Introducing The Shed’s Archive Series! We’re going to be exploring different articles, publications, and clips that trace The Shed’s history all the way from our humble beginnings to our record sold out shows! To start off the series, Steve Wildsmith and Scott Maddux have a conversation about the very first concert season at The Shed! Make sure to check out the pictures at the bottom to see what the stage looked like in the very beginning! Humble origins indeed…
PARTY ON THE HARLEY SHED: It’s all part of Scott Maddux’s rock ‘n’ roll fantasy
By Steve Wildsmith (Originally published in The Maryville Daily Times)
Scott Maddux doesn’t deny it — he’s a teenage boy at heart living out his dreams.
After all, not too many grown men get to play with motorcycles, listen to rock and blues music on the weekend and get paid for it all. Maddux does, and he’s sharing those two passions with the citizens of Blount County by opening up his motorcycle dealership, Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell, to the public every Saturday through October.
Granted, Maddux’s job isn’t all play, and the dealership is always open to the public. But on Saturdays, the covered stage next door to the main building lights up, the speakers crackle to life and musicians from across the country will be stopping by to play free concerts for anyone who wants to come by.
“I really have two passions when it comes to hobbies — one is motorcycles, and the second is music,” Maddux told The Daily Times this week. “I’ve been riding motorcycles from a very early age, and I started playing music, taking lessons and things like that, from a very early age. Those are two things that are very close to me and pretty much at the core of who I am.”
`”When I started looking at becoming a motorcycle dealer, part of my model was a way to incorporate those two things into one business. I knew I wasn’t going to become a professional athlete, and it looked like being a professional musician wasn’t going to pan out either, so selling motorcycles was third on my list.”
Maddux and his wife, Monet, first opened Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in 2004, and from the outset, Maddux knew that music was going to be part of the grand design. Occupying the former location of Lowe’s hardware store, the main building has 19,000 square feet of retail space housing more than $500,000 in Harley-Davidson brand parts, accessories and general merchandise.
Sitting on 7.2 acres, the site features 18 service bays, several wash bays where travelers can stop to clean “road grime” off their bikes and a 15,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion complete with barbecue pits. Known as “The Shed,” the pavilion is where the concerts take place.
“I found the property, and we said this was perfect,” he said. “When it was the Lowe’s building, that area was used for the lumber shed, so what we did was box it in and build a stage, because I knew I wanted to have permanent lighting and sound in place. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to set up and get going.”
After The Daily Times wrote about the dealership’s opening at the end of last summer, a local cyclist stopped by — Mark Akers, a veteran of the music industry. From that meeting, Maddux said, a partnership was born.
“He told me he was into the same things I was and that he wanted to help us out,” Maddux said. “We started talking about what equipment we had between us, and together, we had as good a sound system as you would expect in any high-end club.”
“Now, Mark kind of acts as director, managing all the sound and lighting, and he’s helped us fill in the blanks as far as our equipment and lighting needs went. He helped build the stage that we have, and he’s constantly working to improve that.”
“The Shed” is more than just a covered pavilion. Maddux has gone to great lengths to give it a warm, weathered feel. He’s torn down an old barn on his great-grandfather’s property in Buffalo Valley and used a lot of the wood for the pavilion, and he just won online a 6-foot brass chandelier that used to hang in a Memphis hotel.
“We’re going to hang that in there, because I really want to have a place that really feels like what you would expect in a good theater,” Maddux said. “We’re working on a very rustic feel, and I’d also like for it to look dated, like an old blues shed or barn.”
With the venue ready to go, all Maddux needed was the musicians. At a show at Brackins in downtown Maryville, he met blues artist Jason Ricci, who passed along the name and number of a promoter out of Colorado. Maddux subsequently hooked up with him and started booking national acts.
“I try to book national touring acts, and what we’ve started doing is trying to book well-known local acts to play ahead of them,” Maddux said. “We try to have a good diversity of music. Basically, because I’m a fan of the blues and blues-inspired rock ‘n’ roll, we tend to lean in that direction a little more, but I can see as it progresses extending it to a Sunday afternoon and letting that focus be on something regional, like bluegrass or folk.
“The other possibility is using the venue beyond the concert series. We hosted the Smoky Mountain Blues Festival two weeks ago, but unfortunately, the bad weather didn’t get us the turnout we hoped. But we’re still going to keep at it. Right now, one of the local radio stations has contacted us and wants to book a national recording act, and for our anniversary at the first of September, I’m working to try and book Big Head Todd and the Monsters.”
“That’s a direction I’d like to see us go,” he added. “I’d like to see that side of our facility have its own image, its own customer base and its own following. I want people to understand that it’s not something just for motorcyclists and Harley riders — it’s about the music.”
Obviously, the motorcycle side of the business appeals to the biker crowd, but Maddux emphasized that the concert series is geared toward family. With barbecue pits on site, food is sold, and since the pavilion is covered, the concerts go on even if it rains.
“If it rains, it doesn’t stop us from having a good show,” Maddux said. “The turnout is continuing to grow every week. I’m as proud of what we’ve got going on over here as I am what we’ve done in the dealership. The artists we’ve booked rave about the quality of the sound, and we’ve not had a single artist who’s come out here yet who’s not asked us to come back and play.”
“It’s something we offer free, because I want to give something to our customer base and give them something to do on a Saturday night, but I guess the essence of it is that I just really like it. It’s open to anyone and definitely not something families should be intimidated to bring their kids to — it’s not a rough, redneck, stereotypical biker gathering. As far as everybody is concerned, chances are, if you go out to “The Shed” on a Saturday night, you’re going to see an act that’s going to be really top-notch.”
“Party on the Patio” Summer Concert Series 2005
WHEN: 7 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 29
WHERE: Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell, 1820-B W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville
Saturday: Blue Mother Tupelo
June 4: The Doug Shock Band at 4 p.m. with The Dixie Werewolves at 7 p.m.
June 11: Harmonica Red
June 18: The MacDaddies
June 25: Ethic with Porter-Davis
July 2: Jason Ricci
July 9: Jobe Blues Band
July 16: to be announced
July 23: The MacDaddies
July 30: Blue Mother Tupelo
Aug. 6: The Rockin’ Jake Band
Aug. 13: Jobe Blues Band
Aug. 20: Fresh Picked
Aug. 27: The MacDaddies
Sept. 3: Jason Ricci
Sept. 17: Todd Wolfe
Sept. 24: Brian Lee
Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Oct. 29: TBA