The Kentucky Headhunters have been playing The Shed consistently for well over a decade now. but there is a first time for everything! And this is a look at the article that was written just before the Headhunters came to The Shed for the first time! Check out where their headspace was way back in 2006! Then check out the video below of their most recent show here last year!

Kentucky Headhunters keep kicking down doors to give fans good music

By Steve Wildsmith, published in The Daily Times (August 18, 2006)

If Richard Young were the superstitious type, he might suspect that fate has been plotting against his band, the Kentucky Headhunters, for decades.

There was the record deal with Swan Song, the label founded by icons Led Zeppelin, back in the 1970s; the one that fell through when Zep drummer John Bonham overdosed and died. There was the protracted battle with Nashville executives in the 1980s, when the band insisted on being marketed as a country group and the suits pushed for them to accept a designation as a rock band.

And once the Headhunters got a taste of success, there was the dramatic shift away from the rootsy, earthy sounds of late-’80s/early-’90s country toward a more pop-oriented sound that proliferates today, a shift that left the Headhunters behind and caused a short-lived breakup of the band.

Were he prone to belief in curses or voodoo, Young might very well think his group had been hexed. Instead, he’s a country boy from Kentucky who knows full well that nothing in life comes easy, and that any measure of success comes through hard work and enduring any number of setbacks.

That’s the mindset his family, and thousands of others across the South, has had for centuries, ever since his ancestors settled the several hundred acres of farmland that Young still considers home. It’s not voodoo that’s plagued the Headhunters; it’s not even bad luck.

It’s just time, and that’s something no man can fight.

“Sometimes, I feel ignorant and old and behind the times about how certain songs hit it big and other songs don’t,” Young told The Daily Times this week. “But after I think about it for a while, I go listen to a couple of B.B. King records, or my Stones or Beatles records, and I forget all about it. I realize that what makes music good is still there; it’s just that time has marched on.”

Fortunately for country music, there’s still a place for the Kentucky Headhunters. Maybe not on the radio alongside slickly produced country-pop stars who seem groomed for television moreso than a concert stage, and maybe not because Nashville insiders feel like the Headhunters belong there. If anything, the Headhunters have kicked down the door and forced their way inside, taking up residence on the fringes of the ongoing country party and refusing to give up their seats because they’ve by-God earned them.

The band’s roots date back to 1968, when Young and his brother Fred, along with cousins Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin, started performing as Itchy Brother (named after Fred Young’s favorite cartoon character). Joined by various other musicians over the years, they achieved modest regional success and helped put Southern Kentucky on the map.

“Before Itchy Brother, there was no rock ‘n’ roll in Southern Kentucky,” Young said. “There were no heavy rock bands in this area, so we kind of set up the domino to get it all started up here. And it’s a great thing to go back and listen to the music we were making back then. One of these days, we’re going to put all of that stuff out, because we’ve got acres and acres of tapes.”

Throughout the 1970s, the band flirted with national success; the deal with Swan Song came about in 1980, and the guys moved back and forth from Kentucky to Atlanta to try and gain a foothold with a label that would take a chance on them.

“At least by 1975, we were getting good enough and well-known enough in the South, and we had several close calls as a rock band,” Young said. “But it seems like there’s always been some obstacle where we were going in a positive direction and then we hit a brick wall.”

The first major stumbling block was in 1982, when Itchy Brother broke up and the boys went their separate ways. Three years later, Martin attempted to get the band back together, and when Kenney declined, Arkansas native Doug Phelps was brought on board as his replacement. Phelps brought along his brother, Ricky Lee, to sing vocals, and the Kentucky Headhunters were born.

A seven-song album of demos made their way to Nashville, where executives perked up their ears. And although the Headhunters were loathe to relocate to Music City, it became evident, Young said, that fate was nudging them in that direction.

“We had played there in 1969 or ’70, and we never went back until 1988,” he said. “As much as we have an appreciation for Appalachian music and that style and where it developed from, we were more interested in its predecessors than what was going on in country music. We were listening to Jimmy Rodgers and Bill Monroe, and I understood that better than commercial country.

“But then country hit a real cool stretch with people like Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle and k.d. lang. And we were looking at all of these acts and said, ‘You know, Nashville is only 80 miles from here.’ We had broadened our horizons by then, and that music was acceptable to us. We could understand it, because a lot of it had a rock ‘n’ roll groove.”

That groove, however, raised the ire of country executives, who felt the band was more of a rock than a country act. Based on the success of Earle and Hank Williams Jr., however, Mercury took a chance and signed the band in 1989, adding three classic country covers (of songs by Bill Monroe, Henson Cargill and Don Gibson) to the band’s demo and releasing it as “Pickin’ on Nashville,” the band’s label debut.

As a result, the album won a Grammy and sold well. The group’s second album, “Electric Barnyard,” did reasonably well also, and for three years, the band enjoyed modest success among fans of both country and Southern rock. The Phelps brothers quit in 1992, and two original members of Itchy Brother – Kenney and singer Mark Orr – returned to the band. Doug Phelps has subsequently replaced Orr, and the group has put out a number of albums in the years since, including “Flying Under the Radar,” released in June.

The band still draws respectable crowds on the Southern rock/outlaw country tour circuit, often appearing with like-minded predecessors such as Lynyrd Skynyrd. And while country has shifted back toward a slicker sound, Young credits a few young mavericks from the late 1980s for opening the genre’s doors to a bunch of boys from Kentucky.

“All those people – Lyle and Steve and Hank Jr. and k.d. – they allowed the Kentucky Headhunters to wind up in country music,” he said. “If that was today, I don’t think that would be allowed to happen. Gary Rossington (of Lynyrd Skynyrd) and I were talking about it the other night when we played together; how it’s hard with as much music going on, for people to find anything decent.

“We really need to get some good music going on out there. It’s like we’ve hit a brick wall with the musical styles, and we need to get more roots back in country. I know things have to change and that time marches on, but I think we need to march to a little bit different step.

“For us, we never look at ourselves as any different than the audience,” he added. “If you want to see a good Headhunters show, come prepared to get into it yourself. It’s just a matter of us pouring it off the edge of that stage and letting it wash out into the audience, and whatever intensity level it comes back at us, it spurs us on even more.”


Way back in 2006, The Shed was really starting to get it’s footing in booking national acts and we landed some rock and roll royalty in Derek Trucks! Check out the two stories from when we announced the big show and when Derek came to town a month later!

Harley Shop Gets Trucks
By Steve Wildsmith (Originally published in The Daily Times,  March 2006)

Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell on West Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville will kick off its 2006 concert season with an April 1 performance by guitar prodigy and Allman Brothers Band member Derek Trucks.

Trucks, nephew of Allman Brothers Band percussionist and founding member Butch Trucks, was performing professionally in his early teens, and his own group, the Derek Trucks Band, recently released the critically acclaimed album “Songlines.” Trucks joined the Allman Brothers as co-lead guitarist in 1999 and juggles the responsibilities of both groups.

The April 1 concert, which takes place at “The Shed” at the Harley dealership (1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway), will be a fund-raiser to benefit WDVX-FM, 89.9. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate and are on sale now at the Maryville dealership and at the store’s Gatlinburg location, as well as at both Disc Exchange music stores in Knoxville and through Tickets Unlimited (656-4444).

WDVX, based in downtown Knoxville (and famous for its humble beginnings in a trailer in Anderson County) is a regionally focused grassroots radio station whose diverse format includes bluegrass, Americana, country, western swing, blues, classic rock, mountain music, bluegrass, gospel, Celtic, folk and roots music from around the world. The on-air staff is primarily volunteer with support derived from individual donations, benefit concerts and local businesses, and the station itself is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, presentation and advancement of American roots music, according to a dealership press release.

Trucks’ performance kicks off the dealership’s “Party on the Patio” concert series, which will feature rock and blues acts on Saturday’s at the “The Shed,” a 16,000-square-foot covered music pavilion adjacent to the dealership.

“This event is a great way for Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson to support the music native to our area of East Tennessee,” said Clint La Follette, the dealership’s marketing director. “We enjoy music and hope to promote live concerts and music to the benefit of our community. As a fund-raiser for WDVX, the concert proceeds will provide them with much-needed funding, allowing them to continue their mission of providing a grassroots movement of support for music that is right at home here in East Tennessee.

“Having a band of this stature allows us to continue to up the level of the types of acts that we can expose our community to at a affordable cost without having to travel far to experience it.”

Most of the concerts will be free; admission will be charged for bigger names such as Trucks and a June 17 performance by Sugar Hill Records recording artist Scott Miller and the Commonwealth. The lineup for the “Party on the Patio” series will be announced at a later date.

Trucks first made a name for himself when he mounted his first tour at the age of 12. His playing style — he’s been hailed as a master of the slide guitar and his recent album earned accolades by everyone from The Wall Street Journal (“he is the most awe-inspiring electric slide guitar player performing today”) to USA Today (“Trucks just might be this generation’s greatest rock guitarist”) — combines the blues and, in recent years, a diversity of world music influences.

He’s been named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone and was recently tapped by the legendary Eric Clapton to play guitar for Clapton’s upcoming 2006 world tour.

For more information on the April 1 concert or upcoming “Party on the Patio” performances, contact Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell at 977-1669.

SIX-STRING SAMURAI: Derek Trucks on the Allman Brothers, Playing with Eric Clapton and His Own Band
By: Steve Wildsmith (Originally Published in The Daily Times, March 2006)

Judging by his schedule this summer, it’s safe to conclude that Derek Trucks is either (a) insane, (b) a workaholic or (c) one of the most dedicated, as well as one of the most talented, guitarists on the planet.

Probably a little of all three. Even to Trucks himself, his decision to tour this summer with his own band as the opening act for the Allman Brothers Band, for which he also plays guitar, while juggling guitar duties on rocker Eric Clapton’s summer tour — all at the same time — makes his stomach churn.

Factor in trying to balance responsibilities as a husband (to singer-songwriter Susan Tedeschi) and father to two small children (Trucks is only 26), and it can get downright nauseating.

“When Blake (Budney, the Derek Trucks Band’s road manager) sent me my schedule for this summer, I told him immediately not to send it to me anymore,” Trucks told The Daily Times this week, chuckling with equal parts weariness and anxiety. “I don’t want to see how crazy it looks on paper. It seems less overwhelming if I don’t have it right in front of me, staring me in the face.”

In reality, such a hectic schedule should be nothing new to Trucks, who’s been performing professionally since he was 9. He comes by his musical virtuosity honestly — his uncle, Butch Trucks, is the drummer and one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. The young Trucks first shared the stage with the group when he was 12.

As a boy, Trucks proved his virtuosity by mastering the guitar in a few short years. He picked up the instrument for the first time when his father, a manual laborer raising a family in Jacksonville, Fla., while his more famous brother toured the world as an Allman, bought a used guitar for $5 at a yard sale. Trucks, who had grown up on the music of his uncle’s band, immediately conjured the ghost of band founder Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle wreck early in the band’s career.

It was only two years later that Trucks was touring the Jacksonville area with his own band, Derek and the Dominators. Emulating Duane Allman and blues great Elmore James, he began playing slide guitar, but by the time he was 14, he began to incorporate elements of Indian classical music and jazz into his repertoire. His teenage years were a dizzying combination of touring and education — both in pursuit of a diploma and his dream.

Thanks to his connections with uncle Butch, Trucks was introduced to musicians that included Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Col. Bruce Hampton and Willie Nelson. But it was Trucks’ guitar playing that earned him a spot on the stage alongside these icons, as well as in jam sessions with groups such as Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic and Phish.

Gradually, Trucks’ various groups grew into the Derek Trucks Band, which today includes bassist Todd Smallie, drummer Yonrico Scott, keyboardist and flute player Kofi Burbridge and vocalist Mike Mattison, who’s joined the fold for the band’s most recent album, “Songlines,” released earlier this year. (An unofficial sixth member, percussion guru Count M’butu, took part in the “Songlines” sessions as well.)

“I think this is our most complete album to date,” Trucks said. “I think it’s too early to tell, really, where it fits in the whole grand scheme of things (the Derek Trucks Band released its first album in 1997), but it’s definitely a turning point for the group, and I think Mike was the missing piece.

“He’s just a great guy to be around, and he’s hugely talented. We have to have guys who are both, and it’s great having somebody who’s attitude and music fit with everyone else in the group. For a long time, we wanted to write tunes for a vocalist, but we really didn’t have the right voice to write for. Now, it feels like all the pieces are there.”

“Songlines” has a distinctively exotic feel, thanks to M’butu’s African-based percussive rhythms and the influences of world music from India and the Caribbean on Trucks’ composing. Of course, it’s anchored in the blues and Southern rock, which Trucks was weaned on, but the flavors combine for a rich stew that’s received glowing reviews from the music press.

Already a veteran, however, Trucks has learned over the years not to give a lot of thought to the ink his work receives, good or bad.

“You try to let that stuff just kind of roll off your back, because you have to focus on what you do,” he said. “Luckily, with two young kids running around, I don’t have time to take that [stuff] serious. I have other things on my mind. Besides, you don’t really put that much weight in that stuff, whether it’s good or bad press, because you have to have some amount of confidence in what you do. Even if they’re over the top about it or if they don’t understand it at all, hopefully you know what you do and how much better that you want to get and where you actually stand.

“And of course it’s always nice when you actually do release a record and the feedback is positive. It keeps you on the path of what you’re doing, because when you do a record and you get that involved in something, even when it feels good to you, you’re really not sure how good it is.

“But you have to take the good press with a grain of salt, too,” he said. “It’s great to be recognized, but you don’t really feel like all the sudden you’re playing that much better or the band’s took this huge leap. I think a lot of what’s being said is a result of all the legwork of years and years of hitting the road starting to catch up, and that’s a nice feeling.”

Of course, Trucks can’t escape the attention he gets for being a member of his other band, the Allman Brothers. Although he’s been sharing the stage with the legendary group, which rose to fame in the early 1970s and gave birth to the Southern rock genre, for almost a decade, he was asked to join in 1999. The band, founded on the sound of two incredible guitarists — Duane Allman and co-founder Dickey Betts — trading licks and matching each other solo-for-solo, had gone through several great ax-players over the years, and suddenly Trucks was catapulted into the position of playing alongside Betts. (Betts has since been replaced by Gov’t Mule founder Warren Haynes.)

It was with some measure of trepidation, Trucks said, that he approached the band about the opportunity to tour with Clapton this summer.

“It’s one of those things much like when I got the offer to join the Allman Brothers — it’s just kind of a no-brainer, and I knew I had to do it,” he said. “It’s a huge honor to be asked, because Eric has seen it all and been through it all. He’s made classic records two or three times, and `Layla’ (which Clapton recorded as part of Derek and the Dominoes, alongside Duane Allman) is the reason I started playing music.

“I was really surprised at how supportive everybody was. I just told them that I couldn’t not do it, and they were excited. Clapton was one of those guys around before the Allman Brothers Band, so they had a huge respect for him from the beginning. If it had been anyone else, they might have been freaked out, but with him, they understood.”

Saturday’s show at “The Shed,” on the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell lot in Maryville, will be one of the few times Trucks won’t be pulling double duty — this summer, the Derek Trucks Band will open for the Allman Brothers, meaning Trucks will be playing the entire night. And when the Allman Brothers aren’t playing, he’ll be jetting to wherever Clapton is performing to play alongside the man whom inspired English graffiti in the 1960s that read “Clapton is God.”

Crazy or not, Trucks looks at it as the opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s insane, but it’s going to be an honor to do it,” he said. “Playing with him and getting to hit all these places he’s playing, all these venues around the world that I’ve always wanted to visit — it’s amazing. Plus, it’s going to be family-friendly, so my wife and my kids will be able to tag along when we rehearse for three weeks in the south of France.

“My life has just been an interesting run that way. Everything just falls into place. It’s overwhelming at times, but to do the Allman Brothers thing for all these years and then have Eric Clapton call you, you realize how fortunate you are.”

This week’s Shed Archive celebrates Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson’s NOT So Sweet 16 Birthday Bash (which is taking place this Thursday through Sunday complete with awesome food and drink specials, vendors on site, and tons of great riding), by looking back at the first ever Birthday Bashes which both featured one of The Shed’s favorite bands! You can see that even in 2005, Big Head Todd were very well aware of where the music business was heading and correctly predicted the future. Be sure to check out the video below where you listen to the full show from the 2006 performance!

Big Head Todd and the Monsters help Harley Dealership Celebrate One Year
By Steve Wildsmith (Originally published in The Maryville Daily Times)
September 2, 2005

Todd Park Mohr has neither an oversized cranium nor a gigantic ego.

It’s not a stretch to make that assumption, given the band’s sideshow-like nom de guerre. In fact, it might be more apropos to call the band Big Loud Todd and the Monsters, given the band’s monstrous guitar chords and blues-rock foundation.

But Big Head Todd and the Monsters has worked for almost 20 years, so there’s no point in changing the name now. After all, Mohr and his two bandmates, bassist Rob Squires and drummer Brian Nevin, have been functioning just fine under the unusual nomenclature since they were students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

“I just think that we’re a great rock ‘n’ roll band,” Mohr told The Daily Times during a recent interview. “We have eight albums out, so we have a lot to draw from. We have all kinds of material from all kinds of genres. Basically, I’m a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, and my bag is being a songwriter.

“Plus, our friendship is our basis for being a band. When you have a great friendship, just like a great marriage, there’s not a lot that you can’t achieve. I’ve always felt strongly about not writing the same song twice and never making the same album twice. I’ve always been really concerned about doing things that are sincere and new for me.”

It was in the mid-1980s that Mohr, Squires and Niven formed Big Head Todd and the Monsters, at the University of Colorado. Their high school alma mater would go on to make tragic headlines for the massacre of students and teachers several years later, an event that the band members keep close to their hearts, even today.

“Obviously, that was a shock for everybody, and America kind of changed when that went down,” Mohr said. “Everybody sort of realized this could happen to their school, and it did happen to ours. The worst part of it for me is that my memories of my high school experience are forever changed.

“As a band, we’ve always been committed to music education, and Brian and I went through the music program at Columbine. Since the shootings, we’ve had the opportunity to play shows there and give a ton of money. Plus, we go visit periodically, mainly for ourselves and to feel connected to what was happening and the healing process.”

In the band’s early years, the members got noticed when they sold 58,000 copies of two independently produced albums — 1987’s “Another Mayberry” and 1990’s “Midnight Radio.” Both of the records, straight-ahead rock anchored by killer guitar riffs and Mohr’s rough singing, got them signed to Giant Records, which released the platinum-selling “Sister Sweetly.” That album spawned the radio hit “Bittersweet,” which has been a bit of an albatross for the band to carry since hitting the airwaves in 1993.

“The downside of it is that from a record label standpoint, they want to make Sister Sweetly over and over and over again,” Mohr said. “It’s been kind of a long learning curve for our audience, but it’s been really gratifying now to have an audience that really respects us for our whole catalogue instead of a hit single.”

That catalogue includes the follow-ups to “Sister Sweetly” — “Strategem,” “Beautiful World,” “Riviera” and “Crimes of Passion,” released last year. Each one is a blend of several different genres, all anchored in solid, guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll.

“I write a lot of different types of genres, and obviously our group is kind of known for being somewhat eclectic,” Mohr said. “I’m writing in 12 different categories, from blues to folk to R&B to hard rock. We’re already looking ahead, but to be honest, we’re kind of waiting to see what label we’re on and the group of minds that will be helping us before getting specific on what the next record’s going to be.”

In the meantime, Mohr has plenty to keep him busy — in addition to a heavy tour schedule, the band does a six- to seven-week run every winter and wrapped 30 dates at various festivals throughout the summer. He’s also written and produced a song for NASA, and in October, the band is recording a track with iconic engineer Alan Parsons, who worked with both The Beatles and on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album. Mohr is also keeping an eye on the evolution of digital music.

“So much is going on right now in terms of pod-casting and mp3 delivery, so I’m sort of looking down the line of different avenues to really get our music out,” he said. “I really like the notion of having a career where new music is always coming out, instead of the traditional cycle of putting out a new record every two years. There’s a lot to be said in my mind for the Internet in terms of rewriting the rules of what new music can be.

“I would rather have half a million people download one of my songs for free than sell 40,000 records, because to me, it’s about getting your music out to as many people as you can. The more people that get exposed to our band, the bigger it impacts our career. I also think that free music and free content is good for our society, because it’s going to create more diversity and give us more altruistic reasons for creating art.”

Tonight, Big Head Todd and the Monsters are poised to get their music out in Blount County, kicking off three days of entertainment at the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson dealership on West Lamar Alexander Parkway.

“We’re very receptive to what the audience wants to hear, and a lot of times our setlists are very loose,” he said. “It’s a Harley-Davidson dealership, so I imagine it’ll be pretty fun and heavy on the rock ‘n’ roll end of things.”


SOME KIND OF MONSTER: Big Head Todd returns to the Harley ‘Shed’
By Steve Wildsmith (Originally published in The Maryville Daily Times)
September 1, 2006

It would not be advisable to call the guy who fronts a band named Big Head Todd and the Monsters a cyber-geek.

It’s not that Todd Park Mohr has a reputation of resorting to violence, and it’s not that his band, despite the foreboding moniker, plays some intimidating genre of metal.

He is, however, on the cutting edge of using the capabilities of the World Wide Web to his advantage when it comes to promoting his music. And given the cutthroat nature of the music industry, that makes him technologically savvy, a much cooler term than “geek.”

“We put out a podcast (a sort of Internet radio program that can be downloaded to computers or digital music players for anytime accessibility), and if you go to iTunes, we’re releasing about three songs a month or so on that, and a lot of them are unreleased studio tracks,” Mohr told The Daily Times this week. “It’s just been a great way for us to keep connected with our fans, because everyone who has a computer can use it. And if they subscribe to our podcasts, when we put out new songs, people automatically get them.

“We’ve had a lot of fans requesting that sort of thing on our [Internet] message boards, and it’s a great way for us to keep our fans current on our ongoing musical career. These days, there are a lot of fans that don’t buy a CD, and I think it’s essential for any band to do things like this. That where you’re going to reach out to new audiences and younger audiences, because that’s where they’re going. That’s where you’re interacting with their culture.

“It’s essential for most bands, if not all bands, to reach out into those venues,” Mohr added. “Our career is a lot more niche-oriented. We’ve never been a major-label, smash-hit group, so it’s even more important for us to take advantage of alternative or digital media.”

For a band that marks it’s 20th anniversary this year, the willingness to use technology and adapt to the changing musical times is a testament of Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ willingness to survive. It was at the University of Colorado that Mohr and his two bandmates, bassist Rob Squires and drummer Brian Nevin, first formed the band after graduating from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

In the band’s early years, the members got noticed when they sold 58,000 copies of two independently produced albums – 1987’s “Another Mayberry” and 1990’s “Midnight Radio.” Both of the records, straight-ahead rock anchored by killer guitar riffs and Mohr’s rough singing, got them signed to Giant Records, which released the platinum-selling “Sister Sweetly.” That album spawned the radio hits “Bittersweet” and “It’s Alright,” as well as a couple of other minor hits.

On its follow-up records, the group rarely deviated from that successful formula, occasionally coloring outside the lines with the blues but always finding its way back to what it does best – guitar-driven rock that shakes the rafters with triumphant bombast and lulls a crowd to quiet introspection on some of the moodier songs. The themes are universal ones – love and life and death and legacy – that have adapted easily to a live setting, evident by the band’s 1998 album “Live Monsters” and 2004’s “Live at the Fillmore,” the group’s most recent release.

“We’re working on the follow-up to our last studio record, ‘Crimes of Passion,’ and fans should expect something out at the beginning of the year,” Mohr said. “We’re writing and working on it now, and we’ll be back on tour again in January or February.”

In the meantime, the Monsters have plenty to keep them busy. According to Mohr, they just finished a song called “Blue Sky” for NASA, written to commemorate the shuttle program. In addition, the guys recently collaborated with Alan Parsons, the studio engineer behind the genius that is Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album and leader of the Alan Parsons Project, on a version of that song.

Saturday, the band performs at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville for the venue’s two-year anniversary. Big Head Todd and the Monsters performed there a year ago, a show that Mohr remembers well.

“It’s the only time we’ve ever played at a Harley dealership, so it was quite memorable,” he said with a chuckle. “Half of our guys went out for rides, so they were thrilled. It was a fun day, and there was even some moonshine involved, to my recollection.”

The band recently completed a tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket, another icon of the ’90s modern rock scene, and after Saturday’s gig, Mohr said, he’s looking forward to getting home and enjoying a much-needed break.

Even then, however, you’ll probably find him in front of his computer, tinkering with new ways to keep up with shifting musical tastes in the Information Age.

“It’s an interesting world for music out there now,” he said. “We’re moving into a different world, one where the CD is becoming obsolete. I have an iPod, and I refer to the actual discs very infrequently. I think we’re moving toward a point, quite quickly, when all music is digital. And that’s too bad, but at the same time, it’s opened up new doors for us.

“It’s been really fun for me to be able to continue to work on a song and release songs and demos to our fans. We can release those different versions and still be able to feel like they can develop as a composition or a recording. That helps me to feel free to be a lot more creative and not be so bound by genres or marketing handles.

“Those are exciting possibilities that our fans want from our music, and I think it helps everybody,” he added.

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