Clarence Brown Theatre Gala kicks up its boots!

“Kinky Boots” was the theme of this year’s Clarence Brown Theatre Gala. Everyone got a boot-shaped cookie. Here’s Alan Carmichael tearing into his!

One of the best things about the Clarence Brown Theatre’s annual gala fundraiser is getting to see the great theatrical talent that Knoxville produces. Last year, it was thespian  Dale Dickey who received the Clarence Brown’s Artistic Achievement Award at the annual gala. Other recent winners have been actor John Cullum, set designer Bob Cothran and Saturday Night Live writer Paula Pell. All Clarence Brown alums.

This year, the award went to Rusty Mowery, currently working as associate choreographer of the Broadway show “Kinky Boots.” And that little fact gave the gala organizers a chance to use “Kinky Boots” as the theme for the evening. As you will see, it was a really festive idea.

It led to many in the assemblage wearing red and black in an homage to the “Kinky Boots” logo and design elements. Continue reading

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A good ‘thyme’ at the UT Gardens Gala

WBIR news anchor Abby Ham and her boyfriend, Travis May. She was the emcee of the UT Gardens Gala.

Well, it’s officially garden party season in East Tennessee. One of the first and largest of them is the UT Gardens Gala held in the sprawling UT Gardens — yep, the ones you pass on Neyland Drive on your route between downtown and West Knoxville.

This was the sixth year for the event and its theme was “Thyme to Grow.” This is the 35th anniversary of the UT Gardens, which, along with gardens in Jackson and Crossville, make up Tennessee’s official State Botanical Garden. The UT Gardens are unique in that they combine the beauty and openness of a public garden with a hands-on laboratory for studying, conserving and celebrating the environment.

A highlight of this year’s event was Sue Hamilton, director of UT Gardens, being presented with a proclamation by the Tennessee General Assembly congratulating UT Gardens on its 35th anniversary.  She was presented with the proclamation, which was sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, by UT President Joe DiPietro and Chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture Tim Cross. Continue reading

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‘Knockouts of Knoxville’ = provocative provisions

Ashley Capps and Birgit Clark were enjoying the cuisine and the conviviality.

What’s a good gourmet meal without a few gonads? In this case, sea urchin gonads, which also are known as uni.

The occasion for this innovation was this past Monday when the “Knockouts of Knoxville” — arguably our town’s four top chefs — joined together at Emilia to replicate a meal they served last month at the famous James Beard House in New York City. Joseph Lenn, Matt Gallaher, Drew McDonald and Jesse Newmister put together the menu which included three appetizers, four other courses and a dessert. Many featured local products (not the gonads, naturally). Every course was perfectly paired with a matching wine.

The evening, which sold out in a matter of hours after tickets were offered for sale online, was an absolute delight. Although each chef owns his own restaurant (or two), Emilia was the chosen site because it is the largest venue. At $125, the tickets were underpriced. They easily could have sold for twice that amount. Continue reading

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‘Blues on the River’ razzle-dazzles!

The dress! Wow! Laura Pippin in an original design created by an Asheville artist.

Stunning views of the main channel of the Tennessee River, fabulous eats provided by Bistro by the Tracks and sultry jazz players turning the living room into a bluesy nightclub.

That was the fun vibe for the Blues on the River fundraiser for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra at the beautiful home of music enthusiast Bob Lederer last Saturday.

The $100-per-ticket event (a bargain) sold out quickly as all 125 slots were snatched up in a flash. In addition to Bistro by the Tracks and Bob Lederer, sponsors were Jan Bechtel, Jeffrey and Barbara Crist, Sheena McCall, Pippin Dental Care, Sara Rose and Thermal Label Warehouse.

Check it out, and don’t miss a future opportunity to grab seats at the next installment of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s “Jazz & Cocktails” series, of which this event was an installment. Continue reading

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Burchett fundraiser fulfills on fun – and finances

Knox County Mayor – and 2nd Congressional District candidate – Tim Burchett gets a kiss from his daughter, Isabel.

Whereas many political fundraisers provide the attendees with a few cheese cubes and crummy donated wine in a drab banquet hall, the one three local couples had for Tim Burchett last week was over-the-top fun!

I guess it should have been, with the $1,000 per couple price tag and all. But it did not disappoint.

Held at the beautiful lakeside home of Steve and Becky South in the tony Harrison Keepe neighborhood, the cocktail party featured live music, a sumptuous buffet and a full bar. Speeches were kept to a minimum, and everyone enjoyed the camaraderie and the lovely spring evening on the patio.

The best part? The event raised over $90,000. In addition to the Souths, the other hosts were Greg and Melissa Isaacs and Teddy and Christy Phillips.

Continue reading

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KSO spreads its wings at Cirrus Aircraft hangar

Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian and flutist Hannah Hammel during a “KSO UnStaged” performance at Cirrus Aircraft’s “Vision Center.”

Over the next few years, expect to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra playing unusual music in unlikely places as part of its new “KSO UnStaged” series of performances. This year brought the core musicians to a brewery for “KSO UnStaged: Craft” and, most recently, to the Cirrus Aircraft hangar in Alcoa for “KSO UnStaged: Flight.” Continue reading

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Ken Burns: U.S. needs ‘less pluribus; more unum’

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, left, interviews historian Ken Burns.

Historian Ken Burns was in Knoxville recently, appearing on behalf of the East Tennessee Historical Society and Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law. The $300 per seat dinner at the downtown Hilton featuring Gov. Bill Haslam interviewing Burns was a sellout, as was Burns’ much less expensive ($55 per ticket) appearance at the Tennessee Theatre. Continue reading

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Eclectic Ely Building initiates downtown home tour

Homeowner Kelley Reymond in the master bedroom of the Ely Building last night.

Hey, everybody! It’s not too late to tour 11 residences on the City People Downtown Home Tour. The tour kicked off with a VIP reception on Thursday, but the tour itself runs tonight until 9 and tomorrow (Saturday) from noon until 4. Cost is only $35.

You can pay and get your wristband at one of two check-in locations: Jackson Central in the Old City (111 E. Jackson Ave.) or the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (17 Market Square). You’ll get a map and directory with a description of each home on the tour.

The VIP reception was in the historic Ely Building, located at 406 W. Church Ave. It contains 6,000 square feet on three floors and is the home of our next-door neighbors, Kelley and Eddie Reymond.

According to Knox Heritage, the Ely Building was built in 1903 as a physician’s office with a residence or an infirmary on the second floor. Initially, it was occupied for many years by the offices of Dr. S.M. Miller. But it is known by the name of the law firm Ely & Ely, which had offices there from 1950 until the late 1970s. The building also was home to the fictional office of Teddy Ruzak, the “highly effective detective” in three Richard Yancey novels. And newly elected Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay had the offices of his Double Jay Creative in it prior to the Reymonds moving in. Continue reading

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Get hitched – and everything else – at the Mule Barn

Jane Creed, left, with Duane Grieve and Anna Ford at the first event to be held in the historic Mule Barn at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a 47-acre public garden in East Knoxville just two miles from downtown. If you’ve never been, you definitely need to go. Admission is free, and every visit is unique because of the sheer size and scope of the property.

The latest addition to the Garden is its newly restored 100-year-old Mule Barn, available now for party and event rentals. Last Saturday, Kenneth and Jane Creed and George and Stephanie Wallace cashed in on an auction item they purchased at last year’s Green Thumb Gala and held the first event in the newly available space. It was a casual dinner party for 20.

According to Larissa Orten, the Botanical Garden’s membership, marketing and sales manager, the Mule Barn was part of the original Howell Nursery. It literally was falling down prior to the recent renovation, which included replacing the roof and putting in a concrete floor to take the place of the dirt floor from when it literally was a barn for mules. Continue reading

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So many hats — and only one head!

Kelly Burchett, Knox County’s First Lady, joined in the fun.

Maybe it was the startlingly beautiful weather last Friday. Or maybe it was the mimosas and Bloody Marys. Or maybe it was just getting a bunch of nice ladies and a bunch of nice hats together in one spot.

Or a combination of all three.

But, whatever it was, something made the 6th annual “Hats in Bloom” luncheon at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum an absolutely joyous occasion. People could not stop smiling as they tried on hats designed by acclaimed milliner Patricia Frankum prior to a delightful lunch by caterer Rex Bradford Jones.

The noise level rose to a loud roar as more and more women poured into the Dogwood Center located on the 47 acres that comprise the East Knoxville garden. The only misstep of the day was when the champagne ran out during lunch, which was probably for the better! Continue reading

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