Local Boy Makes Good

A Train Headed West

Webb School alum and part-time Knoxville resident Russell Schaumburg gave up acting in the late 1990s to go to law school. It may have been the best thing he ever did for his career in the entertainment business.

"I'd almost given up on acting and went to law school," he says, speaking on his cell phone while shopping at EarthFare in Turkey Creek. "Law school is what saved me. I was so not cut out for law school. I was so bored in class that I'd write down ideas for movies. Part of Tennessee was written during lectures."

Tennessee, an independent drama written by Schaumburg and directed by Aaron Woodley, will premier in New York on April 26 at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, founded by Robert DeNiro in 2001. It's Schaumburg's first major screenwriting credit.

The movie stars Adam Rothenberg (Mad Money) and Ethan Peck (Gregory Peck's grandson) as two brothers who run away from an abusive home in Knoxville to the southwest, then are forced back for a difficult reconciliation with their family by a medical emergency. Oh, and on their way back to East Tennessee, they stop in Texas and pick up a waitress played by Mariah Carey.

Almost all of the film was shot in Nashville and Albuquerque, N.M., in February and March 2007, but several scenes are set in Knoxville. (Schaumburg says he and the film crew spent a couple of hours in Knoxville after the principal filming was over for exterior shots of downtown and the mountains.)

Schaumburg, 36, participated in theater at Webb, got more involved when he attended Northwestern University, and spent a few years in Los Angeles trying to break into acting.

"After graduation, if you want to go into that field, there are two ways to go," he says. "There's a train headed west to Los Angeles and one headed east to New York. I hopped on one going west with some buddies of mine."

Since 2000, Schaumburg and his wife have split their time between California and Knoxville.

Sippin' on Gin and Juice

The Rose Center, a non-profit arts council and performance venue in Morristown, has booked the Austin, Texas, alt-country band The Gourds—perhaps best known for their unlikely 1998 cover of Snoop Dogg's G-funk anthem "Gin and Juice"—for a small concert on Friday, April 4. Only 160 tickets ($22) will be sold. Gourds frontamn Kevin Russell will perform solo as an opening act. Call (423) 581-4330 for ticket information.

Browne Out

Folk-rocker Jackson Browne gave local guitarist and music teacher Will Carter a chance to perform with him on stage during his concert at the Tennessee Theatre on Friday, March 14. Browne also collected canned food for Second Harvest Food Bank. Perhaps more significantly, he wrote some new songs for his next album.

Browne told the audience that he took advantage of the two days he spent in Knoxville—a rare extra day off, he said—and stayed in his hotel room writing music.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member hasn't released an album of new material since 2002's The Naked Ride Home.

UTTV Unplugged

Studio 865, the new live music and interview show hosted by Todd Steed, isn't the only music programming on the University of Tennessee's UTTV network.

The station, which airs on channel 65 on campus and 194 on Comcast, also broadcasts The Rock Unplugged, a weekly half-hour show made up of live performances by both local and touring artists taped in the studio of WUTK 90.3 FM, the university's student-run non-commercial radio station. Since January, the series has aired sets by Christabel and the Jons, Jodie Manross, Brendan Wright and the Wrongs, Llama Train, and former Spin Doctors singer Chris Barrow.

The Rock Unplugged runs Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 9 p.m.