Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Preservation Pub’ tag

Calling all local bands: Prepare for battle!

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With the dawning of a new year in the local music scene, two upcoming music contests promise to give one lucky band or musician some momentum in the months to come.

The first is the “$3,000 Scruffy City Band Eat Band Competition,” sponsored by WFIV-FM i105, Blank Newspaper, Rock Snob Recording and Preservation Pub. The grand prize: $3,000 cash, one week in Rock Snob Recording Studios and a one-hour on-air interview with i105 — plus a show on the Market Square stage when the fine folks at P-Pub gear up for their outdoor concert series later on this year.

To enter: send an email to booking@prevervationpub.com; in the subject line, write “$3,000 Band Eat Band Competition.” Include the following information: Band name, contact information, city, number of band members, a three-word description of your music and links to songs and/or videos. It’s open to bands and musicians of all styles.

Criteria to win:Bring a big audience to see you play, wow the audience with your songs and showmanship, be original and be cool,” according to the Facebook event page.

The competition begins on the second Tuesday in January and will continue every Tuesday night through May. Semi-finals will be held in June (with $100 and $200 prizes awarded), and the finals will take place July 27. All shows will take place at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square, downtown Knoxville.

Also getting under way this month: the “Hard Rock Rising” contest, sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe Gatlinburg. The grand prize is a world tour of Hard Rock locations around the planet, and most of the competition takes place online.

Requirements: A ReverbNation band page with a minimum of 50 fans. All genres of music are welcome, but original songs are a requirement.

Getting started: “Like” the Hard Rock Cafe Gatlinburg official page on Facebook and stay up to date for updates. The registration begins Monday, Jan. 7, and is open until Jan. 21.

Get the word out: Start spreading the word! All voting will be conducted by “Liking” Hard Rock Gatlinburg’s Facebook page and voting via the Hard Rock Rising 2013 ReverbNation app. Voting begins on Jan. 28, so get the word out early and often. (Note: Even bands not in East Tennessee can register at the Hard Rock Café Gatlinburg; however, for the first round of voting, all votes (via member locations on Facebook) must be within a 100-mile radius of Gatlinburg.

The top 12 vote-getting acts will compete in a live competition at Hard Rock Gatlinburg Feb. 18-15, and the winner from each market will then go on to compete in an online voting competition to determine the top 25 bands. Those 25 will be reviwed by Hard Rock and industry officials to determine the grand prize winner, which will be announced May 6.

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

Brent Thompson brings “Write Nite” to Preservation Pub

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Local musician/actor Brent Thompson has a message for you: If you write, you’re a writer.

“Brent Thompson’s Write Nite,” which kicks off Thursday, Aug. 2, at Preservation Pub in downtown Knoxville, is designed to showcase the budding poet/playwright/author in all of us. It’s a combination performance showcase and open mic, and the goal is to encourage anyone who’s dreamed of putting pen to paper to share their works with other lovers of the written word.

“I’ve been teaching singing lessons at Morelock Music, and I realized in helping people with their voices that it’s the most vulnerable part of them,” Thompson told me this week. “It’s not an instrument you can play and people can say, ‘Clearly you just need to work on that’ — it’s what you’re given. So I started talking about this to some friends of mine, and they would say, ‘I like to write.’ And I would ask them, ‘Well, do you?’

“Writers write. If you’ve written something, you write. If you’re singing in front of me, you’re a singer. We somehow think that if we’re not the best at it, we’re not that thing, but I say, ‘You’re trying!’ This is all about being a validation of human expression. It’s about creating a really supportive room, because it’s really nice when people are valuing what your little brain thought of and how you look at the world.”

The former co-host of “11 O’Clock Rock” on Knox iVi, Thompson is a singer-songwriter who was approached by Pub owners Scott and Bernadette West about putting together a project for the Pub’s second-floor Speakeasy. After Knox iVi shut down several months ago, Thompson has found talent work in local commercial, TV and film (including the gig of “Professor Less Plaque” in a new international campaign for Maryville-based Den Tek). He’s teaching at Morelock, singing with the jazz combo Frog and Toad’s Dixie Stomp and working on an album. But “Write Nite” allows him to do what he does so very well — play host and hang out with some insanely talented people, writers both known and unknown.

“When Scott and Bernadette first approached me, I thought I could curate more music, but they already do so much music that I put it out there to get some feedback,” Thompson said. “At first I was thinking a variety show, or a talk show, and then I started thinking about what isn’t being served but has a large audience. I decided to focus on writing, and it started coming into focus. There are a lot of folks out there who don’t identify themselves as writers, but they took a class once upon a time and wrote something they really like but are embarrassed to share.”

The guest for the inaugural show will be University of Tennessee professor and poet Marilyn Kallet; future guests will likely include local hip-hop artist/spoken word performer Black Atticus and poet/playwright/singer-songwriter R.B. Morris. The setup will feature a microphone on the stage for the guests, a microphone in the middle of the audience to encourage audience questions and participation and a wireless mic on Thompson, who will work the room and engage the wait staff, bartenders and couples in the back booths who have no idea what they’re in for.

At the end of the night will be the “Haiku Hustle”: Cards and pens will be set up at the beginning of each show with a topic written on the board; participants can compose a haiku based on the topic, and at 8 p.m., the haikus will be read. The winner will be crowned the “Haiku Samurai.”

“This is 100 percent uncensored,” Thompson said. “Anything can be said. And it’s got a great therapeutic sort of feel. I’m really excited about it.”

“Brent Thompson’s Write Nite” will take place from 6-9 p.m. every Thursday in the Speakeasy.

Written by wildsmith

July 23rd, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Jon Worley offers a helping hand to musicians via Brother’s Keeper

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jonworleyJon Worley

Back in May 2010, after local singer-songwriter Jon Worley resurfaced after dropping off the radar for a couple of years, he alluded to some of his troubles at the times when he called up out of the blue.

Founder and leader of the Cornbred Blues Band, Worley was a fixture on the local music scene for several years — playing shows, couch-surfing and getting into all manner of trouble, usually with a good story to tell. But then, around 2008, he said, it was time for a break: “I played 600-plus shows in 2.5 years, and I woke up homeless in the back of my van with my tooth falling out and arthritis in my leg,” he told us in May 2010. “I had to reevaluate and take a little time off.”

Since then, he’s moved back to East Tennessee from the Philadelphia area, and he’s set up shop as the unofficial “artist-in-residence” (our title, nobody else’s) of the Fourth and Gill Neighborhood Center — still known as The Birdhouse — in historic Downtown North Knoxville. He curating shows there, but he’s also using it as a base of operations for a new non-profit organization he’s started — Brother’s Keeper, a helping-musicians-help-themselves sort of outfit that draws on his experiences as both a troubadour and a down-on-his-luck artist.

“(The Birdhouse) is just a physical brick-and-mortar place to employ the philosophy of the non-profit — to have an open community space for people to come together, artistic and otherwise, to create an alternate economy,” he said. “But that’s just half the story. What’s really going on is that I have basically set up a network with Brother’s Keeper, where I’m hosting traveling artists coming through Knoxville, giving them just the basics: help with emergencies if their car breaks down; a place to sleep that won’t give you scabies; hot coffee in the morning; some wi-fi.

“By doing that, we’re showing the rest of the music community on the East Coast that’s traveling at large how awesome Knoxville is, and if they use my services, they have to pay it forward — they have to get a paying gig for somebody else in the network, or host them when they come to their town. It just encourages everybody to let everybody else know where they’re playing.”

Already he’s got one high-profile underwriter on board — Scott West, the man who helped revitalize downtown Knoxville with his wife, Bernadette, and the various businesses they started — Preservation Pub, Earth to Old City, Oodles Uncorked and more. West’s sister now owns the Pub, but West plays a large role in its operation, and supporting Brother’s Keeper makes good business sense for smaller venues, West said.

“We’re in a position in this economy of not being able to pay musicians as well as we once paid them, and if we want the regulars to keep coming in — and the Pub is a cathedral to a lot of people who spend three or four nights a week in here — then we can’t charge those people in a way that allows a musician like Jon Worley to make a living,” West said. “So you have to figure out ways to help the artists make it, and that’s why we’re helping with Brother’s Keeper. We want to provide for them as well as we can, and if we can’t pay them like we’d like to, we can find them a place to sleep or get them coffee or food or a couple of beers when they’re playing shows.We’re trying to underwrite Brother’s Keeper so it can help the very artists that allow us to stay in business and allow the patrons to keep enjoying live music.”

According to Worley, the idea for Brother’s Keeper dates back to when he broke his foot, back in 2007. Trying to scrape up enough money to get it taken care of was a challenge that contributed to ill effects that still plague him today.

“I realized that the social structure that I’m in is so marginalized — you’ve got people that pick your produce, carnie workers, and at the bottom of the pile are musicians, artists and performers,” he said. “We have no safety net. You figure that the average family making $25,000 to $30,000 a year is one car part, one illness from going under, and then you magnify that. I’ve been lving on $5,000 a year for the last 15 years, and it’s only by the grace of God I’m still here. My philosophy is, nobody else has to live like that or suffer like that.”

West agrees, which is why he’s contributing to making Knoxville the hub of a network that includes Worley’s connections who have established Brother’s Keeper outposts in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans, Asheville, N.C. and Charleston, S.C. His donations — and those of others who will soon get on board, Worley hopes — allows public/private partnerships between artists and community businesses to flourish. By contributing, business owners will be investing in the local music and arts community, Worley said, strengthening it for the good of everyone who benefits from music and the arts — like West.

“I’ve known Jon a long time, and he, like 99.9 percent of musicians, lives a starving artist existence,” West said. “A lot of people in the entertainment industry pick up work as waiters or bartenders, but Jon’s one of the guys trying to make a go of it purely on music. And he’s getting by on $5,000 or $6,000 a year.”

Get him going, and Worley will talk about plans to turn Brother’s Keeper into an artist-run one-stop shop — record label, booking agency and more.Worley himself is heading out next week for shows in New York and Philly, both of them benefits for the non-profit. He’ll be back off and on and running Brother’s Keeper from the road. In the meantime, interested artists (and business moguls) can contact him at madmonkbooking@gmail.com.

Written by wildsmith

December 8th, 2011 at 11:10 am

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

That other Avett comes (back) to town …

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A week from tonight, Jim Avett — patriarch of the Avett family, which includes those boys Scott and Seth who play together as The Avett Brothers — will come to East Tennessee for a show at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square in downtown Knoxville. We’ll have an interview with him in Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend section; during our talk, he recalled his initial preparation for visiting Knoxville to play a March date on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special.”

“When I told Scott and Seth about it, I was taking them to the airport — that was about six weeks ago, and they were going to Europe,” the elder Avett told me. “They asked me what I had going on, and I told them I had this and that and that I’d be over at the ‘Blue Plate’ in Knoxville. Seth said, ‘That’s one of my favorite places to play,’ and I said, ‘Really? A radio interview?’

“He said, ‘Daddy, it’s more than that. You better prepare more than four or five songs, because it’s a whole hour. People bring their lunch and watch you play.’”

Avett has another association with Knoxville as well; he’s an amateur musicologist who’s always owned an extensive music collection — roughly 6,000 to 7,000 albums, by his estimation (so many that he has a brand new vinyl record player still sitting in the box on standby for the inevitable moment when the one he currently uses goes belly-up) — but a few years ago, he started collection instruments as well.

“I started buying guitars probably 15 years ago,” said Avett, who puts his six-string collection at 60 or 70 vintage guitars. “I have more than enough, but I just love a good stringed instrument. I play each guitar probably once a year, and I’ve got maybe 10 fiddles and some other oddball stuff, too. I sell some stuff through Matt Morelock’s store (Morelock Music, on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville) every once in a while. Knoxville’s a good town to be around.”

Written by wildsmith

April 21st, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Jim Avett schedules East Tennessee show at Preservation Pub

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Back in November 2008, when The Avett Brothers were coming through East Tennessee for a two-night stand at The Bijou Theatre, we interviewed Seth and had a great conversation about how grounded in family love that the brothers are. We talked about an album by their father, Jim Avett, that the brothers played on — “Jim Avett and Family” — and later that month, their dad joined them on the Bijou stage for a couple of songs.

Now, Jim has a new CD out — “Tribes” — and a couple of Knoxville dates scheduled; March 23 at the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special,” which takes place at 301 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville, and on Wednesday, April 28 at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square in downtown Knoxville. The latter show will feature the all-girl trio Amelia’s Mechanics, whose debut album “North-South” was produced by Mr. Jim and released last month.

Read more about Jim Avett, in his son Seth’s words, here.

Written by wildsmith

March 1st, 2010 at 7:38 am

Redbeard Rattlesnake tonight (Aug. 6) at the Pub — BloCo connection!

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If you’re in attendance tonight (Thursday, Aug. 6) at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square in downtown Knoxville, and you grew up around here, you might recognize the frontman for the band Redbeard Rattlesnake. That’s because he’s Derik Hultquist, who graduated from Alcoa in 2003. We wrote about his band back in late 2007; you can read that here.

Also on the bill: Caleb Caudle and The Bayonets. Check them out on Myspace, and you can go here to check out Redbeard Rattlesnake on the site as well. Admission to tonight’s show, if there is one, is $3. It starts at 9 p.m.

Written by wildsmith

August 6th, 2009 at 7:14 am