Now playing on Broadway

With the loss in the past year of less-than-mainstream rock venues Gryphon's, The Foundry, and the Autonomy House, Knoxville's musical circuit has developed a sense of, well, hegemony. Oh, there's diversity enough, but try establishing a new band in town with no former members from the long list of legendary-but-now-defunct groups from the past, throw in an adventurous musical agenda, and your chances of playing anywhere other than a friend's house are about the same as...well, just get used to watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Friday nights.

But a dot of hope has risen on the horizon. A new noncommercial venue is in the process of opening its doors to underground bands and their rabid followings. The 619 Building, located at that very address on Broadway, just south of the Central Avenue intersection and sandwiched between two carpet stores, will host its first show tonight (Thursday, November 13, 8 p.m.-ish). Nashville band Duralux—rumored to make music with three guitars, an organ, and a drum machine—will be joined by locals Dent and No Love Lost and a possible fourth. (Though midwest favorites Cursive and Longdistancerunner were supposed to play, they were unexpectedly sidelined by a combustible van.) The proceedings will be similar to a house show, just not in a house; donations are requested (strongly suggested, even) and alcohol is strictly BYOB.

The sponsors of the show are up-and-coming promoters extraordinaire 13th Level Thievery, and Doug Nelson and Scott Cardwell, who work together in Chroma, a local art co-operative which will also present art showings in conjunction with the music. The building will not be available for walk-through, ongoing exhibits, but a large upstairs will be open for art-gazing while music shows are going on below.

Look for an upcoming shows by various local bands and artists, including a possible performance by the elusive Sp*rk.

A little mood music

As Knoxville's Baby Boomers approach the big 5-0, night clubs are springing up left and right to cater to their entertainment and boogie-down needs. Big-band jazz, martinis, and cigars have taken root, especially in West Knoxville, where The Baker-Peters Jazz Club, Ivory's, and the unfortunately incinerated Rhapsody's have established an upper-scale circuit for a crowd no longer interested in spending Friday nights at a cheap-beer-and-loud-rock dive.

Donn Doyle, former general manager of Michael's, has thrown his hat into the ring with his newly-opened club, Donn's. Since the first week of November, Donn's has served an affluent, 30-and-up demographic with a sophisticated, high-end menu (the specialty of the house is a honey Cornish game hen), a kitchen that stays open late (until 2 a.m.), and a dance floor featuring a blend of '40's and '50's pop mixed in with Top 40 favorites.

Doyle moved to Knoxville two years ago from New York, where he had nearly 20 years of experience in the country club business, experience sure to help his establishment fit its high-living niche.

Rock on, dude

Tired of Foghat and BTO retread? Seeking something with a little more punch than your average modern rock ditty? Look no further on your FM radio dial than 98.7, where Dick Broadcasting's new WXVO—"The X"—will program harder-edged new rock (and classic rock without the moldy oldies).

According to director of marketing Steve Queisser, WXVO will be "rock 'n' roll, music-intensive" (think, perhaps, Nirvana followed up by a Zeppelin cut), filling the void left by Knoxville's relative scarcity of commercial stations playing relatively recent rock.

The rub is that station officials aren't sure when 98.7 will be up and running; it may be spinning the discs even as you read this blurb, or it may be a matter of weeks before those first raucous strains will be audible south of the 100 mark on the dial. The reason for the uncertainty, Queisser says, is that while construction of the station's tower is nearly finished, inclement weather and the complexities of the station's state-of-the-art technology have delayed the finishing touches. In any case, go ahead and program that car radio pre-select, and stay tuned.

Sweet Georgi

Local family-oriented singer/songwriter Georgi Schmitt will host a CD release show and potluck dinner at Laurel Theatre next week. Georgi is one of the Laurel's "interpretive traditional artists"; her work, which she describes as "farm-friendly family music," is a collection of traditional songs, originals, and covers which appeals to kids as well as their parents. It is not what she calls "Barney music." The songs on her disc, Over Home, Sneedville, Tenn., recorded with the help of Sean McCollough, include "Clinch Mountain Pixies," an epic-length closer, and the traditional fiddle tune "Old Joe Clark."

The show next Wednesday will begin with a set of music at 6:30 p.m. followed by the potluck dinner at 7:15. If you wanna eat, you better bring some food. Then, after the vittles, everyone will head back upstairs for more music. Copies of Over Home, Sneedville, Tenn., will be on hand. Bring the kids.


Despite what we reported in last week's Eye item about new band Michael Crawley and the Mac Daddies, drummer Michael "Bones" Allen is not in fact the former drummer for Vehicle of Expressiona; rather, he's angling for the title of hardest-working skinsman in Knoxville by pulling double duty with the two bands. Sorry 'bout that.

—Zippy "The O.Z." McDuff