Leadership Knox ‘best class ever’ – settled!

Gwen Brown, left, and Jane Creed. Two members of Leadership Knoxville’s best class ever.

It’s a running joke among Leadership Knoxville classes. Every class claims that its class is “the best class ever.” But, I’m here to tell you that the matter has been settled. If you can refute this evidence, let me know.

This past weekend, the Leadership Knoxville Class of ’93 — of which I am a member — held its annual class party. Yep, we’ve had this party for the past 25 years — without fail! I don’t think any other Leadership Knoxville class can say that.

We were always a close class. Despite being a very diverse group  — like all Leadership Knoxville classes are designed to be — we genuinely liked each other. We were Republicans and Democrats, urban dwellers and suburbanites, black and white, business people, educators and community volunteers. But we jelled. We really listened to each other and learned from each other — even those with whom we disagreed. And we became friends. Continue reading

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Long Table: a bracing, bodacious blowout

Brrr. It was brisk — and getting brisker — so the smart folks bundled up for The Long Table Dinner in the 100 block of Central Street.

Dining al fresco when the temperature is dipping into the 40s might not seem like such a good idea, but the alcohol helped.

The occasion was the recent Sunday evening Long Table Dinner set up in the middle of Central Street in Knoxville’s Old City. This semi-annual event benefits a different nonprofit each time. It was a sell-out at $125 per head, benefiting River & Rail Theatre Company, which is raising money to renovate a space at 111 State St., and turn it into the Old City Performing Arts Center.

The Long Table Dinners are a group effort. This one involved chefs Jeff Carter from the now closed Crown & Goose, Blake Sallie of Paysan Bread, Jesse Newmister of Tako Taco, Jeffrey DeAlejandro of OliBea and Paul Sellas of Rebel Kitchen. Additionally, wine was provided by the Old City Wine Bar, beer by Pretentious Beer Company, liquor by PostModern Spirits, coffee by Vienna Coffee Company and music by Jig & Reel. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 10 Comments

After 50 years, Urban League lets loose with After 7

Phyllis Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League, welcoming the crowd.

The Knoxville Area Urban League is 50 years old this year and, to celebrate, the civil rights organization last week brought in popular R&B group After 7 for its annual awards gala. And it recognized its eight previous Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award winners.

“Our focus remains on jobs, justice, education, entrepreneurship and housing because these are the things that make our community one that is fully healthy — one where we all can thrive and believe our contributions matter,” said Phyllis Nichols, the fifth president and CEO in the Knoxville Area Urban League’s history. She has held the post since 1999.

Former winners of the Knoxville Area Urban League’s top award are:

  • Gloria Garner, a longtime Urban League employee and community volunteer;
  • Margaret and Felix Gaiter, community volunteers;
  • Robert Booker, former legislator, author and historian;
  • Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner, founders of the Love Kitchen;
  • Dr. Harold A. Middlebrook Sr., a beloved minister and civil rights leader who was a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
  • Rita Geier, a trailblazing attorney who succeeded in desegregating higher education in Tennessee;
  • Theotis Robinson Jr., the first black undergraduate at the University of Tennessee who eventually became a vice president there;
  • Rev. Dr. Gordon and Judy Gibson, longtime community activists. Continue reading
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Alison Krauss tickles Tennessee Theatre fans

Alison Krauss wowing them at the Tennessee Theatre recently.

So, the historic Tennessee Theatre is right in the middle of celebrating its “90 days for 90 years” anniversary extravaganza! There’s a lot of partying yet to be done. But one of the earliest and most festive events was a sold-out fundraising reception and concert featuring the dulcet tones of Alison Krauss, a crowd favorite around these parts.

Food, drinks and a fabulous concert made this one of the best fundraisers ever! Here are some photos of the festivities, but here’s also a list of some upcoming anniversary celebration events that are right around the corner:

  • Nov. 3: 90th anniversary open house.
  • Nov. 4: 90th anniversary silent film: Buster Keaton in “The Cameraman.”
  • Nov. 5: Mighty Musical Monday featuring the Tennessee Theatre’s new official organist, Freddie Brabson, and the Senior Center Singers.
  • Nov. 7: History talk with historian Jack Neely.

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Historic preservation, Music | 1 Comment

Surprise party hits high note for organist Bill Snyder

Cheers! University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Emeritus Bill Snyder was feted by a surprise party last night organized by his wife, Margi, and three daughters.

It’s been a big month for Dr. Bill Snyder. On Oct. 1, the former University of Tennessee chancellor and engineering dean, retired from his longtime position as house organist of the historic Tennessee Theatre and was honored with a 90-minute tribute. Continue reading

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Governor Bill Haslam: It’s been the honor of a lifetime.

The First Lady got flowers, but the Governor got a stack of sweet treats in thanks for their appearance last night.

With exactly 100 days left in his term of office (as of today), Gov. Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy, last night had a casual chat with 100 or so community leaders who are the biggest donors to the United Way of Greater Knoxville.

Held at the Lauricella Center at Neyland Stadium, which is named after Hank Lauricella, the late best friend of the governor’s father, Jim Haslam, the highlight of the event featured the elder Haslam interviewing the governor and First Lady after dinner.

Here are some highlights of the mostly lighthearted exchange:

  • Gov. Haslam said the most satisfying part of being governor has been succeeding in “opening the world of education” to Tennesseans who never thought of themselves as the kind of people who could go to college. This has been accomplished through various programs to make college financially accessible to high schoolers and adults alike.
  • All three Haslams emphasized the need to encourage more people to run for public office — particularly local offices such as school board seats and City Council. “Think small,” Crissy Haslam said. “It’s a huge opportunity to make a difference. And develop a thick skin.” Continue reading
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Cause for Paws ’18: carousing for the critters

Three generations of animal lovers! Brittany Bailey, left, Ann Bailey and little Kennerly.

It was hot. But with the combination of a lovely setting, food by the fabulous Holly Hambright, drink service by The Pour Guys, Americana music by Pistol Creek Catch of the Day and a cause that anybody can get behind, there was nowhere we’d rather have been.

The occasion was Cause for Paws, an annual fundraiser benefiting Young-Williams Animal Center. It was held in the beautiful Sequoyah Hills gardens of Steve and Ann Bailey, the in-laws of Brittany Bailey, a Young-Williams board member who was chair of the event.

Oh, and the silent and live auctions weren’t bad, either!

Last year, Young-Williams Animal Center took in 10,059 animals. Of those, 5,824 were adopted out to forever homes. In addition, others were placed through partner rescue groups, and 1,591 lost pets were reunited with their owners. Also, 1,243 animals went to foster homes for healing, extra growing time or socialization. Young-Williams Animal Center provided low-cost spay/neuter surgeries on 9,894 animals. See what I mean about a good cause? Continue reading

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90th anniversary cocktail party: the bees’ knees!

Judith Foltz getting a head start on the festivities as many folks dined at nearby Bistro at the Bijou prior to the party’s 8 p.m. start time.

“Party Prohibition style!” the invitation said. And a sold-out crowd threw on their pearls and feather boas and shelled out a bunch of clams to do just that! It was not your average night in downtown Knoxville as folks in the mood to enjoy some giggle water lit up the aisles and stage of the Tennessee Theatre. Not a bluenose in sight!

First you had to find the secret entrance in an alley and you had to know the password: Clara Bow is expecting me! Then you gained admittance through a little-known passageway into the theatre itself where the roulette wheels were spinning, and everyone was making whoopee while the Knoxville Swing Dance Association did its thing on the stage to the tunes of the Old City Buskers. Wow. Prohibition was fun! And, all proceeds benefited the Tennessee Theatre, currently celebrating its 90th anniversary. Yep. It was “born” in the Roaring ’20s — thus the theme. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville, Music, Theater | 7 Comments

The Pat Summitt Suite: beautiful and beneficial

Former Lady Vol Shelley Sexton Collier with a mural of Coach Pat Summitt inside the new Pat Summitt Suite at The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel. She was the first one to sleep in the new suite dedicated to her mentor. (Photo by Pam Rhoades.)

When the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team comes to Knoxville in February to play the Lady Vols, the Gamecocks’ head coach, Dawn Staley, will stay in the new Pat Summitt Suite at The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel downtown.

The team made the reservation last week shortly after the dedication of the beautiful new downtown lodging option.

Several other visitors who already had booked other rooms in the hotel on different nights have asked to be upgraded to the Pat Summitt Suite, as well.

What a good idea this was from hotel general manager Jan McCormick, who has seen other properties dedicate suites to big name personalities. Pat Summitt, who was head coach of the Lady Vols for 38 years and who passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s in 2016, is beloved and admired both inside and outside the world of sports. In 2005, she became the winningest coach in NCAA Division I college basketball. Continue reading

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Don’t lag, get to The Swag!

The view from Gooseberry Knob on the property of The Swag.

Have you been to The Swag? Alan and I booked a weekend there recently to celebrate our wedding anniversary — and to check it out because the resort is a new client of Moxley Carmichael. We were blown away. (But in a calm, relaxing, renewing kind of way!) Continue reading

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