Eye on the Scene
New clubs, new promoters, old rumors, and new records
Ring in the New Club The Valarium, a new 1,000-capacity performance space in the old Electric Ballroom building on Western Avenue near the on-ramp to interstate 40 and 275, will officially open to the public on New Yearâ’s Eve with whatâ’s becoming the cityâ’s traditional auld lang syne performance by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth. The club, owned by Gary Mitchell, who also owns Blue Cats in the Old City, will be booked largely by AC Entertainment, which already handles exclusive booking for the Bijou Theatre and the Tennessee Theatre. Space for private events and parties will also be available at the Valarium.
Ted Heinig of AC Entertainment says the new venue will fill a niche that no existing clubs or theaters occupy. Heinigâ’s co-workers â“could rattle off 10 or 20 bands that we havenâ’t been able to book just this year because we didnâ’t have a place like this,â” he says. â“If you think about what the Valarium brings to the table, itâ’s a ballroom with 1,000 capacity. Itâ’ll allow us to do a lot of shows that have been skipping this market in recent years, because Blue Cats isnâ’t big enough. It holds 700 people, but itâ’s hard to get all 700 of them in there and still be able to see the show. But [the Valarium] isnâ’t a theater, either. Knoxvilleâ’s sorely missed that.â”
Longbranch Time Coming The proprietors of the Host Clothing gallery in the Old City are in the process of taking over booking responsibilities for the upstairs stage at the venerable Longbranch Saloon on Cumberland Avenue.
â“The Longbranch has been around for a long time and we want to do it justice by bringing consistently good acts within its walls,â” Craig Kandel of Host wrote in a bulletin on the galleryâ’s MySpace page. â“Weâ’re looking for local and touring bands and musicians to fill up dates; the owners have given us a go-ahead to fill up seven days of the week.â”
Kandel and Adam Deal will book a few shows through the end of the year, staggering those with dates that have already been booked by the clubâ’s former promoter. Deal and Craig will take over full-time on Jan. 1.
â“Iâ’ve always liked the place,â” Kandel says. â“Years ago there used to be a lot of good shows there. We want to bring that back.â”
This Old Coffee Shop Despite online rumors of the demise of yet another all-ages venue in town, Old City Java will continue to host all-ages shows on weekends, according to the coffee shopâ’s new owners.
Meg and Shaun Parrish canceled several showsâ"everything that had been scheduled for the last weekend in October and the first weekend in Novemberâ"to make repairs to the north wing of the building, where shows are held. Meg Parrish detailed the damage to be fixed in a post on the knoxshows.com message board last week: dry rot under the floor, scratches and chips in the hardwood floor, water damage, broken windows, a broken door, and graffiti in the bathrooms. In addition to the repairs, Parrish says she and her husband intend to paint, hang artwork, and install new furniture. Parrish says sheâ’ll continue to book Friday and Saturday all-ages shows through the rest of this year, with Saturday-only bookings starting in January. Shows start back up this weekend: Local band Skurf is scheduled to play with The Running and Naples, Fla., band Vega Under Fire on Friday, Nov. 9.
In other Old City Java-related news, the line-up for the venueâ’s Last Band Standing contest will be determined through online voting running from Tuesday, Nov. 13 to Tuesday, Dec. 11. The most popular bands in the Web voting will take part in a battle-of-the-bands-type competition at the coffee shop in January. The deadline for entering the contest is Monday, Nov. 12. Several bands, many of them regulars at Old City Java, have already entered: A Hero Remains, Fall of the Fatalist, The Looking Glass Self, Crabs Are Scavengers, Robotic Mechanic, Hey McFly!, The Tenderhooks, Without Hatred, My Revenge Is Red, Gamenight, Mankind Overboard, In Death There Is No Remembrance, Kiss Your Ghost, Toldyouso, the 1911s, and Brother on Skates.
Bad Medicine Is What I Need The Bitter Pills, back together nearly a year following a lengthy hiatus, have wrapped up recording for an as-yet-untitled LP. â“Weâ’ve recorded 16 songs in all,â” says Pillsâ’ guitarist/organist/singer Nathan Moses. â“Weâ’re trying to work out which oneâ’s going to be first, which one will be third, figuring out the order. We hope to have six songs per side, so weâ’ve recorded a few extra tracks that may end up on a 45 or a 45 split.â”
Moses says the garage/soul/R&B band is looking for a label to release the record when itâ’s ready. The Bitter Pills play the Corner Lounge with Ashevilleâ’s The Chops on Friday, Nov. 9.
Moody and Jangly Itâ’s not a dig to call local rockers Thoroughfare a pretty-boy band. Theyâ’re young and brooding, with cool haircuts and a studiously disheveled sense of fashion. But they rock hard, too, as they demonstrate on their new CD As Yet Unborn. Itâ’s a moody record, defined by Jordan Beachâ’s swirling, fuzzy guitar and angst-filled vocals and Cameron Cunninghamâ’s atmospheric keyboards, and anchored by bassist Thomas Boyd and drummer Colin Cunningham. As Yet Unborn, produced by Travis Wyrick, hit stores on Nov. 6. Thoroughfare will celebrate the release at Blue Cats with Down From Up on Friday, Nov. 23.
The Rockwells also have a new disc out on local label Migrant Records. Place and Time has actually been available since September, but catching up is hard to do. Place and Time is made up of 13 songs of elaborately arranged power pop with tight harmonies and jangly guitars. And if you hurry, you might still be able to catch an MP3 of the Rockwellsâ’ version of The Judybatsâ’ â“Is Anythingâ” on the Migrant website ( www.migrantrecords.com ). â" Matthew Everett
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