Archive for the ‘The Pilot Light’ tag
Royal Bangs: (from left) Chris Rusk, Ryan Schaefer, Sam Stratton
Knoxville electro-pop indie darlings the Royal Bangs will play a rare hometown show on Friday, Sept. 21, at The Ciderhouse (112 Ramsey St. in Knoxville’s Warehouse District, adjacent to The Valarium; Marina Orchestra opens the show), and we caught up via email with singer/instrumental wizard Ryan Schaefer to get the skinny on what’s happening with the guys.
The band plans on debuting a “bunch of new material” at the Ciderhouse show, Schaefer writes, from the band’s forthcoming new album. Although it’s untitled right now and a firm release date has yet to be locked in, it’s a safe bet given the band’s last two nationally distributed releases — 2009’s “Let It Beep” and last year’s “Flux Outside” (released on the Glassnote label) — a lot of fans in East Tennessee and beyond are waiting on pins and needles for a new record.
It’s “almost finished, just getting it mastered now,” Schaefer writes. “We recorded it in Nashville with our friend Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys and founder of the Audio Eagle record label, which released “Let It Beep”) producing and Roger Moutenot engineering. It was really fun to make. Dylan Dawkins (formerly of up-and-coming fuzz-pop band Yung Life and the side project Persona La Ave) plays bass for us now, so we could actually track most of it live, which was kind of new for us. Usually we figure everything out in the studio, but this time we had it more or less put together before we got there, and the songs can breathe a little bit more because we’re playing them together.”
The band’s other two members include guitarist Sam Stratton and drummer/percussionist Chris Rusk. The Sept. 21 show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is $10; it’s a presentation of that most awesome Old City indie-rock club The Pilot Light.
In perusing the calendar for that fine Old City indie-rock club The Pilot Light, I stumbled across a lovely little nugget slated for May 3: A performance by the Rockwells, that quartet of rockers who have been sorely missed in the local scene over the past few years as the boys have taken on various adult responsibilities.
A quick call to Tommy Bateman, general manager of the Maryville Tomato Head, reveals that it is, in fact, true — he’s getting married that week, and the guys are getting back together as sort of a celebratory reunion show. And while the band hasn’t committed to future performances, they’ve been practicing regularly, Bateman said, and there’s talk of perhaps some new recordings.
“We’ve kicked the idea around as we’ve rehearsed some of the songs we’re preparing for the show, especially one or two that never got recorded or were recorded early on and have changed shape,” he said.
The Rockwells — Bateman and his brother Trace, and brothers Fred and Jonathan Kelly (who have been busy of late running Famous London Recording Studio) — hail from Memphis, and they’ve played together in some form or fashion for most of their lives. Tommy Bateman and Kelly were best friends through high school and college, while their younger brothers, Trace and Jonathan, shared a similar close friendship. After the Batemans moved away, the Kelly brothers formed the Rockwells in 1999. The Batemans returned to Tennessee, the Rockwells moved to Knoxville and the rest is quickly becoming part of the city’s local music history.
The guys have released several albums — the full-lengths “Star Smile Strong” and “Little Symphonies for Kids,” as well as a number of EPs and the most recent full-length, “Place and Time,” the latter of which contains one of my favorite songs ever: the melancholy, looking-back-on-life gem “The Quarterback.”
The May 3 show also features Marina Orchestra and will start at 9 p.m. (real time, not Pilot Light time). Admission is $5.
“We’re really glad we’re doing it at The Pilot Light, given our history with that place and what it means to so many people around here,” Bateman said. “We’re really excited.”
Royal Bangs are (from left) Chris Rusk, Sam Stratton and Ryan Schaefer
A Royal Bangs live album? The boys in the band wouldn’t be opposed to it, singer/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Schaefer told me last week.
“I’d love too, actually; we sound so much different live that I’d love to document it,” he said. “It justs depends, because it’s so difficult to get it right. You listen to something like Dylan’s Albert Hall bootleg, and it sounds so good. It captures what was really going on in the room. A lot of time, the aesthetic of a live album can be distracting.”
Schaefer talked about the band, its status in the Knoxville music scene and this weekend’s two-shows-in-one-day assault on The Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City. Aside from a few last-minute, barely promoted benefit shows, the Bangs haven’t had a proper Knoxville date in a while, and going back to the venue that helped launch the group is a gratifying thing, Schaefer said.
“It’s something that we want to do, but we spend so much time on the road that it’s kind of difficult for us,” he said. “We really like playing The Pilot Light, and I think it’s important to support that venue. It was important for us, and it’s still the best place to see good music. That was the only place that would let us play when we were starting out.
“This weekend is kind of an experiment, doing two shows on the same day. It’s fun when it’s a small place and everybody’s packed in there, but we haven’t played an all-ages show in years in Knoxville. That’s going to be kind of exciting.”
Dean Allen Spunt and Randy Randall of the Los Angeles-based post-punk/noise rock band No Age are known for playing unconventional venues and cross-pollinating their music with a number of other art forms — cinema and the visual arts, among them. Centered are the LA all-ages club The Smell, the guys are always looking for new outlets for their creativity, although their hectic schedules these days (they play Sunday, Jan. 23 at The Pilot Light in Knoxville) doesn’t allow them to do everything they’d like, Randall told me in a recent interview.
“The one project that I was really looking forward to pursuing that hasn’t come to fruitation is with Ian Crause, who was part of this amazing (British ’80s post-rock) band called Disco Inferno,” Randall said. “It was a band Dean discovered, and we were listening to a lot of their catalog when making this record (“Everything in Between,” released last year), because those guys made these amazing sound collages in the realm of pop music.
“We reached out to Ian through Facebook, and we got a chance to meet him in England. In the back of our minds, I think we knew we’d love to collaborate with him. He came to show and said he hasn’t played music in 15 years, so we just said, ‘Well, let’s do something.’ I think it’s just a matter of time. For the past two years, we’ve been pestering him, and I think he’s coming around.
“I wish the timing had been a little better, but he lives in England and we live in LA and we’re right in the middle of this tour,” Randall added. “Once we get done touring, if we have the chance to do something with him, we will.”
Sometimes, you just can’t fit everything into one interview. So it was with two this week, including the one I did last month with Gregg Gillis, the artist also known as Girl Talk. (Also last month, I named “All Day,” Girl Talk’s most recent album that you can download for free here, as one of the best albums of 2010.)
On Monday, Jan. 24, Gillis will play a sold-out show at The Valarium in Knoxville’s Warehouse District — a venue that holds roughly 1,000 people. It’s a far cry from his days triggering his various cuts and slices at The Pilot Light over in the Old City, where 100 people make for quite a cramped listening space.
“I played at The Pilot Light back in the day, and even back then with the shows only having a handful of people, it was absolutely an enthusiastic crowd,” Gillis told me. “It’s been great every time I go back. I played a sold-out show there in the fall of 2008, and I did the rounds in the city, stopped by The Pilot Light and things like that.”
Although his next project is up in the air, he’s looking at a number of possibilities, including going with more experimental ’60s psychedelic or ’70s avant garde noise bands — “maybe the band Whitehouse, or something super-intense,” he said.
“Obviously, I want something to focus on the new and the now,” he said. “I’m about not fitting in right. I like to make danceable stuff from stuff you wouldn’t think was danceable.”
Shows on the radar
Some cool/interesting/fun shows coming to town over the next several weeks:
- Tuesday, Feb. 1 at Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central St. in Knoxville’s Old City: Singer-songwriter Jolie Holland (”I’ve had a lot of fans who are really involved in hip-hop, punk rock or death metal, as well as some of the folkies,” she told us in 2004. “Joe Strummer [former singer for The Clash] was actually a fan. Nick Cave is a fan. I mean, I don’t consider myself a folk musician, and I think people who are outside of the folk scene emotionally can feel the intensity of what I’m trying to say a lot clearer.”) with Kyp Malone, guitarist for the mind-blowing band TV on the Radio. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $10-$12. Buy them here.
- Friday, Feb. 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena, 1600 Phillip Fulmer Way on the UT campus in Knoxville: Country star Jason Aldean (from our 2008 interview with him: “”I like the fact that if I want to go record something that’s a real Southern rock-sounding song, I can do that, and I can turn it into country radio and they’re not shocked by it. At the same time, I can also go and record something really traditional, and it doesn’t seem weird to anybody. I think a good song is a good song, and I want to be able to record it, if it’s on the rock side or the pop side or whatever it is. I don’t like to back myself into a corner by saying what I think I am.”) with Eric Church and the Janedear Girls at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $30.75 and $44.75.
- The Tennessee Theatre (604 S. Gay St., downtown Knoxville) has some killer shows recently announced, all of which go on sale Friday, Jan. 14: Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8; tickets are $55.50 and $69.50 … New Age god Kenny G performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9; tickets are $57 and $77 … Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot performs at 8 p.m. March 17; tickets are $39.50 and $54.50 … new folk dude Amos Lee performs at 8 p.m. April 25; tickets are $35 … and comedian Steve Martin will take a bluegrass turn with the Steep Canyon Rangers at 8 p.m. May 24; tickets are $69. Check Tickets Unlimited to purchase online.
- The Civil Wars, a fantastic duo about which we first wrote roughly a year ago (”The whole thing just kind of symbolizes all of the little battles we have with each other, ourselves, our lives, our love, our addiction, our boss — whatever,” singer John Paul White, who performs with Joy Williams, told us then. “It’s about all of the little tiny wars, and how all of the decisions we make have the good and the bad that come with them. I think the most obvious meaning is that it’s about the push and pull of a human relationship.”) will perform at The Pilot Light on Feb. 22.
- Where is country supergroup Sugarland performing on Thursday, Oct. 6? Don’t know, but according to the touring website Pollstar, the group is playing this area on that date.
Pilot Light film screening
Jason Boardman, owner of that fabulous indie-rock club in Knoxville’s Old City (at 106 E. Jackson Ave., to be exact) called The Pilot Light, sent me an e-mail recently: “An English filmmaker has made a documentary on Rollo and his ridge in South Knoxville called “Once Upon A Time In Knoxville.” We are screening it at Pilot Light on Wednesday Jan 26 with two showings: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., suggested $5 donation. I’ve not seen the film yet; it was brought to my attention by Rollo’s daughter. I have no idea how he discovered Rollo’s Ridge, but I’m interested to find out.” Check out the website, and watch a trailer for the film, here.
WayneStock planned for end of the month
There’s a wonderful festival taking place at Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central St. in Knoxville’s Downtown North neighborhood, Jan. 27-29: “WayneStock: For the Love of Drew.” It’ll feature a who’s-who of Knoxville musicians to support a great cause, for $5 a night. Get the skinny here.
Coyotes return to Buddy’s
A lot of local music fans mourned with ace guitarist Hector Qirko moved to Charleston, S.C. But he told us then he wouldn’t be a stranger, and now the first “return” gig is on the books — the Lonesome Coyotes will perform on March 11 at Buddy’s BBQ’s Bearden Banquet Hall, 5806 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. From fellow Coyote Steve Horton: “We’re billing it as a ‘Return to Buddy’s.’ In 1981 the Coyotes had an appearance on the ABC soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ and Carcel ‘Buddy’ Smothers offered us every Wednesday night at Buddy’s, which we took him up on for the next couple of years. At that time, Buddy’s featured bluegrass music on the weekends … Knoxville Grass, New Dawn and even … Boone Creek with then unknowns Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas. Lonesome Coyotes was the only non-bluegrass group to join the lineup … so we’re returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak. Details are being ironed out this week, but initially there will be a ticket price which includes the Buddy’s buffet and two sets of Coyotes.”
The Knoxville ties of acclaimed avant garde guitarist David Daniell continue to grow stronger.
I interviewed Daniell earlier today for a piece in Friday’s Weekend section about his upcoming show at The Pilot Light with Tortoise guitarist Doug McCombs. He talked about the recent album “Knoxville,” recorded with fellow auteurs Tony Buck (of the Necks) and Christian Fennesz at Big Ears Festival 2009 and released earlier this year on Thrill Jockey Records, and his love of our fair town.
“It’s really been interesting to me, becoming familiar with the music scene in Knoxville and discovering how constant it is,” said Daniell, who last played this area in January with the band Bright Shuttle. There are a lot of people there for whom music is just a part of their life, and it’s really great.”
Daniell and McCombs, who tour as a duo but bring on board a drummer for the individual shows, have tapped Pilot Light owner Jason Boardman to man the kit for Friday’s show.
“He should be perfect, and we get along famously,” Daniell said. “He seems to be a natural fit for what we’re doing, and we have this kind of shared thinking.”
“Sometime around the end of the year or the beginning of next year, it will be out,” Daniell said. “I really believe in what those guys are doing with the label. I think they have the right idea about it.”
If you were psyched about the double bill of Beach Fossils and Warpaint headed to The Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City) … well, sorry to dash your expectations, but Beach Fossils have been dropped from that show. According to Pilot Light owner Jason Boardman, Beach Fossils trimmed the number of shows the band was doing with the LA girl-group Warpaint and so won’t be hitting Knoxville on Thursday, Aug. 19, as originally planned. Instead, Boardman said, Fecal Japan will be the opener. Admission is $10; look for our interview with Warpaint tomorrow on The Daily Times Weekend website.
The Pilot Light, that most excellent venue in the Old City (at 106 E. Jackson Ave.), is known for many things … but a spelling bee probably doesn’t leap to the forefront of most patrons’ minds.
Live music? Check. Art, film, theater and combinations of all of the above? Check, check, check and check. But given the hipster vibes that waft out the front door like thick fog, the fascinating but often befuddling graffiti that decorates the wooden walls of the bathrooms and the fact that Will Fist often works the door or tends the bar … well, it’s not exactly the sort of place where you’d imagine a spelling bee might be held.
Au contraire, according to organizer Liz Albertson. An urban planner by day, she’s also a long-time Pilot Light devotee, and after presenting her plan to owner Jason Boardman, she’s received an outpouring of enthusiasm from friends and acquaintances in the local music scene.
“We’re hoping it will be taken seriously, because we’re definitely going to ask some words that are hard,” she said. “We’ll have words along the lines of manias, obsessions, medieval weaponry — funny words that people don’t encounter in their everyday lexicon. We are expecting some laughs, but we hope people bring their A-game.”
It takes place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17 — and that 8 p.m. start time is by normal standards. (Pilot Light shows are notorious for starting late, so much so that most club-goers know to show up at “Pilot Light time” rather than at the predetermined starting hour.)
“We’ll let people sign up, cut it off around 8:30 and start shortly after that,” Albertson said. “It’s free to get in and watch, and it costs $5 to enter the bee. And you get a free (Pabst Blue Ribbon) with that, so we’re encouraging our entrants to be 21.”
A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Albertson moved to Madison, Wis., for five years, where she obtained two master’s degrees and fell in with a group of quirky characters that provided her with part of the inspiration for the spelling bee idea. The competitions have always fascinated her, she said, especially “the home-schooled girl” who won the national bee in 1996 or 1997, she added.
“It was completely awkward and fascinating, and I think a lot of my peers have childhood trauma stories about a word they went out on or being freaked out on stage,” she said. “I think there are a lot of folks who are rebels now but have something in their pasts that makes them want to regain glory from a spelling bee gone awry. I thought it would be amusing, and it’s definitely not your average Pilot Light thing. We’ll see how it goes, and if it goes well and everyone has fun, we’ll do it again.”
So there you have it — an exhibition of knowledge masquerading as therapy at one of the hippest, most fun venues in town. If you’re a regular but have no musical inclination, Albertson pointed out, the bee will be an opportunity for you to get on stage. So far, she added, local rockers Adam Ewing (of Mountains of Moss) and Elizabeth Wright (of the Dirty Knees) have indicated excitement over the possibility of participating.
“It’s kind of amazing the outpouring of interest I’ve gotten from people over this,” she said. “I think people are pretty intrigued and wondering what in the world it’s going to be like.”
I’m taking a cue from my colleague over at Knoxville.com, Wayne Bledsoe, who couldn’t fit everything into his written interview with Kris Kristofferson and put some extras up on his blog. (Kristofferson performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at The Tennessee Theatre, 604 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville; tickets are $37).
Neil was hilarious to talk to, and if you get the chance — and provided his brand of what could be called anti-comedy is your thing — then by all means, get down to The Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City) on Wednesday night; tickets are $10.
Without further delay … here are some quotes from Neil Hamburger:
On the cities in which he performs: “Right now, we’re on a Greyhound bus headed to the next big show in San Diego. It’s one of the most prestigious cities on the circuit; it’s got your fresh drinking water there and a lot of benches and things. The last time we were there, they had a bunch of those orange traffic cones, which are nice. Sometimes, though, we have to play these dirtholes — basically someplace that’s a landfill, and they put a tarp over it and call it a town.”
On Wednesday’s Knoxville performance: “We were gonna do a beekeeping demonstration as part of the show, and we purchased all of these bees and this bee-keeping equipment … all of these little 1-oz. jars to give honey samples out at the end of the night, and we had some Melba toast so folks could taste the honey. We invested in several cases of Melba toast. But somehow these bees broke out of this box in the back of my car. I tell ya, if you have five bees buzzing around while you’re driving, you have a problem, and in this case, I had hundreds. I finally had to kick open the door and kick the whole goddamned thing out onto the side of the road. And then we ended up eating the Melba toast over the past week.”