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.