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Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for the ‘Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House’ tag

Gran Torino reunites to help out The Bijou Theatre

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1526258_709946322372394_1360964408_nThe big news out of the local music scene today: Knoxville jam-dance-rock outfit Gran Torino is returning to the stage on March 15 at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

When Knoxville jam-dance rockers Gran Torino called it quits in January 2003, even the members themselves were bummed.

At the time of the group’s two-night “farewell weekend” of shows at the Old City club Blue Cat’s (now NV Nightclub), the reasons for the breakup were financial, keyboardist and trombone player Dexter Murphy told us at the time: “One was a lot of things at the record label [Red Eye] they promised they would do to promote the new album [2002's "The One and Only"], but never happened. That led to bad promotion of the album and not many people coming to the shows, and that caused us to lose money instead of gain money.”

The band formed at the University of Tennessee in 1995. After releasing “One” in 1997, the band gained a quick reputation for a sound anchored in rhythm-and-blues, soul and funk. Gran Torino was famous for its non-stop, late-night shows where the songs extended toward 10 minutes, and the group quickly sold out old Knoxville venues like the Mercury Theatre. For its next record, 1999’s “Two,” the band shifted its sound toward a more melodic pop-rock formula, leading to the minor radio hit “Moments With You,” which won the Grand Prize Award in the 2000 John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s pop category.

After “The One and Only” failed to do what the guys hoped, the members went their separate ways. But singer/frontman Chris Ford — who now owns Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House — said they’ve always stayed in touch, and when the opportunity came about to reunite for a good cause, they couldn’t say no.

“The guys have been wanting to do it, but I was really finding a hard time wanting to do it because of all the stuff that comes with it — putting the show together, promoting it,” Ford told me. “I’m on the board at The Bijou Theatre, and they came to me about us doing their annual fundraiser — the Bijou Jubilee — and I thought that would be a great venue to do this because (a) that was our favorite place to play back in the day and (b) they take care of all of the stuff. Basically it’s a good place to play and not have it be such a headache (logistically).”

The lineup for the show isn’t 100 percent set in stone, but the guys have it covered — “Because we had so many people, it’s easy to put together a version of the band,” Ford said — but all of the alumni are invited. Members included Ford, Murphy, Whit Pfohl, PeeJay Alexander, Steve Decker, Todd Overstreet, Dave Hyer, Jonathan Mann, Jason Thompson, Scott Pederson and Johnny Pfohl; Decker now lives in Los Angeles and Whit Pfohl resides in Texas, so it’s questionable whether they’ll be able to make it in for the reunion show … but the rest of the band members are keeping their fingers crossed.

As for Ford, he’s crossing those of his other hand that the performance remains a one-off gig, much like the New Year’s Eve show by The V-Roys a few years back.

“I’m praying it is! But only because I’ve got family and the business, and I couldn’t see making time to go out and play shows,” he said. “We have rehearsed, and it is fun. I haven’t played in 11 years; the last time I played was with them, so we’re all really looking forward to it.”

The show takes place at 8 p.m.; tickets are $30, unless you want to spring for the VIP package, which is $100. Buy tickets here.

Written by wildsmith

January 17th, 2014 at 12:32 pm

New concert series coming to Sweet P’s

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w-ettabrittEtta Britt

It’s not enough that Chris Ford, owner of Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House, serves up some of the best food around these parts. Seriously — the greens and the mac-and-cheese are scrumptious enough accompaniments to the pulled pork and the chicken and the ribs and the smoked meatloaf? Apparently not, because Ford and crew are putting together another concert series down at Sweet P’s, located at Willow Point Marina on Old Maryville Pike/Old Knoxville Highway, right there on the Blount/Knox County lines.

Called “Even Thursdays Get the Blues,” the series (following on the heels of the “Friday Night Juke Joint” and “Songwriters in the Soul House” series) will feature “the best in regional and local blues artists … concerts will be held at the restaurant every other Thursday on the even days of the month. All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m.

First up on Oct. 18: Etta Britt, an R&B crooner who’s worked with Delbert McClinton, Marty Stuart, Billy Joe Shaver and REO Speedwagon and got her start in music as a member of the country trio Dave and Sugar. her new album is titled “Out of the Shadows.”

Other performances include:

  • Nov. 8: The Chuck Beattie Band
  • Nov. 15: The Mumbles (taking place on an odd-numbered date because of Thanksgiving)
  • Dec. 6: The Andy T. Band featuring Nick Nixon

As always, the shows are free. Call 865-247-7748 for more info.

Barbecue and more at Sweet P’s on Saturday

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Feel like makin’ a drive down Old Knoxville Highway on Saturday? If not, then maybe you should make plans to do so — because once you cross the county line, where the road name changes to Maryville Pike, you’ll want to pull off at Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House, 3725 Maryville Pike. Technically, the restaurant has a Knoxville address, but by virtue of the locale, Blount County has just as much of a right to claim it.

Anyway … where was I? Oh, yes. Saturday, my friends, is the inaugural Sweet P’s Sm0kin’ Day Fest, starting at noon and lasting until 8 p.m. There’s live music from Grand Theft Maidcart, Soulfinger and JC and The Dirty Smokers (read a recent interview we did with JC Haun here).

In addition, there will be an all-you-can-eat pig roast … a cornhole tournament with prizes (call 247-7748 to reserve your team’s spot; $20 entry fee per team) … a banana pudding eating contest (call to reserve a spot) … and a whole lot more.

Tickets are $20 in advance (purchased at Sweet P’s) and $25 the day of. For more information, call 247-7748.

Sweet P’s, incidentally, is owned by Chris Ford, who spent eight years as the lead vocalist and guitarist for Knoxville-based soul-funk-rock outfit Gran Torino. Over on our Myspace page, we have photos in our East Tennessee bands folder of Gran Torino’s Disc Exchange performance, back in 2002, when the group released its final studio album, “The One and Only.” Check ‘em out here.

Also, you can check out Sweet P’s on Facebook.

Written by wildsmith

August 17th, 2009 at 6:53 am