted to do something, anything, to help our friend. Everyone we asked, from Daniel Schuh at Relix Variety Theatre (the gracious home of Waynestock since the beginning) to the musicians who played that first year to the sponsors who helped get the word out to the donors who gave of their time and equipment, agreed to take part without hesitation. The folks who came to see the music gave generously above and beyond the $5 cover. After such a weekend of magic and beauty, it seemed impossible that we could repeat its success.
But we did, last year. Again, tragedy was the catalyst, but remembrance and love became the legacy. And while there was no single beneficiary, no fallen friend or loved one, to whom Waynestock was dedicated this year, love remains the post-Waynestock emotion that best sums up the whole weekend.
“Tangled up in kisses, on the side of the road, still running on empty with a million miles to roll, if you could live on love alone …”
The doors opened Friday night to a dedicated group of Con Hunley fans who had driven all the way to Nashville and arrived four hours before he was scheduled to take the stage. Warrior-poet Black Atticus charmed and entertained, and Abernathy was the perfect lead-in to the night’s big event.
Every act who took the stage at Waynestock made fans of those in attendance who’d never heard them before, but the act that brought in the most people was Con Hunley, backed by Mic Harrison & The High Score. For Mic and the boys, it was a big deal; family members came to see them share the stage with an icon, and they were in fine form. Mic and guitarists Robbie Trosper and Chad Pelton provided killer licks and sweet backing vocals for Con’s amped-up brand of country soul, and when they opened the show (after Mic and the boys warmed up everybody with “The Colonel Is Dead”) with a rousing, juke-joint inspired version of “Livin’ on the Funky Side,” the exhilaration was palpable. Con’s older fans felt rejuvenated (and even got their balladeer fix on with a few of his slower-tempo numbers), and fans of the local music scene were content to watch in wonder as history was made with Hunley’s return to Central Avenue.
It was the sort of magic that defines Waynestock, and it would be repeated throughout the event. The Rockwells, absent from the local scene for a few years now (save for a single performance last May), were as enthusiastic as the dancers that crowded the stage during their set, with mild-mannered Tommy Bateman peeling off one killer pop-rock lick after another and Jonathan Kelly managing an impressive leap mid-song that would have made Pete Townsend proud. The Mutations, performing in front of a screening of the 1967 Peter Fonda flick “The Trip,” kept the dancers happy, with Harold Heffner getting down among them for a fired-up and impassioned version of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away.” Yak Strangler, featuring Andrew’s brother, Rylan, on drums, wrapped up Friday night, and with winter weather moving in throughout the day on Saturday, the turnout for night two appeared, at first, to be in doubt.
Those who stayed at home missed a hell of an exotic set from Saturday’s two openers, the Gypsy jazz-influenced Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego and the klezmer band Dor L’Dor. (Dor L’Dor dad/bandleader Ken Brown even brought out the shofar, the traditional Jewish ram’s horn pipe, for the group’s finale.) Johnny Astro and the Big Bang steered everyone back to the middle of the road with some straight-ahead American rock ‘n’ roll done to perfection, and the Americana outfit Guy Marshall proved that it’s East Tennessee’s answer to the beloved and long-running Murfreesboro band Glossary. Sam Quinn and his Americana power-trio co-horts — Tom Pryor and Jamie Cook of the Black Lillies — were the perfect lead-in to the grand finale.
“Too bad the heart has to have a mind, to tell it what to do when the eyes are blind …”
And once again, art and community and love were elevated into something else. Magic seems too hokey, too generic, to describe it, but what other word fits? What other word accurately captures the wonder of seeing the Tim Lee 3 (Tim and Susan Bauer Lee with drummer Chris Bratta) sharing the stage with Greg Horne, Mike McGill, Kevin Abernathy, R.B. Morris, Black Atticus and Jodie Manross? Atticus flowing smooth the lyrics of R.L. Burnside’s “Snake Drive” while the band powered behind him like a growling muscle car … the boogy-woogy honky-tonk of McGill and the rest howling through his original, “Women, Whiskey and Pain” … Sam Quinn, grinning like a madman and watching the Lees blister through his haunting takes on Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” and “Cortez the Killer” … Manross and Morris, trading lead as well as Bonnie Raitt and John Prine ever did on Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” … the whole damn family, wrapping up the night with a gloriously ramshackle version of Morris’s “Distillery” … that’s the stuff that Waynestock is made of. That’s the juice.
That is magic.
“There’d be no children troubled in their sleep, nothing else desired, nothing else to need, if you could live on love alone …”
After the house lights went up and the instruments were packed away and the last drinks poured, those of us who conceived of this thing felt like exhausted children on Christmas night. We take no credit for the creation of that magic, and like everyone else who walked away amazed and grinning and wearing those “did-that-just-happen?” expressions of slack-jawed joy, we recognize that Waynestock is so much more than just us. It’s so much more than Andrew Bledsoe and Phil Pollard, who no doubt were in the house and dancing and grinning along with the rest of us over the weekend. It’s so much more than the assuaging of grief and the remembrance of those departed and the banding together to overcome tragedy.
It is about celebration. It is about unity. It is about beauty and music and lifting up what is so good and right about this beautiful, brilliant and occasionally bizarre scene. It is about raising a flag in Happy Holler and declaring, “WE ARE KNOXVILLE.”
If we could live on love alone, then we would never have to leave Relix. The kegs would never run dry and the bottles would never dwindle. The sound would never be muddied and the instruments would stay tuned and the infinite possibilities of musical mayhem would play out for the rest of our days.
Love alone, unfortunately, isn’t always enough. And in a way, that’s OK, because Waynestock then becomes this bubble, this magical (yeah, yeah; there’s that damn word again) world to which a door is opened once a year and everything good about who we are as musicians and music lovers and human beings who call Knoxville, Tenn., home manifests itself in vibrant, vivid ways. Shutting that door for another year — and knowing there’s no guarantee it will open again — is bittersweet, but something tells me this will happen again. Part of me screams that it must. It’s too good, too special, to not revisit.
Besides, the key is simple … love. It opens the door. Love alone is all that’s needed to get back to the place that Waynestock shows us is possible. Love alone … well, sometimes it is enough.
Divided We Stand
A couple of weeks ago, rock band Hoobastank played a $5 show at The Valarium in Knoxville, and while many of those in attendance showed up to see the headliners, there’s little doubt they got rocked proper by opening act Divided We Stand.
“We’re a scene band, so we can bring it heavy or bring it for the ladies, and we did a little bit of both there,” joked DWS drummer Mike Russell, a Blount County native and Heritage High graduate. “We brought sexy back.”
Next Thursday, Oct. 4, Divided We Stand will return to The Valarium, this time on a bill with Gone in April, Shallowpoint, Johnny Newman and Nuclear Symphony. It’s a 7 p.m. show, and tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For his band — which includes members Phil Zimny, Trevor Tucker, Randy Krouse and Joe Turner — to get to play the 1,000-person club twice in less than a month’s time is a good sign.
“We’ve wanted to establish ourselves with that venue for a while,” Russell said. “For our fans, we want to obviously start playing in bigger venues.”
Currently, the band is working on an album with noted local producer Travis Wyrick, formerly of Knoxville rock act Sage and the guy who helped bands like Jag Star, 10 Years, Pillar and Disciple define their sounds at his Lakeside Studios. So far, Russell said, the sessions have been more productive than expected.
“I don’t know if anyone can light a fire under your ass more than Travis,” Russell said. “I think Joe Satriani could go into his studio and leave with question marks. He knows how to get the best out of you, and when this record drops, it’s gonna blow some minds.”
Working with Wyrick and playing The Valarium has set the boys’ fields of ambitions burning, Russell said. The guys pride themselves on having a loyal local following, but they’re also interested in branching out beyond East Tennessee. It’s going to take a great deal of hard work, but he feels they’re up to the task.
“We can’t get complacent; on a small scale, we can accomplish big things, but there’s so much out there that’s bigger,” he said. “It’s a matter of work ethic, as far as how far you want to take it. We’re starting to take small trips — we’re playing Oct. 6 at Capone’s (in Johnson City), but there’s so much more than just playing music that’s involved behind the scenes. And business-wise, we’re trying to get all that stuff lined up.
“I think when we do that, it’s going to be great. You’ve got to walk before you run, and we’ve seen so many people try to take those big steps and fall flat on their faces. We’re trying to get a solid foundation as far as travel arrangements and equipment go. People around here may see a little bit less of us in the next year while we get all of these things together, but when we do put on a show, it’s gonna be big and be a good experience.”
The Laurel Theater, that esteemed church-turned-concert-venue in Knoxville Fort Sanders neighborhood, is a beautiful setting in which to see a show, and it’ll be the perfect setting for a “History Songs: A Celebration of the Life of Woody Guthrie” that’s scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19.
To celebrate the 100th birthday of the American folk music icon, local artists — including Maggie Longmire, R.B. Morris, Jack Herranen, Sarah Pirkle, Jeff Barbra, Greg Horne and Daniel Kimbro — will gather to recreate Guthrie’s canon, from his dustbowl ballads and traveling songs to his more political songs and writings. When we caught up with Longmire earlier this month, she said the concert is a small token of appreciation on the part of East Tennessee musicians for Guthrie’s influence over the years.
“It’s something we’re looking forward to,” Longmire said. “There are shows going on all year to commemorate this, and some of the big guys are doing their shows at places like the Kennedy Center, but I think this one will be real interesting. It’ll be a mix of music and spoken word, and with everyone we’ve got, it won’t be a straight-edge show.”
Longmire counts among her favorite Guthrie songs “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos),” Guthrie’s tale of a plane crash of undocumented Mexicans on their way south out of California, and his scatching indictment of the treatment of the dead.
“You know how you have a song that sort of impacts you? There’s something about that one that tied it together, the telling of these horrific stories through folk songs, for me,” she said. “Sometimes, things just kind of line up, and that’s one I connected with and sang as a young folk singer.”
More information about Guthrie can be found here; the concert, which takes place at the Laurel (1538 Laurel Ave. in Fort Sanders), costs $12.