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Local CD review

The Estradas
Last Summer's Folding Chair (Lynn Point Records)

There's something kind of appropriate about the Estradas finally recording and releasing their first album five years after they broke up. The band's bittersweet pop was already wistful and nostalgic; hearing it now—recorded by original Estradas Bob McCluskey (vocals and guitar), Michael "Ponch" Goldman (guitar) and Jason Peters (drums), with former Faults and V-roys bassist Paxton Sellers—just emphasizes how excruciatingly romantic these songs really are.

Sometimes it's a bit much. Ten songs and 30 minutes worth of mid-tempo, minor-key jangle pop about breaking up and romantic ineptitude can sound belabored. But each song, on its own, is a gem of mid-'90s Knoxville pop—particularly the melancholy "Two Fallen Angels" and the punchy "No Miracles Mile." Goldman's lead guitar runs through them all with warmth and a gentle grace that complements songwriter McCluskey's discontented yearnings, and the Peters/Sellers rhythm section keeps things going with a restrained swing. McCluskey's voice isn't the greatest, but his honest, everyday inflection lends the tunes an intimacy that's often revealing.

There's no earth-shattering breakthrough here; the Estradas weren't the long-lost band that should have made it but didn't, and they're not a missing link in the development of the local scene. But they did make some good music, and it's nice to have that down on record.

Thursday Night's All Right for Fighting

Local bare-knuckled rockers the American Plague got their first taste of an extended road trip late last month when they toured central Ohio for a week with Alabama punk band Random Conflict. It was an eye-opener for the members of the Plague, who were testing their endurance for a tour in support of their upcoming CD. It was, in most ways, a success.

"We spent $400 in eight days," says Plague frontman Jaw. "That's not too bad for three guys, especially since it cost $30 to fill up the tank of the van and we had to do that twice a day. It was our maiden thing, to see how cheaply we can live."

But it wasn't just the shows that proved educational (a Thursday night gig in Columbus—two days before local graduations—was packed with college kids unprepared for the Plague's unrepentant punk-metal onslaught). Van trouble and a fistfight outside the Travel Lodge in Cincinnati also imparted harsh lessons of the road. "B.J. [Fontana, the band's drummer] got a black eye, and our manager's buddy got a broken tooth," reports Jaw. "Cincinnati wasn't too kind to us."

For details on the progress of the CD, check out the band's website at Also, TAP will be playing the Pilot Light on Friday, June 22.

Money, Honey

Local quintet Jag Star just received a $3,250 grant from Jim Beam bourbon via their B.E.A.M (Benefiting Emerging Artists in Music—don't you just love a clever acronym?) program. B.E.A.M. was launched in 1999, when it awarded $50,000 to 27 different musical acts. This year, the program hopes to award $100,000. In 2000, local rockers Galaxie did quite well in the Beam backroom band search, proving that Knoxville bands and bourbon just seem to go together.

But the grants aren't handed out by booze-besotted liquor executives; instead Pat DiNizio and Matthew Sweet are the judges for this contest. And the mandolin/violin rock of Jag Star apparently caught their ears. The money is to be used for any music-related financial need that helps further the band's career.

Applications are still being accepted for the final two rounds of grants. Check out for more information about the process. And you can ask Jag Star for pointers when they play Blue Cats on Friday, June 29.


Thursday: Scott Miller and the Commonwealth at Sundown in the City on Market Square. Come on down to the revival, y'all.

Friday: Knoxville Jazz Orchestra at The Bijou Theatre. Check them out before they blow this popcorn stand.

Saturday: Saturday Night on the Town on Gay Street. It could be a great time. Besides, it's always fun when Gran Torino plays.

Sunday: Dream of beaches and tides.

Monday: Check out the Hanson Gallery's exhibit of new work by Cynthia Markert, Anna Jaap, Robin Surber and others before it leaves on June 30.

Tuesday: DJ Special K at the Electric Ballroom spins your alternative favorites. Might as well dance.

Wednesday: Cary Fridley Band at the Pilot Light. Old time music by a new time band.

Emma "Calgon take me away" Poptart

June 21, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 25
© 2001 Metro Pulse