Barry "Byrd" Burton, a key figure in the development of Knoxville's rock scene as guitarist for the 1960s band The Loved Ones and later for the Amazing Rhythm Aces, has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease that prevents bone marrow from producing blood cells. Treatment, including chemotherapy for Burton's underlying leukemia, will be expensive. His friends and family are accepting donations to a fund to pay for care at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
In between his gigs with The Loved Ones and the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Byrd worked as a session player at Sun Studios in Memphis. In the book Cumberland Ave. Revisited, Jack Rentfro described the Aces' music like this: "It was as if a bunch of hippies had taken the rednecks' music and flipped [it] on its ear and sold it right back to them."
Donations to the Barry "Byrd" Burton Benefit Fund may be made at any First Tennessee Bank or by mailing a check to First Tennessee Bank, 429 W. Main St., Hendersonville, TN, 37075.
Local torch-jazz string band Christabel and the Jons have made the semifinal round for the Prairie Home Companion Talented Twentysomethings contest for musical performers between the ages of 20 and 29. The final round of the contest will be held on Saturday, March 15, at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn., with performances by the finalists broadcast live on A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. The show airs in Knoxville from 6-8 p.m. on WUOT 91.9 FM.
Christabel and the Jons were among more than 1,000 entrants in the contest. Judges narrowed the field to 20 for the final stage, which will also feature a handful of other Tennesseans (Ashley Monroe, Amy Stroup, and Jason Dyba from Nashville and Alyson Gilbert from Jackson).
The John Cowan Band, led by former New Grass Revival singer and bassist John Cowan, will hold a Wednesday-night residency at the Time Warp Tea Room on North Central Avenue during the second half of March. From the early 1970s to 1989, New Grass Revival—Cowan, Sam Bush, Courtney Walker, Ebo Walker, Curtis Burch, and, later, Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn—re-invented traditional bluegrass for the post-hippie era, covering Bob Marley and Jerry Lee Lewis and forsaking the old-fashioned show-biz professionalism of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs for overalls and flannel shirts and improvised set lists.
Since New Grass Broke up, Cowan has recorded a handful of albums for the Sugar Hill label. He'll play Time Warp on March 12, March 19, and March 26. Admission is $10.
Extravaganza(s) of Doom
The Westside Daredevils are finally set to release their third album, Brave New Nothing. The release was initially set for January, but production delays forced the band to reschedule. The Official Westside Daredevils Mega-Explosive CD Release Extravaganza of Doom will be held Saturday, March 22, at World Grotto on Market Square at 9 p.m. Cover is $5 and the Hotshot Freight Train will open.
In other introductory news:
• The British-style gastropub The Crown and Goose in the Old City will hold its first live music performance this weekend with, appropriately enough, a set by The Invaders, a cover band specializing in British Invasion songs. The Invaders inaugurate The Crown and Goose on Friday, March 7, at 9 p.m.
• The Elements, a live configuration of the musicians who recorded the epic 119-song Periodically, based on the table of elements, in 2007, will make their debut on Friday, March 14, at Barley's Taproom in the Old City. Doug Campbell recorded Periodically with a rotating cast of more than a dozen local musicians; you have to go to the show to see who's making up the live band. The Noble Gases, featuring Chuck Watt, Bill Ardison, Steve Smith, and Jason Ratliff of Nug Jug, who all also played on Periodically, will open.