Mad Dog's Still Madder Than Hell
Knox rockers entering their, aargh, â“golden yearsâ” will certainly remember Don â“Mad Dogâ” Rutherford , the white-hot guitarist who spearheaded a spate of area bands including Bone, Iron Hawg, Dissocial, and Relentless Blues before seeking his fortune in sunny California. Well, the California experiment has reaped a longstanding success for Don, both as a musician and in showbiz.
Now a member of Hollywood's Make-Up Artists Union, Don has done both straight makeup and prosthetic effects for movies and TV shows like Pirates of The Caribbean (I & II), Planet of The Apes, Lords of Dogtown, Arrested Development, The Shield, CSI Miami, ER and literally hundreds more. So chances are you've seen his work several times over.
â“I've been into art and film for as far back as I can remember,â” says Rutherford, whose model-building skills led to his first makeup gig. â“I'm self-taught and I got to work under some heavy hitters early on who pointed me in the right direction. I like what I do for several reasons, mainly because I never feel chained to a desk and clock, allowing time for more important things like guitar and golf.â”
On the musical front, Don describes his career as â“a 100-way tie for last.â” Rutherford has played with tons of Hollywood musicians including former Guns'N'Roses keyboardist, Dizzy Reed , former Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom , and the bands Holy Water (with wife and prominent LA scenester Debbie Patino ), Speed Buggy , Blue Shadows (with Bill Bateman and John Bazz of The Blasters ), and, most recently, Witch's Tit , a metal band featuring David Teague , another Knox expat formerly of LA's Dickies , and Knox hardcore legends, Koro .
â“It turns out that the best players are from K-Town,â” raves Rutherford. â“Witch's Tit is the shit, a two-guitar hell that is somewhere between Rush and the Dead Kennedys .â” (Actually, the band sounds disarmingly like a metalized Koro!)
Ever the smartass philosopher, Mad Dog remembers his Knoxville daze wistfully. â“Looking back, I think the stuff I did in Knoxville was important, like Dissocial being the first band to play Vic & Bill's . That was the beginning of the Knoxville scene and I'm proud that I was there with my Mohawk and crappy Peavy amp, drinking beer with a fake ID. Also, playing with Relentless Blues at Manhattan's I witnessed the revitalization of the Old City, previously known as the Greyhound Station. And last time I was in Knoxville I caught an amazing set by Todd Steed, my all-time favorite musician from Vestal.â”
Never Too Hot
At noon last Saturday, as the nuclear heat was making the Market Square concrete a little mushy, a trio of musicians set up at the Farmer's Market; the lead singer sang in an ethereal combination of tenor and falsetto, and played guitar, and his two sidemen played accordion, mandolin, harmonium, chimes, and whatever was handy at the time. The result was a rare sort of poetic alt-folk that turned a few heads. It turns out the singer was recording artist Kris Gruen , who happened to be swinging through the region looking for interesting places to play, and he apparently likes farmers' markets. His last show, the previous Thursday, was at the capacious Higher Ground Ballroom in Burlington, Vt., playing with his friend Sean Lennon . Originally from New York, Gruen is based in Montpelier. Gruen's father, incidentally, is Bob Gruen , the famous rock'n'roll photographer who took one of the most famous photos of Sean's father, John.
Though Kris Gruen didn't draw much of a crowd on the Square Saturdayâ"nothing was drawing a crowd that day except shadeâ"he reportedly sold quite a few copies of his CD, Lullaby School , more than he did that night at a paid-admission show at Nashville's 5 Spot. He played again at the WDVX Blue Plate on Monday, following local Western-swing stalwarts Sweethearts of the Bitterroot Valley . â“They're a tough act to follow, but there's no one I'd rather follow,â” Gruen said.
Thursday, July 5: Sundown in the City is over. Fourth of July fireworks are over. But The Maxxâ"the latest incarnation of a supersized bar/restaurant in that ill-fated Kingston Pike locationâ"is not. Not yet anyway. Go see Flipside Runner and consume something while you're there.
Friday, July 6: We've said it before and we'll say it again: Phil Pollard & His Band of Humans are one of Knoxville's finest musical institutions, and we will sorely miss Mr. Pollard when he leaves us at the end of summer. But tonight, we will sorely abuse our livers at Preservation Pub.
Saturday, July 7: It's not often that we advocate for tribute bands, but Black Cash & the Bad Trips deserves a nodâ"a nod, and over 25 flavors of chicken wings, apparently. Go to Wild Wing CafÃ©. Introduce your bad self as Sue. Call every guy you meet â“Dadâ” and challenge him to a fight.
Sunday, July 8: Thank you, Kennedy Band Center, for giving all our angsty-emo teenagers somewhere to be all day long, beginning at 3:30 p.m. We're grateful that at least one group of youngsters will walk away from the Battle of the Bands feeling like â“winnersâ”.
Monday, July 9: Pres Pub may be on the chopping, erâauction block, but they're sure as hell not going down quietly. Tonight, you can expect the musical stylings of the Jason Day Trio , half-priced bottles of wine, and dozens of people who have no intention of going to work tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 10: In addition to a show at the Bijou this evening, Marc Broussard is going to play at the Disc Exchange (Chapman Hwy.) today at 12:30. You are an idiot if you don't go.
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