V-roys... Nevers... Will It Ever End?
After nearly three years as one of the hottest up-and-coming bands on the Nashville rock scene, the Nevers have said never. Singer/guitarist John Paul Keith announced through a fan email last week that the band has broken up, frustrated by ongoing delays in the release of the group's debut CD.
"Everything is very amicable (we are all great friends) and I'm sure some of us will be working together in some musical capacity in the future," Keith wrote. "At this time, however, the four individuals who comprise the Nevers have four individual lives that can no longer be put on hold for Sire Records."
The band, made up entirely of notable Knoxville expatriates, was signed to Sire in February of 1998, a year after their first show at a prominent Nashville industry showcase. The band members' pedigreesKeith was a founding member of the Viceroys, drummer David Jenkins and bassist Paul Noe played in the Judybats (also signed to Sire, before several corporate restructurings) in the late '80s and early '90s, and guitarist Rick Tiller was a member of the local punk band Leafand the Nevers' punchy, mod-influenced power pop generated almost instant buzz in Nashville. But corporate reshuffling at Sire, including a still-to-be-completed merger with London Records, created interminable delays in the release of the band's debut CD since recording was completed in August of last year, band members speculate. Postings on the Nevers' website for the disc's release date were updated to reflect the postponed issue. Initially projected for fall of '98, notices changed as the date was pushed back to spring, then summer, of '99, and, finally, an appropriately vague "sometime." Keith said he was recently told by company executives that the disc would not be released before late summer of 2000.
Sire officials in New York confirmed that no release date was set. A receptionist in the company's Los Angeles office said on Dec. 10 that the band is no longer on the label.
"The way it got put on ice really took the fire out of us," Jenkins said from Nashville on Dec. 9, just days after the announcement was made. "It was hard to keep the band together. We're under contract and can't work on other things, so it was really frustrating."
Each of the band's members has immediate plans in the industryKeith, the Nevers' principle songwriter and dynamic frontman, will continue to play music similar to the bouncy pop of the Nevers and hopes to release a solo CD "after the smoke clears." Jenkins and Noe are hard at work managing Jenkins' independent record label, Disgraceland Records, and its accompanying website at disgraceland.com, and Tiller has several projects underway, including his website, microtourbus.com, which allows bands across North America to coordinate show dates.
"We've been a band for three years, and this was our goal, to sign with a major label and make a major label record," Keith said. "After we did that, the ball was in their court, and they dropped it."
Another Closing, Another Day
The closing of popular piano bar and jazz night spot Ivorys signaled the end of an era and a new beginning for the East Tennessee Jazz Society. After a one-month hiatus, the organization will resume its monthly meetings on Jan. 9 at Charlie's Courtyard Cafe, 4900 Chambliss Ave.
"I'm presuming this will be an ongoing thing," says society president Bob Heintz. "We're gonna see how this one goes, have a vote, and hopefully we'll continue to hold our meetings there.
"We were really sorry to lose Ivorys because it was a good jazz venue," continues Heintz. "It had things that we needed that most clubs don't have: it had a piano, a stage, a sound system and good lighting. Most places can't provide all of that."
Entering its third year, the East Tennessee Jazz Society provides a unique forum for jazz aficionados, performers, and entertainment promoters. The group's monthly meetings (on the second Sunday of each month) start with a bit of socializing followed by a few minutes of organizational business, an interview hosted by Colvin Idol, and then a performance by an area jazz musician. High profile local artists to appear at past meetings have included (among many others) Donald Brown, Jerry Coker, and Bill Scarlett.
"I'm not sure who is going to play on the next Sunday meeting because that meeting will be more of a members' kind of thing," says Heintz. "We have about 160 paid members, and we're going to get some directions set for the organization. We're going to have an election at the next meeting and then open it up for some ideas about what kind of events we're gonna have. It will be up to the members whether or not we continue at Charlie's, but it looks like that's where we'll be meeting from now on."
Society meetings are free and everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the music. "Anybody can come, but only members can vote," says Heintz. "We encourage anyone that has any interest in jazz to come on out. We'd especially love to see more young people coming out.
"There is a lot of support for jazz in this town and there's a tremendous amount of talent with all of the great jazz instructors at UT. People might actually be surprised at everything that's going on here in Knoxville. So we hope that the meeting at Charlie's will be a fresh start for us. It's really a nice placethe kind of place where guys should wear a sport coat. Now you don't have to wear a tie of course..."
The Boys Are Back in Town
Love 'em or hate 'em (or just writhe in jealousy over our positive write-ups of 'em), Smokin' Dave and the Premo Dopes is the best semi-broken-up Knoxville rock band not performing today. But hold on to your hats, Knox fans: the Dopes are reuniting for a last-chance-this-millennium show at the Longbranch Saloon on Dec. 17. According to guitarist Todd Steed, the reunion was not the result of a Polymer Records offer to tour Japan, but rather due to the simple facts that circus performer/ bassist Dave Nichols will be in town for the holidays and that drummer Dug Meech is willing to drive in from Nashville. While they're together, the boys also hope to record some songs that never made it to disc, adding them to that someday-soon compilation of the Dopes' unreleased/out of print stuff.
"We make no promises of quality, but guarrrrrrentee fun," Steed declares, and his word is as good as gold.
Zippy "Newsboy" McDuff