Cuisine to crave! (Don’t read this if you are hungry.)

Blackberry Farm’s co-founder Kreis Beall, left, greets Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon at a fundraiser for the Knoxville Symphony Sunday night. It was an awesome evening.

I may already have had my best meal of 2020 — and it’s only February!

You can’t beat the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s annual trek to Blackberry Farm for what many think is the best fundraiser of the year. That occurred this past Sunday and it was, as usual, excellent. I have enjoyed a lot of great meals at Blackberry Farm. But I think this topped them all. Maybe it was because Kreis Beall, the founder of the posh resort, was in the house.

“Nah,” Beall said, brushing off the suggestion. “I’ve been retired two years. They don’t even know me.” Hmm. I’m not so sure about that. Especially with her new book getting rave reviews. (If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, head to Union Ave Books downtown and grab one.)

KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian took the opportunity to remind everyone that the Knoxville Symphony does so much more than just perform on the stages of the Tennessee and Bijou theaters and the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Music | 4 Comments

‘The most important artist Knoxville ever produced’

Beauford Delaney painted this self-portrait in 1970 while visiting James Baldwin’s villa in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval town in the south of France. Delaney was thought to have been in a psychological crisis at the time.

We are in full-on Beauford Delaney season here in Knoxville. And that’s a good thing. Because, according to David Butler, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art, the late Delaney is “by any standard, the most important artist Knoxville ever produced.”

The museum was packed last week for the preview party for the opening of the exhibit “Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door,” a reference to something the writer Baldwin once said when visiting Delaney’s Greenwich Village studio.

Delaney was born in Knoxville in 1901, the eighth of 10 siblings. He lived at 815 E. Vine Ave., in East Knoxville with his parents, Delia Johnson Delaney and the Rev. John Samuel Delaney. “He was not just born in Knoxville,” Butler writes in the foreword to the catalogue for the exhibit. “He was, to a large degree, formed here, as a person and as an artist.” Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Knoxville | 7 Comments

Kreis Beall’s book: bright, brave and brutally honest

Kreis Beall speaking last Wednesday at the launch party at Cherokee Country Club for “The Great Blue Hills of God.”

I don’t know what I expected. But it wasn’t this.

Kreis Beall, who founded tony Blackberry Farm with her ex-husband, Sandy Beall, back in 1976 as a six-room country inn, has taken an unflinching look back at her life in the just-released memoir, “The Great Blue Hills of God.”

She puts it all in the book: the cataclysmic fire that destroyed the Alabama home she and her family cherished; an accident and resulting brain injury that left her 70 percent deaf and depressed; the cheating of her husband with a much younger woman and the heart-crushing divorce after 36 years of marriage; and the devastating death in a skiing accident of her son, Sam, who at the time was the 39-year-old proprietor of Blackberry Farm.

The book, though not overly preachy, is the story of a soul journey and of Beall’s ultimate reaching out for and acceptance of God. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville | 14 Comments

Best restaurant dinner in Knoxville — for one night!

Proprietor Holly Hambright and my husband, Alan Carmichael. This was at the end of the night and I’m thinking that’s not coffee in that coffee cup!

I know you only think of Holly’s Gourmets Market in Bearden as a breakfast and lunch place. Because that’s what it usually is. But last  Thursday night, proprietor Holly Hambright pulled out all the stops when she invited a room full of friends and event planners to dinner to sample her new catering menu items.

All I can say is, “Wow!”

I told Alan that all our restaurant friends would be offended if I said Holly had the best restaurant dinner. But he said, “Well, I think they’ll understand — it WAS for one night only!” So, look at this dinner and see if you don’t agree.

Lisa Lawson, catering director, told everyone that the evening also was intended to show how handy Holly’s Gourmets Market is as an event space. It can hold around 200 folks for a sit-down or reception-type event. So, event planners, keep that in mind. Continue reading

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

The temptations of tiny tiki Tern Club

Architect Brian Pittman of Johnson Architecture enjoying a Mai Tai at Tern Club. “The best one I’ve ever had,” he raved.

I’ve wanted to visit the new tiki bar on the 100 block of Gay Street since it opened in November. The other day, while meeting with our clients over at Johnson Architecture, CEO Daryl Johnson casually mentioned that his firm had worked on the place. I asked if he’d go with me to have a drink there to show me the firm’s handiwork.

Well, that turned into a Johnson Architecture happy hour this past Wednesday night! My colleague Scott Bird and I were lucky enough to be included.

Called the Tern Club, the little place is a delight. You almost can’t help smiling when you are in there. It seats only 40 and is the culmination of a dream for its owners, Jocelyn Morin and Ryan Shanley. (Click here for a News Sentinel story about its opening.)

Johnson Architecture’s Brian Pittman and Eric Bowen worked on the project.”The owners knew what they wanted,” Pittman said. “They were lighthearted, excited and young. And they had a dream.”

The biggest challenge, he said, was figuring out how to get 40 seats into the tiny space. “Believe me, it was not easy!” he laughed. Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Downtown, Food, Knoxville | 7 Comments

Next Symphony season: new, American & diverse!

Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian announcing the next classical season during a reception at the Emporium Center last night.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Aram Demirjian announced the 2020-2021 classical music schedule to season ticket holders last night — and boy is it a doozy.

“Next season is the clearest realization of what I envisioned the Knoxville Symphony would be doing when I started as music director,” the young maestro said during an interview after the announcement. “It’s collaborative. It’s artistically ambitious. And it’s extremely fresh in terms of what we are programming, while still maintaining the romantic symphonic repertoire that lies at the core of what orchestras do.”

Demirjian assumed the helm of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in June 2016.

A look at the upcoming Masterworks and Chamber seasons — the Pops schedule  will be announced later — shows:

  • 25 percent of the pieces are by living composers.
  • 20 percent are written by women or members of underrepresented racial, ethnic or cultural heritage.
  • 32 percent of the pieces programmed are from outside the “traditional canon.”
  • 38 percent are by American composers.

Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Music | 2 Comments

Doctors by day; rockers at night

Dr. Katherine Cameron, who was Knoxville’s first female urologist, performed with Whiskey Compass on behalf of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Whiskey Compass was the winner in the contest which was decided 70 percent by audience vote and 30 percent by judges.

Talk about seeing doctors in a whole new light! Five local rock and roll cover bands — all featuring area physicians — battled it out this past Saturday at the 15th annual Doc Rock event to raise money for local nonprofits. And, the best part? It was a blast!

The festivities — attended by several hundred fans — were at the Concourse at the International near downtown Knoxville. General admission tickets were only $20 each. But we sprang for the $100 VIP tickets — and we are glad we did. Those tickets provided access to a Buddy’s Bar-B-Q buffet, a less-crowded cash bar and, most importantly, tables with chairs to enjoy the music. For the general admission crowd, it was a standing event.

All five bands were surprisingly good, and the vibe was festive. We recommend this event, a first-time experience for us. But, DO splurge for those VIP tickets! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 10 Comments

Looking for a weekend trip? Hop over to Highlands

Cheryl Bartley, left, and Madge Cleveland enjoying their first bottle of sake of the night at Asia House.

For the 26th year, we took our annual girls’ trip on MLK weekend. But, in our case, MLK stands for “Madly Leaving Knoxville.” We choose this weekend because, over the years, several of us have worked for government agencies and this is the Martin Luther King holiday, extending the weekend and allowing recovery time for some.

We are lucky enough to have friends who own a beautiful condominium in Highlands, North Carolina (thanks, Mel and Jim!), so that’s where we headed this past  weekend. We knew the weekend would be rainy and we also knew some restaurants would be closed for the season, but we were confident we’d have a great time anyway.

Here are some of the fun things to do in Highlands — even on a frigid, wet January weekend. We did miss one of our regular members — Susan  Brown, who was in Finland. But, Katie Kline, Madge Cleveland, Cheryl Bartley and I made the most of it. We recommend the trip. Come along! Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Travel | 31 Comments

A great New Year’s resolution for event planners!

Tina Knight, the brand storyteller for Moxley Carmichael, previously served as manager of internal communications for Discovery, Inc. Tina shared for In Any Event what she learned as a corporate event planner – and how much EventCheckKnox would have helped. Enjoy this blog entry to start 2020! -Cynthia

Imagine it’s mid-January and you’re on edge because you need to get a date nailed down ASAP for an event in … October.

Tina Knight at Crissy Haslam’s First Lady’s Luncheon in 2013. Knight, who was with Scripps Networks Interactive (which became Discovery), produced the Garden Guide to celebrate the event, which was attended by more than 800 people. (Blue Streak photo)

It happened to me. So. Many. Times.

I was the most privileged of event project managers: generous budget, dedicated event space, extremely talented team that included professional event managers and a full production crew.

But it was not without challenges.

I had to wrangle the schedules of impossibly busy executives and board members for a large, publicly traded company while navigating around holidays (for every religion and for countries on four continents), school breaks, daylight saving time change, earnings report dates and more.

Inevitably, we’d set the date, then someone would remember that this gala or that event usually occurs around that time, and we have several local VIPs who have to be there. Back to the calendars I’d go. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Public Relations | 3 Comments

Happy New Year! We cruised into 2020!

Dawn Ford at 11:38 aboard the Volunteer Princess Tuesday night.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a great time bidding adieu to 2019 and welcoming 2020. We definitely did.

As downtown devotees, we usually end up in one form or fashion on Market Square for New Year’s Eve, but this year we opted for something entirely different. We booked a cruise down the Tennessee River on the Volunteer Princess with our friends Dawn and Richard Ford.

It’s still downtown. And we added a couple of other downtown stops before we boarded the yacht, but we never did make it to Market Square, which we heard hosted a record crowd for the fun events planned there.

The Volunteer Princess cruise featured champagne at boarding and at midnight; appetizers; a three-course dinner; and dancing to a DJ. We upgraded to a private table for just the four of us. I still thought the cost was reasonable — $100 per person for a three-hour cruise and everything I just mentioned. We bought some additional wine (of course) at very reasonable prices. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Knoxville | 6 Comments