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WDVX-FM at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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

Archive for the ‘WDVX-FM’ tag

“World Class Bluegrass” at the Clayton Center … and more!

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Airport display WCB D low res

WDVX-FM is a phenomenal steward of great music shows in the Knoxville area — Friday night’s “World Class Bluegrass” show at The Bijou Theatre, featuring The Grascals and The Boxcars, is one example — but next year, the station is branching out.

On Jan. 11, the station will present a “World Class Bluegrass” show at the Clayton Center for the Arts, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway on the Maryville College campus, and it’s a good ‘un featuring two of the  most respected bands in the genre: the Del McCoury Band and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, with opening act (and Blount County girl!) Jesse Gregory and Faultline. Tickets go on sale Friday, Nov. 22, at all Knoxville Ticket locations, from the Clayton Center for the Arts box office, by phone at 656-4444 and online.

There’s also more. It’s not a “World Class Bluegrass” show, but just as dandy: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, a husband-wife duo who make amazing music together (he with the Flecktones, she with the Sparrow Quartet, of which he’s been a part in the past), will perform a show at the Clayton Center on March 9; tickets go on sale Monday, Dec. 2, and they’ll be $30 and $35. The concert came about thanks to Richard Battaglia, a 1974 graduate of Maryville College who’s served as the house engineer and tour manager for Fleck and his trio of highly skilled jazz-meets-everything combo — bassist Victor Wooten, percussionist Future Man and harmonica player Howard Levy — for years now. I’m not sure if he told Fleck about the venue or gave him a tour; either way, Fleck wanted to do a performance there.

Don’t forget the other goodness coming up at the Clayton Center next year as well: Americana artist Paul Thorn will play the Lambert Recital Hall on Jan. 16 as part of a fundraiser for Interfaith Health Clinic (tickets are $35); ukulele phenom Jake Shimabukuro will showcase his talent in the Recital Hall on Feb. 6 (tickets are also $35); actor Hal Holbrook will bring his acclaimed “Mark Twain Tonight” one-man show to the Clayton Center stage on March 8 (tickets are $20-$45); country group Diamond Rio performs on Nov. 11 (tickets are also $20-$45); and comedian Jon Reep, fifth-season winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” performs May 2 (tickets are $10-$25).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there’s a whole lot more going on at the Clayton Center, and you can find out on the venue’s website.

A beefed-up “Writer’s Block” heads to a new station

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Block_logoIf you’ve tuned in to WDVX-FM in recent weeks hoping to catch that beloved local program “Writer’s Block” on Wednesday nights, you’ve been out of luck. Host and creator Karen E. Reynolds amicably left the station at the end of December — all on good terms (”I love the station, but it was time to move on in order to grow,” she told me over the weekend) and still fully in love with the grassroots, artist-oriented philosophy of WDVX.

But “Writer’s Block” lives on. After almost 15 years on WDVX, the program will move to WFIV-FM, i105, starting March 13. And it’s getting bigger: It’ll be a two-hour show instead of just one, and it’ll be on twice a week as well, from 8-10 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6-8 p.m. on Saturdays. (And regular listeners need not fear: Dennis Double will continue to be Reynolds’ co-host.)

Reynolds said she decided on a “cooling-off” period for “Writer’s Block” instead of immediately jumping to another station out of respect to WDVX. She didn’t enter negotiations with WFIV until after she’d stepped down from WDVX — “I’m the ‘loyal’ type and felt it wouldn’t be respectful to be in ‘talks’ with someone else while my program still aired there,” she says. But the night she made the first announcement on WDVX that she was taking the show elsewhere, the offers started rolling in.

With WFIV — which gives a platform to other local artists like Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle, who host the “In the Spirit” show on Sundays — on board, Reynolds now has an outlet that’s given her the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. The concert series “Writer’s Block LIVE,” which used to take place at the Knoxville Museum of Art and other area venues, will be returning, this time to Riverside Theatre right here in Blount County. “We will not only be recording the concerts for the radio broadcast, but will also be filming them for televised specials,” Reynolds said. “That won’t begin until late April or May — we’re still working on confirming the first artists — but there WILL be a ‘Writers Block LIVE — Writers Block In The Round’ at Boyd’s Jig & Reel on Friday, April 5th as part of the Rhythm n’ Blooms festival.”

Being a part of a commercial outfit means possibilities for syndication as well, she added.

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for the program and provides increased visibility for the artists aired on the show.”

Written by wildsmith

February 18th, 2013 at 10:54 am

Donna the Buffalo to headline Meadow Lark Music Festival at Ijams

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45283-250More summer festival coolness, courtesy of WDVX-FM and Ijams Nature Center. Here’s the full press release:

Two of Knoxville’s nationally renowned non-profit organizations, WDVX Radio and Ijams Nature Center,  have joined forces to create the Meadow Lark Music FestivalIn Tune With Nature, from 1-10 p.m. Saturday, June 18. The inaugural event will host the widely popular roots band Donna the Buffalo, famed for igniting a herd of fans with their rootsy, rocking style.  The festival lineup also features The Hackensaw Boys, Phil Pollard and the Band of Humans, Valley Young, Spirit Family Reunion and other locally popular bands in a full day of performances in the meadow of Ijams Nature Center.  The event is being supported by individuals and companies, including New Belgium Brewing known for its philosophy of environmental stewardship.

“Ijams meadow is a beautiful setting and a great listening space so having a roots music festival there will give people a wonderful music experience,” said WDVX General Manager Linda Billman. “Donna The Buffalo is known for its eclectic and often socially conscious music, so DTB is a perfect band for the festival’s debut and for launching the Ijams and WDVX partnership,” according to Ijams Executive Director Paul James.

Advance tickets to the festival are $20 and available at BrownPaperTickets.com.  A limited number of VIP tickets, which include special seating and hospitality are available for $75 each. The Meadow Lark music festival will include art and craft vendors, children’s activities, educational displays, and food vendors. Other founding sponsors of Meadow Lark include Elizabeth Eason Architecture, LLC, Three Rivers Market, knoxmusictoday.com, Tomato Head, and WBIR-TV.  Employees of Green Mountain Roasters are festival volunteers.

Ijams is located at 2915 Island Home Ave. in South Knoxville. For more information, visit the center’s website or WDVX online.

WDVX off the air for the time being

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If you think East Tennessee was spared the brunt of those devastating storms that flooded so much of Middle Tennessee, think again — one of this area’s most precious cultural resources, WDVX-FM, is off the air after the weekend’s rough weather.

According to a press release from WDVX GM Linda Billman: “Listeners to WDVX are currently without the local broadcast of the radio station.  The WDVX transmitter was damaged by lightning over the weekend.  No word yet on when the broadcast will be restored; however, the station’s webcast is available at wdvx.com. The transmitter site is located on Cross Mountain in Campbell County, the highest point in the Cumberland Mountains.  The height that lets the 200 watt signal travel well also makes the site prone to lightening strikes.”

No word yet on how the outtage will affect WDVX activities such as the popular “Blue Plate Special.” Plans are still under way for the May 22 Sixth Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash, scheduled for 2-8 p.m. in World’s Fair Park amphitheater. According to another WDVX release:

“Participating artists will be covering and celebrating Bob Dylan’s songwriting in their own style, ranging from blues to bluegrass and points in between. Featured acts this year include The Carawan Family, Van Eaton, Scott Lee, Black Cadillacs, The Songbirds, Kelle Jolly, Tim Lee 3, Y’uns, the Gnarly Whals, Running Dogs, MacDaddies, Greg Horne, Early Morning Stringdusters and the Salamander Kings — a first time appearance of a group including Bob Deck, Christian Lange and Phil Hardison. David Dwyer and Steve Dupree will team up to emcee the concert.

Tickets are available for only $10 in advance of the show and can be purchased at The Blue Plate Special, online at wdvx.com or by calling the station at (865) 544-1029. Tickets will also be available for $15 at the gate the day of the show. Proceeds from the concert event benefit East Tennessee’s Own independent and community supported radio station WDVX; home of The Blue Plate Special.”

Written by wildsmith

May 4th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

That other Avett comes (back) to town …

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A week from tonight, Jim Avett — patriarch of the Avett family, which includes those boys Scott and Seth who play together as The Avett Brothers — will come to East Tennessee for a show at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square in downtown Knoxville. We’ll have an interview with him in Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend section; during our talk, he recalled his initial preparation for visiting Knoxville to play a March date on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special.”

“When I told Scott and Seth about it, I was taking them to the airport — that was about six weeks ago, and they were going to Europe,” the elder Avett told me. “They asked me what I had going on, and I told them I had this and that and that I’d be over at the ‘Blue Plate’ in Knoxville. Seth said, ‘That’s one of my favorite places to play,’ and I said, ‘Really? A radio interview?’

“He said, ‘Daddy, it’s more than that. You better prepare more than four or five songs, because it’s a whole hour. People bring their lunch and watch you play.’”

Avett has another association with Knoxville as well; he’s an amateur musicologist who’s always owned an extensive music collection — roughly 6,000 to 7,000 albums, by his estimation (so many that he has a brand new vinyl record player still sitting in the box on standby for the inevitable moment when the one he currently uses goes belly-up) — but a few years ago, he started collection instruments as well.

“I started buying guitars probably 15 years ago,” said Avett, who puts his six-string collection at 60 or 70 vintage guitars. “I have more than enough, but I just love a good stringed instrument. I play each guitar probably once a year, and I’ve got maybe 10 fiddles and some other oddball stuff, too. I sell some stuff through Matt Morelock’s store (Morelock Music, on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville) every once in a while. Knoxville’s a good town to be around.”

Written by wildsmith

April 21st, 2010 at 1:44 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

Catching up with Cutthroat Shamrock …

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It’s time once again to catch up with those hard-drinking roustabouts in local Celtic-rock outfit Cutthroat Shamrock, headlining their annual St. Patrick’s Day show this year at The Valarium, 940 Blackstock Drive in Knoxville’s Warehouse District.

We profiled the band this time last year, and the group continues to evolve and branch out. Not only did the guys release the album “Blood Rust Whiskey” last year, they’re already putting together a new CD — this time around, an acoustic offering tentatively titled “Hope Chest,” front man Ben Whitehead told The Daily Times recently.

“Three strings, no drums,” Whitehead said. “We’ve been playing acoustic shows at the Fox and Parrot Tavern in Gatlinburg for years, and people have been asking us for a long time — ‘Do you have this acoustic, softer-sounding music on CD?’ We didn’t, and we never planned to record anything like that, but around Christmas we decided to do one. We’ve got quite a few songs recorded, and we hope to record some more and have it out by the end of spring.”

Next week’s Valarium show — which includes local bands The High Score and Big Country’s Empty Bottle (admission is $6 in advance and $8 at the door) — is actually the capper to a busy St. Patty’s Day for the band, Whitehead said. First up is an appearance on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special,” a live radio show/concert that’s recorded — and open to the public — at WDVX studios, 301 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville.

It’s a band full of Celtic goodness, featuring — in addition to Cutthroat Shamrock — local bands Shamrock Road, Four Leaf Peat (profiled in this coming Friday’s edition of The Daily Times Weekend section) and singer-songwriter Matt McNeely, all playing for an extended, 90-minute special. It’s the kick-off for WDVX’s spring fundraising drive, supporting efforts to keep the independent, community-supported radio station — which plays an eclectic mix of music celebrating the arts and culture of Southern Appalachia — going. (To make donations, contact the station at 544-1029 or visit the website.)

For Whitehead and his bandmates, their foray into Celtic music happened quite by accident, he said.

“Years ago, when we found our rhythm, we didn’t know it was a Celtic rhythm,” he said. “We were sitting around, jamming out and playing music, and before we ended up singing, someone said, ‘You sound like The Pogues.’ We were like, ‘Who are they? Let’s look into it.’ So we checked it out and decided, wow — we do kind of sound like them.

“We just stumbled onto it kind of by coincidence. We didn’t set out to say, ‘Let’s make a Celtic rock band.’ The sound sort of found us.”

Over time, the band’s music evolved from the roughshod, primal sounds of a band of Celtic warriors to a sound that’s more refined — although still hearty and anchored in rock ‘n’ roll. The Pogues and The Chieftains are still present, however, and the sound will always be a part of the band, Whitehead said.

“There’s just a liveliness to Celtic music that you can’t find in any other kind,” he said. “Just the good time, the feel, the camaraderie that you have — even if it’s a dark song, there’s still a liveliness to it.”

They’ll need that liveliness next week — immediately after playing “The Blue Plate,” they’ll head over to WUTK-FM, 90.3 The Rock, for an on-air performance; one hour later, they’re due at WFIV-FM, 105.3 for more St. Patty’s Day madness. After that, it’s time to load-in at The Valarium and rock the house.

The challenge, Whitehead said, will be in curbing the guys’ notoriously hard-drinking ways to make it through until the end of the night. As long as there’s no moonshine involved, they should be OK, he said with a laugh.

“We made that rule last year — the next day after The Valarium show, actually,” he said. “The night before, I decided to drink some moonshine on stage, and things got a little belligerent toward the end of the set. I at least want to try to remember some of it this year.

“Don’t get me wrong — we’re still gonna drink, just nothing from a jar if we can help it.”

Free music! Cutthroat Shamrock, “Dry Bones”: Right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)
Buy music by Cutthroat Shamrock: Click here
Cutthroat Shamrock on Myspace: Click here

Written by wildsmith

March 10th, 2010 at 2:50 pm