Eye on the Scene

Something in the water? Does KUB know about this?

â“Sharing a birthplace is no guarantee of being similarly endowed with talent, although there does seem to be something in the water in Knoxville,â” wrote critic Rob Adams in The Herald , a venerable daily in Glasgow, Scotland, last week. He was describing a show at the local music pub known as the State Bar. â“ R.B. Morris followed Chet Atkins , Don Gibson , the Everly Brothers , and a posse of other notables out of the town in East Tennessee, and while not as famous as his forebears, he can certainly claim to be keeping up the standards.â” Adams remarked that Morris â“can turn the homely downstairs room into a little part of his homeland just through his music. His songs, although often quietly delivered, crackle with character and atmosphere, ingredients that Hector Qirko , guitarist and occasional supporting singer, highlights with subtly phased-in touches or, where suitable, big rockin' bluesy licks.â”

After an extended tour of the British Isles, Morris and Qirko are back in their actual homeland.

Mountain City Prison Jazz

â“There are some experiences and feelings that are almost too big for words,â” says pianist Clara Landau . She's talking about May 19, when she entered the Northeast Corrections Complex, a maximum-security prison in Mountain City, Tenn., tucked away in the northeastern corner of the state, where she was to perform. â“I'd had my '91 truck checked out and serviced, readied its interior for a vehicle search, and loaded it up with maps, route numbers, bottled water, my music gearâ.â”

The sound system, which was donated by a church, was set up. â“A young man serving a life sentence asked if he could try my keyboard,â” Landau goes on. Over 300 inmates came into the room. â“I recognized one inmate who had lived in Knoxville and whom I'd known when he was a teenagerâ. I looked around the room at these mostly young men in their uniforms of denim blue with a leg stripe. I felt my heart swell. I did 13 songs for them.

â“The occasion was an epiphany for me, one of several in my life, but definitely the most powerful and spiritual,â” she says. Landau's latest CD, Solo Flights , is available at Carpe Librum Booksellers.

Our Music Rules

Benny Smith , the energetic leader who has helped make WUTK rock once again, says that local music continues to rock, as a record number of local musicians have found their way onto his station's weekly Top 30. â“The skinny is that five CDs with direct Knoxville links, or releases by Knoxville bands are currently sitting in the WUTK Top 30,â” Smith tells us, â“which is something that, to my knowledge, has never happened before. So on the heels of Knoxville representing at Bonnaroo, the local scene is also getting some much-deserved chart positions on the WUTK weekly Top 30.â”

Scott Miller & the Commonwealth 's â“Arianneâ” from Reconstruction comes in at No. 5. Superdrag 's â“Lighting the Wayâ” is No. 8, off of Changing the Tires on the Road to Ruin . The compilation album, Just One More: A Tribute to Larry Brown , is at No. 13, with Scott Miller's â“Thirsty Fingersâ” and Tim and Susan Baur Lee 's â“The Bridge.â” Bonnaroo-bound Tenderhooks ' newest album Vidalia stands at No. 16, with the recent popularity of its title track. And at No. 21 is Heiskell , a new project from Judybats ' frontman Jeff Heiskell ; â“Your Touch,â” from the new CD, Soundtrack to an Aneurysm , has had considerable playtime of late.

The list has been compiled and sent to The College Music Journal , which Smith calls the â“Bibleâ” of college radio.

Next Big Hit?

More like Big Hit Right Now! First the entertainment industry confirms what we've known for a long time: Sarah Lewis of Knoxville's pop-rockers Jag*Star is really, really pretty. If you haven't already seen her in Cosmo and other magazines, you won't be surprised to hear that she is the new â“Fresh Faceâ” of â“Wet'n'Wildâ” cosmetics.

And now the industry has confirmed something else: Ms. Lewis and her trio of really, really good-looking bandmates are really, really, really popular. As winners of the â“Next Big Hitâ” competition, Jag*Star will be featured on the front page of the iTunes Music Store website for one week. We're not sure when this will start, but you can bet we'll be checking the site often because we are really, really proud.

More Music, More Food

This Friday, June 15, the new Wild Wing Café will open its doors at 5 p.m. â“We're a restaurant first, but we're doing some live music,â” says Dave McFarland , co-owner/operator of the new restaurant, located at 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive, just off of Campbell Station Road.

It's an 11,000 square foot facility, and after spending more than $4 million in preparation for opening weekend, McFarland and crew are ready for business, promising live music six nights a week.

On Friday, Wrong Way , a Sublime tribute band, will be onstage. Then, on Saturday, June 16, Lil' Malcolm & the House Rockers will play their zydeco dancefloor bangers.

The restaurant boasts 33 flavors of wings and over 20 beers on tap, enough fuel to keep the music machine churning late into the night.

Visit www.wildwingcafe.com for more info.

Local CD Review


Soundtrack for an Aneurism

Former Judybats and Doubters Club crooner Jeff Heiskell offers sounds sweet and familiar on this not-so-solo record, which includes backing tracks from guitar/drums brother duo Doug and Mike Hairrell and bassist Rob Bell , all of them veterans of the â‘bats 21st century (re)incarnation. Most of the record offers just what you'd expect from an experienced craftsman like Heiskellâ"tuneful '80s-inflected alterna-pop bolstered by smart guitar textures, even smarter lyrics, and dead-on vocal performances. But Heiskell still has a couple of tricks up his sleeves, unexpected gems like â“Gasoline,â” the album's second track, a dusky Americana-style rumination that would make do fellow Knoxville singer-songwriter Scott Miller proud. And then there's the rendition of the old Lindsey Buckingham solo nugget â“Trouble,â” a choice of covers that seems flat-out weird, until you hear it, and Heiskell's svelte croon smoothes everything into place.

â" Jack Neely , Kevin Crowe , Leah E. Willis , Mike Gibson




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