Bobby Denton: More than a mogul

Bobby Denton showing off his Christmas tree. Naples 2012.

Bobby Denton showing off his Christmas tree. Naples, 2012.

I think Bobby Denton would have liked the beautiful funeral flowers from Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.

I know he would have chuckled at the wreath created in the image of “Wivik,” the frog mascot of radio station WIVK. And the mums that formed a three-dimensional football from WNML, The Sports Animal. And the black-and-white checkered victory flag in the arrangement from Bristol Motor Speedway.

He would have been touched that Shannon, his wife of 15 years, somehow had the composure to sing “How Great Thou Art” at the start of the service. And, like the rest of us, he would have been moved to tears by the beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” performed by his longtime friend, country crooner Con Hunley.

It was a service earlier this week of which he thoroughly would have approved. From the slide show of photographs from his 73 amazing years on this planet to the recording by Dolly Parton gently mocking him as “king of the slicked back hair” in a reworded rendition of “Davy Crockett.” (read more)


Martini madness: A quest for the best

Martini connoisseur Scott Bird tasting the wares at Bistro by the Bijou on Gay Street.

Martini connoisseur Scott Bird tasting the wares at Bistro by the Bijou on Gay Street.

Every martini drinker has his or her ideas about what makes one perfect — or even good. My colleague Scott Bird likes his made with Grey Goose or Belvedere vodka garnished with a twist of lemon or lime in the summer and with olives in the winter. “And a proper martini should be stirred, not shaken,” Scott insists, “despite what James Bond says!”

Stirring the drink produces fewer ice crystals, which will dilute the beverage. But it also takes longer, which causes many bartenders to opt for shaking, a quicker chilling method.

Being the martini fans that we are, Scott and I set out to find the best martinis in Knoxville. We had to set some parameters, of course. We would go to about a dozen places that we thought should have good martinis and we would order a Grey Goose martini, up, with blue cheese-stuffed olives. I would get mine “dirty” (meaning with a little olive juice added in) but Scott would not.

“There’s a big debate about whether a vodka martini even qualifies,” Scott allowed. “But for me, it does.” I agreed. (read more)


Photo op! (Celebrating the best Blue Streakers)

Two of our "frequent flyers" on The Blue Streak. Erin Donovan of Visit Knoxville appeared nine times in the past year. Dino Cartwright of Prestige Tuxedo was on it 11 times.

Two of our “frequent flyers” on The Blue Streak. Erin Donovan of Visit Knoxville appeared nine times in the past year. Dino Cartwright of Prestige Tuxedo was on it 11 times.

One of the easiest parties to plan every year is our annual (for the most part) Blue Streak party. This is a gathering to thank the photogenic folks who have been on The Blue Streak blog the most in the previous year. We generally have it in March, when there’s not too much going on. And this year, for the first time, we had it on a Monday night. That plan worked pretty well.

The reason the event is so simple to plan is because the invitees generally know and like each other and — big factor — they are almost all extroverts! All we have to do is add some good food and drinks and voila! It’s a party.

We generally like to hold the party at an eatery with which we have done business in the past year. We’ve held it at Regas Restaurant and the Lunchbox Market and Cafe. This year, we held it at what is becoming one of our favorite reception venues, Windows on the Park, the bar/restaurant in the recently renovated Holiday Inn at World’s Fair Park. It’s light and airy, the food is varied and delicious (and the timing provided Happy Hour prices!), and the staff is friendly and helpful. They hired us to help with their opening a while back. What more could we want? (read more)


Best wishes to the couple who failed at breaking up

It’s wedding season here at Moxley Carmichael! There must be something in the water, because when we counted earlier this year, five of the women who work here were engaged. It’s going to be interesting to watch because each of the brides has her own unique ideas about the perfect wedding — and these are experienced event planners.

Mark and Amanda Shell Jennings

Things got off to a beautiful start last month when account executive Amanda Shell married her longtime boyfriend, Mark Jennings, at Calvary Baptist Church, where the two had met five years earlier. A sweet and festive reception followed at The Foundry on World’s Fair Park.

Amanda invited everyone on our staff to the wedding and everyone went. We could have had a staff meeting there, if we had wanted.

Amanda is extremely special to us. We have known her father, Max Shell, for more than 15 years when, as senior vice president of marketing and community relations for Covenant Health, he hired Moxley Carmichael to represent the largest hospital system in East Tennessee. (read more)


L’Amour du Vin: food, wine and a peek at the sky

Chef Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington

Chef Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington

Chef Patrick O’Connell, dubbed “the Pope of American cuisine,” knocked ’em dead earlier this month at L’Amour du Vin, the annual wine dinner and auction that raises funds for the Knoxville Museum of Art. But, equally mesmerizing to the hundreds of excited guests in attendance, was the glimpse we got of the upcoming epic glass and steel installation by Knoxville artist Richard Jolley in the museum’s Great Hall.

While most of the huge project — it will be the largest figural glass assemblage in the world — is covered by floor-to-ceiling fabric drapes, the part that represents the sky is suspended from the ceiling and in plain view. The official opening is the first weekend in May.

The evening started with a huge — and I mean HUGE — selection of wines and related items offered in a silent auction, along with more than a dozen wines to sample in the Great Hall. Then, for the dinner and live auction, everyone moved into an elegant tent erected in the North Garden. The way this event works is that a guest chef — in this case, Patrick O’Connell — designs the menu, and the staff of Blackberry Farm prepares it. This is truly one of the best foodie events of the year. (read more)


Let the good times woof at Mardi Growl

Thanks to Lauren Christ of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak — Cynthia Moxley.

These two beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are Copper and Chewy. They belong to Young-Williams Animal Center board member Brittany Bailey, and they are ready for the parade with their purple, green and gold feather boas.

These two beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are Copper and Chewy. They belong to Young-Williams Animal Center board member Brittany Bailey, and they are ready for the parade with their purple, green and gold feather boas.

During Mardi Gras, parade goers can be heard declaring, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” – the Cajun French expression meaning “Let the good times roll!”

When the Mardi Growl parade hit the streets of downtown Knoxville earlier this month, it was more common to hear shouts to “roll over” as hundreds of canine parade-walkers marched down Gay Street.

The 7th Annual Mardi Growl Parade and Festival took place Saturday, March 1. Sunshine and comfortable spring-like weather welcomed hundreds of two-legged and four-legged East Tennesseans to the event.

Pet owners and their pups lined up at the PetSafe Downtown Dog Park to walk in the parade and compete in the costume contest, and animal lovers, families and their dogs lined the streets to cheer on the participants. Costume categories included Best Vol Spirit, Ugliest, Pet/Owner Look-alike, Best Dog Couple, Best Costume, Best Dog Pawk and Most Unique Mixed Breed/Mutt.

(read more)


Big Orange boogie woogie

Jason D. Williams tearing it up at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Jason D. Williams tearing it up at the Knoxville Convention Center.

If I can help it, I’m not going to miss seeing boogie woogie piano player Jason D. Williams when he is in our area. The spitting image of (a younger) Jerry Lee Lewis, Williams most recently was in town for the 2014 Salute to Excellence, a fundraiser at the Knoxville Convention Center for the University of Tennessee Athletics Department.

Sure, it’s your same old formula: silent auction, dinner, live auction, entertainment. But the presence of Jason D. Williams made Alan and me don our black tie outfits and head on over. Many folks added running shoes and orange accoutrements to their formal attire.

This event used to be a fundraiser for the Lady Vols, back when there was a separate Women’s Athletics Department. Back then, it was truly a huge affair, with silent auction items filling table after table in the Convention Center’s Cumberland Concourse and people so thick you couldn’t comfortably walk around. But ever since UT combined the women and men athletes into one department, the Salute to Excellence event has gotten smaller. One guest who has never missed the Salute to Excellence speculated that Lady Vols fans were more excited and devoted when there was a stand-alone Women’s Athletics Department. (read more)


New art — and spring! — arrive downtown

I don't know what it is, but I like it. It's in Krutch Park.

I don’t know what it is, but I like it. It’s in Krutch Park.

The Art in Public Places exhibit, part of the 2014 Dogwood Arts Festival, started being visible this week in Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville. The first six of the ultimately 25 monumental pieces of art have been installed.

The plaques with the artists’ names and the titles of the pieces have not been put up yet, but I thought folks might want to get a sneak peek at them. I love them — although, I have to admit, I do not understand most of them. Perhaps the titles will give a clue when we get to see them.

This is the eighth year of the Art in Public Places exhibit. It is a juried show, judged by sculptor Kenneth Thompson. Eight thousand dollars in prizes will be awarded, including a $3,000 Best of Show prize. The show officially opens April 4 with an awards ceremony. (read more)


Jolley on his art’s scale, history and private ‘parts’

Artist Richard Jolley taking questions during the Knoxville Museum of Art's Artist's Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

Artist Richard Jolley taking questions during the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

Every year, in connection with its huge wine auction fundraiser called L’Amour du Vin, the Knoxville Museum of Art has an Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm showcasing the weekend’s featured artist. Since an epic glass and steel installation by Knoxville’s own Richard Jolley is set to open in May, it makes perfect sense that he was this year’s artist.

The over-the-top luncheon also highlights the featured wines of the auction weekend, in this case the wines of Kosta Browne Winery from Sonoma County.

Jolley, a laid-back and self-deprecating charmer who has been working in the studio on equipment he constructed since 1975, shared several insights about himself, his art, and art in general.

  • Jolley works in series. In the 1990s, he made a series of busts. Then it was line sketches. Then totems. In the 2000s, he started doing large two-dimensional works. “With each series, I try to develop new techniques,” he explained. “My works don’t have specific narratives but, hopefully, they are universally understood.”

(read more)


Curtains Up: Clarence Brown Theatre director announces wildly diverse 2014-15 season

Clarence Brown Theatre Artistic Director Cal MacLean trying some candied bacon, a trademark of caterer Holly Hambright.

Clarence Brown Theatre Artistic Director Cal MacLean trying some candied bacon, a trademark of caterer Holly Hambright.

Over what he described as a “family breakfast,” Clarence Brown Theatre‘s artistic director, Cal MacLean, recently announced the eight plays that will make up the theater’s 2014-15 season. And what a diverse lineup it is for the theater’s 40th anniversary year.

The offerings range from classics, including plays by Shakespeare and Dickens, to more recent works about inter-generational relationships and racism.

The Clarence Brown is both a professional theater company serving the community and the university and a learning laboratory for students and graduate students in the University of Tennessee’s acclaimed Department of Theatre. MacLean serves both as artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre and as head of the Department of Theatre.

Guests at the breakfast, held in the theater’s lobby, included sponsors and top level season ticket holders. “It’s good to have breakfast with the family,” MacLean laughed.

So, here’s the lineup: (read more)