Author Archive: Tim Lee

Down Time / Up Time

Temporary setup at Top Hat Knoxville while the studio/house is being built.

Temporary setup at Top Hat Knoxville while the studio/house is being built.

As the last note of the song trailed off, Jon Dee slipped the headphones off his head and looked around at the players on his right and the recording engineers on his left.

“That was pretty magical,” he said with a grin.

All of us gathered at Top Hat Studio for the occasion nodded our heads in agreement. We’d just nailed Jon Dee’s song, “The Ballad of Dan Stuart,” in a single take, not bad considering we’d never played together before that week.

It was early February, but strangely warm outside, when Susan, Chris, and I set up for the inaugural session at the new Top Hat Studios, which had relocated from Austin, Texas, to Knoxville.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Dee Graham had come from Texas to lay down tracks with his friends and longtime collaborators, Top Hat proprietors John Harvey and Mary Podio. The TL3 was fortunate enough to be invited to be the backing band for the sessions, which yielded five songs.

As a fan of Jon Dee’s, it was especially gratifying to be involved in the project, which took place during what had been a particularly slow winter for our band.

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Where Does the Time Go?

Editor’s note: Tim wrote this “Diary of a Never Was” installment back in November, but it fell between the cracks during winter hibernation. Now maybe that lazy bastard will get back in the groove sometime and start writing these blog entries on a regular basis. Who knows?

November 14, 2015

I figure since it’s been about exactly three months since I scribbled for you, that maybe it’s time to do it again. To be honest, my brain has been a bit scrambled here lately dealing with the new world order at Casa del Lee. We’ve been plenty busy (and then some), doing the things that pay the bills as well as those that feed the soul. All that added up leaves little time for pecking on the keyboard.

Last night, I was at an art fair at Ironwood Studios, a cool local metal and woodworking shop. Lots of local artisans were on hand, displaying their wares. Susan shared a table with our friend Billie Sue Owens. Susan had her Wrist Rock-Its out for perusal alongside Billie Sue’s handmade jewelry. The whole deal was a good time with several good friends, barbecue courtesy of Sweet P’s, and cool art.

I was talking to one of the artists, a guy I’d met at Music Room Guitars, the shop owned by our guitar pusher Brad Gibson. He mentioned that he’d enjoyed my blogs on here, which reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve done one.

So, here I am again. I’ll try to play some catch-up and not get too bogged down in the details. I wouldn’t want to be boring or anything.

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I’m Back …

August 13, 2015

Miss me, dear readers? (Kinda presumptive, I guess, to assume anyone is reading this, but a fellow’s gotta dream.) I’ve been remiss in my scribbling duties, and I apologize for that.

Let’s see, what’s been going on around here? After an actual slow week, musically, for me (not for Susan, bless her heart, who spent a whole five days, nine hours a day, working with kids at the Knoxville Girls Rock Camp … it was hard, but she said it was rewarding), last week got back to some sort of normal busy-ness.

On Tuesday, I rehearsed with the Barstool Romeos, the rockin’ honky-tonkers I play with from time to time. The band is fronted Mike McGill (who I’ve mentioned before) and Andy Pirkle, and features Josh Sidman on bass and Mark Dunn (who I played with on a McGill and the Refills gig a couple blogs ago) on drums.

I’ve known Mike and Andy since the Corner Lounge days. Back then, Mike was a clean-cut bluegrass picker and singer and Andy was the leader of a great punk rock band called Speed Shifter. Since that time, Mike’s hair has grown out and he’s delved deeper into his hard country and southern rock roots, while Andy has moved more in that same direction. Once the long-time friends figured out they could write songs and sing together well, sparks started to fly.

And they both have excellent beards.

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Sunday Morning, Coming Down

July 26, 2015

Ah, the day of rest at the end of another one of our “slow” weeks this summer. The last six days have been pretty easy-going, you know, just two rehearsals, a recording session, and three gigs that culminated in last night’s Neil Young tribute featuring a baker’s dozen players and a megaton of fun.

So much for my notion that July would be not so busy.

On Monday, I got home in time for a low-key rehearsal for the Neil Young deal. The core band consisted of the TL3 along with our long-time cohort Greg Horne. Adam and Serrenna McNulty from Guy Marshall were a big part of the first of two sets, while GM guitarist Eric Griffin joined in on several tunes as well. The perpetually cheerful Chris Durman (aka “Smiley”) played acoustic guitar and harmonica too.

We’ve just recently gotten to know the McNulties and Eric, and it has been a treat. I’ve pointed out before that I’m a big fan of their band (go check out their debut full-length Depression Blues), and is often the case the folks are as cool as their music.

It was a good run-through of the songs and an excellent hang.

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Down Time?

(July 13, 2015)   After a couple weeks, I’m back. Following last month’s whirlwind of gig activity, July is much slower, just a couple local shows.

Well, that and the recording of some new TL3 songs and the organization of a Neil Young Tribute Show that only involves some 14 people and nearly 20 songs.

Okay, maybe “slower” isn’t the right word.

For the past five Januaries, Susan and I have been involved in an annual benefit called Waynestock, a multi-day show featuring a wide variety of area bands and artists. The first one was thrown together quickly to raise funds for the family of our friend, Knoxville music writer Wayne Bledsoe after his 23-year-old son Andrew died from a suspected heart defect.

It took legs pretty quickly, and every year Waynestock benefits a different deserving family or organization.

During the last three, our band has hosted the finale set involving several artists from around town. This past January’s was a Young tribute, which went over well, so our friends out at the Shed in Maryville asked us to reprise it on their stage on July 25. Some of the folks who took part in the first one are not available this time around, and some who weren’t able to participate back in January are free this time. So there’s plenty to work on, personnel-wise, plus we’re adding some more songs.

Yeah, we have a tendency to take on a lot of stuff.

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