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Eye on the Scene

Holy Stink

Knoxville's very own comedy troupe, Holy Mackerel, may soon be off to bigger, better things. The two-man team of Torry Martin and Joe King recently made an appearance at the Big Stinking Comedy Festival where they hung out with the cast of Mad TV and the creators of King of the Hill.

Holy Mackerel was the only group from the South to be invited to the festival. They performed two 45-minute original skits, took classes, and spent the evenings at schmooze parties, Martin says.

The schmoozing must have worked because the team will soon be auditioned by ABC. They also met big-time Hollywood producer/writer Rick Najera, who expressed a lot of interest in working with the group.

What made the group stand out from the rest of the acts was that they were the only clean comedy act to perform, Martin says—"It is something that the whole family could see."

Until its Hollywood deal comes through, Holy Mackerel can still be seen on Live at Five and on the bookstands in the new book Under the Circumstance.

Get On the Air

If you're dying to get your act on the airwaves, Barley's Taproom in the Old City will be hosting recordings each Wednesday for a WDVX radio show. The first recording will take place on May 19 and will feature The Delta Souls. These recorded performances will be aired on a one-hour weekly show and will feature acoustic acts.

Attention All 'grassers

Being in the media has its perks. Everyone knows who you are and you get lots of phone calls. Free books and CDs delivered right to your door. Lots of adoring groupies who will peel grapes and fan you with palm fronds. But the best part, really, is the free CDs.

And the most recent CD to grace Zippy's threshold is a release from the dearly departed Bill Monroe. Blue Plate Music is marking its 20th collection in the "Best of the Mountain Stage" series with a rare recording of Monroe in that self-same Charleston, W. Va., venue. It's not really new stuff and contains most of his standbys, like "Mule Skinner Blues," "Roll in my Sweet Baby's Arms," and the evergreen "Blue Moon of Kentucky"—but it is full of zip and pep and energy, the likes of which will make any 'grass fan proud.

But the real draw was the simple sheet of colored paper that fell out of the CD when I managed to get it open. May, apparently, is Worldwide Bluegrass Month. Who knew? Some hard facts on this genre of the future: 82 million people listen to bluegrass while record sales increased from 4.5 million to 6.2 million units annually in the last two years. "Bluegrass," the organizers say, "kinda now, kinda wow."

We East Tennesseans should feel just darn lucky to be in one of the form's birthplaces, and can support our local acts—like the String Beans, The Dismembered Tennesseans, or Barbra and Pirkle—who just may be the Bill Monroes or Allison Krausses of the future.

Who Knew?

So Zippy went to buy some guitar strings the other day. And Zippy spied a packet of his favorites, the Ernie Ball Earthwood light gauge 80/20 bronze jobbies of which my fast (ha!) fingers have become so fond. And as I was fiddling around with tuning these lovely new strings, my eye happened upon the romance copy that graces the back of each and every envelope—a simple list of all of the other folk who use the strings that I so favor. It's an odd little list, running the gamut from Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, and James Hetfield to lesser-knowns like the BoDeans, The Smokin' Armadillos, The Tragically Hip, and (drum-roll please) Superdrag. Wow, thought I, someone actually cares to enough about the 'drag to pay them for an endorsement. They must be movin' up in the world! Then I noticed who else was on the list: 38 Special. So much for moving up...

Faster, faster

Thursday: The Bijou Dog and Pony Show with Mustard, Beeswax, Evil Twin, Pegasi 51, and Flesh Vehicle at The Bijou Theatre. For only six bucks you can catch some of the hottest acts Knoxville has to offer. So go already.

Friday: Riverbluff Clan at Great Southern Brewing. This Memphis-based band's Two Quarts Low just jumped to #16 on Gavin's Americana charts. See them now before they have a $10 cover.

Saturday: JD Crowe and the New South at Balloons and Bluegrass in Sevierville. Crowe and company are one of the hottest 'grass acts around. Why they can't fill up the Bijou and are forced into Sevierville is beyond me.

Sunday: East Tennessee Jazz Society meeting at Ivory's. Jerry Coker, Jack Coker, Rusty Holloway, Keith Brown, Colvin Idol, Dave King, and Eric Seay will perform. Everyone is invited to this free and open gathering.

Monday: Candlebox with Oleander at Moose's Music Hall. Weren't they just here? See them again, I guess, for the very first time.

Tuesday: Windy and Carl with In Bread Miss Aunt Thrope at The Tomato Head. Art or noise or random natural sounds? You decide.

Wednesday: Short Bus at The Spot. Who am I to buck tradition? Thousands of frat boys can't be wrong.

—Zippy "Gonna Get My Ass Kicked" McDuff