cover_story_4 (2006-29)

The summer music programs run by Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson “aren’t your band on a flatbed truck in the parking lot,” says Scott Maddox, who owns the Maryville dealership.

Far from it, the shows are produced with a state-of-the-art sound system in a pavilion on the dealer’s property, featuring elaborate chandeliers, a bar and tables with beer and food, and bands who don’t do flatbeds as a rule.

Derek Trucks, Scott Miller, Dishwater Blond, Blue Mother Tupelo and Jenna & the Joneses are among the featured acts this summer, Smoky Mountain Harley’s second season. And the headliner, Big Head Todd & the Monsters will be playing the dealership’s second anniversary date, Sept. 2. That Saturday night, a $15 cover charge will be asked, but most of the regular Saturday night shows are free of charge or less than $10. Maddox says the idea is to promote good music, not sell Harleys. The dealership is closed when the 7 p.m. acts get underway in the pavilion, dubbed “The Woodshed.”

The concert series, called “Party on the Patio,” got underway last year, shortly after the dealership, at the time the largest Harley dealer in the Southeast in showroom space, opened for business on Lamar Alexander Parkway.

“I was quoted in the newspaper here [ The Daily Times ] on my passion for music,” says Maddox, a Baxter, Tenn., native. Blount and Knox County music production veteran Mark Akers, who lives in Greenback, read the story, contacted Maddox, said, “Let’s do it,” and they did, scoping out the program that day. The first season was blues heavy, and this year’s is more eclectic, featuring Americana, rock and blues stylists. The programs cranked up a partnership with Knoxville’s WDVX Radio, with benefit performances and the raffle of a custom Harley Springer Classic, autographed by name musicians, with the proceeds going to WDVX.

The Saturday programs, Maddox says, “have drawn anywhere from 100 to about 1,200 guests, depending on the weather, more than anything, although the concerts are sheltered.” Last year, Big Head Todd brought in an audience of about 1,000, including people from as far away as Colorado who came specifically to catch the band at SMHD.

“It’s a pretty unusual series for a motorcycle dealer,” Maddox says. “I’ve just always thought music and motorcycles go together.” He explains that the series has brought many people “their first exposure to some of theses acts, and that’s gratifying to me personally.”

On Saturdays from April to October, the dealership serves food in the pavilion all day. “We have beer and soft drinks and everything from barbecue and corn on the cob to grilled chicken salads,” Maddox says. Some Sundays the dealership also serves breakfast.

“We want to start a bluegrass and folk music series on Sundays this fall,” he says, but those programs haven’t been lined up yet.

Soundman Akers, who has worked in Nashville with acts running a musical gamut, including M.C. Hammer, Dolly Parton, Con Hunley and Doc Severenson, spent the last couple of years at Dollywood, doing the sound work on its music shows. He also tours every winter with the Pigeon Forge band, the Kingdomaires, on Carnival Cruise Line.

A musician himself, who has played bass guitar and string bass for a number of bands, Akers can serve as a sideman on call, but it is the sound system that is his baby. That and his Harley, which is parked right outside his sound trailer. “I bought my first one last year, and I love it,” Akers says.

Maddox sums it up: “Music and motorcycles are a great mix. I’m into both of them, and this whole experience has been fun for me and for Mark.” The soundman nods, appreciatively, grinning at his black and chrome steed as he does.