Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/tdtmaryville/blountblogs.com/wpmu-settings.php on line 45
R.B. Morris at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

A cross between Rolling Stone, Soldier of Fortune and the Oxford American

Archive for the ‘R.B. Morris’ tag

Local scene odds ‘n’ ends: Robinella, Tim Lee 3, LiL iFFy, Steve Kaufman, “Behind the Barn” and more!

with one comment


First Sundays of the month with Robinella

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since Robinella (that would be Robin Ella Tipton Bailey, if you’re from Blount County) played her final regular Sunday night gig at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City.

For years — first with the CCstringband, featuring her former husband, Cruz Contreras, now of The Black Lillies — and later with her long-time group of ace backup musicians, she got the dance floor heated up and made for a weekly rendezvous of fans and friends who fell in love with her honey-sweet voice and her infectious combination of country, folk, jazz and a little of everything else.

Well, Robin’s coming back to Barley’s on Sundays: Earlier this week, she and husband Webster Bailey confirmed that starting Sunday, Nov. 3, Robinella and her full band will perform on the first Sunday of every month at the new Barley’s Maryville, 128 W. Broadway Ave., downtown. It’s a full band show that’ll start at 8 p.m., and it’ll be free.

You can call Barley’s at 983-0808 to confirm; you can also read our recent cover story on Robinella and her new album, “Ode to Love.”

“Behind the Barn” October lineup announced

Speaking of Barley’s Maryville, we told you a week or so ago about how another fixture of the restaurant’s sister venue in Knoxville’s Old City is returning to the stage, only in Blount County: “Behind the Barn,” which ran from 1999 to 2004 as a live radio show and hosted by Blount County singin’, songwritin’ couple Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle, kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, featuring the Trinity River Bluegrass Band.

It’ll be a regular thing every Thursday night at Barley’s Maryville — it’s also free — and Barbra shared the lineup of upcoming shows for the month of October with us. They include:

He also said the show on Halloween night will be a costume party, and that he’s dressing up as Conway Twitty. We can only hope.

Tim Lee 3 Pilot Light residency kicks off Thursday

Have we mentioned lately how much we love Tim and Susan Lee of the Tim Lee 3?

Because I don’t think we’ve gushed over them enough. Not only are they two-thirds of a killer rock ‘n’ roll power trio that calls East Tennessee home, they’re stalwarts of support for their fellow musicians and enthusiastic for collaborations that get them outside the standard genre boxes that hem in too many other bands.

And they like early rock ‘n’ roll shows, a boon for old SOB’s like yours truly. Which makes their third annual “4×4″ Pilot Light residency — kicking off this coming Thursday (Oct. 3) at The Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City — a grand thing indeed.

Like last year, the Lees (with drummer Chris Bratta) will share the stage time with local poet/playwright/singer-songwriter/raconteur R.B. Morris; this year, they’re also adding a multimedia element to the shows, which will take place at 7 p.m. every Thursday night during the month of October, and cost a mere $5. (Early show … cheap … music and multimedia … you won’t find a better way to spend a school night, kids. Plus, you’ll be back home in time for the 11 p.m. news, since all shows end around 10.)

The schedule includes:

  • Oct. 3: Tim Lee 3, R.B. Morris and friends, The Drop Dead Darling.S and The Quake Orphans, plus the book release of Morris’s “The Mockingbird Poems.” The book and posters from the book will be for sale, and R.B. will read from it between musical acts.
  • Oct. 10: Tim Lee 3, R.B. Morris and friends, Nancy Apple and a screening of a the shortened version of Nashville-based filmmaker Tom Weber’s documentary “Troubadour Blues.” Copies of the film will also be for sale. The show, incidentally, will hit the road for stops in Nashville and Memphis immediately following the Pilot Light gig, if’n you feel up for a road trip.
  • Oct. 17: Tim Lee 3, R.B. Morris and friends, Greg Horne Band and a screening of the locally made short film “The Agenda,” created for the Knoxville Film Festival’s 7-Day Shootout Competition by the Scuffletown Monkeys team,. The Tim Lee 3 wrote and recorded the new song “Bang Bang” specifically for the film.
  • Oct. 24: Tim Lee 3, R.B. Morris and friends, Chuck Cleaver (of the Ass Ponys and Wussy) and Eric Lee (of Knoxville-based band White Gregg). A late show featuring Big Bad Oven and Birthday Girl will follow.

LiL iFFy album release blowout set

If you’ve never been to a show by Knoxville-based wizard-rapper LiL iFFy — a man whose art we’ve documented extensively over the past couple of years in the Weekend section — then you’ve cheated yourself from participating in one of the sweatiest, nastiest (the good sort of nasty, by the way), most fun parties ever to be held in East Tennessee.

But you can rectify that. In fact, you can more than make up for lost time, as iFFy — a.k.a. Knox rocker/writer/mad genius Wil Wright — prepares to launch the final album in his wizard trilogy, titled “Wand Out.” (Go watch this badass trailer for the album; it’s like watching a preview for the series finale of “Breaking Bad” or something equally epic.) On Nov. 2 and 3 at The Pilot Light, iFFy and the Magic Hu$tle crew are putting on a two-night extravaganza worthy of all the pomp and circumstance of waiting in line all night at Barnes and Noble for the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Here’s what’s going down.

  • Nov. 2, a Saturday night, will serve as the official “Wand Out” album and video release party, and DJ Tom Ato — the mastermind behind the beats of just about every Magic Hu$tle project — will open the show. It’s an 18-and-up affair that begins at 10 p.m., and no doubt will be a night for which you’ll wish you had a Time-Turner so you can go back and do it all over again.
  • Nov. 3 will start earlier — at 8 p.m. — and is open to all ages. The WandcOrchestra, a group of classical musicians led by Wright’s Weird Miracle bandmate Preston Davis, will flesh out iFFy’s music with some sweet arrangements.

Two nights. No repeats. In the words of the press release, “This two-night extravaganza allows all aspects of LiL iFFy’s music to be showcased as it was intended – from the hard-hitting, raunchy party to the beautifully nuanced slow jams.” Tickets are $10 per show, or $15 for a VIP pass to both nights.

Steve Kaufman back in the running for a fourth National Flatpick Championship

A traveling minstrel of sorts in his early years, Steve Kaufman came to Maryville in the late 1970s, around the time that he started winning his run of National Flatpicking Championships at the annual Walnut Valley Festival competition held every year in Winfield, Kansas. He won in 1978 at the age of 21 and returned as soon as he was able to win again in 1984 and 1986. Over the years, he gradually built up a music publishing empire of sorts out of his home here in Blount County, having produced dozens of instructional books and videos and traveling the world to conduct workshops (as he’ll do this weekend prior to Saturday’s concert). In addition to being a father, husband and owner of The Palace Theater, he puts on an acoustic camp and concert series every summer on the Maryville College campus.

Earlier this month, Kaufman went back to Winfield for the annual competition … and came in second only to Allen Shadd, last year’s second-place winner. “Just like the first time (he competed) in ‘77, except (against) a much tougher bunch of pickers,” he told us via email. “The Kid is back and going for the brass ring.”

All them young bucks aiming for a flatpicking title had best watch out. Congrats to Mr. Kaufman!

Date, venue set for New Hope benefit band competition

Last month we told you about the “Kids Helping Kids Band Competition,” organized by Maryville High School senior Hannah Rials as a benefit and celebration for Blount County’s New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center. Rials, a volunteer at the center, was inspired to put the battle together to call attention to child abuse issues in Blount County. Interested bands can still enter the competition, and now a date and venue has been set: from 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Alumni Gym on the Maryville College campus, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. Tickets are $5, and they can be purchased at New Hope, Foothills Music Shop, Pokey’s Sports, Shimmer Hair Spa and Williams Cleaners. Tickets will also be available at the door. Call 696-6975 for info or to enter your band.


Battle of the Bands 1 and 2

Some parting thoughts on love and community and Waynestock 3 …

without comments


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.

Hector’s coming back to howl with the Coyotes!

without comments

Hector-QirkoHector Qirko

If you’re missing that genteel guitar god Hector Qirko, who moved to Charleston, S.C., in 2010 to take a teaching position at the College of Charleston, buck up: He’s coming back to East Tennessee for at least one gig.

For more than three decades, Qirko brought flair, panache and a helluva guitar-playing face to the East Tennessee music scene as a partner to local singer-songwriter R.B. Morris, in long-gone bands like Balboa, with the long-running Hector Qirko Band (which won the 2010 Metro Pulse Best Blues Band award) and with the Lonesome Coyotes.

The Coyotes, in fact, will be performing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at The Grove Theater, 123 Randolph Road in Oak Ridge, and Qirko is making the trek to East Tennessee to participate. As an added bonus: Dana Paul of the band Rich Mountain Tower, which released three albums and played around East Tennessee in the early 1970s, will be a part of the Grove Theater concert as well.

I reached out to Hector a couple of months back, asking him how he’s doing. Here’s what he told me:

“I’m having fun anthropoligizing and living in Charleston. Music-wise, I’ve been playing mostly acoustic and mostly at home, although some gigs as a duo with another K-town expat, Kevin Crothers (formerly of the Knoxville band Sea 7 States), on bass. Pretending to be a singer-songwriter has been interesting, and it has actually led to my writing more songs, but I guess I’m not as sensitive as the job requires — I’m increasingly wanting to make more noise! So I figure a little electric band is in my future.”

Written by wildsmith

January 7th, 2013 at 11:30 am

Knox music royalty pays homage to Woody Guthrie

without comments


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.

Streamliners to kick off winter ‘Alive After Five’ series with a little help from R.B.

without comments

l_77eb633d4633fd436e2f11c66d8eb8c2R.B. Morris

He’s already done the tux thing, and he wouldn’t mind doing it again — but on Jan. 6, local singer-songwriter/poet/playwright R.B. Morris will get to check off another item on his bucket list.

As the kick-off to the “Alive After Five” concert series at the Knoxville Museum of Art (1050 World’s Fair Park Drive in downtown Knoxville), Morris will sit in with the Streamliners Swing Orchestra, a regular at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Maryville and a favorite of “AA5″ patrons. It’s a show put together by “Alive After Five” coordinator Michael Gill, and it’s been years in the planning, Gill told me this week in an email.

A few (5 or 6?) years ago, I interviewed R.B. for an ill-fated publication that went belly up before the story got printed, but I learned two surprising things about RB that made the effort worth it,” Gill writes. “One was that he had been an All-KIL (Knoxville Interscholastic League) basketball player in high school, and, two, that he had long had a desire to sing with a big band. I stored that away in my memory banks and vowed to myself that one day I would make that happen. To make a long story somewhat shorter, that day is coming January 6 at Alive After Five when the winter series premiers with The Streamliners Swing Orchestra, joined by special guest vocalist R.B. Morris.”

Morris credits Gill for making the collaboration happen, even though he and Streamliners bandleader Mike “Catfish” Spirko are still working out a time to rehearse for the performance.

“He immediately was saying, I know a bunch of standards,’ and I said, ‘That could be great; I wouldn’t mind doing that, but I would love to work up a couple of my own tunes,’” Morris told me. “I think I’ve got a couple that lend themselves to that — ‘Old Copper Penny,’ which (a friend) described as sort of a Tin Pan Alley song, and ‘Summer’s Breaking Down’ might be good. We’ll have to see what works out, though. It’s still their gig, but just the idea of singing with them is great.”

Whether he’ll wear a tux, however, remains to be seen. He rented one for a dinner concert he performed earlier this year at The Square Room in downtown Knoxville — mostly as a goof — but it turns out the show might have been good practice for the Jan. 6 show.

“I came out, playing it solo, and I sang ‘Moon River’ and ‘Days of Wine and Roses,’” Morris said. “I didn’t have the big band behind me, but those are potentially big band songs.”

Written by wildsmith

December 21st, 2011 at 7:56 am

Announcing ‘Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil,’ Feb. 2-4 in Knoxville

without comments


Last year’s Waynestock weekend was born out of tragedy — the death of Andrew Bledsoe, oldest son of long-time News Sentinel music writer Wayne Bledsoe.

The organizers — Tim and Susan Lee, Steve Wildsmith, Mic Harrison, Wil Wright and Jason Knight — didn’t know what to expect. All they knew was that a friend was in pain and a lot of mutual friends wanted to do something, anything, to help. And so a festival was born.

Over three days at Relix Variety Theatre in Downtown North Knoxville, musicians played and fans came, and the Bledsoe family received an outpouring of support. It was such a beautiful weekend, filled with love and music and community, that organizers knew almost immediately they wanted to do it again.

In November, tragedy once again struck the music community when Knoxville expatriate Phil Pollard died suddenly in his Virginia hometown. Although Phil departed Knoxville a few years back, the legacy he left behind — and continued to return to contribute to — is monumental in the local scene. Numerous groups benefited from his talent, and the local scene benefited from his whimsical, quirky, intellectual personality. Whenever Phil played, it was truly a show; music and art and some sort of zany magic all combined to make for nights of wonder, laughter and creative genius.

He left behind a wife and three daughters, and once again the East Tennessee music scene is being called upon to give back. Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil will be a fundraiser for the educational fund of Phil’s three girls. It will be held again at Relix Variety Theatre, and in the same spirit as the original Waynestock, it will be three nights of love and light and remembrance and celebration, all for a good cause.

Performers include: Thursday, Feb. 2 — Songwriters in the Round featuring Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle, Greg Horne, Kevin Abernathy and Jay Clark; Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet; Ian Thomas; and Christabel and the Jons. On Friday, Feb. 3 — Sara Schwabe and Her Yankee Jass Band; The Lonetones; Tim Lee 3; R.B. Morris; and King Super and the Excellents. A post-Waynstock after-party, featuring the deejays of Magic Hu$tle (Lil iFFy, Tom Ato and more) will begin at 1 a.m. and continue into the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 4. And rounding out the weekend on Saturday night — The French (featuring Phil’s brother-in-law, Brett Winston); The Theorizt; Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere; Senryu; and finishing off the evening, an All-Star Tribute to Phil, featuring members of his various bands and some of the titans of the music scene paying homage to the man so many knew and loved.

This year’s organizers also include Rusty Odom, editor/publisher of Blank News; and Wayne Bledsoe, the festival’s namesake. In putting together this year’s lineup, organizers wanted to maintain the spirit of community that permeated the original through inclusion of some of last year’s acts, while at the same time including as many of the acts with which Phil was associated as possible. The groups scheduled for Waynestock 2 will continue the Knoxville spirit of talent, grace and beauty of spirit that made the first festival such a weekend of magic, and organizers believe its connection to Phil and the people who loved him will make it every bit as successful.

Admission is $5 per night, and the music begins at 7 p.m. each night. Other activities are being planned around the weekend-long event, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s an opportunity for those who feel they’ve received so much to give back … a chance for remembrance and celebration … a time for musicians and fans of all genres, styles and types of music to come together and lift their hands in unity for a guy who’s spent his life uniting an amazing East Tennessee music scene through his words.

We hope you’ll join us. For more information, check out the website set up for this event — www.waynestock.org, and look for further releases and e-mail blasts as the event draws closer.

New album on the way from R.B. Morris

without comments


After going more than a decade between albums — from 1999’s “Zeke and the Wheel” to last year’s “Spies Lies and Burning Eyes” — local singer-songwriter/poet/playwright/institution R.B. Morris is already preparing to put out his next record, tentatively titled “Rich Mountain Bound,” after his own publishing company.

“It’s crazy — totally different, completely different,” Morris told me this week. “For one thing, it’s absolutely all solo – just me with a guitar. I don’t mean exactly like ‘Nebraska,’ where I play all the instruments; it’s just all guitar. There’s not an overdub on the whole record.”

The album came about via some front-porch sessions with his people “way up in the hills,” Morris said, particularly “Iron” John Webb, who after one session told R.B. that all of his favorite Morris songs were the ones Morris had never recorded — songs like “Once in a Blue Moon,” “Going Down to Hot Springs” and the like. That spurred Morris to action, and in one session at Nathan Milner’s Asheville, N.C., studios.

You can read more about the new album, his Friday (July 15) concert at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus and what Morris has been up to of late in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend entertainment section.

Written by wildsmith

July 12th, 2011 at 6:28 am

Posted in Music

Tagged with ,

All-star fundraiser set for Laurel High School

without comments

According to the school’s website: “Since 1971, Laurel High School has offered an option for students with curiosity, energy, and independence of spirit.  Students are prepared to make sound decisions after graduation because they have had ample opportunity to make decisions while at Laurel. They  help shape school policies, pursue their individual interests, and help determine their own class schedules.”

Of course, like all schools, it can be tough in these times. Poke around enough on the school’s website, and you’ll see a number of problems that faculty and staff are trying to fix: the refrigerator no longer works and isn’t cost-effective to repair … pots, pans, cooking utensils and more are needed for the kitchen … school supplies … classroom furniture (keep in mind this is a non-traditional school) … art supplies … and a whole lot more. You can e-mail info@laurelhighschool.org or call (865) 525-3885 to donate or to obtain more information, or you could show up at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, to Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central St. in the historic Downtown North neighborhood of Knoxville (also known as “Happy Holler”). Because that’s when the big guns will come out to lend a hand.

On the lineup for that night …

R.B. Morris with the Tim Lee 3
Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere
Jill Andrews
Sandsation Dancers (belly dancers)
hosted by Benny Smith, program director and general manager of WUTK-FM, 90.3 “The Rock”

The suggested donation is $10 at the door. Not a bad deal, especially when you consider Mr. Steed and his group of ruffians will be debuting new music off of his “Unmind” project … and that the project’s director/visionary/leader/imam Manfred Minsk will be there as well!

e-mail: info@laurelhighschool.org or call 865-525-3885 to discuss, we can pick up donations!  Thank you!

Maggie Longmire presents ‘Granddaughters’

without comments

Back in 2008, we interviewed local singer-songwriter Maggie Longmire, a k a “The Lily of LaFollette,” about a work that’s extremely personal to her — “Granddaughters: An Americana Opera.”

About it, she told us “it’s been full of a lot of appreciation for family members, and perhaps some regret that I didn’t spend more time with some of them before they weren’t available anymore. To know their stories and some of their struggles, it makes you say, ‘Wow — I wish I’d had more time with them.’ It’s just funny how little things will mean something particularly profound to you.

“It gives you an appreciation for their personalities — how they did what they did, how they lived their lives. The way we live now, older generations seem to be separated from their children and grandchildren; something in our culture has developed in more modern times that folks seem to lose, especially the stories that the older generation has to tell. There’s nothing like having stories told from the person who lived them.

“It teaches you to look over your shoulder to where you came from, and it gives you an appreciation for those who loved us and brought us into this world and gave us our creative talent,” she added. “Discovering that someone in my family loved to write … that my grandfather loved to play guitar … discovering something I didn’t know but got passed down, all of those are new things to have gratitude for.”

Longmire’s musical roots may go back to the skills handed down by her ancestors, but she’s been making a name for herself since the late 1970s, when her long-time band, the Lonesome Coyotes, took the East Tennessee music scene by storm. As one of the Western swing/country-rock outfit’s singers and guitarists, she helped craft songs and played music that defined a generation of Knoxvillians’ entry to adulthood. With the Coyotes, she rocked the Budweiser pavilion all summer long during the 1982 World’s Fair and performed with the band on national television, during a guest slot on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”

After a 17-year hiatus from playing music after the Coyotes disbanded shortly after the World’s Fair, Longmire found herself returning to music. A chance meeting with one of her old bandmates prompted the Coyotes to reunite in 2002, and Longmire pursued other projects on the side. Her 2003 album, “Teachers and Travelers,” earned her the Best Writer award in the Knoxville alternative newspaper’s 2003 readers’ poll, and when her brother John asked for her musical assistance for a project he was working on, “Granddaughters” was born.

Now, “Granddaughters” will see the light of day on a Knoxville stage (again; it’s been performed once at The Laurel Theater in Knoxville’s Fort Sanders neighborhood). It takes place at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville; tickets are $17 (you can purchase them here). About the show, she writes: “We have a great cast of musicians and singers. R.B. Morris will be on board to tell the story through both story and song. The music will be performed by the mighty acoustic orchestra Free Soil Farm, which includes: Jay Manneschmidt, Doug Klein, Cecilia Miller, Peggy Hambright, Charles Manneschmidt, Don Cassell, Danny Gammon, J.P. Reddick, Kate Reddick, Jenna Longmire, R.B. Morris and me.” Given the East Tennessee musical pedigrees of all of those players, it should be an amazing night.

Written by wildsmith

October 6th, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Local entertainment scene odds and ends …

without comments

  • Local singer-songwriter R.B. Morris shed a little light on his upcoming Oct. 1 gig at The Laurel Theater, 1538 Laurel Ave. in Knoxville’s Fort Sanders neighborhood. It starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $11 advance/$12 day of show. Here’s what he had to say: “It’s a book release show for this new book of poetry, ‘Keeping the Bees Employed,’ which is at the printer’s now … it’s a little different and I’m into it. Just like the ‘Spies Lies’ record, a little different, though makes no difference in the big picture. I’ll play a lot of music at this show besides featuring some of these new poems. Vince Ilagan and Karly (Stribling, his wife) will accompany me. Yeah, it’ll be a little different.”
  • The second annual Knoxville Horror Film Festival will be held at Relix Variety Theatre (1208 N. Central Ave. in Knoxville) on Oct. 22 and 23, 2010. Friday night will be dedicated to a program of short horror films, running about five hours. Our primary focus is to champion films made in Knoxville and throughout the American Southeast, regardless of budget or production value. On Sat., Oct. 23, organizers will present the KHFF Awards ceremony (including the winners of our first annual KHFF Screenplay Contest), special out-of-competition screenings, a musical performance by Damaged Patients and the Knoxville premiere of Marc Price’s infamously micro-budgeted zombie film “Colin,” which film fans may recall from the press hubbub during 2009’s Cannes Film Festival. (It was purportedly shot for $70.) Tickets will be made available — individually and as part of a discounted festival pass — beginning in October. KHFF is currently accepting submissions for its 2010 short films program, with a deadline of October 1 and a late deadline of October 10. For more information, check out the website.
  • Texas expatriate and comedy singer-songwriter “Sneaky” Pete Rizzo, whom we profile every year about this time, has completed his first CD recorded in East Tennessee and is preparing for an October CD release party at Hastings Music, Books and More, 501 N. Foothills Plaza Drive in Maryville. He wrote this week about the album, titled “Smoky Mountain Mischief”: “There are 13 songs, and almost all are funny. There are several that mention East Tennessee, and one mentions The Daily Times. Even got one about Dolly Wood (no, I didn’t misspell it). I just have to get the production thing going with my friend in College Station, but there is plenty of time to get everything done by the last week in October.” Can’t wait to hear it, Pete!
  • It ain’t easy, being a member of local scum-punk outfit The Dirty Works. Guitarist Steven Crime — make that former guitarist Steven Crime — is now doing time and has been replaced by a righteous-sounding fella by the name of Sam Murder. Writes front man Christopher Scum: “He’s brought a fresh breath of hate into an already volatile band, so hes a keeper; not to mention he plays like a S.O.B.!” It’s worth noting that of the two members of the three-piece we interviewed in an August 2009 piece on the band, none are still a part of the project. Can’t keep a good man — or band — down, though, so kudos to Scum for persevering.
  • It was only a month ago that we profiled the local metal band Against the Opposition, and now those cats have gone and changed names. It’s a good thing, however, because big things are in the works. According to singer Joel Rainwater, the band is now called Morior Invictus (Latin meaning death before defeat). Stay tuned for future Morior Invictus news …