We concluded Tribute Month and were ready to dive head first into our season with one of the biggest weekends of the year, David Allan Coe. Now DAC is one of the most polarizing figures in music due to his incredible catalog of songs clashing with his later x-rated albums. Whether done as complete satire, as raunchy biker humor, or just to see if he could release such things, they have haunted them ever since and he doesn’t allow them to be sold commercially. But none of this stops the crowd, we had nearly a sellout ready to pack the place the week of his concert. But as plans are made, they will go awry…
We got a call at 6:30pm the day before the show that DAC, nearly 80, was hospitalized due to vertigo and some other issues with his legs and back. He was not going to be able to play. I was already home that evening and immediately went to my office to try and make a game plan. First, call the band. DAC travels separately from his band, so I wanted to speak with those guys. They had already gotten the news and were so upset and apologetic. They were driving from up north and had already turned around. Second, makes plans for a free show the next night. The Shed has had shows every Saturday night during the Spring and Summer for 14 years, we were not going to miss one. I called up Michael McClelland, a crew member at The Shed and a fantastic guitar player for a group called Stone Broke Saints. I booked them last minute as a replacement act that would be free for all attendees. Third, to get the word out. Emails, Facebook, Twitter, websites, local news outlets… we sent it everywhere.
While not the first show to get canceled ever at The Shed, it was my first experience with a headliner not being able to make it. To say it was stressful would be an understatement. We lost money, the crew lost wages, and the Smokehouse lost sales, but that’s all a part of the business. Later in the week, we got the show rescheduled and announced for Friday, September 7th, the day after his 79th birthday. Hundreds of refunds were issued to ticket holders who won’t be able to attend the new date, but we are hopeful that more people will buy tickets now that the show is in the fall.
They are available online at https://www.theshedtickets.com/event/david-allan-coe/
The second weekend of May went far smoother than the first. The Black Dragon Breakdown, now in it’s sixth year, is Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson’s annual vintage and custom bike show. It features drag racing, biker games, vendors, incredible pro builds, and an awesome ride in bike show. Last year, The Shed joined in to try and make the event an all day local music festival as well, but a date change saw most of the local acts fall off the bill. We made up for that in 2018.
The bill was a who’s who in Knoxville music. Kevin Abernathy, Andrew Leahey, Handsome & The Humbles, and The Barstool Romeos were all scheduled. We had hoped it would be a huge success and a celebration of our thriving local music scene; it became so much more than that. You see, what’s great about Knoxville’s local musicians is they all support each other. And the proof was there as Kevin Abernathy took the stage at 3pm. The audience was full of other local musicians, both not on the bill and playing much later in the day, as well as photographers and local journalists all there to support the acts lined up. Kevin brought his daughters on stage, known locally as the Pinklets, to perform with him. These girls are so talented and bode well for the local music scene’s future. Later, Mic Harrison joined Kevin and his daughters to rock out to Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” to close out his portion of the show. It was a perfect start to the day. Andrew Leahey & The Homestead rocked their set and were followed by a great performance from Handsome & The Humbles. Throughout the day, the comradery among musicians constantly brought a smile to my face. To see The Shed host such a day of brother and sisterhood among Knoxville’s cultural backbone was a very proud moment for me.
The Barstool Romeos took the stage at 9pm to close out the day. I have been trying to line up schedules to have these guys come play for nearly 4 years and it just hasn’t worked out. But this was the perfect timing for their return. And yes, the crowd had dwindled to less than 200 by the time they finished, but it made the experience more intimate. Plus, the Romeos are much better playing in a honky tonk than an expansive venue. So we shrunk it down and made it the perfect way to end the Black Dragon Breakdown. I was thrilled with the day and the crew were all happy with what we had accomplished. It renewed my vigor to continue pushing local artists, something The Shed has always strived to do. I can promise you this, as long as I am around, The Shed will have a commitment to local music, period.
The month rolled on into The Cadillac Three show on May 19th. Now in my fourth season at The Shed, this was the only band I have tried to book every year and had not been successful, until now. The Cadillac Three had played The Shed early in their career in 2014 but had not been back. They arrived with two buses, a trailer, and a limo. It was a huge set up. The crew began unloading these extremely tall risers that at first I thought were excessive. I was wrong. Their stage set up turned out brilliant. It was absolutely perfect for their show. The Josephines opened up for them and knocked it out of the park. You can expect to see these guys back at The Shed very soon. And The Cadillac Three brought the heat. They rocked the place. You can call it country, southern rock, whatever the heck it was, it was perfect. The crowd ate it up and sang everything right back to them.
“This is where I was born and this is where I’ll die…”
Moving along, Black Stone Cherry was up next. These guys debuted at The Shed last year and instantly became family due to their blood ties to our brothers, The Kentucky Headhunters. We all hit it off and immediately knew this was an amazing partnership. We got so close that even The Smokin’ Monkey made a return to bring them on stage! We paired them with Asheville band and now Shed veterans, The Dirty Soul Revival for a heck of an evening. The crowd rolled in and BSC were ready. They busted out some of their heavy hitters early (“Blame it on the Boom Boom,” “Me and Mary Jane”) and didn’t slow down. Literally, they didn’t stop. No acoustic break this year, just hard, forward, in your face rock and roll for hours straight. And these guys don’t just stand and play, they are all over the stage. Ben, the guitar player, is like the energizer bunny. He moves from side to side, up and down, jumping and playing without missing a cue non-stop from show start to show end. And the rest of the band follows suit. John Fred, the drummer, went through more sticks than any other drummer has on The Shed stage; he was an animal. The place was packed and the show was phenomenal. No group has more fun on stage than these guys, and it’s important to remember that that is what it is all about. Have some freaking fun! And we all did that night, band, crew, and especially audience, which featured two little boys, around 10, on the front row singing every word to every song. Now that’s cool.
And typically, that would be a full month of shows for us here. But 2018 brought the Great Smoky Mountains Regional HOG Rally to East TN, so the crew geared up for 4 more shows to close out the month. It started out with Knoxville’s best Tribute Band, Mama Louise, nailing the Allman Brothers, and rolled through Satisfaction performing The Rolling Stones, Green River killing it as CCR, and The Wildflowers closing the rally with an incredible show full of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. 4 shows in 5 days is hard on a crew, but The Shed guys pulled it off every night without issue.
And that’s what we do here. We make it work, no matter what.