We've said it all before, but after more than five years of great music and great memories, it doesn't hurt to repeat ourselves and make it known that we're going to miss having Mercury Theatre on Market Square (and in spitting distance of the Metro Pulse offices). Sure, the club isn't going very far—just to the Old City; but we'll still pine for the decidedly low-rent chic and charm of the crusty former location. (Not to mention the name—after February 1, it's Neptune. Of course, I still slip up and call one of my favorite bands the Viceroys now and again.) Even if you haven't been to the Merc in a while, you can more than make up for lost time this weekend as the club goes out with a characteristically loud bang. Friday features L.I.F.E., a band that's graced the Mercury stage countless times over the years. After a too-long absence from local stages, Beeswax is back this Saturday, along with the Honeybadgers for an indie pop bonanza that's—get this—free. Make sure you go home and go straight to bed as soon as it's over, though; you'll need the rest for Sunday's rawk extravaganza. The club has booked 18 (not a misprint) bands for an all-day benefit, the proceeds of which will go toward funding one of two new PAs for Neptune (owner Kevin Niceley also plans to eventually construct two stages for the new club). On the bill are Pegasi-51, Evil Twin, Chunkity, Blind Aggression, Downside, Axis, Hitch, Hollow, Bozac, A-min. 7, the Malignmen, C-4, Linear, American Trust, Skudz, Slugboys, Leech, and Blue April Fool. The show is open to all ages and is scheduled to go on from noon to midnight; admission is $5. See you there.


The University of Tennessee Music Department is losing two of its premier instructors to retirement. Dr. Jerry Coker, coordinator of the UT Studio Music and Jazz Program for 22 years, retired at the end of the fall semester (which means his teaching load has been reduced from nine classes to two this spring). Despite his impeccable reputation and innumerable honors (he is a member of the International Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame and was an A-list player during the 1950s, accompanying Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and Della Reese), he remains reticent and admirably humble about his career. "It's been a long time, so it's hard to sum it up," he said. His wife, Patty Coker, herself a renowned jazz vocalist, spoke up for him: "Jerry has made a tremendous contribution to the idiom, both as a player and an educator, and his lifelong obsession has been with jazz."

Pioneering musicologist Dr. Steven Young is also leaving the teaching profession at the end of this semester, which he is spending in Toronto. A pioneer in musicology and the study of world music, Dr. Young came to UT in 1969. He has taught the ever-popular History of Rock class since 1975 and also developed courses in African American and world music. Dr. Leslie Gay, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology, says that "Young, almost alone, it seems to me, opened the department of music to music beyond that of Western classical music...earlier than most universities in the US, and in doing so not only diversified the department's curriculum but brought a wider range of students into the study of music."


Don't sign that check for Sassy Ann's just yet. It seems that the ad listing it as being on the market in the "Businesses for Sale" section of the Knoxville News-Sentinel classifieds on Sunday, January 18, is not quite accurate. Co-owner Mike Cole says that his daughter, Kirsten Mayhan, is interested in putting her Sassy Ann's stock up for sale, so the place is up for bid, in a sense. But the building and accompanying blues bar and restaurant are staying put. No word of how much stock Mayhan owns or how the "misinformation," as Cole put it, made it into the classifieds. Just hold off with the phone calls, please. It's not for sale.


If you haven't been moving at the speed of sound, you're probably having trouble keeping up with those local technophiles the Speed Freeks. You can make up for it, though, by checking out a pair of recently released, nationally distributed compilations on which they appear, the streetbeat comp Electro Avengers and DJ Hardware's Phunky Breaks from the Vault. Both discs feature the song "Out Of Control," though the versions are different. A 12-inch record of their song "Brutal B-Boy," remixed by renowned Florida DJ and producer Kelly Reverb was just released on the JUICE label and includes the new track "Turntable Fiend." The band has been also working with Atmosphere Productions on a UT recruiting spot. And, as if that's not enough, they're currently at work on their new album, to be titled either Alien Empire or Rhythme For The Masses.


Last week, we inadvertently left a digit out of the URL for the Malignmen's (a.k.a. the band-soon-to-be-known-as-Chaingang) Web page. You can check up on the rough punk rock high jinx at:

—Zippy "Buffet Table Fiend" McDuff