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Robinella at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Robinella’ tag

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

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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

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.”

Robinella channels her inner diva for R&B side project Pulse

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The girl who will be growling and swaggering her away through a cover of R. Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind” on Saturday night from the stage of Brackins Blues Bar in downtown Maryville?

Yep. That’s Robinella.

You may find yourself doing a double-take, if you’re expecting the soft-spoken, jazz-country lilt for which Blount County’s most famous songbird — who goes by Robin Ella Tipton Bailey to friends and family — is best known. But she’s been branching out of late, throwing her lot in with the dance-rock cover band Pulse and co-opting some of that band’s songs for her own sets.

“It’s more fun than anything — an eight-piece band with four singers,” Robinella told us this week. “(Local jazz singer) Sarah Clapp (Gilpin), she’s involved, and then Shawn (Turner) is the lead singer. Sarah and I do a lot of backup for him, but we sing lead on a few songs, too. It’s really fun. I’m loving it.”

It’s the first collaborative project Robinella’s been involved in since the dissolution of Robinella and the CCStringband following her divorce from bandleader (and now Black Lillies frontman) Cruz Contreras. That was shortly after the release of 2006’s “Solace for the Lonely”; although the two went their separate ways musically, they’ve reunited the full band on a couple of occasions. In recent years, Robinella has scaled back her performances, choosing instead to concentrate on her art projects. She occasionally plays full band shows and tours as a solo singer-songwriter on occasion; in recent months, she said, she’s been able to perform more.

“Beau (her son with husband Webster Bailey) is getting bigger, and Webster is more than happy to watch the boys,” she said. “This year, I’ve already been up to Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. I think I’m going to keep playing.”

In addition to material from the CCstringband era and from 2009’s “Fly Away Bird” album, she’s starting to incorporate some of the Pulse covers into her set. It makes sense, given that her keyboard player, Justin Haynes, is also the bandleader for Pulse.

“I saw them play at the Dogwood Arts Festival last year,” Robinella said. “I played solo, and they were the last group of the night. It’s a total dance band, and I stayed there and danced for a long time. And Justin eventually asked if I wanted to sing with them.”

Given the fun she had as an audience member, she had to say yes. On stage, she adds to the energy of the ensemble with her on-stage enthusiasm and takes the mic for some “upbeat girl songs,” as she calls them.

“They like me to do ‘Rock Steady’ and ‘Proud Mary,’ and Sarah and I just learned ‘Lady Marmalade,’” she said. “I do a couple of ballads and some old-style blues songs like ‘Smokestack Lightnin’.’ And they like for me to do ‘Bump n’ Grind.’ I don’t know who sings it — I think it’s R. Kelly — but it’s fun! I don’t know if they think it’s funny or they like it or what, but I do it.”

Many of those songs, she added, have been co-opted into her own setlist, along with a few other classic covers like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” She’ll give them all a workout — along with other Pulse material — on Saturday night at Brackins Blues Bar; in addition to Haynes, her band for that gig will include Pulse drummer Nolan Nevels, Pulse bass player Clint Mullican and local roots/blues guitarist Jack Wilburn.

“It’s actually going to be new for him, too, but he’s picking up everything real good,” Robinella said of Wilburn.

Playing more — with Pulse and under her own name — has inspired her to get back into the studio as well, she added. She has enough material to make a couple of albums and wants to cut one this calendar year … providing she can find a flow that suits her.

“I’m really going to try to make sure it has some continuity, because my records never have any,” she said with a laugh. “I’m always all over the place with genres, so I’m going to try to focus on a theme and a sound. I’m going to make some kind of album this year, though, even if it just ends up being a gospel album and not new originals.”

Robinella’s performance at Brackins takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. Admission is $5.

Written by wildsmith

February 13th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Out with John Cowan … in with ROBINELLA AND THE CCSTRINGBAND

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So … New Grass Revival alum John Cowan was supposed to be at The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville, on Thursday for a holiday installment of the venue’s “Dinner and a Concert Series,” right? But then he cancelled the December leg of his tour unexpectedly. Which left venue organizers scrambling to fill the slot. Which brings a one-time reunion of one of East Tennessee’s most beloved bands!

The original lineup of Robinella and the CC Stringband hasn’t been together since Robin Ella Tipton Bailey and Cruz Contreras divorced five years ago. They’ve remained friends (and parents of a great little kid, Cash), but both have moved on to other things — Robin solo, Cruz with his band, The Black Lillies. But for one night only, Robin, Cruz, fiddler Billy Contreras (currently on tour with George Jones) and bass player Taylor Coker will reunite.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m.; tickets are $52 to $68 and include a four-course meal. In addition to Robinella and the CC Stringband originals, they’ll do some holiday songs as well.

This is monumental. GO.

Written by wildsmith

November 30th, 2010 at 9:53 am

Square Room announces dinner concert series

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On sale Friday: At The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville, a “Dinner and a Concert Series” goes on sale. Tickets are $42 and $52 for individual shows, or $140 and $115 for the whole series. Tickets include meal, tax, gratuity and the performance. Here are the dates and the performers:

  • Friday, July 30: Robinella
  • Friday, August 13: Paul Thorn
  • Friday, September 17: Brad Blackwell and Stephen Hunley

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; for more information, call 544-4199. To purchase, visit The Square Room online ticket office.

Written by wildsmith

June 9th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

“Taste of the Brew Lagoon” takes place Saturday

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As if there isn’t enough going on this weekend with the Dogwood Arts Festival and its subsidiary music bash Rhythm N’ Blooms, add one more Dogwood-related event to your calendar: “Taste of the Brew Lagoon,” starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at Wild Wing Cafe, 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive in West Knoxville.

Participants can sample more than 50 craft beers and hear performances by Balsam Range, Robinella, the Lonesome Coyotes and The Chillbillies. Admission is $20 in advance or $25 at the door and includes a 4-oz. souvenir glass; proceeds of the ticket sales benefit WDVX-FM and the Dogwood Arts Festival. You have to be 21 to get in; call 777-9464 for more info.

Written by wildsmith

April 16th, 2010 at 7:02 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

New Robinella album dropping Dec. 18

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As the hometown paper for East Tennessee songbird Robinella, we’ve chronicled her life pretty darn well over the past several years. Back in August, we profiled the end of her standing gig at Barley’s Taproom in the Old City; last year, we caught up with her after her divorce and talked about the new chapters of her life.

Now, she tells us, she’s ready to release her new record — “Fly Away, Bird,” which will be celebrated Friday, Dec. 18, at the live show/radio broadcast “The Blue Plate Special,” hosted by WDVX-FM and held (on Fridays) at The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville. It’s absolutely free to attend. An evening concert/CD release show will take place sometime after the new year, hopefully right here in her hometown of Maryville.

In the meantime, check out this smoking-hot new photo of her, and start making plans for an extra-long lunch hour on the 18th:

Snapshot 2009-12-07 12-12-11

Written by wildsmith

December 7th, 2009 at 9:21 am

Robinella bids farewell to regular Barley’s gig

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Sunday marks the end of an era for Blount County girl and East Tennessee musical darling Robinella, who will perform her final regular gig at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City.

For the past 11 years, swing-dancers, jazz lovers, country fans and those who love the lilting warble of Robinella’s unique style of music could count on one thing — at 8 p.m., Barley’s would transform into a showcase for a local treasure. First with her ex-husband and later with the band he led — the CCstringband — she rose steadily through the ranks of East Tennessee musicians, releasing an album for Sony and a follow-up for the Dualtone label and landing steady gigs around the country, including a slot on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

Despite absences here and there around the birth of her children — Cash, 5, and Beau, now 9 weeks old — and occasional breaks while she toured, Robinella always returned to Barley’s for a standing Sunday night tradition. Now, however, it’s time to bring it to a close, she told me today.

“I’m just ready to not have a regular show any more,” she said. “I’m going to pursue my career in a different direction and try to make it doing some other things. I’ve got my two little boys, and I’ll be doing some weekend shows and some weekend traveling a little bit, and we’re planning on some big things for the fall.”

That includes a long-awaited follow-up to her 2006 album for Dualtone, “Solace for the Lonely.” She’s leaning toward calling it “Black, White and Gold” — as we first reported last fall — and it’ll feature 13 new songs, she said. There are no plans to shop it around to labels either, she added.

“No way! No more labels — you don’t even need them,” she said. “All I need is a serious web designer. That’s all anybody needs anymore.”

As a treat for long-time lovers of her Barley’s show, another record — “Live From Barley’s” — will be released on Sunday night. Featuring 16 or 17 songs, it’s being mastered this week, she said, and will feature dialogue and commentary in addition to old standards and fan favorites.

Sunday’s show will also be a goodbye extravaganza with special guests, including her ex-husband, Cruz Contreras, on mandolin; local pedal steel ace Tom Pryor; and perhaps Cruz’s brother, Billy, on fiddle.

“The first set will be older songs with friends, and the second set will be newer material and the newer sound with the new band,” she said.

Planning out the setlist for her final Barley’s show has been a difficult task, she added.

“It’s hard! I’ve got my second set done, but I’m still trying to decide what to do for the first set with so many guests and soloists,” she said. “They’ll play for three or four songs, I think, and then someone else will get up there with me. We’re going to kind of roll like that.”

Sunday’s performance, it should be noted, is most certainly not the final one of her career — merely the end of her regular run of Barley’s gigs. She’ll always have a home at Barley’s Taproom, however, according to venue booking manager Robby Dubov.

“This is something we’ve been thinking about doing for a while now,” Dubov told me today. “Instead of putting Robin in her every Sunday night, I would rather get her in here two to four times a year for big shows, and that’s just impossible to do with a weekly thing. My goal is to get her in here on a Saturday night for standing-room-only shows.”

Sunday nights at Barley’s will continue to be geared toward roots music, Dubov added, with an emphasis on making it a listening room sort of environment. He’s talking with a number of local and regional bands and will rotate the lineup like he does with other days of the week; when Robinella releases her new album in December, there’s a good chance the show will be at Barley’s.

“We’ll always work closely with her, and she’ll always have a home here,” Dubov said. “We’re just both going in a little bit different direction.”

As for Robinella’s future, she’ll continue to play mom to her two boys and wife to her husband, Webster Bailey. The family calls Maryville home — they live on Lord Avenue — and if she ever does decide to perform a regular gig, it’ll be in Maryville, she said.

But before any such plans are made, she’ll take the time to mourn.

“It’s sad! It makes me sad to go, but I think, you know, you can’t play in one place for your whole career,” she said. “They’ve been real good to me there, but I think it’s going to be good for everybody to do something different on a Sunday. I’m playing a couple of shows in Birmingham and Atlanta, but right now, it looks like I won’t be back around until my December release.”

For more information on Robinella, visit her website. For more info on live music at Barley’s, visit the venue’s website.

Written by wildsmith

August 26th, 2009 at 8:20 am