A Wail in the Night
Much gnashing of teeth and crying in beers will take place in late November when one of our fair little city's few remaining outlets for local music calls it quits with its regular weekend schedule of bands. Cumberland Avenue's Longbranch Saloon began offering mostly-free local shows on Fridays and Saturdays some two years ago, first in its cramped downstairs environs, then upstairs in a space now appropriately revamped for such purposes. Despite the initial strangeness of the endeavor, the 'branch soon evolved into one of the best-lovedand steadiestvenues for local will-bes and wannabes to display their wares. Shows by Superdrag spin-off Flesh Vehicle, the reconstituted Judybats, and even a joyous and celebratory reunion of Knoxburg's all-time favorite band, Smokin' Dave and the Premo Dopes, were but a few highlights of the bar's ongoing weekend set list.
Now, according to resident bartender and bad-ass Cowboy, the smooth-pated, Harley-riding top-twister who for the last six months or so has been responsible for booking bands, owner John Stockman has decided to end the 'branch's run as a music venue due to declining attendance at recent shows. The cessation of shows will also mark the end of Cowboy's tenure as chief 'tender at the Strip's favorite would-be dive. "I've decided there's other things in my life," Cowboy says. "One year is enough time for anyone to stay at one place on the Strip. I'm ready for a change."
In the meantime, the bar is still looking to fill openings in what remains of its concert calendar, including an open-to-close blow-out bash that will send things out in suitably beery style the weekend after Thanksgiving. "That Friday and Saturday, I'm going to book as many bands as want to play as a final hoo-rah," says Cowboy. "If I get enough bands to warrant starting at 3 p.m., then by God we'll start at 3 p.m."
Bands playing that final weekend will be allotted 75-minute sets plus a 15-minute set-up period, with the evening's final strains to be heard around 2 a.m. Bands interested in playing the 'branch's blow-up bash (or any of the weekends leading up to said event) should call the bar, as plenty of openings still remain.
Adam Hill and the Raggedettes
Lo-Fi Goodbye (S&L Records)
Adam Hill's solo debut, Lo-Fi Goodbye, is a homecoming of sorts for the former Satellite Pumps frontman. Even though Hill lives in New York City now, the disc was recorded in his parents' house in Kingston this summer and has been released on Morristown's S&L Records. Plus, fellow Knoxville expatriate (and former Metro Pulse intern) Greg Siedschlag adds gruff vocals and his own ragged guitar to the scruffy mix of Westerberg-style swagger and honky-tonk lonesomeness that makes Lo-Fi Goodbye sound so much like a Knoxville record.
If Lo-Fi Goodbye is country, its sources predate the slick mass marketing of the Nashville music machine. Even with a drum machine (Hill says he wired it into an amp and set it at the far end of his parents' hallway for the recording) and electric guitar, there's a tone of rugged, old-fashioned authenticity to the disc. From the country-blues-tinged opening track, "Baby Blues" and the heartbreaking "Down Anyway" to the pop smart "Dead Piano" and the drinking anthem "441" (an ode to driving to Gatlinburg), the songs sound like they could have been culled from the archives of Harry Smith, whose Anthology of American Folk Music is one of Hill's favorite record sets.
Hill, in town to visit his parents, played a brief solo acoustic set at the Pilot Light on Aug. 23, opening for the Moves. Hopefully he'll be back soon.
On Top of the Hill
Local blues rockers Lovell Hill have reached the top spot on mp3.com's Knoxville charts and have climbed into the top 10 for the entire state, topping out country favorites like Mark Chesnutt in the process. The band's singles "My Way Down" and "Couldn't Stand the Weather" are at #3 and #5, respectively, for most-downloaded songs from Tennessee, and are in the top two positions for Knoxville. The bandwhich describes its music as a cross between Southern rock and electric Texas blueswill release its full-length debut this fall.
Benny Smith of AC Entertainment has confirmed (through MetroBlab, naturally) the WUTK Cock Rock Hour report that the Flaming Lips will play at Moose's on Thursday, Sept. 29that's just four days after Yo La Tengo. The Lips' latest disc, The Soft Bulletin, a sweeping epic of orchestrated pop psychedelia, was a daring departure for a 15-year-old post-punk band, and was picked by dozens of critics as one of the best of 1999. Some of you might want to stay at home and complain that there's nothing to do in Knoxville; the rest of us will be there.
September 7, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 36
© 2000 Metro Pulse