Kevin Bradley freely admits it: Red Sovine saved his life. Late one night several years ago, Bradley was working in a Knoxville pizza joint when suddenly the doors swung wide. About 50 ornery bikers rushed the counter, itching for trouble and looking to bust the place up. Thinking quickly, Bradley went to his private music stash. Within moments, the room was hushed by the patriotic strains of Sovine’s “Pledge of Allegiance,” and the roughnecks were so taken by the selection that they didn’t level the room. “They just ordered some slices and busted up a place down the street,” Bradley recalls. “Red Sovine definitely saved my life that night.”
It’s fitting, then, that Sovine occupies a prominent place in Bradley’s exhibit of prints and paintings at Jody’s in Cummins Station. The late, great king of white-line pathos takes his place in Bradley’s cultural pantheon alongside the likes of Evel Knievel, William S. Burroughs, Bill Monroe, and other daredevil talentsall of whom are rendered by Bradley in a cartoon-like folk-art style born of carny showbills and hand-lettered roadside signs. His style also owes something to the two years he “went bankrupt working for Hatch Show Print”one reason he says he left Nashville and relocated to a barnyard workshop in Corbin, Ky.
The deliberately crude likenesses and hand-scrawled lettering are inevitably reminiscent of Howard Finster’s cookie-cutter portraiturebad news if you think the last thing the world needs is more mass-produced outsider art. But Bradley’s vibrancy and earthy, sometimes profane humor are infectious, and his iconography is strictly secular, though his worship is no less fierce. In his furiously energetic paintings, Lucinda Williams is a white-trash angel, Conway Twitty is a helmet-haired superhero, and Billy Joe Shaver is the next president of the Yew-Nited States.
The exhibit has proven to be unusually populareven with Roger Sovine, who lunched at Jody’s recently and was said to be quite taken with Bradley’s huge, reverent portrait of his father as the “King of Truck Drivers.” The show must finally come down, however, and the artist says he probably won’t have another like it again, since he’s now moving on to likenesses of professional wrestlers. To bid farewelland maybe to attract a few farewell bidsBradley and several friends and fellow artists will stage a gallery closing this coming Wednesday night at Jody’s. At least two of Bradley’s subjects, Hank Flamingo and R.B. Morris, will be on hand to perform, and some of Bradley’s artist friends are bringing several self-produced robots as part of an exhibit.
Will Bill Clinton and Al Gore show up? Probably not, although Bradley did send them an invitation. “I always invite them to whatever I’m doing,” says the artist, who sent President Clinton a copy of his Evel Knievel print for the White House bathroom. (He got a nice form letter back in response.) “I figure they don’t get much fun mail.” Just in case you have to fight the Secret Service for parking, though, plan to show up on time for the 9 p.m. party. Admission is free; save your money for the artwork.
Earlier this year, several dozen musicians, artists, and overall scenesters packed into a tiny house off Charlotte Pike for a three-day multimedia show thrown by local photographer Holland Hardin. The event brought together local painters, photographers, moviemakers, and bands, but the funky setting was more like a bohemian house party than a gallery happening. After midnight, in the kitchen, you could find everyone from filmmakers Jonathan Shockley and James Brown to WRVU host Chris Davis grabbing for the stuffed mushroom caps, while in the adjacent room the band CYOD banged out a two-chord racket that made the walls throb. Some people talked religion; one rather insistent dude demanded to do the dishes. It was loose, funny, and filled with freaky energya sign that Nashville’s discombobulated underground may be capable of coalescing for at least an evening, provided drinks and salsa are in plentiful supply.
The weekend went so well that Hardin decided to throw another show, this time for just a single evening. On Saturday night, Hardin hosts “Non-Logic Vs. Pure Luck,” a multimedia gathering of music and art at an undisclosed location. (Don’t worry, it’s a little larger than the last one.) The Methadone Actors, whose LP Analog Cabin is among the year’s most striking and offbeat local rock records, will play a set, as will Duraluxe and the predictably unpredictable David Cloud’s Gospel of Power. Hardin’s luridly colorful photographs of local bands will be on display, as will works by other artists. The action starts with dinner and drinks at 7 p.m. There’s a $3 cover, but you have to call 615-821-8769 for directions.
Famed Nashville R&B vocalists Roscoe Shelton, Earl Gaines, and Clifford Currycollectively known as the Excello Legendshave been booked next month for a two-week tour of Belgium and the Netherlands, where they have two group albums and a retrospective of their solo work available in stores. They’ll preview their old-school overseas soul revue with a special show Thursday night at 3rd & Lindsley. The bandleader will be Nashville producer/musician Fred James, who has worked to keep audiences at home and abroad aware of the Legends’ contribution to R&B music. Also keep your calendar open for a Nov. 18 concert tribute to Champion Records, which is being filmed at 3rd & Lindsley for an upcoming PBS special. We can’t give you the lineup now, but there may be one very interesting featured guest.Jim Ridley
Nashville singer Benita Hill has provided decades of good music to local club fans. The singer, who has worked with J.J. Cale and several country stars, has always had too much of a jazz bent to fit into Music City’s idea of commercial viability. But her dedication to her own style has rewarded local fans with memorable performances and recordings, including last year’s fine Fan the Flames album.
Hill has recently been battling lymphoma; surgery and chemotherapy have whacked the cancer into remission, but inhospitable medical costs have left the singer facing another hardship. On Friday, several of Hill’s musical peers are putting on a “welcome back” concert designed to help defray her monumental medical bills. Among the performers will be Mark Miller, Sandy Mason, Roger Cook, George McCorkle, Shawn Camp, Sam Bacco, Kenny Malone, Chris Leuzinger, Spadey Brannon, and Jeff Steinberg. The show takes place at Douglas Corner.
A free dulcitar will be given away during a free concert, Dulcitar Meltdown 3, at Jack’s Guitar Bar Saturday, Oct. 25. Those scheduled to perform during the show include Allen Woody of Gov’t Mule, Ned Massey, Tony Gerber, Essra Mohawk, Stacey Earle, Matt Oakes, Lonnie Flemmer, Craig Havighurst, Tom Shinness, John Wheeler, Shawn Spencer, Brian Caldrone, Richard Thomas, and Tombstone Trailer Park.Michael McCall
During the past 12 months, Buddy Miller has been a busy man: He played guitar in Emmylou Harris’ touring band; had several major-label country acts cut his songs; released his second album for HighTone Records, Poison Love; and coproduced Blue Pony, the HighTone debut album by his wife, Julie Miller. And there’s no rest in either Miller’s future. When Steve Earle heads for Europe this month to promote his new E-Squared album, El Corazon, Buddy will play guitar alongside Earle, and he and Julie will serve as opening act. Earle’s U.S. tour this January will also feature the Millers, who will spend the holidays wrapping up work on Julie’s second HighTone LP.
In an interview this past weekend, Buddy admitted that after his year-long stint with Emmylou Harris, he had been looking forward to some time off. But that was before Earle came calling. “How can you pass something like this up?” he asks. More to the point, it’s obvious that Harris and Earle can’t pass up a chance to work with the Millers. They’re easily the most gifted couple Nashville has seen since George and Tammy were together.Bill Friskics-Warren
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