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Clayton Center for the Arts at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Clayton Center for the Arts’ tag

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

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Airport display WCB D low res

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.

New album by Robinella, ‘Ode to Love,’ on the way

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Breaking news, local music lovers: Robinella (also known as Robin Ella Tipton Bailey, the chanteuse who used to front Robinella and the CCstringband) has a new album on the way (it’ll be out in “three months, max,” she told me this week), and when she performs at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Lambert Recital Hall at the Clayton Center for the Arts (502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville), you’ll get to hear plenty of the material that will be on it.

It’s called “Ode to Love,” and the bulk of the songs were cut in Connecticut with jazz guitarist and producer Frank Vignola (who’s worked as a sideman to Madonna, Ringo Starr and Leon Redbone, among others). Save for a couple of covers (“Stardust” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), the songs are original Robinella compositions, she said, and feature a number of guest stars.

“Technically, I think it’s my best album,” she said. “I recorded for two days in Connecticut, and Frank played on it, and then I took what I’d recorded back to Knoxville (to Scott Minor’s Wild Chorus Studio) and finished it with all my local friends.”

Those guests include dobro master Rob Ickes, jazz vocalist and string bassist Nicki Parrott, Blount County bluegrass phenom Jesse Gregory on mandolin, Blount County boy and Knoxville Jazz Orchestra bandleader Vance Thompson on trumpet, harmonica player Michael Crawley and the guys with whom she’ll perform on Saturday: bass player Taylor Coker, guitarist Mike Seal, drummer Nolan Nevels and keyboard player Justin Haynes, the latter two of whom perform with her in the R&B side project Pulse. She also performs a duet with Mike McQueen of the Blount County band HollowTree — “We’re hoping Quentin Tarantino’s going to need to pick it up for a soundtrack,” Robinella added with a laugh. “It’s a weird song called ‘My Crazy Love.’”

Admission to Saturday night’s show is $10; stay tuned for updates regarding a release show for “Ode to Love.”

Maryville College’s Clayton Center launches ‘Cozy Winter Nights’ series in January

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jonathan_maness_web_pg_lmc1Jonathan Maness

Hoping for a repeat of the success of the “Friday Nights Live” series held during the spring and summer, organizers at Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts are launching another concert series next month.

The “Cozy Winter Nights” series kicks off Jan. 28; all performances are in the Lambert Recital Hall, a cozy little theater in the Clayton complex that has some great acoustics and not a bad view of the stage from anywhere in the room. All performances take place at 8 p.m.; admission is $10 per performance. Here’s the lineup:

Tickets to the concerts go on sale Monday, Dec. 19; to purchase, or for more information, call the Clayton Center box office at 981-8590.

Clayton Center books “Friday Nights Live” concert series

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Old Time duo Boogertown Gap will be one of this season’s “Friday Nights Live” performers.

Last summer, while the Maryville College campus stood mostly empty, the staff at the Clayton Center for the Arts decided to serve up some weekly entertainment for the community at large.

“Last year, we had gospel, jazz, rockabilly, a Native American flute player — just really good stuff,” center Director Robert Hutchens told us back in the winter, when he announced that the “Friday Nights Live” series would return to the Clayton Center this summer. Well, the lineup has been posted on the Clayton Center’s website, and it’s quite the attractive offering of stellar music:

  • July 1: Bill Swann Trio (jazz)
  • July 8: Boogertown Gap (Old Time)
  • July 15: R.B. Morris (singer-songwriter)
  • July 22: 3CD (rock)
  • July 29: Ben Bolt (guitar)
  • Aug. 5: Pistol Creek Catch of the Day (folk/bluegrass/general craziness)
  • Aug. 12: Will Tate and 6ix Mile Express (bluegrass)
  • Aug. 19: Barry Roseman and Friends (jazz)
  • Aug. 26: Ensemble Swing Time Band (Big Band)

All performances take place at 7 p.m. in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Admission is $10. Start spreading the word, because it’s gonna be some great music.

“We want folks to think, ‘Hey, it’s Friday night — let’s see what is going on at the Clayton Center,” writes Marketing Director Cheri Compton.

Written by wildsmith

May 16th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

And the winner is … The Boxer Rebellion?!?

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We’re obviously proud of — and quite fond of the music of — The Boxer Rebellion. Singer Nathan Nicholson is a graduate of Maryville High School who moved to London 10 years ago, fell in with an Australian guitarist and two Brits and has gone on to some respectable acclaim around the world. A recent U.S. tour (that brought the boys to the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus) was sponsored by Filter Magazine, and the band’s new album — “The Cold Still,” coming out early next year — was produced by acclaimed studio wizard Ethan Johns. Now the band is in the running for an Academy Award.


Check out the list of 41 potential winners here at Deadline Hollywood; the song by The Boxer Rebellion is “If You Run,” from the Drew Barrymore/Justin Long film “Going the Distance,” in which the band played a small on-screen role as well. The songs get whittled down to the core nominations on Jan. 6; those nominations will be announced on Jan. 25.

In the meantime, Nicholson and his lovely wife, Helen, are home for the holidays and — if Santa loves me — he has a sneak preview of “The Cold Still” for yours truly. Standby for what I’m sure will be a glowing review, given the songs I’ve already heard and the mind-blowing presentation of them at the Clayton Center.

Written by wildsmith

December 16th, 2010 at 8:07 am

The Boxer Rebellion announces release date for ‘The Cold Still’

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British-based indie-rock outfit The Boxer Rebellion — fronted by Maryville native Nathan Nicholson — has announced a release date for its new CD, the Ethan Johns-produced “The Cold Still.”


Here’s the official press released (edited for brevity) by PR company Big Hassle:

Following their most successful year to date, London-based alt-rock quartet The Boxer Rebellion are set to release their third studio album on February 8, 2011. Created in conjunction with legendary producer Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne), The Cold Still is an exercise in master class performances and dark, sophisticated songwriting from a band that embodies the very definition of “independent.”

Their new LP, The Cold Still, is certain to captivate an army of music fans around the world. Epic and intimate in equal measure, it is a breathtaking album, bristling with tense passion, gargantuan riffs, and heartrending lyrics, all with an effortless grace that has become The Boxer Rebellion’s trademark. As a whole, The Cold Still embodies the band’s alluring approach to songwriting as well as their relentless live spirit.

On working with Ethan Johns, guitarist Todd Howe comments: “Ethan had been our dream producer for years, so when we were asked to make a list of people to produce the third album, my list consisted of one name. We didn’t want anyone else and, luckily for us, he was in from the first demo. We were looking for a more natural and evolved sound and we knew Ethan would get it right.”

Singer Nathan Nicholson adds: “Working with Ethan was a magical experience. We essentially produced Union ourselves, so handing over the reins to someone whose work we respect so much was a really big move for us. Ethan started by setting us up in a circle facing each other – we had never played facing each other, ever. We recorded to tape and it was basically just press play and go. He really brought a new way of working to our creative process and it’s helped us make what we feel is our best record yet.”

The Cold Still tracklisting:
01. No Harm
02. Step Out Of The Car
03. Locked In The Basement
04. Cause For Alarm
05. Caught By The Light
06. Organ Song
07. Memo
08. Both Sides Are Even
09. The Runner
10. Doubt

Read our recent interview with Howe here, prior to last month’s show at The Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus.

Written by wildsmith

November 11th, 2010 at 8:56 am

Sam Bush remembers Maryville

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I have a story on mandolin maestro Sam Bush for Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend section — Bush plays at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus on Friday, Nov. 5 — and when I interviewed him, we reminisced about a funny story he told me the last time we talked, back in 2007.

During that interview, he recalled a previous show he played in Maryville, at the long-gone venue The Down Yonder, which existed at one time at the corner of West Broadway Avenue and Cusick Street. Bush arrived in Maryville with his band, New Grass Revival, to find that their tour poster had been altered.

That was several years before the band included two of Bush’s famous contemporaries, Bela Fleck and John Cowan. New Grass Revival had just released the 1977 album “When the Storm Is Over,” and the gig posters for the tour to support it featured the album’s cover.

“It featured these two, artistically done naked angels, and we didn’t think it was in bad taste,” Bush told The Daily Times in 2007. “We thought images like that had been a part of art for hundreds of years, so we didn’t think anything about it when our booking agent sent those posters out for clubs to hang up for our shows.

“Well, someone told the folks at the Down Yonder that it looked obscene to have these naked angels hanging up, so when we got to the club, the guys there had drawn bikinis on the angels, and that made it look obscene. I’ll never forget pulling up to the Down Yonder and seeing bathing suits on those angels.”

Good times. Don’t think anybody will be defacing tour posters for Bush’s show this time around.

Written by wildsmith

October 27th, 2010 at 8:39 am

Senryu rider: ‘One old person’

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Hola, blog readers. I’m back at it after a week off. While vacating, I had the opportunity to see The Boxer Rebellion perform at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus; opening the show was one of my favorite local bands, Senryu.

It reminded me of one of my many conversations with front man/guru Wil Wright, one of the most creative, flamboyant and downright amazing musicians in the local scene. I can’t remember how the topic came up one day, but Wil revealed to me that, in the manner of rock stars making outlandish demands for backstage comforts on their tour riders, Senryu always includes one of its own — an old person.

Seriously. As in, Wright and his co-horts ask for an elderly individual (no specific age range, although when I asked if my dad, who turned 68 this year, would qualify, he said, “Most certainly!”) to keep them company in the dressing room while they prepare for the show.

“Having tour managed a lot, those (demands) always seemed a little bit stupid, so I’m always trying to figure out a way to ask for something that’s useful,” Wright said. “I put that on there only because it’s something I’ve encountered before at shows that I feel like have gone pretty successfully. If I run into old people before shows and talk with them, I feel mentally prepared. It’s like chips and salsa for the show.”

Unfortunately, no one takes the band’s demand very seriously, which means Senryu usually brings their own elderly good luck charm.

“It’s the perfect thing to put on our rider, because we’re serious about it, but nobody takes it seriously,” he said. “That’s been one of my favorite things about the band.”

I go into all of that to catch you up on a few lineup changes regarding Senryu — drummer and founding member Steven Rodgers wasn’t at the Clayton Center show; Wright revealed afterward that he’s taken a time-consuming job as band director for South-Doyle Middle School and assistant director at S-D High School.

“He’s definitely still on our roster, and obviously we’ll work with him as often as we can,” Wright said.

In the meantime, bass player Andres McCormack has moved over to the drumkit, and the band welcomes new member Zac Fallon — a solo performer locally who goes by the nom de plume Katie and the Bass Drums — on the four-string. (Andres’ brother Dan McCormack still rocks the guitar and keys.)

“Zac has been on the team with us for a very long time, so he’s super-famliar with the catalog,” Wright said of the changes. “The big transition is getting used to a new drummer. Where Steven was a very mathematical drummer, Andres is more of a power drummer and an instinctual drummer. I feel like I spent a lot of my time trying to frustrate Steven, writing things to push him out of his safety zone. The dynamic we had was interesting, because we come from opposite directions, whereas Andres and I both rely on our instincts.”

The band debuted a new song at the Clayton Center show, and the new lineup heads to the studio in December for a late winter/early spring release, Wright added.

“As with the last two releases, I’m trying to only write my parts, whereas before I wrote all the parts,” he said. “I come to practice and let everybody have a good time and write what they find interesting, and so far it’s been great. The songs we’re writing now definitely have their own thing.”

If you’re jonesing for new Senryu music in the meantime, check out “All These Clues,” dance remixes by DJ Tom Ato of some of the tracks off of the band’s full-length “Inkling,” released earlier this year. And if for some reason you find yourself in New York today, check out Senryu at 2:30 p.m. at Pianos on the Lower East Side, where the band plays as part of this week’s CMJ Music Marathon.

Clayton Center for the Arts rolls out 2010-2011 season lineup

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The Clayton Center for the Arts over on the Maryville College campus got a test run when it opened at the beginning of the year, but now officials are preparing for the facility’s first full season of performances.

Clayton Center Executive Director Robert Hutchens unveiled the 2010-11 season for the center this week, and it includes something for everyone — literally — including some big names in jazz and bluegrass. Here’s what’s headed to Maryville this year:

  • Neil Berg’s “100 Years of Broadway” (8 p.m. Sept. 17 in the main theater): Five of Broadway’s leading performers as well as an all-star New York band come to town to perform the most beloved and memorable songs from a century of Broadway musical history, including recent as well as more traditional hits. Not only do they perform — they do so as the characters and scenes from which the songs come.
  • Richter/Uzur (7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Lambert Recital Hall): A duo fusing rock , folk and classical  to create a sound that is modern, traditional and unique.
  • Sam Bush with Missy Raines and New Hip (8 p.m. Nov. 5 on the main stage): One of the season’s headliners, Bush has been called “The King of Telluride,” “The Founder of New Grass” and “The Heir to Bill Monroe.” He’s an award-winning master of banjo, fiddle, and mandolin and has shared the stage with such luminaries as Lyle Lovett and Garth Brooks. Raines is a seven-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association Bass Player of the Year Awards and will be performing with her band, New Hip.
  • Robert deMaine and Andrew Armstrong (7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Lambert Recital Hall): First chair cellist of the Detroit Symphony (deMaine) and internationally renowned pianist (Armstrong) perform an evening of intimate classical music
  • American Spiritual Ensemble (8 p.m. Jan. 15, 2011, on the main stage): Part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on campus, featuring the spellbinding singing of John Wesley Wright, who entertained at the center’s opening-night gala. He’s just one member of the ensemble, a group of professional soloists who combine their voices in a chorus of tribute to the soul-stirring spiritual.
  • The Aluminum Show (8 p.m. Jan. 21 on the main stage): Like Pilobolus and The Blue Man Group, the Israeli troupe of “dancers”  has defined its own genre.  Clad in  imaginative, often bizarre, structures of recycled aluminum, the  performers execute a choreography of shapes and colors that surprise, intrigue and enchant
  • Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 on the main stage): An evening of culture and art featuring dancers celebrating the national dance and songs  of Spain.
  • “All Shook Up,” the musical (8 p.m. Feb. 11 on the main stage): Featuring the songbook of Elvis Presley, telling the story of a teenage rebel shaking up a small town.
  • “The Comedy of Errors” (7:30 p.m. March 9 on the main stage): The Acting Company of New York City presents one of Shakespeare’s most farcical, accessible plays.
  • The Passing Zone (7:30 p.m. March 19 on the main stage): Comedy-juggling team that’s been in the Guinness Book of World Records four times, they’ll juggle everything from human beings to chainsaws.
  • “An Evening With Groucho Marx” (6:30 p.m. March 26 in the William Baxter Lee Grand Foyer): Actor Frank Ferrante transforms himself into the legendary screen and comedic legend for a night of dinner theater in the Clayton Center’s foyer.
  • Chris Brubeck and Triple Play (8 p.m. April 8 on the main stage): The son of legendary jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck comes to town with Joel Brown and Madcat Ruth to perform their melange of blues, rock, folk and, of course, jazz.

And those shows are on top of what’s already been announced:

As far as ticket sales go — 12 of the events are being offered in subscription series of different sizes through Sept. 19.  Patrons who buy a series of five to seven performances will receive a 10 percent discount; those wanting 8 to 11 performances get a 15 percent discount; and those who purchase tickets for all 12 get a 25 percent discount. Regarding single-ticket sales — excluding the Groucho Marx dinner theater show, the average ticket price is $16.09 for adult economy tickets (average price for students and seniors — $12.50).

To reserve seats for any of the shows, call the Clayton Center box office at (865) 981-8590, visit the center online or go by the box office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets go on sale Thursday, Aug. 19.

Vanilla Ice: ‘Suck it, haters.’

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Did you catch Tuesday night’s episode of the Fox musical comedy “Glee”? It was all about bad reputations — how to earn one, how to keep one and whether it’s better to have a “bad” one than a good one, at least in high school. As an example, faculty adviser Will Schuester — played by actor Matthew Morrison — encouraged his club members to dig up songs with a bad reputation and give them the “Glee” treatment. As an example, he pulled out “Ice Ice Baby,” the mega-hit by none other than the guy who’s coming to the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus this weekend.

After some grousing by the kids, Mr. Schuester breaks into his rendition of the song, complete with the dance moves made famous by Mr. Ice (born Robert Van Winkle), and by the end of the segment, they’re all into it. (Well, except wheelchair-bound Artie, who sits on the sidelines and sings along.) “I declare this song paroled,” Schuester announces when it’s all said and done. (Here’s the iTunes link to purchase the cast’s version of the song.)

No doubt fans in attendance at the Clayton Center on Saturday night will get that song, although for years Vanilla Ice has taken untold amounts of grief over it. It went from an insanely popular hit single to the butt of jokes on late-night and throughout popular culture, and the guy who made it bore the brunt of them. However, things are looking up for Ice — as he tells us in this Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend entertainment section — so those who continue to deride his name and his music can … well, suck it. (My words, not his.)

“I don’t hear much anymore from the critics,” he told me during a phone interview last weekend. “Most of the haters are sitting on their couch, watching me get another platinum single on ‘X Factor’ (the British TV show, where a mash-up of “Ice Ice Baby” and Queen’s “Under Pressure,” performed by the duo John and Edward with Vanilla Ice guest-singing).

“I embrace all the haters from back in the day, because they had to move on and get mortgages and (stuff) and deal with the economy, but I’m still here, doing what I love to do. I want to thank them, because all of that made me be stronger and helped me see who I really am. It helped me get rid of the ego I didn’t need. I love it all and laugh at it all, and these days the critics don’t faze me.”

Written by wildsmith

May 6th, 2010 at 8:31 am