Go Hugo

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10406530_1622615997964497_5756132644778867347_nAnyone who has read this column in times past knows there’s usually a lot of nonsense going on in this space, much foul-mouthed ranting about drinking and sports and celebrities and other insignificant crap. But this week, we’re setting aside the bullshit. Because Real Life has reared her ugly head, and She can be a real bitch when She sets her mind to it.

If you patronize local music on a regular basis in Knoxville, you’ve probably heard of the Coveralls. Lifelong friends, the members of the band have been playing together in one configuration or another for 20 years, and as the Coveralls proper for 13. You could argue that they’re not the best-known and best-loved party rock outfit in town, but you would probably wouldn’t, because it sucks to be wrong.

The band’s longtime guitar player is a talented guy named Chris Canada; besides the Coveralls, he’s played in more local bands than he can easily remember, The Uptown Bogarts and Big Bad Jukebox and his current, eponymous project, the Chris Canada Jazz Trio, etc.. But better than all that, Chris is the proud father of Hugo Canada, an elfin little blonde guy with Anime-sized blue eyes.

Hugo celebrated his first year on the planet in June. The day after his first-ever birthday party, his parents noticed blood in his diaper. They took him to a local hospital for tests; for their diligence, they were rewarded with the kind of news that every parent prays they’ll never hear.

Hugo was diagnosed with something called Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, or AT/RT. AT/RT is a rare form of cancer, usually found in very small children, and it can manifest in many areas of the body; Hugo was found to have several growths, both in his lungs and on his kidney.

AT/RT is an aggressive, merciless affliction. So much so that doctors are often forced to treat it with radiation, in addition to surgery and chemotherapy—in spite of the fact that radiation is generally considered too dangerous for toddler-aged kids. The survival rate for children of Hugo’s age afflicted with AT/RT is somewhere between 11 and 17 percent, depending on how you interpret the double-talk that passes for explication in medical literature.

For Hugo, there has been good news of late, though even that has been tempered by some less heartening events, brutal reminders of the severity of his ravaging illness.

The good news is that after a round of chemotherapy, the tumors in his lungs have disappeared, meaning that his prognosis is better than it was at the start, by a considerable margin. Next up is a trip to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in September, where Hugo will undergo a nephrectomy, to remove the cancerous kidney, and have his stem cells collected for future deployment; they will be used to strengthen him during the enervating rounds of chemo to come.

What’s troubling is that, even with the positive results, the little man is having a rough time of it. On August 29, according to his mother’s updates on the GoHugoCanada Facebook page, he was admitted to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with a fever and mouth sores.10561709_1660679034158193_4487058874066454391_n

What does all this mean for the rest of us? Well, it means plenty. First, know that the good energy you project, whether it be in the form of prayers, meditations, or simple well-wishes, can accomplish a great deal, more than any of us will ever comprehend, at least on this side of the Veil. Call it God or Dharma or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or just one of the many dark mysteries of quantum physics our limited human intelligence has yet to unravel, but simply believe that, for good or ill, we all help create the Reality we live in, in ways both profound and simple.

Next—and this is where the rubber meets the road, Jake—know that the Canada family needs help. Thanks to a publicist friend of the band, the effort to aid the Canadas has launched in stellar fashion, through a viral campaign featuring celebrities, politicians, and plenty of us normal folk, too, holding up “Go Hugo” signs in digital photos, not unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge currently making the rounds virally on behalf of ALS.

So far, the list of Go Hugo celebs includes Liv Tyler, U.S. Congressman Jimmy Duncan, Toby Keith, and Vince Gill and more, all of them viewable on the aforementioned Facebook page. You can go to the page and upload your own Go Hugo photos there, as well as leave messages for the family. There’s also a fundraising link, where you can make donations for the Canadas’ mounting medical bills.

In the meanwhile, there are a number of benefit shows and events upcoming, including a Coveralls performance on Sept. 12 at Preservation Pub. Also on tap is a big Go Hugo multi-band event at the Bijou Theatre on Oct. 2, featuring fellow cover-band rockers the Dead Ringers, the most excellent King Super and the Excellents, long-running Talking Heads tributeers Same As It Ever Was, and a host of other guest-starring local musicians and artists, plus a raffle and other goodies. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at the Bijou website.

And that is all there is to say for now, other than to remind all of you to hold the Canadas dear in your hearts and minds. Because it doesn’t matter how much time any of us have been given, Jake. It matters what we do with it while we’re here.

Get a Life: Trophy-maker, occasional videographer, and former radio deejay Steve Hines

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"Opie," w/ Weird Al

“Opie,” w/ Weird Al

In this era of do-it-all technology and narrow specialization, Preservation Pub regular Steve Hines is a throwback, a Renaissance Man who has accomplished more, in more fields—in less than 40 years of living—than any three other people you’re liable to find belly-to-bar on an average weekday afternoon. Back in the early-mid ’00s, Hines served as DJ “Opie” on FM-94.3 WNFZ (the station has since moved to 95.7.) We asked him to hold forth on life as a radio jock, and the state of corporate radio today.
Q: How did you get into radio?
A: I went to school in Broadcasting, with an interest in doing video production. I had to sign up for a practicum, so I told them I wanted to do video production, but that I was also interested in a younger, laid-back atmosphere. The found me a position doing promotions for [rock station] 94.3—which I listened to at the time. It wasn’t video, but it was laid-back, and I had given them kind of a broad request.
My job was pretty much to go to bars and do radio promotions. I liked it so much I signed up for an internship there. Four easy credit hours—go to the bar and have fun. And I got to go to a lot of free shows.
The long and short of it is that by the end of my last semester of college, I was doing an overnight shift on the air.
Q: What was your DJ name?
A: I was Opie. I was bequeathed the name. My boss told me I needed to come up with a name. I gave him some names my friends had given me, and he didn’t like any of them. So one day I walked into a meeting and he said, “By the way, you’re ‘Opie.'” I assume after the movie “Almost Famous,” because I was the youngest person there.
Q: As a video production and promotions guy, how did you adapt to speaking on the air?
A: The best advice I ever got was to take a picture into the studio and talk to it like you’re talking to one person. I used an action figure. It was a “Homies” figure, from this line of Hispanic dolls. It was easier than I thought it would be.
Q: Did you have some interesting on-air incidents?
A: Several that can’t be in print. I was at a location promo once and watched a shoplifter run out of Wal-Mart with feces running down her leg.
Q: Why did you quit?
A: When I got into radio, it was ridiculously fun. It was the last big hurrah for local radio. There was no Ipod, no YouTube, no Pandora. The best way to discover new music was through friends and on the radio. Then came Clear Channel.
It became not so much about being local anymore. It became about investors; more meetings. The worst thing was the playlist. I was the music director, and I always looked at it as fun. Like making the perfect 24-hour rock mix CD—with lots of limitations, obviously. Then suddenly I had to send our database off to the local guru in Charlotte or Tampa, and he would annihilate my playlist. You can’t play this, you can’t play that.
At one time, though, it was really cool. I had someone ask for my autograph once. Which was weird, because I’m not “that guy.”

Heavy Rotation: What’s playing in your earbuds?

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Sara Nevill

Sara Nevill

Oodles Server Sara Nevill:

1. Widespread Panic

2. Phish

3. “I just saw Portugal. the Man at the Bijou; they were awesome.”

4. “I saw Primus the same week I saw Portugal. That was awesome.”

Caitlyn Baker

Caitlyn Baker







Oodles Server Caitlyn Baker:

1. “I really like Tupac lately. His lyrics are very empowering, especially for women.”

2. Contemporary Bollywood Pandora: “I made Indian food for dinner one night, decorated the kitchen and set the ambiance.”

3. Classic soul Pandora

4. Afternoon concert series on NPR: “I like Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 1 a lot.”

5. “Beyoncé, because, ‘Duh!'”

Now Playing: The Tom Pappas Collection

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Tom Pappas with Flesh Vehicle: “Perfect State of Grace”

There’s more to singer/songwriter Tom Pappas than just his connection to erstwhile Knoxville indie rockers Superdrag; and if you didn’t know that, you simply haven’t been paying attention the last 10 or 15 years.

Truth be known, there was always more to Pappas than the ‘drag—the former Elektra Records/MTV buzz-bin outfit that made his mop-topped profile something of an icon, at least in certain circles. Because prior to Superdrag, Pappas was leader of seminal ‘90s Knox punk-rockers The Used; and it was during his time with the band that he birthed his ongoing solo project Flesh Vehicle.

Then again, for every fan who still clings to that particular portion of Pappas’ past, there are others yet who don’t remember it. “There are lots of people who have no idea about Superdrag,” Pappas says, on a break from his latest construction job back home in Nashville.

“They know I was in some band that had some success, but they have no idea what that was about. It’s kind of an interesting situation.” For the record, Pappas was the original bass player in Superdrag, the four-piece local power-pop outfit founded in 1992 over the course of countless Fort Sanders keggers. The band eventually signed to Elektra Records, put out a couple of beautiful big-budget releases and one well-traveled alterna-rock video and single (“Sucked Out”), then got kicked back to the ranks of indie-dom where they issued another handful of fine records on Arena Rock Recordings.

Pappas served on four-string until the late ‘90s, when he left to pursue his own music, though he took up the mantle again in 2007, part of a three-year reunion stint that saw the band issue yet another LP, Industry Giants, on their own label.

In the meantime, Pappas has been a busy guy, starting a construction company, yet still pursuing his artistic muse with more fervor than most careerists. The last few years have seen a veritable onslaught of Pappas-related releases—records by his Nashville outfit Whip in 2008 and 2009; Industry Giants in ’09; Flesh Vehicle releases in 2010 and 2011; the latest from his Rock City Birdhouse project in ’12; and a couple of releases under the name Tom Pappas Collection, including a 20-song anthology covering the spectrum of his recording career in 2013, and his latest effort, Bomb Shelter, self-released in 2014.

With so much history behind him, it’s small wonder that Pappas has decided to issue new work under the TPC moniker. “It gets pretty confusing,” he chuckles. “I’ll come to town with a band, and people say, ‘I’m going to see Tom play.’ And somebody asks, ‘Which configuration?’ ‘I don’t know.’ So this way, you get the best of everything, and I can play the songs I most want to play.”

Pappas’ new record, Bomb Shelter, bears all the tell-tale signs of Pappas’ solo projects—the Stooges-esque propulsion, the Wayne-Coyne-on-bad-acid vocals, the occasional glam and psychedelic flourishes to lend the rough-hewn punk edginess some glittery sheen.

But there’s a twist this time around, inasmuch as Pappas recorded the whole record on an amplified acoustic guitar. He says he was inspired to do so by his love of the Violent Femmes and the Rolling Stones—think “Jumping Jack Flash,” or “Street Fighting Man”—and by a desire to see his vocal tracks thrust higher in the mix, at least for this go-around.

“Every time I’ve made a record, it’s usually really loud guitar music, and the vocals tend to get stepped on,” Pappas says. “This time, I wanted something where you can really hear me sing. There’s a little bit of jangle, and a little bit of distortion. Sometimes the guitars actually get lost; but I kind of dig it. Even though I doubt I’ll do it again.”

Pappas adds that he nonetheless performs the Bomb Shelter songs on electric guitar at live shows: “I had a lot of friends come up and say, ‘I don’t like it when you play on acoustic; it doesn’t look right.’ And truthfully, it was kind of a pain in the ass.”

Pappas’ live set consists of songs from his entire recorded output—including a number or two from a certain erstwhile Knoxville four-piece. The Los Angeles-based SideOneDummy recently re-released Superdrag’s Elektra debut, Regretfully Yours, and now the label is preparing a reissue of its second Elektra record, Head Trip in Every Key, as a double-album vinyl set. All of which has kicked up a new round of Superdrag revivalism.

Pappas embraces his past—he says he enjoyed the limo rides and tour buses for the couple of years they lasted—but he says he doesn’t much care to relive it. “I do this stuff for fun now; I don’t put a lot of effort into getting onto labels and that sort of thing,” he says. “It’s a depressing sort of mindset to get into.

“I mean, if there’s a label out there dumb enough to put some money into a rock band, sure, I’m your Huckleberry. Otherwise I’m happy doing what I’m doing, making some authentic rock ‘n’ roll.”

The Tom Pappas Collection will play Preservation Pub Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. along with Knoxville’s Crumbsnatchers.

Who do you think you are: Oodles server Jocelyn Vines

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Joce Vines: "Suck it, Mrs. Bargington."

Joce Vines: “Suck it, Mrs. Barfington.”

Q: What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?

A: “What did the girl hotdog say to her boyfriend hotdog before he got into bed with her? ‘Wait! Did you put on condiment?'”

Q: If you could have any superpower you wanted, what would it be?

A: To make everyone content.

Q: What was your most embarrassing drunken moment?

A: Last night I was drunk and twerking on my coffee table. The coffee table is glass. It broke. Blood everywhere. I had a deep wound, went to the hospital, six stitches. The doctor said I missed my tibial artery by centimeters.

Q: Describe your worst date ever.

A: This guy takes me to a Lemonheads concert, and says he’s going to pay for everything. We’re on the front row at the Bijou, and he passes out drunk, with his head on the stage. I wake him up, and he says, I’m really sorry, let me take you to dinner now. He ordered a $50 bottle of wine and a whole bunch of food. Then he goes and looks in his wallet and there’s no money. I had to pay for everything.”

Q: You’re having a Moonshine Roof Garden Party at Preservation Pub. What three guests from any time or place would you like to host?

A: George R.R. Martin; Jerry Garcia; and my best friend, Kristen Corrier. She just moved to Boston.

Q: What would you like to put on your tombstone?

A: “Once in a while you get shown the light; in the strangest of places; if you look at it right.”

Q: What would you say if you met the Devil?

A: “There’s better company here, right?”

Q: What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever gotten?

A: The best was, “See the light in others, and then treat them as if that’s all you see.” The worst was, “Don’t go to the hospital.”

Q: What is your spirit animal?

A: A dragonfly.

Q:  Who was your least favorite teacher from school?

A: That’s easy. I had a teacher in kindergarten, Mrs. Tarkington. Once in class, she told me I had to put up the board game I was playing and say the Pledge of Allegiance, and she yelled at me. So I said, “Ok, Mrs. Barfington.” She also got mad at me later when we were supposed to be drawing snowmen in class. I colored my snowman “rainbow,” and she sent me to the principal’s office. She said snowmen are supposed to be white.

Q: What actress would you want to play Jocelyn Vines in a biopic about your life?

A: Mary Louise Parker.

Q: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?

A: “I’m single.”

Downtown Dirt by Manhole: Football Time in Scruffy City

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"Post-concussion syndrome?? What the @#$ is that!??

“Post-concussion syndrome?? What the @#$ is that!??

When it was all said and done, God knew He owed us one. Because it’s a pretty lousy thing to do to One’s own children, give them a verdant green new world blessed with six months of warm, temperate weather, then bring it all to a crashing halt with six succeeding months of misery and cold. So to cushion the cruel blunt-force trauma of the coming winter, he gave us a buffer to ease our sufferings.

It was called Football, and it was good.

And by football I mean football, not futbol—that game they play in places like Argentina and Belgium, with guys named Franz and Miguel who spend way too much of their considerable disposable incomes on hair-care products, and fall to the ground writhing in simulated pain every time an opposing player so much as scratches his jock.

Nope, I’m talking about the good ol’ ‘merc’n fall classic FOOTBALL, with cheerleaders and cheap beer and Mini-Cooper-sized men who run the field at roughly the speed of a slow horse and smash each other insensate for an hour at a clip.

And granted, the name is something of a misnomer, given that the amount of direct foot-to-ball contact accounts for only about .00001 percent of actual game time. But that’s what they decided to call it, and now here we are.

But this season will be an especially exciting one, and not just because of the high hopes held out for University of Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones’ second squad, a team full of hot-shit blue-chip freshman, as well as upper classmen who have had another full year to plug into Jones’ winning formula.

No, the other reason for excitement this year is that all of the television sets across the six separate bars at Preservation Pub, Scruffy City Hall, and Oodles will be given over to football on game days. And that includes all game days—Saturday’s college slate, the Sunday NFL lineup, and the nighttime games on Mondays and Thursdays.

And here’s how it’s gonna roll: The Cinepub screen—that being the massive big screen in the main room at Scruffy City Hall—will feature priority match-ups. On Sundays, that means the NFL Red Zone, for all of you fantasy fanatics out there.

On Saturdays, that means the University of Tennessee game, when it’s televised. When UT isn’t playing, the Cinepub will show whatever is playing on the brand-new SEC network.

The other teevees in the other bars will be set with an eye toward showing as many different games as possible, while still falling in compliance with the desires of the crowd on hand.

And speaking of fantasy football, both the Pub and SCH are offering some special deals for leaguers who watch the NFL at 32 or 28 Market Square.

At both the Pub and Scruffy City Hall, you can avail yourselves of $5 pizzas and $3 beers on Sundays, all the day long. Mondays, pints are only $2, also throughout the day.

And if several (and by several, I mean “at least five”) members of your league gather at either location on an NFL gameday, the league player with the highest score at the end of the day can claim a $10 gift certificate, good for any and all Pub/SCH goodies.

And if anyone is still looking for a prime locale to host a fantasy draft party, both venues are available, and are already hosting several such events. Entertainment Director Scott West promises that “we will help you make sure it’s your coolest fantasy draft party… ever!”

And that is all the time I have for you people this week. There are preseason NFL football games on, after all, and fresh copies of Lindy’s and Athlon to peruse. Let it never be said that I don’t have my priorities in line.

Scruffy City Cinema Spotlight: Tromeo and Juliet

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As people who read this blog regularly may already know, the Aug. 24 screening of Troma Entertainment horror-camp classics The Toxic Avengers and Class of Nuke ‘Em High—with a special guest appearance in the person of Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman—has been postponed. Those films have been rescheduled for another upcoming Scruffy City Cinepub event, and organizers of the upcoming Knoxville Horror Film Festival are hopeful that Kaufman will still make it into town for his scheduled appearance at the KHFF on Oct. 24 through 26.

In the meantime, we have another, very timely Troma feature on tap for Aug. 24 at Scruffy City Hall, Kaufman’s uber-violent, sexed-up Shakespeare adaptation from 1996, Tromeo and Juliet.

What makes Tromeo so timely is that it was written by a then-unknown Troma newbie named James Gunn. Gunn, of course, recently entered Hollywood’s write-your-own-ticket stratosphere as the director of this summer’s mega-blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy.

Understand, though, that if you liked Guardians, but you’ve never seen a Troma film before, you may be in for a bit of a shock. There are no big-budget FX hijinks on display in Tromeo and Juliet; the acting is half-baked and hammy; and the violence is so over-the-top it damn near snaps back and smacks itself in the face.

The movie adapts Shakespeare’s stage classic Romeo and Juliet, but with a “revised” ending, and a host of Troma-esque embellishments. Tromeo Que is a struggling tattoo artist who shares a cheap apartment with his alcoholic dad; Juliet Capulet is the daughter of upper-crust Manhattanites, living in a mansion with her abusive father, her nutso cousin Tyrone and the family’s horny lesbian maid.

Naturally, Tromeo and Juliet eventually meet, and fall in love, despite the fact that their families are at odds. The rest of the story, though, bears only a passing resemblance to the Bard’s original tale. (Big props for: having Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead serve as an intermittent narrator, prefacing a handful of scenes with very proper readings of Shakespeare’s original text.)

Despite its camp and grindhouse origins—or maybe because of them—Tromeo and Juliet made the rounds at film festivals and arthouse theaters in the mid-‘90s. And it was, for the most part, well-reviewed. (Although one prominent critic stated that it is a film “in which Juliet has lesbian sex, Romeo masturbates, various body parts are removed, and the feud is between rival porn stars.” As if those were bad things.)

But be forewarned: How well you will like Tromeo and Juliet will predominantly hinge on your taste for sadistic violence, incest, and mutant cows.

Tromeo and Juliet will screen on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. at Scruffy City Hall.