Remembering Lou Reed

It’s been a few weeks since the passing of Lou Reed, and I’ve been meaning to write a bit about what he meant to me. When I think of Lou, and VU, I think about …

> Finding an eight-track tape in a bargain bin at Howard Brothers’ department store in Jefferson City, TN when I was 13 (or 14)? It was the last gasp of the eight-track world, and loads of good stuff was to be had for cheap. But the best thing I scored that day was a tan-colored tape with a black and white picture of two men in gas masks on the front. It was labeled The Velvet Underground: Archetypes, but it was actually White Light/White Heat, the second Velvets album. That was my first taste of Lou and VU, and it was extremely strange. My friend John and I played it over and over again, particularly “Sister Ray” and “The Gift” (where you could pan the stereo all the way to the right and just hear John Cale’s dead-pan reading of the story of poor Waldo Jeffers, pan it to the right and you could hear the band at their experimental-rock weirdest).

> Learning Lou’s melody guitar part to “Ride into the Sun” from Another VU  so we could play it at a variety show over at West High School in Morristown; I was 17. Definitely a highlight of my young life when the solo came and John stomped on his fuzz box and that crappy Fender Mustang of his blasted through that old Peavey amp.

> Bonding with Robert Alfonso, who’d soon become my best friend and songwriting compadre, over covers of “Femme Fatale,” “Sunday Morning,” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” and hearing Berlin (especially “The Kids”) for the first time in the kitchen of his tiny “house” on Earnest Street in Johnson City. I was 19.

… and, EVERY time I played “Sweet Jane”/”Rock and Roll” with RRSL. Too many times to count, too much fun to ever forget.

Thank you, Mr. Reed. Thank you for everything!

reed

You can find a good bio/obit here on the Rolling Stone site, if you are looking for more info on Lou Reed and his music.

Check Out the JV Squad & Symphony Rags!

If you haven’t already, please listen to and follow some of my favorite people (and musicians) in two great regional bands: the JV Squad and Symphony Rags.

If you know me, you know that Vanessa Bentley from JV Squad and Brandon Story from Symphony Rags and I go way back — back to the 90′s with the Rent Boys and the Bystanders.  In addition RRSL used to gig frequently with Jared Bentley’s (JV) bands and Megan Gregory (Symphony) plays fiddle and sings on the first RRSL record, I Think We’re Gonna Be Alright.

Some great music and video from both bands are below:

“Falling Leaves” from Symphony Rags

JV Squad live on WETS-FM

Symphony Rags will be at the Down Home in Johnson City on Thursday, October 10th (8 pm show).

Cookies & Treats – fundraiser for University School

Hate to bug you, but …

I’m helping my daughter, Luli, who just started kindergarten, sell cookie dough and other treats as part of a fundraiser for University School — they are hoping to fund repairs and renovations to their gym. If you’d like to help out, you can do so by purchasing a tub of cookie dough or — they’ve expanded the selection this year — some other tasty snack (see information below).

Luli

Luli

We’re not collecting any money now, just taking orders, so if you’d like to place an order, just fill out the form below and indicate your choice, flavor, and amount. I will email you back to confirm your choices and give you a total cost. Please email me at robertasburyrussell@gmail.com with any questions you have about the products!

Orders are due this Friday (Aug. 2), and the cookies/treats should be in around the end of August, first of September!

Many thanks,

Rob

Enjoy delicious cookies any time of the year!

Dough is made from the finest ingredients.

Packed and shipped in re-useable tubs that weigh approximately 2.7 pounds.

Each tub of cookie dough will make approximately 90, 1/2 oz. cookies.

Cookie dough can be refrigerated for 6 months or frozen for 1 year. It is shelf stable at room temperature for 21 days. Dough can be thawed and refrozen.

Cookie dough is available in the following flavors:

Chocolate Chunk – $15
Peanut Butter – $15
Sugar – $15
Snickerdoodle – $15
Oatmeal Raisin – $15
Triple Chocolate – $16
M&M Candies – $16
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – $16
Walnut Chocolate Chunk – $16
Lemon Drop- $16
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup- $16
White Chocolate Oatmeal Cranberry – $16

Other treats …

Smoked Cajun VA Peanuts – $12 (10 oz can)
Butter Toasted VA Peanuts – $12 (10 oz can)
Salted VA Peanuts – $12 (10 oz can)
Gourmet Caramel Corn – $15 (14 oz can)
Peanut Butter Button Mix (Candy & Nuts) – $15 (9 oz can)
Milk Chocolate Covered Peanuts – $15 (14 oz can)
Honey Roasted Peanuts – $15 (14 oz can)
Pecan Caramel Clusters – $15 (7.5 oz box)
English Butter Toffee – $15 (6 oz box)
Deluxe Cashew Caramel Clusters – $15 (8 oz box)
Milk Chocolate Almond Bark – $15 (7.5 oz box)
Peanut Butter Bears – $12 (6.5 oz box)
Dulce De Leche – $12 (6 oz box)
Mint Penguins – $12 (6 oz box)
Funky Monkeys (Choc w/ Banana Cream) – $12 (6 oz box)
Mississippi Muddles Brownie Mix – $12 (yields 2 – 9 x 9 pans)
Funnel Cakes Mix – $12 (yields 30 4-inch funnel cakes)

… there’s more; ask me if you are interested!

Pics below the form

Pics of the cookies and treats …

Others

Others

Brownie, Funnel Cakes

Brownie, Funnel Cakes

Bears, Penguins, Monkeys

Bears, Penguins, Monkeys

pecan, milk chox, etc.

pecan, milk chox, etc.

And more nuts

And more nuts

Nuts

Nuts

walnut chip, reese's, etc.

walnut chip, reese’s, etc.

Trip Chox & Oatmeal

Trip Chox & Oatmeal

M&M, macadamia

M&M, macadamia

various cookies

various cookies

choc chunk

choc chunk

Simmons, Russell, Lee & Lee – The Down Home, Sat. July 28th

On Saturday, July 28th, Johnson City’s legendary Down Home listening room will play host to a sampling of songwriters from across Tennessee. Stephen Simmons, based in Nashville, Rob Russell, based in Johnson City, and Knoxville-based Tim & Susan Lee will take the stage to perform original tunes that demonstrate each writer’s unique perspective on life, love, and the South.

Stephen Simmons is touring in support of The Big Show, his sixth record. His previous works (Last Call, Drink Ring Jesus, Something In Between, The Blame’s On U.S. and Girls) have found him compared to the likes of Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams, John Prine and Tom Petty. The Big Show also owes a debt to that songwriting pantheon, but also includes influences as diverse as Van Morrison, Tom Waits and the acclaimed HBO series Carnivàle. Above all, The Big Show is an event––a showcase for a seasoned singer-songwriter who’s got stories, insights and melodies that are unique yet available to all. Step right up.

Joining Stephen on The Big Show is his longtime producer and ringmaster Eric Fritsch (Sheryl Crow, Scott Miller), who also plays guitar and Hammond organ on some tracks. Other cast members include bassists Dave Jacques (John Prine, Shelby Lynne) and Tim Marks (Taylor Swift, Will Hoge), drummers Matt Crouse (Sheryl Crow, Michelle Wright) and Paul Griffith (k.d. lang, Todd Snider), keyboardist Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks), steel guitar player Alex McCollough (The Wrights) and guitarist Dave Coleman (The Coal Men). Stephen and Eric matched this crew with songs best suited to each individual’s playing style. Other tracks feature Stephen alone, accompanied only by a beat-up Guild acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Put them all together and it’s The Big Show, a high-flying sonic marvel designed to thrill, wonder, delight and astonish. For more information, check out http://www.stephensimmonsmusic.com.

As two-thirds of Knoxville, Tennessee, band the Tim Lee 3, Tim and Susan Lee sing, write songs and play rock n’ roll with drummer Chris Bratta. Maryville Daily Times music editor referred to the band’s sound as, “like Crazy Horse and X in a drunken jam.” As a duo, the Lees take those same songs (many from their previous TL3 releases) and rearrange them to create a different mood, emphasizing the lyrics and vocal interplay over volume and intensity (they’ve been known to add a cellist and a mandolin player to their acoustic guitar/vocals duo).

“With the band, it’s all about the sound,” Susan Lee said. “But with the duo, it’s more about the songs.”

Added Tim: “We’re playing the same songs, but we’re sort of showing their flexibility and letting them stand more on their own.” At present, the Tim Lee 3 is working on a new release for early 2013 at studios in Knoxville, Austin and Tucson. For more information, visit www.timleethree.com.

Johnson City-based singer/songwriter Rob Russell has kept a bit of a low profile since putting Rob Russell & the Sore Losers on hiatus in September, 2011, but the time has freed him up to write a batch of new songs and begin thinking about a new recording project. “Around the same time that the band was slowing down, I found myself writing songs that fit a more acoustic approach,” Russell said. “I was playing with my little ‘side band’ The Bleeding Heart Show, doing mostly covers, and I was definitely influenced by that line up – acoustic bass, guitar, mandolin, and close harmonies.” It’s been over a year since Russell has brought his music to Knoxville, and he looks forward to seeing old friends and winning over new converts to his own style of ‘Appalachian Rock and Roll.’ For more information, visit www.robrussellmusic.com.

This show will also be shown live on Concert Window. Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in! You can purchase online tickets for $3 any time the day of the show at www.concertwindow.com/downhome. The show will not be taped, but you can watch it live in High Definition. Payment can be made using PayPal or a credit/debit card.

The Down Home is located at 300 W. Main St. in Johnson City. Cover charge is $12, and the music begins at 9 p.m. For additional information, contact The Down Home at 423-929-9822 or visit their website, www.downhome.com.

Simmons, Russell, Lee & Lee @ The Well – July 25th

On Wednesday, July 25th, The Well, the newest venue in Knoxville’s vibrant music scene, will play host to a sampling of songwriters from across Tennessee. Stephen Simmons, based in Nashville, Rob Russell, based in Johnson City, and Knoxville-based Tim & Susan Lee will take the stage to perform original tunes that demonstrate each writer’s unique perspective on life, love, and the South.

 

Stephen Simmons is touring in support of The Big Show, his sixth record. His previous works (Last Call, Drink Ring Jesus, Something In Between, The Blame’s On U.S. and Girls) have found him compared to the likes of Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams, John Prine and Tom Petty. The Big Show also owes a debt to that songwriting pantheon, but also includes influences as diverse as Van Morrison, Tom Waits and the acclaimed HBO series Carnivàle. Above all, The Big Show is an event––a showcase for a seasoned singer-songwriter who’s got stories, insights and melodies that are unique yet available to all. Step right up.

 

Joining Stephen on The Big Show is his longtime producer and ringmaster Eric Fritsch (Sheryl Crow, Scott Miller), who also plays guitar and Hammond organ on some tracks. Other cast members include bassists Dave Jacques (John Prine, Shelby Lynne) and Tim Marks (Taylor Swift, Will Hoge), drummers Matt Crouse (Sheryl Crow, Michelle Wright) and Paul Griffith (k.d. lang, Todd Snider), keyboardist Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks), steel guitar player Alex McCollough (The Wrights) and guitarist Dave Coleman (The Coal Men). Stephen and Eric matched this crew with songs best suited to each individual’s playing style. Other tracks feature Stephen alone, accompanied only by a beat-up Guild acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Put them all together and it’s The Big Show, a high-flying sonic marvel designed to thrill, wonder, delight and astonish. For more information, check out www.stephensimmonsmusic.com.

 

As two-thirds of Knoxville, Tennessee, band the Tim Lee 3, Tim and Susan Lee sing, write songs and play rock n’ roll with drummer Chris Bratta. Maryville Daily Times music editor referred to the band’s sound as, “like Crazy Horse and X in a drunken jam.” As a duo, the Lees take those same songs (many from their previous TL3 releases) and rearrange them to create a different mood, emphasizing the lyrics and vocal interplay over volume and intensity (they’ve been known to add a cellist and a mandolin player to their acoustic guitar/vocals duo).

“With the band, it’s all about the sound,” Susan Lee said. “But with the duo, it’s more about the songs.”

 

Added Tim: “We’re playing the same songs, but we’re sort of showing their flexibility and letting them stand more on their own.” At present, the Tim Lee 3 is working on a new release for early 2013 at studios in Knoxville, Austin and Tucson. For more information, visit www.timleethree.com.

 

Johnson City-based singer/songwriter Rob Russell has kept a bit of a low profile since putting Rob Russell & the Sore Losers on hiatus in September, 2011, but the time has freed him up to write a batch of new songs and begin thinking about a new recording project. “Around the same time that the band was slowing down, I found myself writing songs that fit a more acoustic approach,” Russell said. “I was playing with my little ‘side band’ The Bleeding Heart Show, doing mostly covers, and I was definitely influenced by that line up – acoustic bass, guitar, mandolin, and close harmonies.” It’s been over a year since Russell has brought his music to Knoxville, and he looks forward to seeing old friends and winning over new converts to his own style of ‘Appalachian Rock and Roll.’ For more information, visit www.robrussellmusic.com.

 

The Well is located at 4620 Kingston Pike, Suite 2, between Lenny’s and Spex in Bearden. There is no cover charge, and the music begins at 9 p.m. For additional information, contact The Well at 865-851-7459 or visit their website, http://thewellknoxville.com.

Wednesday gigs …

So, what do you play at a Wednesday night gig? At a bar? Thoughts?

Let’s hear it for the “long shots”!

Colleen Becker, writing in the British HuffPo, wrote a nice article that made some extended mention of my “past life” as a wanna-be politician. A quote:

In 2008, Democratic candidate Rob Russell ran for the same office, facing the same odds, to stand up for “working people” against “the party of the rich.” Despite name recognition as a local musician, he soon learned that money and partisanship matter more than sheer determination. While the Republican Party saturated his district with advertisements, Russell claims the Democratic Party siphoned funds he raised at the county level to more competitive state and national contenders. The “bandwagon effect” also played a role — in Eastern Tennessee, electing Republicans is a tradition dating back to the Civil War, when unionist voters formed a bulwark against the confederacy’s Southern Democrats. Running for Congress is the “stupidest thing” he’s ever done, and Russell’s bid took a toll on his family and personal finances. Yet, he has no regrets. He “put his money where his mouth is,” and is “proud” to say he represented people in his district.

Check out the complete article here.

Don’t Start Dreaming (Again)

This is a song that Robert Alfonso and I wrote many years ago, inspired by the Louvin Brothers. If you are familiar with them, you will probably hear echoes of one or more of Ira and Charlie’s tunes (“When I Stop Dreaming”)  in the  lyrics and melody, hopefully. I’ve been thinking about it and playing it a lot lately. Been messing with the key and melody a bit, but it mostly sounds like this:

 

She said that it’s over

don’t try to make her stay

it has to be this way

don’t start dreaming again

 

look what you’re doing

it’s just a losing game

you’ve got to forget her name

don’t start dreaming again

 

just as sure as you can’t sleep at night

she will be there every time you close your eyes

 

she said that it’s over

she won’t come back around

you’d only let her down

don’t start dreaming again

 

try to be strong, forget about your heart

just tell yourself she was lying from the start

 

she said that it’s over

don’t try to make her stay

it has to end this way

don’t start dreaming again

don’t start dreaming again

Carry On

hear about it on the radio

see it all over the news

pain keeps coming through in stereo

and it’s nothing you can use

so much trouble

don’t make no sense

really nothing you can do

truth seems to have no consequence

they feed you lies to make it through

so you take a pill to dull the pain

take a drink to wash it down

take two more of each and another then

you’re following the evening down

another morning brings another day

as unlikely as it seems

burn another quart of confidence

chasing someone else’s dreams

but you carry on, that’s the way do it here

we carry on

keep calm and carry on …

mothers, fathers, it’s up to you

no one else will pay the price

’cause there’s no justice in the halls of the just

only politrix and vice

no one up there even knows your name

but they serve the ones that do

who are ready to sell you everything

that you can’t afford to lose

but we carry on, that’s the way do it here

we carry on

keep calm and carry on …

hang my coat up

hang my hat

do my best to shrug it off

somedays it hangs on like the hollow ring

of a dying man’s cancer cough

means so little to say we care a lot

but I really, really do

maybe a little hope is just enough

maybe I’m singing just to you

but I carry on, that’s the way do it here

I carry on

keep calm and carry on …

Dec. 27 and NYE

I’ll be promoting my NYE sets at 620 State in Bristol on WCYB‘s noon show today (Tuesday, Dec. 27th). Listen up and listen in!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.