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Michael Crawley at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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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.”

Wolfe Jam details announced

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As Knoxville mourned the passing of local jazz legend Rocky Wynder, members of the local music scene were hit with another blow that same week when local drummer/bar owner/colorful character Ed Corts died.

A long-time utility player who pounded skins for such long-gone-never-forgotten outfits as Jacaranda, Corts made the acquaintance of many younger local players who never got the chance to sit in with him when he and his family ran The Corner Lounge in Downtown North Knoxville. The business didn’t make it, but it was a jumping-off point for the “Happy Holler” revitalization, and the Corner became a favorite watering hole of all sorts of local musicians.

This year, the annual “Wolfe Jam” will honor Corts, assist his family and of course uphold the legacy and memory of the man for whom it was named.

Those details first: Wolfe was a Knoxville boy — a resident of Bearden and a 20-year employee of Pick ‘n’ Grin Music off Kingston Pike, one of those establishments that ranks right up there with Covington Music, Murlin’s Music World, Roy’s Record Shop and Guitar Center as a place where local musicians can go and feel confident that they’re among peers, fellow pickers who know their needs and can meet them at a reasonable price.

Wolfe was a sort of jack-of-all-trades at the establishment — manager, teacher, technician, salesman, engineer, musician and confidant. On the side, he was a fixture in the local scene, playing is such groups as the Delta Flyers, Body Heat, The MacDaddies and Crawdaddy, the two of which partnered him up with local harmonica maestro Michael Crawley.

“He was one of those cats, I swear to God, that if you went down to visit him at Pick ‘n’ Grin, you’d have to have an hour and a half to hang with him,” Crawley told me a couple of years ago. “He would tell a couple of jokes, go out and take a smoke break, come back in give you a clinic on guitars. And if he was working on something of yours, he would go into great detail about what he was doing to your instrument. You couldn’t just run in and run out with Rick. For a lot of us, Rick was the only one who ever worked on any of our guitars. We’d always go out and watch him smoke and listen to him tell a joke or two. That’s the way he was, man.”

Pancreatic cancer killed Wolfe in December 2007 at the age of 53, and before the month was up, his friends and loved ones were putting together the inaugural Wolfe Jam.

This year’s event will take place March 10 at The Well, 4620 Kingston Pike in Bearden, costs $5, starts at 7 p.m. and the proceeds will be split between Ed’s family and the Joy of Music School. Performers include Y’uns, the Will Carter Band, Jodie Manross and Friends, Itchy and the Hater Tots, The MacDaddies and an all-star jam.

For more information, visit the Wolfe Jam website.

Written by wildsmith

February 21st, 2012 at 12:29 pm