Scruffy City Hall and Preservation Pub went viral in 2014 with Scruffy City Radio, an online forum for playing local music, as well as regional and national music with local ties.
Now Scruffy City Radio is offering up its first live, original programming, in the form of Scruffy City Showcase, a forum for local artists to collaborate and match creative wits with one another, in a live, quasi-improvisational format.
The brainchild of SCH and Pub Events Manager Cullen Kehoe, the showcase began Jan. 14 with Clint Farley, winner of the venues’ 2014 K-town Singer/Songwriter Showdown, paired with fellow Showdown finalists Red Daugerty and Kelli Turczyn.
Says Kehoe, “The idea is to pair local—and as we go along—regional and even national songwriters on the same stage. So hopefully, they can draw from one another, and people can see the talent that exists here in Knoxville.
“And it’s also a way for artists I think have potential can see what other people are doing, as well.”
Kehoe concedes the idea is not a wholly original one—it has roots in other broadcast stage formats such as Mountain Stage and Music City Roots. But by focusing on local artists first, then offering them an opportunity to interact with each other, and with other, bigger name artists, as well, he hopes to put a new twist on an old notion.
“It grew from supporting local music,” says Kehoe, a former aspiring songwriter himself, and former DJ at 105.3—WFIV FM. “And it ties in neatly with our idea of ‘Keep Knoxville Scruffy,’ by shopping local, buying local, supporting local artists.”
Kehoe says the show was also inspired by a renewed interest in songwriters-in-the-round-style performance, as evidenced by stage collaborations between Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle, or Lyle Lovett and Vince Gill.
“That’s something I love, two songwriters sitting, telling stories and playing songs,” he says. “The spontaneous aspect of that can be funny or endearing, and it’s usually something the audience can relate to.”
For the Scruffy City Showcase, “It’ll vary, night to night. One night, it might just be them performing, one at a time, and then some Q and A. Another, I might have them on stage like the writers-in-the-round.
“What I want is to get them to step outside their comfort zone. Maybe add another instrument, or another vocal. One thing I learned as a songwriter is that no song is ever really ‘finished.’ Music constantly evolves. And I want them to understand that the more fluid they are as musicians and songwriters, the more success they can have.”
Upcoming artists scheduled for the Showcase include local singer-songwriter trio Stickball Whiskey; former Medford’s Black Record Collection member Matt Foster, and Montana transplant Renee is a Zombie.
“As we grow this thing, I want to get other people to come in,” Kehoe says. “It’d be a longshot, but getting someone like Chip Taylor [“Wild Thing” songwriter] from out of town would be phenomenal. We brought some other out-of-town songwriters like that here back in the 105.3 days, and some of them were absolutely phenomenal.”
Scruffy City Showcase will be held on third Wednesdays or Thursdays of each month at 8 p.m., streaming on Scruffy City Radio, which can be found at myradiostream.com, scruffycityradio.com, shoutcast radio, winamp radio or tunein radio. Scruffy City radio streams 24/7, and features an expansive playlist of Preservation Pub favorites, local bands past and present, and other artists with Knoxville ties.