Partying (and voting) for Nathan Rowell

Knox County Law Director candidate Nathan Rowell, left, with a fellow lawyer and friend, John Winemiller.

Knox County law director candidate Nathan Rowell, left, with a fellow lawyer and friend, John Winemiller, at the party on Tuesday. (Photo by John McCulley)

Doctors, lawyers, a college student and even a priest turned out Tuesday at a fun little fundraiser for Nathan Rowell, a Republican candidate for Knox County law director.

Rowell brought “awws” from the crowd at Blue Coast Grill & Bar on Market Square when he told how he decided to enter the race. Seems he had been approached by several people — mostly lawyers — who were concerned about the direction of the current Knox County law director’s office. But Rowell really couldn’t imagine entering the race. After all, unlike the current law director, a former Knox County Commissioner, Rowell had never been a politician or run for any office.

As more people approached him, he thought and thought about it. Finally, unable to make a decision, he left it up to a higher power. “Give me a sign,” he asked on a Sunday during a quiet time at Church Street United Methodist Church where he is a lay leader. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Politics | 14 Comments

Les Trois Chefs (minus two)

Opera star Mary Costa, pictured here with my husband, Alan Carmichael, is a big supporter of Childhelp Tennessee.

Opera star Mary Costa, pictured here with my husband, Alan Carmichael, is a big supporter of Childhelp Tennessee.

This post is from the Better Late Than Never Department! Les Trois Chefs, the signature fundraiser of Childhelp Tennessee, was held before Christmas at Cherokee Country Club. Traditionally, it involves three great chefs — thus the name of the event — working together to prepare a four-course meal with wine pairings. And the obligatory silent and live auctions, of course.

But this year, the food of just one chef (and his team) was featured — that of Cherokee Country Club’s David Pinckney. “Just say I’m not good with numbers,” joked Hugh Nystrom, Childhelp’s director of community relations.

I want to give a big shout-out to Hugh and the others responsible for this evening in that they decided to keep the live auction short — just three items! I can’t tell you what a good decision this is. I attend literally scores of fundraising events every year and nothing is worse than a live auction that just won’t stop. The auctioneer loses the crowd, you can hardly hear the auction for all the talking, and it’s extremely boring after a few items. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 2 Comments

Symphony Ball: In a League of its own

Bagpiper Kay Gordon Irwin led guests from the silent auction into the ballroom when it was time for dinner.

Bagpiper Kay Gordon Irwin led guests from the silent auction into the ballroom when it was time for dinner.

You don’t normally expect to see a bagpiper and cloggers at the elegant Knoxville Symphony Ball at Cherokee Country Club, but since the theme this year was “A Tennessee Christmas,” it seemed appropriate.

The ball every year is the signature event of the Knoxville Symphony League, a group of dedicated supporters led by President Edie Volk who annually raise about $200,000 for the orchestra.

“Our organization would not be what it is today without the unwavering support of the league,” said Rachel Ford, executive director of the Knoxville Symphony. “I greatly appreciate the countless hours that its members spend on our behalf.” Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 6 Comments

A hopeful gathering to kick cancer’s butt

Michelle Henry with her son, Evan, left, and husband, David.

Michelle Henry with her son, Evan, left, and husband, David, at the Hope Gala at Cherokee Country Club.

Michelle Henry took the microphone at the American Cancer Society’s recent Hope Gala at Cherokee Country Club and told about an exasperating visit her family once made to Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta.

The place was packed and lines everywhere were long, so it was slow going getting on the rides they really wanted to try out. The family was getting tired and cranky and the park’s closing time was coming soon, when Michelle decided to do something. (She’s like that!) Continue reading

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Cleveland clearly captivates

Alan Carmichael, left, and Richard Ford on the sidelines of the Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens game.

Alan Carmichael, left, and Richard Ford on the sidelines of the Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens game.

Our friend Richard Ford was raised in Kentucky and grew up a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan. But, in all his 70 years, Richard had never in person seen the team play. With that big birthday occurring last month, Richard’s wife, Dawn, my husband, Alan, and I decided to rectify that situation. With the help of some friends in the Browns’ organization, we planned a trip to Cleveland based around Richard’s favorite things.

We had a fantastic time. And, since so many in Knoxville now have a Cleveland “connection” due to the Haslam family’s ownership of the Browns, we thought we’d share some of our favorite Cleveland experiences.

In addition to loving the Browns, Richard also loves a certain movie, which just happens to have been filmed in Cleveland: “A Christmas Story.” We penciled in a tour of the house where the movie was filmed. And Richard loves rock and roll music, thus, of course, we planned a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And great restaurants always are an important part of our itinerary. Continue reading

Filed under: Travel | 11 Comments

Robinson-Stair wedding was a masterpiece

Caesar Stair III officiates at the wedding of his son, Marshall, and Natalie Robinson.

Caesar Stair III officiates at the wedding of his son, Marshall, and Natalie Robinson. (Who knew that Caesar was a minister with the Universal Life Church?)

Attorney Caesar Stair III, the father of the groom, admitted that it was unusual to think of him officiating at a marriage ceremony — him being a well-known divorce lawyer and all. But that’s what his son wanted, so . . .

Last Saturday at the Knoxville Museum of Art, at an elegant evening ceremony attended by about 275 friends, Caesar did the honors. It was one of the best weddings we’ve ever attended.

The museum itself was a huge player in the event as guests were allowed total access to all three floors before, during and after the ceremony. They were even encouraged to bring their refreshments into the third floor gallery during the wedding itself, something I doubt would have occurred had the nuptials been held in a traditional house of worship.

The museum has never looked more beautiful, literally sparkling with stunning arrangements of flowers and twinkling lights on tree branches by Kae Lakenan of By Design, who staged the whole affair. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Politics | 7 Comments

Potlucks feed friendships — for 23 years

Gwen Brown is a member of Leadership Knoxville's Class of '93, also known as "the best class ever!"

Gwen Brown is a member of Leadership Knoxville’s Class of ’93, also known as “the best class ever!”

Leadership Knoxville is an intense 10-month program during which participants get to learn more about our community and its leaders. There are two overnight trips involved — one is orientation and the other is a visit to the state capital in Nashville — and 10 full-day sessions from September through May.

It’s expensive — $3,000 — and it’s hard to get into. Hundreds of folks apply or are nominated each year and fewer than 50 get in. But it’s well worth every penny and every hour.

The knowledge gained is important, but one of the most valuable aspects of Leadership Knoxville is intangible. It’s the lasting relationships that participants form with their classmates, many of whom they would never get to know outside of this program. The classes are put together with a strict eye for diversity — racial, religious, geographic and socioeconomic. And a wide variety of career fields are represented in each class. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Bravo to Knoxville Opera on a ball with it all!

Guest of honor, Mary Costa, with architect Doug McKamey, obviously a fan.

Guest of honor, Mary Costa, with Doug McKamey, obviously a fan.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Those folks at the Knoxville Opera know how to throw a great party! Case in point? This year’s Prima Donna Ball, honoring Knoxville’s own Mary Costa, who helped launch the Knoxville Opera in 1978 when she played the ravishing Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata.

This year’s ball, held at the Knoxville Museum of Art rather than the traditional Cherokee Country Club, also saluted Maestro Brian Salesky’s 10th year as executive director and conductor.

The entertainment was over the top. Russian soprano Julia Lima made a return appearance following a show-stopping 2013 performance, and Soulful Sounds Revue and the K-Town Rhythm Section featuring Lee Willis brought some funk to the dance floor. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Music | 6 Comments

Blue Streakers take a ‘dive’

Moxley Carmichael's Lauren Miller awards to booby prize -- a bottle of chardonnay -- to Chef Joseph Lenn, who came in last place in the pop quiz. (He's still a winner in our book, though!)

Moxley Carmichael’s Lauren Miller awards the booby prize — a bottle of chardonnay — to Chef Joseph Lenn, who came in last place in the pop quiz. (He’s still a winner in our book, though!)

Because the Blue Streak would not be possible without the cooperation of hundreds (at least) of Knoxvillians who patiently stop in the middle of partying to pose for photos and chat at events, we like to reward them from time to time.

We did that recently with a thank you party at Sweets P’s Downtown Dive, a new downtown restaurant that also is a Moxley Carmichael client. The guest list was made up of those who have been on the Blue Streak the most times in the past year or so.

We knew they would love the food — pulled pork and chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans and banana pudding — and the cool music by Slow Blind Hill, Jr., which was lined up by Sweet P’s proprietor, Chris Ford. But just to add a little more interest to the evening, we had a pop quiz — with prizes. It was to see who knew the most about the Blue Streak.

The winners went home with bottles of the Blue Streak’s favorite wine, pinot grigio, and the biggest loser took home a bottle of our least favorite wine, chardonnay! Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Downtown, Food, Knoxville, Public Relations | 5 Comments

Babalu is open today on Gay Street!

Jenn Welsh, a friendly face behind the bar, offering delicious chips for dipping in guacamole, which is made to order tableside.

Jenn Welsh, a friendly face behind the bar, offering delicious chips for dipping in guacamole, which is made to order tableside.

Looking for an eatery that’s a little different and a lot of fun? Head to 412 S. Gay St., and the historic J.C. Penney Building. Opening today is Babalu — and it is a delicious blast!

Although it is known for its tapas and tacos, there’s a lot more than that on its extensive and creative menu. Some of us got to have a sneak peek recently as the staff “practiced” on us prior to opening.

Babalu is a small chain based in Jackson, Miss. The Knoxville location is its fourth, after Jackson, Memphis and Birmingham. Coming soon: a Babalu in Charlotte, N.C. All of us at Moxley Carmichael have had a great time working with the energetic Babalu team leading up to the opening. We were pleased to hear the marketing manager report that the media coverage for the Babalu opening in Knoxville has been the best of any so far. (Special kudos to our Lauren Miller, who was point person on this account.) Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Downtown, Food | 8 Comments