Guess You Had to Be There

Those crazy kids at WUTK New Rock 90 have been pulling the legs of the college radio industry with a complicated (and from our standpoint, a little confusing) hoax to generate some publicity, good or bad, for the station.

Departing music director Brian Sherry and program director Brian McKendry oversee the station and its at-large mass-mailing e-mail messages to some 500 reps in the college radio industry (and to MP). Sherry has developed a reputation with some industry reps as being somewhat difficult to work with. McKendry was aware of that reputation from his own experience but was surprised to find just how far-reaching it was on a recent trip to some record labels in New York City. McKendry felt that the matter was getting out of hand, and met with Sherry about it after the trip...and they came upon what McKendry calls "a situation...too perfect not to try to pull off some kind of publicity stunt."

Sherry was already on his way out as music director, not because of a rift between him and McKendry but to move into New Rock 90's promotional department. The two planned an elaborate scheme to capitalize on the perfectly-timed (but entirely coincidental) move and the well-known differences between McKendry and Sherry. After all, any publicity is good publicity (McKendry says, "I ask you to consider the case in point of one Rev. Al Sharpton."), and it gave Sherry a chance to hone his promotional skills before he began his new post. So a pretty well-choreographed campaign of deliberate misinformation and plain nastiness on the part of Sherry began on Monday, April 13. Sherry posted an explosive e-mail in response to the latest issue of CMJ, a college radio industry magazine. The posting was a vitriolic attack on the industry as a "money pit" and the magazine as "[a]nother point for capitalism and another casualty for...idealism." There were also stabs at big labels, interns, small labels, the GAVIN convention, and retail charts. The posting also announced that Sherry had had enough and was leaving the station so "I can finally do things positive in KNOXVILLE."

To carry the hoax even further, Sherry stopped answering the phone and started behaving in a generally vindictive manner for three days. But it was all a ruse, and once the noise dies down Sherry will head to UTK's promotions (and keep up his local promo outfit 13th Level Thievery) and McKendry will act as interim m.d. Darren Crutcher and Dennis Plant will begin their terms as joint m.d.'s by May 9. And the best of the whole deal, according to McKendry, is that no one will be confused over the two Brians answering the phone.

At the Crossroads

A couple of local bands will head to Memphis for the Crossroads Music Showcase the weekend of April 24-25. A hundred roots- and blues-rock bands from across the country will converge on the city on the river for a two-day fest in front of industry execs. Local swampadelica favorites Blue Mother Tupelo will perform at B.B. King's Blues Club on Beale Street on Saturday night, April 25, and Graffiti Circus, fronted by Dave Landeo, will play the Hard Rock Cafe on Friday night, April 24.

Doing the Lord's Rock

Local producer Travis Wyrick, former lead guitarist for long-running Knox pop-metal road warriors Sage, reports that local Christian grunge-metal trio Disciple demoed more than 20 songs at his home Mi studio last week, a pool of new tuneage from which the group's forthcoming fall album will be assembled.

You may recall that last year, the Blount County based group signed with Resound, the Christian music subsidiary of Warner Brothers. It would seem the band's inaugural Resound platter, My Daddy Can Whip Your Daddy, was such a hit on the Christian pop charts that the next CD has been pushed back to autumn, rather than the summertime release that had been planned at the band's signing. My Daddy reached number one on the "Loud Charts" in 1997—the industry barometer for Christian heavy music.

In the meantime, Wyrick's own music career received a shot in the arm when Mental Floss, an album of his "industrial electronica with heavy guitars," was released this month on another major Christian label, Rugged Records. Wyrick says Rugged reps overheard the rough mixes of his studio noodling while he was recording tracks for local God-rockers Nailed. "It was cool because I had no intentions of anyone ever hearing that stuff," he laughs.

Summer Keeps Getting Hotter

The line-up for the Hot Summer Nights kickoff festival keeps getting bigger and bigger. Most of the biggest local performers (R.B. Morris, the V-Roys, Gran Torino, and the briefly-reunited Opposable Thumbs) will be there, as will Fastball, whose "Hotel California"-flavored single "The Way" is rising to the top of the charts, and modern rockers Fuel and Nashville (by way of Knoxville) mod rockers The Nevers. Tickets are on sale now at all Tickets Unlimited outlets or call 656-4444 to charge by phone.

Bet You Won't See This in Rocket Boys

Check out underground filmmaker Joe Christ's latest effort, Amy Strangled a Small Child, at Neptune on April 30 at 10 p.m. The movie was filmed right here in town this past month, and stars Amanda B. James in the title role. Joe describes the plot thusly: "Amy is a seriously disturbed, insecure young woman, who, while participating in a friend's documentary for his film-school graduation project, realizes that she has nothing interesting to tell about her life. In a desperate attempt to win acceptance from her peer group, she concocts a story about having killed a playmate when she was a little girl...a murder she suddenly 'remembers'. This creates a dilemma for her friend: If she's telling the truth, she's a real nutcase. If she's lying, well, she's a real nutcase, too."

—Zippy "I Made It All Up" McDuff