After an extended stay in Pennsylvania, self-proclaimed “urban hillbilly” Jon Worley is back to raise some hell in Knoxville—for the time being, anyway. Worley mysteriously disappeared from Knoxville about a year ago, when he moved to Akron, Pa., to recharge his batteries and evaluate his current situation.
“I gave my 12 pints of blood to Knoxville,” he says. “I played over 600 shows in two-and-a-half years, and I ended up being homeless in the back of my van with my tooth falling out and arthritis in my leg.” (Worley, never shy about either his successes or his shortcomings, gave an almost identical quote to Steve Wildsmith of Maryville’s Daily Times last week.)
According to Worley, “those Yankees” in Philadelphia love his twangy country version of blues rock, at least enough that they turn out for his shows. “There ain’t nobody up there like me,” he says. “Here in Knoxville, you could throw a stick and hit 50 shitty folk musicians, but in Philly I always stick out.”
Worley’s not back in Knoxville to stay—at least not yet. While in town, he’s scheduled to play the Sunspot on Friday, June 4, the Shed in Maryville on Saturday, June 5, and the Boombutywah festival in Kingston this weekend. Most notably, on Sunday, May 30, he’s putting on a show in honor of the late East Tennessee moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who died in police custody in 2009. The show will be at the Farragut Building at 530 S. Gay St. and will include performances by Worley, a few of his former colleagues from the Cornbred Blues Band, and Sevier County Celtic punk band Cutthroat Shamrock. In addition to the music, a documentary about Sutton will be shown. The show is open to the public; admission is $7 and things are scheduled to kick-off at 7 p.m. (Carey Hodges)