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The Valarium at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘The Valarium’ tag

What’s happened to Blackstock?

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Rumors are flying that Blackstock Auditorium, 940 Blackstock Drive in Knoxville’s Warehouse District and the former home of Electric Ballroom and The Valarium, is shut down, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

I reached out to Jay Harris, a former employee of the venue who still books the alternative dance night Temple there, and he provided what so far has been the best account of what apparently went down over the weekend. After Friday night’s poorly attended Confederate Railroad show (one source who went said there might have been 40 people there), the venue was apparently “closed down on Saturday night due to lack of payment on the lease,” Harris told me — emphasizing, of course, that his information is all second-hand.

A private show with rapper Waka Flocka Flame was supposedly moved to the laser tag facility Battlefield Knoxville (and apparently ended in thrown beer bottles, cops and a whole other story that’s still unfolding, with the rapper apparently heading down to Rumorz on “The Strip” to keep partying), and after hearing of the debacle, Harris said he went by Blackstock on Sunday.

“A security guard was there, and I told him who I was and way I was there and asked what was going on,” Harris said. “I was told that there are new owners becaue the lease had expired due to non-payment and that the new owners are planning on keeping it a venue. I was told the new owners were there, cleaning up, and when I asked to speak to them, they agreed, and the security guard took me on back. They let me know that they want to keep it as a venue and that they want Temple to keep its home there. So until they get their ducks in a row — beer and liquor licenses, a health inspection, etc. — we’ll have to find a new place to hold it this month and next month. They just want to make sure the place is awesome to make sure it doesn’t have the problems did when Blackstock opened.”

The new holders of the lease wish to remain anonymous for the time being, Harris added, and the whole thing dropped in their lap at the last minute.

“I think they were working seriously to get things happening and were hoping to get it, but they got a phone call over the weekend and the owner of the building told them that if they wanted it, it was theirs,” Harris said. “I can’t say who they are, but I can tell you this — when I saw who it was, I was relieved and excited that this venue will finally be what it has the potential of being.”

Overtures to Daniél Leal, who held the lease for Blackstock, haven’t been returned so far, and it’s probably safe to assume that any shows booked for Blackstock will likely have to be re-negotiated with the new lease holders. Meanwhile, shows like the Southern Drawl Band gig on Friday night are in a state of flux; Wally Miles, organizer of Wallypalooza, has put his event on hold for the time being. We’ll update this post as we find out additional developments.

Written by wildsmith

March 3rd, 2014 at 11:13 am

Venue news: Blackstock and NV Nightclub

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775598_251271605008005_1552319147_oThe new logo for Blackstock, the venue formerly known as The Valarium

Big doings going on in the music scene around here.

Yesterday afternoon, got an email from Andrea Kerns, the EDM go-to lady in the Knoxville scene and one of the organizers of the “Midnight Voyage Live” series of shows. Her email promotes “the return of the Blue Cats sound to Knoxville’s Old City,” and it signals the expansion of NV Nightclub — 125 E. Jackson Ave., where Blue Cats functioned as a live music venue from 2002-2007 — into more than just a shake-yer-booty destination.

According to the email, NV “will continue to host a wide variety of local, regional, and national and international talent spanning all genres,” and “in addition to the NV room, Carleo Entertainment (owned by Duane Carleo, who runs a number of Old City properties) will be hosting live music events at several other properties, including:
The Bowery (directly adjacent to NV, formerly Tonic)
Southbound / 90 Proof (106 S. Central)
Old City Courtyard (outdoor stage located in the  courtyard behind Southbound)
New Amsterdam on the Cumberland Avenue “Strip”

Kerns goes on to say that “Large events are in the works for Old City Courtyard, including festival-type productions which will utilize several of the aforementioned rooms.” In addition to continuing events like “Midnight Voyage,” Carleo Entertainment will soon be opening Wagon Wheel, “a country-style bar/lounge on South Central Street, next to Carleo’s,  scheduled for opening late February.”

Here’s a list of upcoming Carleo events:

  • Tonight (Feb. 1): “Midnight Voyage Live” presents Spankalicious with Bitch Please, IRell and Moniker, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $5 advance/$8 at the door
  • Tonight (Feb. 1): Metal, featuring A Soul Disowned with Serene Scream, Scent Of Remains and Rot Iron, 8 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • Feb. 8: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents Wick-It The Instigator with Archnemesis and The Floozies, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$12 at the door
  • Feb. 8: Rock, featuring Mobility Chief with Appalachian Fury, Pyramid Asylum and Coalition Of Benevolence, 8:30 p.m. at 90 Proof, $5
  • Feb. 9: Konkrete Jungle Knoxville presents Squake with Shadow Cartel, 9 p.m. at 90 Proof, $5
  • Feb. 11: Rock, featuring Pathway with East Old Topside, A Body Divided, Awake The Suffering and Ark Of Covenant, 7 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • Feb. 14: Rapture Productions presents “BassFace 20,” featuring Megalodon, Veltix, iRell and MSTR RPTR, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$10 at the door
  • Feb. 15: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents MartyParty, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $10 advance/$15 at the door
  • Feb. 15: Rock, featuring Lines Taking Shape with Sin, Crumbsnatchers, Yak Strangler and Smooth Operationz, 8:30 p.m. at 90 Proof, $6
  • Feb. 21: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents FIGURE with Spooky Jones and Paerbaer,9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $12 advance/$15 at the door
  • Feb. 22: Midnight Voyage Live” presents Arpetrio with Magmablood and Dialectic Sines, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$10 at the door
  • March 8:Rock, featuring Ten Foot Grave with Afterlife, Shallowpoint and Annandale, 8 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • March 9: Konkrete Jungle Knoxville presents DJ Odi with Sarah Burns, 9 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7/$10 ages 18-20

In other venue news, shortly after it was announced that The Valarium (formerly the Electric Ballroom) was shutting down, it was also announced that Ooga Mooga Tiki Tavern/former 4620 Jazz Club owner Daniel Leal had bought the establishment and was keeping it open as a live music venue. At first, it seemed like the transition would be seamless, but an early January show by local death metal heroes Whitechapel was moved to NV Nightclub, and ever since Leal has been mum about when his establishment, rumored to be called Blackstock Auditorium, would open.

It seems that’s going to happen sooner rather than later. Leal went live with a Facebook page for (just) Blackstock last night, and there’s also a website. It’s sparse, but we’re hoping details will fill in quickly. There are already a couple of events out there slated for Blackstock: EOTO with Crizzly on March 1, and Excision with Paper Diamond and Vaski.

The Valarium: The shows will go on (UPDATED)

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Following the announcement earlier this month of the closure of Knoxville concert venue The Valarium comes news of new ownership.

Daniel Leal, former owner of 4620 Reinvented (where The Well is located now) and current owner of Ooga Mooga’s Tiki Tavern, took ownership Nov. 12, he confirmed to me this weekend. No word yet on whether the name will remain the same or what other changes might be in store — including what role adjacent club The Cider House might play in the operation — but one thing’s for certain: There will be rock shows. Already on the schedule: The “Brothers of Brutality” tour, featuring Emmure and Blount/Knox-based death metal band Whitechapel, set for Jan. 8.

I’ll post more info as I find it out; word is an official announcement is coming Thursday.

UPDATE: That industrious little Knox weekly Metro Pulse followed up on my announcement with some tidbits of their own, including the name change: Blackstock Auditorium. You can read MP’s blog post here.

Written by wildsmith

November 25th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Big things in the works for local rockers Divided We Stand

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dividedwestandDivided We Stand

A couple of weeks ago, rock band Hoobastank played a $5 show at The Valarium in Knoxville, and while many of those in attendance showed up to see the headliners, there’s little doubt they got rocked proper by opening act Divided We Stand.

“We’re a scene band, so we can bring it heavy or bring it for the ladies, and we did a little bit of both there,” joked DWS drummer Mike Russell, a Blount County native and Heritage High graduate. “We brought sexy back.”

Next Thursday, Oct. 4, Divided We Stand will return to The Valarium, this time on a bill with Gone in April, Shallowpoint, Johnny Newman and Nuclear Symphony. It’s a 7 p.m. show, and tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For his band — which includes members Phil Zimny, Trevor Tucker, Randy Krouse and Joe Turner — to get to play the 1,000-person club twice in less than a month’s time is a good sign.

“We’ve wanted to establish ourselves with that venue for a while,” Russell said. “For our fans, we want to obviously start playing in bigger venues.”

Currently, the band is working on an album with noted local producer Travis Wyrick, formerly of Knoxville rock act Sage and the guy who helped bands like Jag Star, 10 Years, Pillar and Disciple define their sounds at his Lakeside Studios. So far, Russell said, the sessions have been more productive than expected.

“I don’t know if anyone can light a fire under your ass more than Travis,” Russell said. “I think Joe Satriani could go into his studio and leave with question marks. He knows how to get the best out of you, and when this record drops, it’s gonna blow some minds.”

Working with Wyrick and playing The Valarium has set the boys’ fields of ambitions burning, Russell said. The guys pride themselves on having a loyal local following, but they’re also interested in branching out beyond East Tennessee. It’s going to take a great deal of hard work, but he feels they’re up to the task.

“We can’t get complacent; on a small scale, we can accomplish big things, but there’s so much out there that’s bigger,” he said. “It’s a matter of work ethic, as far as how far you want to take it. We’re starting to take small trips — we’re playing Oct. 6 at Capone’s (in Johnson City), but there’s so much more than just playing music that’s involved behind the scenes. And business-wise, we’re trying to get all that stuff lined up.

“I think when we do that, it’s going to be great. You’ve got to walk before you run, and we’ve seen so many people try to take those big steps and fall flat on their faces. We’re trying to get a solid foundation as far as travel arrangements and equipment go. People around here may see a little bit less of us in the next year while we get all of these things together, but when we do put on a show, it’s gonna be big and be a good experience.”

Written by wildsmith

September 28th, 2012 at 10:33 am

Chevelle 1, unauthorized merchandise bootleggers 0

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Modern rock trio Chevelle will perform Thursday (March 8 ) at The Valarium in Knoxville, and in interviewing drummer/co-founder Sam Loeffler for last week’s Daily Times Weekend section, he reminisced on shows past in Knoxville.

In 2010, he remembers, Chevelle came through with Shinedown, 10 Years, Puddle of Mudd and Sevendust as part of an arena tour that ravaged the Civic Coliseum; that night, Chevelle bandmates Pete and Dean Bernardini headed over to The Valarium to see the Smashing Pumpkins play. And the last time Chevelle rocked Knoxville, some shady T-shirt vendors came up empty-handed, he recalled with a laugh.

“We were sitting outside the tour bus in lawn chiars and we saw all these bootleggers running back and forth, selling T-shirts and stuff,” he said. “We found out later on where they had stashed their shirts, and we took all of them. They were selling them for $10 per shirt, and our merch guy was blown away. He wanted to find them and asked who they used to print those shirts! They were these nice five-color designs, and probably cost $6 to make.”

Read the full interview with Sam here.

Written by wildsmith

March 5th, 2012 at 10:20 am

Sweet compilation CD for Valarium show-goers

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Friday night at The Valarium, 940 Blackstock Drive in Knoxville’s Warehouse District (or on Ramsey Street, depending on which direction your GPS points you toward), there’s a very cool all-ages show by four young bands — On My Honor, The Hits, Your Favorite Hero and A Hero Remains. We’re running an interview with On My Honor on Friday, talking about the guys’ brand of pop-punk (most excellent stuff, by the way) and all-ages music around East Tennessee, so look for that. And if you plan on going, be one of the first 200 people there, because that distinction comes with a very awesome treat — a limited edition compilation CD by local bands featuring a hand screen-printed, numbered cover, courtesy of Peacock Print Shop and Martyr Inks. Here’s the track listing:

1. On My Honor, “Who Wet My Mogwai?”
2. Your Favorite Hero, “Killer On The Lower East Side”
3. Beyond The Coast, “STD Free”
4. Faretheewell, “All Night”
5. Bellevue, “Amity”
6. Furthest From Fame, “Fast Forward To Goodbye”
7. Always Look Before You Leap, “The Big Woah”
8. LoveWar, “Story In The Sand”
9. Chokeslam!, “Queso Culo”
10. The Hits, “On My Own”
11. The Young, “Shot In The Dark”
12. Waves Like Weapons, “See, This Is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things”
13. Bones In The Museum, “Honest Mistake”
14. Cutting Through Clouds, “Hardcore Is What She Aimed For”
15. San Miguel, “Demonie Llevado de Angel”

Written by wildsmith

January 26th, 2011 at 7:36 am

Girl Talk remembers old times, looks ahead

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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.”

Written by wildsmith

January 20th, 2011 at 11:19 am

Skytown Riot gears up for big changes

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Almost a year after changing names and directions, the members of Skytown Riot are finally satisfied with the progress they’re making.

That’s saying a lot — after all, these guys aren’t easy to please. After scrapping their old project — Bellfield — the same members reformed earlier this year under a new moniker and started working on harder material. A planned EP, however, didn’t meet their exacting quality control standards, so they went back to the drawing board.

Now, guitarist Rob Morrow told The Daily Times this week, it feels like Skytown Riot is ready to take the next step.

“Initially, there was a lot of changes that we underwent,” he said. “Stylistically, we were approaching the writing process entirely differently, and we ended up writing a whole new body of material. But we weren’t too concerned with starting over, because we weren’t happy with the sound or the direction of the material that we had as Bellfield. And it’s been worth it. Within a year as Skytown Riot, we’ve played three shows that have been bigger than any of our shows as Bellfield.”

They look to add to that streak on Friday, when Skytown Riot opens up for metal outfit Finger Eleven at The Valarium in Knoxville. It’s the latest stop on a growing quest to spread the word about the band’s new material, Morrow said — and to continue to win over fans of the old project as well as add new ones.

The band that started out as Bellfield began when Morrow and bandmate Van Gallik lived near one another as kids, along with a mutual friend who died in an auto accident after high school. At his funeral, Gallik and Morrow re-connected and got together to jam. The chemistry was immediate, and Bellfield was born. Taking a love of bands like O.A.R., the Dave Matthews Band and Will Hoge, as well as a penchant for jazz picked up during his days as a trumpet player in high school, Gallik decided to learn everything he could from Morrow, who was already experienced at writing songs and poetry.

In the beginning, the band’s sound was all over the board; a little more than two years ago, however, drummer Jimi Touché was brought on board, and Morrow and Gallik were ready to start playing out and about more. They trimmed the lineup even further — finally deciding on the classic four-piece, and in the fall of 2009, the rented The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville and recorded a live album.

It should have been a time of exuberance, but something felt flat. Ultimately, Morrow said, none of the members felt any sort of allegiance to the material — and that led to some a rocky place where they could just as easily have lost allegiance to one another.

But they regrouped, recording a four-song EP — “Highway Nightmare” — that felt like a disappointing first effort as Skytown Riot, Morrow said.

“When we finished it, it felt like, sonically, it wasn’t what we needed it to be for the direction and style we were headed,” Morrow said. “We released it, but we haven’t really pushed it at all.”

Over the past several months, the guys threw their hats in the ring for a battle of the bands competition at the West Knoxville dance club Cotton Eyed Joe, sponsored by local hard rock radio station WNFZ-FM, 94.3 The X. Out of 12 bands competing for studio time with fabled local producer Travis Wyrick, Skytown Riot took home the brass ring.

“We did some tracks with Travis that are much more representative of what we’re going for, and we’ve gotten a lot more play on 94.3,” Morrow said. “We’ve recorded a few more songs at (local studio) The Sound Lair, and we’ve been playing a lot of shows at The Valarium.”

Some of those shows have been particularly high profile — opening for such bands as Halestorm, Filter, 10 Years and Smashing Pumpkins. The guys are currently working with Chris Harris, the former tour manager and film editor for local-boys-gone-major-label 10 Years, who’s shooting a video for one of the songs the band recorded with Wyrick. The band plans to coordinate the filming/premiere with the release of a self-titled EP at the beginning of the year, and Skytown Riot will hopefully hit the road to expand its fanbase outside of East Tennessee, he added.

“The new EP is much more direct and concise, and ultimately a much more successful and marketable work,” he said. “We’re committed to writing material that’s a little edgier, heavier and more purposeful lyrically. For us, it’s just kind of one of those things – if we’re going to change it, we’re gonna go all the way with it.”

FREE MUSIC! Download “Thunda,” by Skytown Riot: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Skytown Riot online: Click here
Watch the video for “Thunda”: Click here

The Features come together for Brock

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Here’s a show for a worthy cause: Murfreesboro-based indie rock band The Features will perform at The Valarium in Knoxville on Nov. 11 as part of a benefit concert for local pedal steel player Brock Henderson.

I last talked to Brock more than a year ago, when I did a cover story on The Drunk Uncles (Brock no longer plays with that group). I called him up to get details on the Nov. 11 show and for some reassurances about his health.

“I had surgery that I needed to have for years to have some tissue in my sinuses removed,” he told me. “Luckily, it turned out to be nothing more than a big ol’ cyst. I have insurance, but the deductible is so high that I have to pay for everything — like, $4,000. I’ve been teaching and playing music, so I’ve just been struggling anyway, and this was just another kick in the nuts.”

Enter The Features — or at least Features bass player Roger Dabbs, who recently married Henderson’s sister, Melissa. (Brock refers to Roger as his “brother-in-love.”)

“He called and said, ‘Hey, man — we want to do a benefit for you,’” Henderson said. “They’re the coolest, most down-to-earth guys. They’ve been touring the world, playing with the Kings of Leon.”

In fact, the band released “Some Kind of Salvation” last year on the Kings own label imprint.

Henderson has fallen into the weird position, though, of organizing the benefit. It’s a role he’s not unfamiliar with — a few years ago, he helped put together a show for fellow scene musician/pedal steel ace Tom Pryor — but he admits it feels a little odd organizing one for himself, even if it wasn’t his idea.

Also on the bill for the show on the 11th: singer-songwriter Ian Thomas, band JC and The Dirty Smokers and Henderson’s new-ish project, The Brockefellers.

“I’m putting lot of energy into The Brockefellers kind of thing – it’s a trio, it’s rockabilly-surf-Zappa music, and we’ve got a lot of adult edu-tainment going on,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of fun, silly songs, up-tempo songs, surf songs; the goal being I want to entertain myself and everybody in the audience.”

Doors open at 8 p.m. on the 11th; the cover is $10 ($13 if you’re younger than 21).

Written by wildsmith

October 23rd, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Pretty Lights pumped about Moogfest

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In case you haven’t heard, there’s a massive electronic music festival taking place over Halloween weekend in nearby Asheville, N.C.Moogfest, slated for Oct. 29-31.

It’s designed to honor the vision and invention of Robert Moog, who called Asheville home during the last 30 years of his life; previously, the festival has been held in New York. This year, it’ll take place at various venues in downtown Asheville and include a lot of latitude for the performers. According to the site, “While the wide range of Moog instruments – the Minimoog Voyager, the Little Phatty, the Etherwave Theremin, Moogerfoogers, and the new Moog Guitar – will play prominent roles throughout the festival’s events, the artists performing will certainly not be limited to those who create their work on Moog instruments. Instead, artists will be chosen for their role in creating unique and groundbreaking musical experiences that embody the essence of Bob Moog’s visionary and creative spirit.”

One of those artists is Derek Vincent Smith — the artist known as Pretty Lights, who’s coming to town for a show next week (Aug. 25) at The Valarium. I asked him about Moogfest when I interviewed him recently.

“I’m excited about my fall tour as a whole because of a lot of new things will be going on, and there are new production elements I’m bringing to the stage,” he said. “Asheville’s one of the coolest cities in the country, and also I love Moog. I’ve been into the factory before, I’ve seen live Moog performances, and I’ve always used the gear they create — even before creating the Pretty Lights project.

“I’m really pumped about that show. Hopefully it’s gonna kick off the fall tour in a big way.”

Written by wildsmith

August 19th, 2010 at 10:04 am