Eye on the Scene: Back to School

Back to School

Jazz singer Sara Schwabe has been a reliable double-threat in Knoxville for years, first as part of the Actors Co-op company and, for the last five years, as the leader of Her Yankee Jass Band. But she's leaving soon, heading to Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., for the school's MFA program in acting.

"I wish I'd kept score of every single person who's told me, ‘But it's a dry heat,'" says Schwabe, who recently visited the campus and experienced temperatures of 114 degrees. "I probably heard 50 people say that, and they're all people who have never been there."

Schwabe came to Knoxville in 1997, after graduating with a double major in acting and music from a small liberal arts school in her native Minnesota. She intended to take a year off and consider options for graduate school.

"A year turned into 10 years," she says. "I didn't like Knoxville when I first moved here. It was probably a good couple of years before I really liked it. Then I got mixed up with the Co-op and met the boys in the band."

The Yankee Jass Band—Schwabe, Geol Greenlee, Barry Reilly, Chris Zuhr, and, on his frequent trips back to Knoxville, Phil Pollard—first performed at Preservation Pub in late 2002; they were, Schwabe says, the first musical act at the bar. In the years that followed, the band played its smoky brand of R&B-inflected jazz all over downtown, most recently with an unofficial residency at Sapphire. The Yankee Jass Band's final show is set for World Grotto on Saturday, July 19, at the unusually reasonable hour of 8 p.m. If you can't make that, Schwabe says she's planning to come back for a New Year's Eve show with the band. (Matthew Everett)

Host Leaves

Craig Kandel of Host Clothing in the Old City is moving to San Francisco this month; Host's last day open to the public will be July 5. On July 3, Host will throw a going-away/closing party featuring a voodoo doll installation and performances by local bands.

But don't fret: "We'll continue to do Host stuff online," Kandel assures. "There will be a section on the website for Host projects, where people can collaborate with us. It will also be a resource for outsider art around the country."

Keep up with Kandel and Host at americanoutsiderart.com. (Mike Gibson)

Heiskell Meets Lee

According to local songwriter/guitarist/all-around musician-guy Tim Lee, former Judybats singer Jeff Heiskell is working on a new record, with some studio help from Lee. Heiskell is recording at the Rock Snob/Independent Recorders studio, with engineering by studio owner Eric Nowinski, who you may also recognize as the drummer for Angel and the Lovemongers.

"Jeff and I hung out some last year, and got to be buddies," says Lee. "Then he asked me if I'd work on his new record. He's been working out songs at home with an acoustic guitar, and the new songs are really strong. Some are really different for him. That's what keeps coming out of his mouth: ‘These are really different from anything I've done in the past.'"

Lee says the new record won't be an acoustic record per se, though it will probably have some acoustic tracks. "It's more stripped-down and straightforward," he says. "I think of a lot of what Jeff has done in the past as being more lush and orchestrated. Here he's got some acoustic stuff, and some straight-up rock 'n' roll."

Lee says they've tracked about 10 songs, "maybe 80 percent of the record," with Lee on bass and guitar and Nowinski on drums. Greg Horne will also appear on acoustic guitar. The working title of the new Heiskell platter is Clip-on Nosering. (M. G.)

More Studio Stuff

Speaking of Independent Recorders, local five-piece rock band 1220 will likely enter the studio in July with producer Don Coffey to record their first full-length album, the follow-up to their debut EP Miss Legendary. The yet-untitled record will feature at least 12 songs, culled from 26 basement demos the band members already have recorded.

"We plan to spend a lot more time on this one, get the songs really clean," says drummer Bill Van Vleet. "We feel like these songs are better, and we're a lot better now as a band. The melodies are much stronger."

Van Vleet says some of the songs will mark a departure for the band; their EP was a five-song blast of ragged post-glam rock ‘n' roll, all Hanoi Rocks attitude and Stooges energy. "This record will be crisper and smoother," says Van Vleet. "It's definitely still rock ‘n' roll, but with more of a pop touch than Miss Legendary. There'll be some pop numbers, and some things people have never heard before out of 1220." (M.G.)