Thursday, May 5, 2011
It was standing room only at the playhouse on this unconventional Friday evening, for the April Foole's Day Vaudeville Circus, in which The Eggplant Faerie Players and Tom Foolery entertained and shocked us with their antics and death defying unicycle juggling, Murfreesboro's Jake Leg Stompers delivered their raucous and suggestive jug band classics, and Miss Leela Sophina, the Queen of the Air, tested the structural integrity of the playhouse's air vents with her trapeze talents. All hardware is still intact and the show was fabulous.
On Thursday, January 27, 2011, Center Stage funded our first concert of the season, which featured the young, bright-eyed and bushy tailed Sleepy Eyed Fox, an up and coming eclectic folk-rock outfit from the Nashville area. Captivating local singer/songwriters Jen Richardson & Mary Summerlin opened the show.
In the second edition of events incorporated into Professor Andrew Smith's QEP Award winning American Literature initiative known as the Living Writers Project, second generation beat poet and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics Anne Waldman visited the playhouse on Thursday, December 2, 2010, for a performance of her poetry and prose pieces as well as to lead a writing workshop. Local writer Rebecca Neel opened for Waldman.
For the second year in a row, Write Bloody Publishing authors visited the Backdoor Playhouse with the Night Kite Poetry Revival. Center Stage funded the riveting spoken word event on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, featuring a masterful weaving of words by Individual World Poetry Slam Champion Buddy Wakefield, Pushcart Prize nominee Anis Mojgani, and President of Write Bloody Derrick Brown.
As a part of Professor Andrew Smith's QEP Award winning American Literature course syllabus known as the Living Writers Project and funded by Center Stage, David Lazar, author of Body of Brooklyn, a collection of essays about his childhood which were studied by Smith's students, performed a reading of his works on Thursday, October 14, 2010. TTU English Professor Dr. Michael O'Rourke also read excerpts from his new book, Paul Bunyan Lives! And Other Tales From the Natural World.
On what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday, and what was our own Professor Andrew Smith's 43rd, we hosted Beatles cover band MerseySide, aptly named for the British county which encompasses the Fab Four's home of Liverpool, on Saturday, October 9, 2010, as they played to a house packed with invasion rockers.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
In a show sponsored by Center Stage, WTTU, and Tech Players, Mike Farris & The Cumberland Saints of Nashville delivered a heaping bowl of soul overflow to the Backdoor Playhouse on Thursday, September 23, 2010, featuring Amelia Tritico, a TTU foreign language student, with her earnest brand of bluesy folk-rock as the opening act.
In celebration and recognition of Women's History Month, on Thursday, March 4, 2010, Center Stage, WTTU, Tech Players, and The Women’s Center presented a lively display of female empowerment through music featuring the infamous alt-country, cow-punk divas from Murfreesboro, TN, Those Darlins, with Jill Andrews, formerly of The Everybodyfields, in support. Prior to the show, bassist Kelly Darlin spoke on the topic of the annual Southern Girls Rock 'n Roll Camp, which takes place every July in Murfreesboro.
This student produced concert was the culminating work of students in Professor Andrew Smith's University 1020 course. On Friday, December 4, 2009, we hosted The Eclectic Spider Web Pop Culture Conference, featuring such panel topics as rock music and Twilight, which was followed by a reception and concert in the theatre which showcased alt-rockers The Pursuits from Nashville and Christian power-poppers This Is Luke from Jamestown, TN, and was headlined by ambient indie-soul pioneers Mother/Father, also from Nashville.
Write Bloody Publishing's annual poetry tour made it's first trip to the Backdoor Playhouse on Thursday, October 22, 2009, with The Elephant Engine High Dive Revival featuring stimulating spoken word performances from Write Bloody President Derrick Brown, Pushcart Prize nominee Anis Mojgani, founder of the NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam series Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, and Bowery Poetry Club barkeep Shappy Seasholtz.
In this night of relaxation on Thursday, October 15, 2009, the Nashville group of Kirtan musicians, Samavayah, invited audience members to meditate and chant to the soothing beauty of their harmoniums, various percussive sounds, and enchanting voices.
On Thursday, October 8, 2009, Possum Trot, a duo of TTU students fueled by the songwriting of multi-instrumentalist Henry MacAfee, opened for tenShades, a Cookeville quartet which proves that professors can rock, too. Students Ben Clark, playing bass, and Drew Griswold on keys and guitar, are joined with professors of Biology and Geology respectively, Dr. Hayden Mattingly on lead vocals and guitar and Dr. Mike Harrison on drums. Together they bring together a sound that harkens back to surf rock of the 1960's, but with a little blues favor and some contemporary influence.
On Thursday, September 24, 2009, The Runaways headlined yet another incredibly well attended show at the Backdoor Playhouse. On this night The Runaways announced the official change of their name to West Fifth, as with their rising popularity it was no doubt diffcult to avoid confusion with the all girl group from the 1970's of the same name. This show was opened by Otherwize, a duo of brothers from Jamestown, TN, and Jen Richardson, a local acoustic songstress.
Inspired by the annual Trinumeral music and art festival that has occured every year since 1/1/01 in a different city, TTU students unable to attend the shows in Asheville, NC, decided to organize their own Trinumeral concert at the Backdoor Playhouse. The show, on September 9, 2009, began at 9 PM, and featured the unstoppable dance/electro beats of This is ART from Nashville, Murfreesboro's insanely popular mash-up masters Beat Repeat (@@), and Mental Beat Floss of Cookeville.
Opening our tightly booked Fall 2009 series on Great Move-In Day, Thursday, August 27, Australian folk singer/songwriter and professed favey fave of Sir Paul McCartney, Washuntara, graced the Playhouse stage in a free Welcome Back Concert and Coffeehouse for students funded by Center Stage.
In 2009, Kentucky native and folk musician Ben Sollee launched Pedaling Against Poverty, an eight day bike tour from his home in Lexington to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, to support OxFam America. The phenomenal cellist pedaled with his cello and 60 additional pounds of equipment on an Xtracycle for a performance at the Backdoor Playhouse on Tuesday, June 9, which served as the official send off for Bonnaroo's Academy volunteer staff, comprised largely of TTU faculty and students.
Eklectichaos, our most ambitious booking endeavor, was an evening of entertaining and energizing experience, in which six acts performed back to back from 6 PM until midnight. The evening began with an outdoor performance of the Abusua West African drum & dance troupe. Up next, Above, a rock band of TTU students took the stage. At 8 PM, local legends The Runaways
wooed their loyal fanbase with their staple folk tunes. Following that, the Daylight Brigade, an arts collective from Nashville presented mini-sets from bluegrass Backdoor vets Danger and the Steel Cut Oats, Row Craven, and James Wallace, plus some hysterical improv comedy from former hip-hop artist Matt Elam, Steel Cut Oats lyrical mastermind Paul Padgett, and Brett Elam of Chicago's "Best New Improv Ensemble" Michael Pizza, and finally hilarious video shorts from SXSW featured filmmaker Joey Cicclione. Following the Daylight Brigade's sensory assault, Glomus, an instrumental math-rock band based in Cookeville, and DJ and student athlete Yianni Doropoulos from Australia wrapped up the night while local artist OneOne3 projected visual art over the stage.
In this special edition of our Open Mic series we invited local surf rock band tenShades, comprised of both TTU students and professors, to headline.
After numerous open mic appearances and a slot opening for illustrious brooding anglophile Levi Weaver the previous fall, Cookeville's finest folk outfit comprised of TTU students, The Runaways, celebrated the release of their first album, "West Fifth," at their favorite local venue, the Backdoor Playhouse, on Thursday, January 29, 2009.
On Thursday, October 2, 2008, we hosted Nashville transplant and one-man band Levi Weaver with local folk sensations and TTU students The Runaways (sorry kids, no Joan Jett here). Levi, a talented live looper who toured nationally in support of Imogen Heap in 2006, praised our venue, promoters, and opening act as the "most enjoyable show I have played in a long time" on his tumblr.
On Thursday, March 27, 2008, in our first show funded by the University, Center Stage, Tech Activities Board, and WTTU 88.5 FM presented "Out on the Highway: An Evening of Americana," featuring performances by bluegrass balladeers Danger and the Steel Cut Oats of Nashville, TN, and rising indie folk/country stars The Everybodyfields from Johnson City, TN. In addition to the musical performances, but on a slightly academic note, we presented a lecture by "Teacher on the Radio," English Instructor Andrew Smith, on the topic of Americana music and culture, and a Q&A session with The Everybodyfields. The show was free and played to a packed house!
For our inaugural event, we paired local alt hip-hop/funk ensemble Simply Put, with indie rock headliners Cabin from Louisville, KY. Though Cookevillians Simply Put have since gone to Splitsville, Cabin, an inspired ensemble of young musicians, gained a dedicated local fanbase and returned for a second show with the same producers at a nearby skatepark in the spring of 2008.