April Foolies entertainers know it’s all about the dollars

Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely) will return for April Foolies to try and defend their title with a 1950s and ‘60s review.

Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely) will return for April Foolies to try and defend their title with a 1950s and ‘60s review.

Edward Harper doesn’t know who will win the 2011 April Foolies, but he is sure folks will remember the last song of the show.

Harper, a licensed clinical social worker and the Senior Services coordinator at the Blount Memorial Emotional Health and Recovery Center, is lead vocalist for Pistol Creek Catch of the Day. The other band members include Loudon Middle School teacher Scott Hinds, Maryville College professor Carl Gombert and Bill Cabage, an engineer in Oak Ridge. The group’s music is described as Americana, Rockabilly and Western Swing.

Pistol Creek is set to close out April Foolies, which is an annual fundraiser for three charities -- New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Gateway to Independence and United Way’s Success by Six. The winner of the competition is determined by the amount of money each act raises from the audience members the night of the show. Each act has a bucket, and audience members are encouraged to put money in the buckets of the acts they like the best.

There are nine acts set for this year’s April Foolies. They include Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely), Bennett and Graves, the Greg Carney Project, Deep End with Aaron Tracy, the Gate Crashers, The Kiwanis Glee Club and Drill Team, Sister Act from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and an act by members of Artistic Dance Unlimited.

Pistol Creek Catch of the Day

Pistol Creek has played at April Foolies before, but this year, they are competing to win as well. Harper won’t say what their grand finale will be.

“I think what will best describe our set is that we will end the show in ‘shock and awe,’” he said. “Leave it to Scott and Carl. Folks may have trouble sleeping after our last song.”

For Pistol Creek, performing at April Foolies is an act of homecoming. Harper said he and Cabage were talking recently about how they started Pistol Creek six years ago. “We started Pistol Creek Catch of the Day as a joke back in 2005 for April Foolies. We were supposed to be there as a one-time-only act, and we just had so much fun we didn’t stop,” he said.

Now the group plays gigs throughout the area and often they donate their time for fundraising events. “If anything sets us apart, if anything describes us, it is we have fun,” he said. “We have fun with the group and fun with the audience.”

Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely)

The 2010 April Foolies winner was the band Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely). They are returning to defend their title, said lead singer and realtor Debra Whaley.

“We are going to do a 1950s and ‘60s review with some feel-good songs everybody should know,” she said.

Whaley said performing at the Clayton Center for the Arts is intimidating.

“It is fun, but it is scary,” she said. “I get very nervous because it is 1,000 people. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare, they open the curtains and all those eyes are looking at you, and it is different.”

Members of Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely) include Rick Fowler, lead guitar; Carroll Ward, guitar and vocals; Jim Ford, lead vocals; Chris Galyon, drums; Keith Paul, congas; Debra Whaley, vocals and tambourine; Bill McLain, bass guitar and vocals; and Ronnie Ward, keyboards and vocals.

“We have our surprise dancers this year coming - Tammie Wright, Kelly Forster and Holly Burkett,” Whaley said.

Bennett and Graves

Cherokee Millwright CEO Dave Bennett said he and Scott Graves, Blount County trustee, are planning an act for April Foolies but you have to show up to learn anything about it.

“Folks should expect a blast from the past,” Bennett said. “Scott and I have been in several April Foolies. I don’t know if we were kicked out or banned. The last time we were in short dresses, but now they have allowed us back in, and the crowd will not be disappointed.”

Bennett said he and Graves are adding a few local personalities to their crew. “Folks will find out who they are on April Foolies night,” he said. “And if we don’t win, it is because it was rigged.”

The Greg Carney Project

The Greg Carney Project features Carney lip-syncing to the king of pop, Michael Jackson. Carney performed during the 2010 April Foolies by performing “Thriller.”

“We are going to do a re-enactment to Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel,’” said organizer Greg Carney. “I’m going to do a little bit of his song ‘Dangerous’ as well. We will be lip syncing and dancing.”

Carney, of Knoxville, works at Broadway Academy of Performing Arts in Knoxville and learned about April Foolies from Cynthia Turnage.

“I’ve been dancing since I was 14, and I’ve been doing the Michael Jackson show ever since he died. We did ‘Thriller,’ last year, but they told me the only way I could do April Foolies this year was if I could do something other than ‘Thriller,’” he said. “I took it as a challenge, and it made me buckle down. I can’t wait.”

Deep End with Aaron Tracy

Deep End will bring New Age Southern Country with a touch of Southern Rock to the Clayton Center. They placed third at the 2010 April Foolies.

Alcoa High School junior Aaron Tracy leads the band, composed of fellow AHS students, his dad, Don Tracy, said.

“They got third place last time, and they’re coming back this time with a unique show. This time they’re a little more seasoned, and they’ve got their sights set on Number One with a new show,” Don Tracy said. “It will be a surprise. They’re going to play one cover tune to get everyone’s attention.”

In addition to Aaron Tracy on vocals, guitar and keyboard, members of the band include: Garrett Holloway, lead guitar; Chris Campbell, drums; and Parker Brown, bass guitar.

The Gate Crashers

The Gate Crashers from Gateway to Independence center for mentally and physically challenged adults will be returning to the Foolies again this year.

“The Gate Crashers will be giving a never-before-seen performance with lots of sound and a truly an adventurous spirit,” Edward Harper said. “They’ll have great selection of songs they picked themselves.”

Harper often spends time with the members of the Gateway to Independence.

“For the members at The Gate who are performing, this is huge. So many times folks with some type of disability are hidden from the community, and they don’t get the chance to show their talents and be active participants,” he said. “This is different, they’re actively raising money for their organization as well as New Hope and Success by 6 and they having a lot of fun doing it.”

Kiwanis Glee Club & Drill Team

Aaron Killian, artistic director for the Kiwanis Glee Club and Drill Team, said the act is a combination song and dance and drill team. “We have a handful of guys from our Alcoa Kiwanis Club who will do a retired guy’s drill routine. They are performing with lawn chairs,” Killian said.

Killian, marketing and public relations coordinator with United Way of Blount County, said the glee club and drill team are a collaboration of Kiwanis clubs from Alcoa and Maryville. “The drill team happens to be all Alcoa. We’re also a show choir, and we’ll be doing contemporary hits,” he said. “It will be good.”

Sister Act

Anna Graham said she and other members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Maryville make up Sister Act, which she describes as irreverent and fun. “We’re going to be dressed as nuns,” she said.

Graham said the audience will enjoy the show. “We are Episcopalians, and we like to have a good time,” she said. “We like to entertain.”

The members of the Artistic Dance Unlimited act could not be reached by press time.

Folks will get the chance to enjoy a taste of April Foolies a week early. A preview party featuring Pistol Creek Catch of the Day will be held during Last Friday Art Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 25, in the former Roy’s Record Shop downtown. Foolies tickets will be available for purchase at Roy’s Record Shop.

Tickets are $15 per person, $10 for seniors and students. VIP tickets are $25 per person and include the show and a post-show reception. Tickets may be purchased at the Clayton Center for the Arts box office, at www.ClaytonArtsCenter.com or by calling 865-981-8590. They are also available at United Way, The Gate, New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center and Blount Today.

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