After five years of spitfire rock 'n' roll (including more-or-less introducing Superdrag, the V-Roys, 30 Amp Fuse, and countless others to Knoxville), noise complaints, fetish dance nights, various run-ins with the powers that be, tons of support for local bands, and some of the best shows we've seen, Mercury Theatre is closing the doors on its Market Square location and heading for the Old City—and changing the name to Neptune. Owner Kevin Niceley inked a lease last week on the old Black Sheep Cafe location on Jackson Avenue, leaving the Tomato Head as the only entertainment establishment on Market Square (as well as the only place open after sundown). Niceley recently told us he's excited about the move and what he considers to be a better location for the club. "I know it's a pain in the ass for people to come to Market Square. I think people will be more willing to come [to the new location]. There's plenty of parking around there, and, besides, it's time to liven that place up again." Besides the fact that the club's capacity will increase, Niceley is also achieving one of his biggest goals for the Mercury: "bathrooms with stalls." Given all the work he's put into making the current Merc location undeniably cozy, we can't wait to see what he does with the dank decor on Jackson. The new lease begins February 1, and the staff hopes the doors will be open shortly after—beer board approval pending, of course.


The V-Roys
Barley & Hopps
Wed., Jan. 31

The now-traditional V-Roys New Year's Eve party found its proper home last week at Barley & Hopps. It was a veritable old-home night, with faces famous and obscure coming out of the woodwork to welcome Baby New Year 1998. Local fellers Chris Pelton and the Fort Marxmen warmed up the crowd real good before turning things over to (and we say this with the utmost affection) the town drunks. That rascal Steve Earle showed up and fronted the band for a trio of his tunes ("Johnny Too Bad," "Here I Am," and "I Feel Allright") right after the midnight hour; later, Shinola frontman Brian Waldschlager joined the V-Roys for a few songs, too. Between these *surprise* guests and their own enormous repertoire, the V-Roys kept things hopping late into the first cold morning of 1998, covering most of their Just Add Ice territory and rolling out some new ones as well. They even coaxed drummer Jeff Bills into showing off his guitar chops on an encore of "Cold Beer Hello."

All of this would've been enough of a spectacle on its own, but it was the aforementioned arrival of Baby New Year that really left its impression on the crowd. Classic country DJ and good sport extraordinaire Shane Tymon nobly donned the top hat, red sash, and, yes, diaper to make sure everyone present knew they were entering the unchartered waters of a new year—as well as cowboy boots to make sure they knew where they were.


Maybe you've heard it on WIVK-FM and wondered why in the world they're playing something obviously written by WIMZ's Phil and Billy. But, believe it or not, the "Heist Man Trophy Song" ("If you can make a sack, or pick it off once, or intercept a pass-one game/ You can get you a Heist-man Trophy, and you can get Heisted, too") is not the work of the dinosaur rock radio pranksters; instead, it is local songwriter Rick Bowen's nonprofit "statement to and for Volunteer fans who felt Peyton Manning was the obvious choice for the Heisman award." Bowen—also the man who brought us 1985's "Shake the Sugar Bowl"—is offering a free cassette of the song to the first 100 people who write in requesting it. ("Thereafter," he says, "anyone wanting a free copy can simply call their favorite radio station and ask to play it and tape it off their radio onto their cassette recorder.") So, if you're all about cheesy piano noodling and feel the Heisman "don't mean jack squat right now" (even though, um, it obviously did a few weeks ago), write Rick at 8 Canberra Drive, Knoxville, 37923. In the meantime, we'll be sending our copy on to Todd Steed, who's sure to get some sort of kick out of it.


Congratulations to Boogeymen bassist Mike Ryan and his wife Claudia White on the birth of their daughter Cassidy Faith. Although she arrived eight weeks early, the "future piano player" is doing just fine. "My retirement plan is to have Donald [Brown] teach this one piano, and I'll be happy if the next one plays any kind of brass instrument. That way, I can spend my golden years playing some little place in Maine in a jazz combo with my kids." Good luck, Mike. My dad wanted me to follow in his real estate footsteps, too.

You can catch the proud pop and his bandmates this Friday at Sassy Ann's or Saturday at The Spot.


I, Zippy McDuff, being of sound-damaged ears and Little Debbie-craving body, do hereby resolve the following for 1998:

1. I will try really hard not to judge CDs by their covers; local bands can make this easier by not sending in crappy sleeves.

2. I will not be sucked into e-mail messages from anyone

3. I will eat more monster sandwiches at Tomato Head and feel less guilty about it.

4. I will get over the break-up of the Satellite Pumps.

5. I will not mercilessly taunt local promoters for bringing the likes of Yanni to town. Plain old taunting is enough.

6. I will not miss any show by the Plastics.

7. I will not bite anyone when they come up to me at a bar and start off a conversation with the words, "Hi, I'm in a band..."

8. I will encourage more musicians in more genres to send in their demos for review...please.

9. I will be as zippy as I wanna be. Zipalicious, if you will.

10. I will not wait until the last minute to write this column, forcing myself to fill 1,000 words with inanities like New Year's resolutions.

—Zippy "A leaner, meaner, faster disaster" McDuff