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The Return headlines night of music at Street Party

staff report • Jul 17, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Three concerts in one. All free. That’s what’s in store for local music fans at the inaugural Food City Street Party.

The Atlanta-based Beatles tribute band, The Return, will headline the full evening of music and fun. Kingsport native Brad Blackwell and local favorites Rob Russell & the Sore Losers will get the party started beginning at 5:30 p.m., July 21, at Memorial Park in Kingsport. The free event is sponsored by Food City, WQUT and WKOS.

Blackwell moved from Kingsport to Knoxville at 19 to attend the University of Tennessee and pursue his dream of becoming a singer and songwriter. In 2010, he was named East Tennessee’s Best Local Artist by the Knoxville News Sentinel and is considered one of the most gifted singers and songwriters on the independent music scene. Not bad for a kid who got his first guitar for Christmas at the age of 17.

“I didn’t even ask for it … in fact, I was a little bummed out. I was hoping for an Xbox 360,” Blackwell said.

A quick study, Blackwell taught himself to play by picking up tips off the Internet and, before too long, was discovering his natural talent for writing songs. He teamed up with songwriter Jim Denton, who co-wrote “Rope the Moon” for John Michael Montgomery, and together the two co-produced Blackwell’s debut CD “Blue Sky.” They followed that with an EP featuring three new songs — all of which will appear on Blackwell’s full-length album due out later this year.

Read the expanded version of this report in the print edition or the enhanced electronic version of the Kingsport Times-News.

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