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Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir’ tag

East Tennessee musician, entrepreneur Jonathan Sexton returns to the stage

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jonsextonJonathan Sexton outside of Bread of Heaven in Alcoa, 2011

The last time Jonathan Sexton performed in East Tennessee was on a stage in Maryville at the 2011 Foothills Fall Festival, but that’ll change later on this month.

Sexton, former bandleader of Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir and a former member of Oversoul, Redhouse Project and The Whiskey Scars, will debut his new project, Badlands, on Thanksgiving night at Preservation Pub in downtown Knoxville. Since the launch of the mobile software platform Artist Growth — a project he founded with Knoxville expatriate and Nashville singer-songwriter Matt Urmy — he simply hasn’t had the time, he said.

“Everything’s finally kind of leveling out, and that’s why I’ve had time to do a band,” he said. “I don’t have time to get in the van and drive all over the country, but I’ve got time to rehearse a night a week and play a gig every now and then. Thanksgiving at Preservation Pub has a special place in my heart, because that’s when and where Whiskey Scars started. It’s just a good night.”

Badlands features former Big Love Choir members Andrew Sexton (Jonathan’s dad) and drummer Dave “The Animal” Campbell (also a member of The Coveralls and a number of other projects) on vocals. The group is rounded out by Andrew Bryant on drums and Aram Takvoryan on bass. It’s a cover project, Sexton said, and the guys play “mostly ’70s hard rock.”

“Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Bad Company,” he added. “I was just looking for a reason to hang out and rock out, but with no pressure, and I wanted something that can exist without me. If those guys get a gig and can’t come, they can find a sub, where as if I’m the lead singer and the songwriter, that’s not the case.”

In the meantime, he’s looking at putting together an original Jonathan Sexton project sometime next year. He still travels to Nashville three days a week for Artist Growth business, and he’s looking at an August date for a wedding to his long-time girlfriend (and Big Love Choir bandmate) Elodie Lafont. In the meantime, though, he’s excited about playing music again.

“I want to play for the love of it and not to chase a career; just something on the side that won’t take up a lot of time but will scratch an itch,” he said. “I suffer from the same thing any artist suffers from — wanting to do someting different — but I haven’t had time or energy to commit to deciding on what’s next for me as a songwriter and an original project. I’m thinking real hard about it, and I still jot down ideas all the time. The songwriting muscle still works.”

Written by wildsmith

November 8th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Halloween is done; bring on the holidays!

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Now that the spooky season is behind us, all attention is focused on the forthcoming holiday season. For some of you, it’s never too early to get in the Christmas spirit; if that’s the case, consider heading over to “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, for some live performances of holiday tunes.

It’s being billed as “Homegrown for the Holidays,” a fundraising effort for Knox Area Rescue Ministries being organized by WFIV-FM, i105’s “Homegrown” show, hosted by Joe Stutler. Joe’s a big believer in the local music scene, and “Homegrown” — which broadcasts every week from The Disc Exchange in Knoxville — showcases local talent. “Homegrown for the Holidays” will feature 12 local acts recording Christmas songs for the CD. Here’s the lineup, according to the website:

Some of the artists won’t be able to attend Saturday’s event, so their sessions are being recorded at “The Shed” this week. However, for the general public, it’s free to attend, and the artists performing on Saturday include The Dirty Guv’nahs, Hudson K, Medford’s Black Record Collection, Taylor Corum, Kevin Hyfantis, Kimber Cleveland and Travis Singleton. After their song is recorded, each band will play a short set.

The CD will be sold for $10 when it’s completed, or you can pre-order it for $5 at Saturday’s concert.

Preservation Pub to get a “Big Love” overhaul

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One of my favorite people to run into out and about in the local scene is Jonathan Sexton, bandleader for The Big Love Choir. We profiled the group on the cover of Weekend about a year ago, and the dude hasn’t slowed down since. At Bonnaroo, he pulled off a hat trick — performing for adoring crowds, setting a Guinness world record for giving out hugs and proposing to his beautiful, talented girlfriend, Big Love harmony vocalist Elodie LaFont. Now, he’s pulling off a Big Love-style overhaul of local downtown Knoxville venue Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square. Here’s what his recent press release says:

The Big Love Overhaul:   Jonathan Sexton Takes over Preservation Pub   Oct 21-23

Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Sexton, is taking the reigns at Preservation Pub by pairing up with Blank News and My i 105 to showcase some of the best up and coming talent from Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and more on Oct 21-Oct 23. Jonathan is booking, promoting and performing in the festival as a way of bringing new talent to Knoxville, showing off existing local talent, trying out some new material for Jonathan Sexton and the Big Love Choir. Sexton says, “since I signed with my new management company, publishing company, and booking agency in August, I don’t get to dabble in this side of the business as much lately, but it is something I certainly have a passion for, so I am grateful for the opportunity to put something together within the confines of the brilliant Knoxville music community.”

He quotes the Pub’s first lady, Bernadette West: “Few local musicians are as active in the regional music community as Jonathan is, he knows a lot of great music, and it’s always fun to see what he comes up with when I let him do the booking for a few days!” Sexton also says, “it is a good way to showcase a bunch of new tunes JSBLC has been writing since Bonnaroo. On the road, we often get contracted for 45-60 minutes sets, so now that we are going to be home for a few nights I am really happy to get involved in some longer sets of music.”

The lineup: On Thursday, Oct. 21, it’ll be Don Gallardo from Nashville and The New Vernacular from Knoxville, along with Black Lillies drummer Jamie Cook doing his singer-songwriter thang.

On Friday, Oct. 22, check out Matt Urmy, Knoxville ex-pat now living in Nashville; Atlanta power-pop outfit The Small Town Mayors; and a full band set from Jonathan Sexton and the Big Love Choir.

On Saturday, Oct. 23: West Coast alternative outfit Listen Like Thieves will be joined by Oh No Oh My, led by Knoxville ex-pat Tim Regan (of Antenna Shoes and Snowglobe), and The Sextons, a father-son “outlaw country power rock trio” featuring Sexton, his dad Andrew and drummer Dave Campbell.

No word on admission, but it’ll most likely be $5 at the door.

Written by wildsmith

October 6th, 2010 at 6:40 am

R.B. Morris reschedules CD release show

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Back in late January, we profiled local singer-songwriter/poet/playwright/man-about-town R.B. Morris and his new album, “Spies Lies and Burning Eyes.” (He even gave us three songs to give away off of it, which you can download at the bottom of this post.) It was for the final Friday of the month, and R.B. was throwing a CD release shindig on the 30th at Barley’s Taproom, 200 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City.

Unfortunately, a snowstorm hit, and although the show went on, it wasn’t as well-attended as he’d hoped. So he’s doing it again:

Hey Folks, my band is rescheduled for Barley’s on Friday April 2 for a CD release show for SPIES LIES AND BURNING EYES. I want to thank those hearty souls who made it out on the big SNOW night. We knew so many of you couldn’t make it, including our band coming over from Nashville! But for those who could we wanted the show to go on and so Hector and I played and Tim Lee & co. joined us and we had a big time. And Barley’s was great to keep the doors open when almost everyone else was canceling and closing. They also rescheduled us for Friday April 2 and gave me another chance to bring Dave Jacques, Paul Griffith, and Eric Fritsch over from Nashville to join me and Hector Qirko for an official full band release show for Spies Lies and Burning Eyes!

Please make it out and tell your friends too. I promise to open up a can of rock transcendence! And to help in this endeavor to persevere Jonathan Sexton and the Big Love Choir will open the show! Too cool.

$10 and starts at 9:30. See you there.

R.B. Morris, “Amsterdam”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Plato’s Perfect World”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Spy in My Brain”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
R.B. Morris, “Empire”: right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
R.B. Morris, “City”:
right-click here (choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”)
Buy albums by R.B. Morris (including his most recent, “Spies Lies and Burning Eyes”): click here

Written by wildsmith

March 16th, 2010 at 10:38 am

2009 in words: Weekend interviews of local bands!

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As the year winds down to a close, it’s only appropriate, we think, to look back on all of the ink we’ve spilled over the past 12 months. Over the next several days, we’ll be rounding up all of the interviews that have graced the pages of The Daily Times Weekend entertainment section … starting with all of the East Tennessee bands and musicians of all genres to whom we’ve devoted space this year. Presenting … the local interviews of 2009!

Southbound (cover story)

The Drunk Uncles: (cover story)

Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir (cover story)

Whitechapel 2 (front page story)

Dirty Guv’nahs 1 (cover story)

Royal Bangs (cover story)

R.B. Morris (cover story)

Maryville Metal Fest (cover story)

Brandy Robinson (cover story)

Scott Miller (cover story)

The Black Lillies (cover story)

Teenage Love13 (cover story)

Jill Andrews

Drunk Uncles 1

Whitechapel 1

The Dirty Guv’nahs


Mic Harrison and The High Score

Homer Hart

“Sneaky” Pete Rizzo

Color of Fate



Ian Thomas

Soundtrack Black

Robinella: Final Barley’s gig

Mountain Folk Reunion

Cain and Annabelle


The Dirty Works

Seeing Skies

Kings County Gumbo

John Myers

The Dirty Gunnz

Christopher Scum

Bright Shining Lie

J.C. and The Dirty Smokers

Sisters of the Silver Sage

Kevin Abernathy Band

Scott McMahan


Awake the Suffering

Madeline Ava

The Retroholics

The LoneTones


Dishwater Blonde

The American Plague

Mr. Kobayashi

Roscoe Morgan

Johnson Swingtet

Cutthroat Shamrock

Van Eaton

Steve Kaufman

Taylor Brown



Allen Swank


Angel Zuniga Martinez

The Akashic Mysteries

Jamie Cook

Dig 6 Down

Avenue C Band

Brad Walker Orchestra

Drunk Uncles, Jonathan Sexton sign management deal

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I’ve worked with local marketing guru Chyna Brackeen on a number of occasions, from her time with Knoxville Opera and AC Entertainment to her most recent gig as marketing director for Knoxville Botanical Garden (a k a Stone Wall Gardens, which we profiled back in July.)

A couple of months ago, it was announced that she had taken on local band The Black Lillies as a management project, quickly parlaying the group’s local success into a six-week national tour that’s wrapping up in the next couple of weeks. Now, she’s picked up two more East Tennessee bands to manage — The Drunk Uncles, whom we’ve profiled a couple of times recently (in an August cover story and again last month for the band’s CD release), and Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir, which graced the cover of our entertainment section back in October.

“For The Drunk Uncles, the fact that they’re playing real country music is so rare these days, and it’s really setting them apart from the crowd,” Brackeen told us today. “We’re looking at a bunch of country music festivals for them, and we hope to really make a big impact regionally before spreading out next fall to some national festivals.”

Good news for the Uncles; be sure and check out the band’s new website as well.

“With the Big Love Choir, there’s so much potential there on a number of levels,” she added. “There’s a message to the music because it’s so positive and spiritual without being denominational.”

Sexton, she added, performed at the re-dedication ceremony of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, after a tragic shooting there in July 2008 left two dead. Because of his involvement there, she sees an opportunity to spread that positive message and expose the band to new audiences at the same time.

“One of the things we’re looking at is a way to kind of marry two tours together — one during the day of Unitarian churches and spiritual centers, and one at night at the rock clubs, so that we can hit two different audiences at the same time,” she said.

Be sure and check out that band on Myspace.

Written by wildsmith

December 7th, 2009 at 9:43 am

Free music Thursday! Tunes from Jonathan Sexton, TimLee3

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That’s right. Everybody loves free stuff, especially me. Not the accumulation of the free stuff, but the giving away of it — at least, when it comes to music. I’m grateful to all of the local bands and musicians who allow us to offer their music for free. It’s a win-win situation, because you get something (free tunes! duh!) and so do they — exposure. So download all you want, rock out and enjoy — and by all means, SUPPORT THESE ARTISTS. If you LIKE what you hear, go check them out live. Buy their CDs. Spread the word. All of those things are hallmarks of a vibrant music and arts community.

JONATHAN SEXTON: Saturday will mark one year to the day that I first wrote about local singer-songwriter Jonathan Sexton, and man, has that dude come a long way. He’s opened up at Sundown in the City and made his band — Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir — an integral part of the local music community. At 6 p.m. Friday, July 24, he’ll perform at Club Catalyst, 125 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City, but this is no ordinary show. First up, it’s a benefit for Beardsley Farm’s Youth Leadership program. And there’s a ton of other musicians on the bill — Chastity Brown, The Distribution and Matt Urmy, whom we profiled in a recent interview earlier this month. Youth Leadership will showcase some of their projects in the courtyard of the Catalyst … a community cob mural will be built during the course of the evening to be permanently displayed on one of the courtyard walls … Beardsley will have produce for sale … and the video for “Babylon,” by Jonathan Sexon and The Big Love Choir, will premier and play several times on the big screen above the stage. Admission is $10, and $2 from every ticket will be donated to the program.

Jonathan Sexton and The Big Love Choir online: Click here

Read last year’s interview with Jonathan Sexton: Click here

Download “The Mountain,” by Jonathan Sexton: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

Buy “Big Love,” by Jonathan Sexton: Click here

TIMLEE3: If ever there was a rock-steady musician in the local scene, Tim Lee is the guy. He’s the “go-to” guy — the guitarist whose nimble fingers and shredding talent for all manner of indie-pop and melodic playing are sought out by other musicians who want to make what they do sound better. He’s been around for almost 30 years, playing with The Windbreakers in the early days of college rock, when groups like R.E.M. were still a bunch of misfits who got weird stares at the University of Georgia. The Windbreakers, the dBs, R.E.M., Let’s Active … those are the bands that helped forge what would become alternative rock. Tim’s a helluva guy, and later on this fall (Oct. 3, to be exact), his band — the TimLee3, which includes the beautiful and talented and ass-kicking rock girl Susan Bauer Lee (his wife) on bass — will headline their own Blount County show at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. At 8 p.m. Saturday, however, the TimLee3 opens up for those good-ol’-boy rockers Mic Harrison and The High Score.

TimLee3 online: Click here

Read last year’s story on the TimLee3 and the band’s album, “Good2b3″: Click here

Download “Chuck Berry in Space,” by the TimLee3: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)

Buy music by the TimLee3: Click here

Written by wildsmith

July 23rd, 2009 at 7:29 am