Eye on the Scene
Plus an update on 1980s punk rocker Camp Childers
Dollywood was the cause of it all. A few years ago, a troupe of Chinese musicians participating in the hillbilly-kitsch capitalâ’s Festival of Nations was invited to perform on Morelockâ’s Happy Camper show on WDVX. The Chinese musicians invited Morelock to jam with them. When the Chinese government began a cultural exchange program to help acclimate the Chinese public with Westerners in preparation for next yearâ’s Summer Olympics, the ensemble was recruited. The Chinese sponsors didnâ’t want Chinese musicians so they completely replaced the original outfit. Now called â“Morelock and Vollmer,â” the group has, instead of only one Caucasian, a single Asian. A female percussionist with the original aggregation, also assigned translation duties, she joins Morelock, fiddler Brian Vollmer, and violinist Cody Geil. Morelock swears Geil, best known as the chief string arranger for Kanye Westâ’s orchestral hip hop, can shred â“Orange Blossom Special.â” (Jack Rentfro)
Rites of Autumn Some may have suspected that evening cold snap last weekend was hell freezing over, and in fact R.B. Morris did get married Saturday night, to his longtime girlfriend, sculptor Karly Stribling, at Agee Park in Fort Sanders. No other location would have done so well on a perfect October evening, considering that Morris led the effort to found the small corner park at Laurel Avenue and James Agee Street. And it seems a great time to be R.B. Morris, whose first recording in years, the EP Empire, released just last month, is getting positive buzz.
Longtime Irregulars guitarist Hector Qirko served as best man. Sometime actor Steve Dupree, who surprised some of his friends by revealing himself to be an ordained minister of some sort, performed the ceremony, which drew a motley assortment of the old and young, from fellow musicians, poets (even some published ones), big-shot promoters, random architects, barkeeps, librarians, grocers, professors, and a contingent of the homeless. Attire ranged from tuxedos to T-shirts.
Accompanying the wedding in a manner not un-akin to a Greek chorus was Phil Pollard and his Band of Humans. Pollard, barefoot in a vest and derby hat, was back in town for the occasion (he made the most of the weekend, playing shows the previous evening at both the KMA and Preservation Pub), accompanied the rites with some avant-garde marching-band composition suggestive of the work of Dr. Thelonious Sousa, some of it performed during the actual vows, with the unexpected harmonization of Mr. Ali Akbar.
A small black-and-white dog served as the unwitting ringbearer, summoned to the altar at the appropriate moment. He performed dutifully even if this solemnization of monogamy might have offended his canine sensibilities.
Afterward, as the party dined on home-pulled pig and corn on the cob, Pollard performed. The evening ended riotously, with Pollardâ’s inimitable and noise-ordinance-defying rendition of the wedding standard â“Free Bird.â” Close to midnight, some remainders of the wedding party adjourned to the Longbranch to perplex a thrash crowd. Mr. and Mrs. Morris are said to be on a Kerouac-esque drive across the United States, to California. They may be back. (Jack Neely)
Pep Talk When Karl Seger died in April at the age of 62, his family requested that any donations in his memory be made to the East Tennessee Jazz Society. Seger had been a member of the Jazz Society since it formed in 1997 and served on its original board of directors, and was an avid saxophone player. (He performed with the Knoxville Jazz Project.) Now the Jazz Society is repaying their debt with the Karl Seger Memorial Concert.
The showâ"featuring renowned New York clarinet player Ken Peplowski with locals Mark Boling (guitar), Rusty Holloway (bass), Keith Brown (drums), and Bill Swann (piano)â"will be held Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Tickets are $20, $5 for ETJS members. (Matthew Everett)
Where Are They Now? Camp Childers A key player in the 1980s hardcore scene that congregated in the backroom of Vic & Billâ’s now-defunct Cumberland Avenue deli, Camp Childers is most known hereabouts as guitarist for The STDs and as the man who brought Black Flag, The Descendents, and countless other heavyweights to town. Exiting Knoxville for New York City in 1989, Camp has since made his mark in the biggest pond as a freelance television producer and, yes, musician.
In his long and auspicious TV career, Camp has produced material for The Food Network, The View, Live With Regis & Kelly, Nickelodeon, NBA basketball, college football, and his bread-and-butter gig, Good Morning America.
â“I like Good Morning America for lots of reasons, the main one being that itâ’s going to be around for a long time,â” Childers says. â“I started freelancing while I was between jobs because that was all that was available. I put my name out there, and after about three months the phone started ringing and every day Iâ’d be in a different place. Freelancing is great for me because I never get in a rut and nobody gets on my nerves. I like the work mainly because you donâ’t have to dress up or shave, they feed you most of the time, and once in a while I get a free T-shirt or hat.â”
In New York, Childers has been a long-standing member of The Famous Blue Jays, a country-ish rock band thatâ’s a mainstay of the Diesel Only label and scored the soundtrack for one of Michael Mooreâ’s lesser-known films, The Big One. â“Itâ’s kind of weird to be watching a movie and all of a sudden hearing myself play guitar,â” he says. â“Being in that band was great because my only responsibility was showing up and not messing up the songs too bad. We havenâ’t played in three years; but if the phone rings, Iâ’m there.â”
Childers says a return to Knoxville is unlikely. â“Iâ’ve lived in Brooklyn (with his wife, Lisa) longer than anywhere else, and Iâ’m pretty well-established,â” he says. â“I hear Johnny Majors is moving back, so anything is possible.â”
As to whether the STDs will follow the lead of other â‘80s-era punk bands by playing a reunion showâ"probably not. â“It would be pretty hard logistically, and someone would have to show me how to play the songs.â” (John Sewell)
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