Artsy party announces Yo-Yo Ma appearance

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Jesse Fox Mayshark of Compass Knox.

If you were looking for anyone from Knoxville’s arts and culture crowd last night, chances are they were at The Mill & Mine music hall. That’s where Ashley Capps and his colleagues from the Big Ears Festival were making a major announcement.

Seems that acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma has asked Big Ears to spearhead a Knoxville appearance in May of Ma and some of his friends for a cultural extravaganza called “Our Common Nature: An Appalachian Celebration.”

That announcement — plus the fact that this year will be the 10th year of the Big Ears Festival — was enough to justify a gathering featuring music, huge puppets, interesting food and a smattering of politicians.

“Big Ears is one of my favorite cultural events in the city of Knoxville,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “It’s the arts that get us through hard times and help us celebrate the good times.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said the Big Ears Festival is so successful partly due to Knoxville’s friendliness. “It’s where mountains meet music, where culture meets cuisine, but where nobody meets a stranger,” Jacobs said. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Music | 5 Comments

Tips from a cancer fighter — and survivor

Members of the Moxley Carmichael family had a big reason to celebrate last week. Our colleague Maria Cornelius, the best editor you’ll ever meet, officially hit her 10-year milestone of being cancer-free. Her oncologist officially discharged her into the care of her general practice doctor. And we all took that as a good reason for a party.

Everyone wore pink to the office last week to surprise Maria with a party! From left, Maria McHale, Christa Hall, Allie Clouse, Charley Sexton, Chris Weathers, Maria Cornelius, Lauren Miller, Shaun Fulco, me, Alan Carmichael and Amy Barger.

Maria joined Moxley Carmichael in 2013, six months after her double mastectomy. I had known and been friendly with her for years prior to that because of our mutual work in the local newspaper business and many friends we had in common in that circle.

At the time, we were looking for a writer/editor to join our staff. She was a freelance sports reporter and I had no reason to imagine that she, a hard-bitten journalist, would even consider a career in public relations, referred to by many in the reporting industry as “the dark side.” Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Public Relations | 9 Comments

MLK Celebration: a tale of two concerts. Or, ‘Sometimes things really do work out for the best!’

From left, Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian, Knoxville Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon, opera singer Michael Rodgers and Obayana Ajanaku, founder of Drums Up, Guns Down and Indigenous Vibes, at a curtain call following a KSO performance at the Tennessee Theatre on Sunday.

After more than 20 years, this year the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission decided not to partner with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for its annual MLK Celebration Concert. Instead, the Commission moved its program from the traditional location of the historic Tennessee Theatre to the much smaller Cox Auditorium on the University of Tennessee campus.

“We just decided to go in a different direction,” Deborah Porter, chair of the MLK Commemorative Commission, told me back last fall when the decision was made.

“We were really surprised and saddened,” said Rachel Ford, chief executive officer of the Knoxville Symphony. “It had become an important event for us. It was something all the musicians and staff looked forward to every year.” Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Music | 5 Comments

Here’s to 2023 — and an amazing Knoxville eatery!

Chef Joseph Lenn, center, poses with his parents, Jerry and Emily Lenn at his restaurant, J.C. Holdway, on New Year’s Eve.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends at J.C. Holdway gave us an opportunity to not only contemplate what 2023 would hold for us, but also for this downtown Knoxville gem.

Eight of us made reservations on the first day — actually the first hour! — they were available for the six-course prix fixe menu, which, we accurately assumed, would sell out pretty quickly even at $195 per person. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Food | 9 Comments

Christmas 2022: unexpectedly spectacular!

Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and ambassador to Poland, presents Ukrainian violin student Marki Lukyniuk an appropriate shirt!

We celebrated “The Carmichael Christmas” a week early this year when 15 members of Alan’s family came to Knoxville from Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee. My family decided to get together on Easter instead of Christmas. So, Alan and I were thinking we’d be spending Christmas 2022 alone. We made reservations at a restaurant.

But, guess what. Thanks to the great people who live here and whom we are lucky enough to count as friends, we had one of the best holidays ever — and certainly some of the best food we’ve ever had!

Our friend Janet Testerman is the CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center, a longtime and much valued Moxley Carmichael client. She’s also a member of Knoxville City Council. But, most important in this context, she is a former caterer who owned her own company and handled Knoxville’s most prestigious events for many years. Here’s a tip: When she invites you for a meal, go! That’s where we spent a fantastic Christmas Eve.

Another of our town’s most excellent cooks and hostesses is former Knoxville First Lady Joan Ashe. She and her husband, Victor, Knoxville’s longest-serving mayor and former ambassador to Poland, hosted a small Christmas Day dinner. This invitation was especially exciting to us because the Ashes’ daughter, Martha, now 29 years old, was home visiting. She was a Moxley Carmichael intern many years ago and we loved catching up with her. Continue reading

Filed under: Food | 4 Comments

Cookie exchange celebrates its 19th year!

From left, Margaret Rodgers, Janet Testerman Crossley and her daughter, Janet Testerman, prior to digging into the cookies.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the annual cookie exchange my friends and I have. The only folks who like this event more than we do? Our husbands and children. Margaret Rodgers says her son actually counts down the days! Continue reading

Filed under: Food | 2 Comments

Bijou Jubilee: the most fun outside New Orleans!

Scott Schimmel, chair of the board of directors of the Bijou Theatre, greets Nina Reineri inside the Bistro at the Bijou.

We felt as if we had gone to New Orleans last Saturday — and we never even left downtown Knoxville. Here’s why. The historic Bijou Theatre had a Mardi Gras theme for its annual Jubilee, the non-profit’s largest fundraiser of the year. The money raised — over $50,000 — will be used for ongoing preservation and operations of the theater.

The evening started with authentic New Orleans cuisine courtesy of Martha Boggs and her great staff at the Bistro at the Bijou. Then, following a silent auction, an optional Tarot card reading and tour of the allegedly haunted second balcony, the action moved to the Bijou Theatre itself for a double-bill concert of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Tab Benoit, both from New Orleans.

People came in a mood to party. (The open bar didn’t hurt!) So the sold-out event not only was profitable, but also was fun, fun, fun. As I said — just like New Orleans! Continue reading

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

Artsclamation! ’22 rocked it!

Knoxville artist Kara Lockmiller with her portraits of The Beatles. They were offered last weekend at Artsclamation! as a set — you couldn’t buy just one! Believe me, if we had the wall space, they’d be in our condo today! My husband and I both loved them. Lockmiller is a chromesthete: she sees colors when she listens to music!

Artsclamation! is the primary fundraiser for Peninsula, a non-profit mental health facility operated by Covenant Health. It provides in-patient and out-patient services to children, adolescents and adults.

Held the first weekend in December, Artsclamation! also is a good landmark for the start of the holiday season. It’s a great party, too! Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Knoxville | 2 Comments

Lynne Fugate kicks off City Council re-election race with politically diverse support — and fun!

Lynn Fugate, left, with Knox County Commission Chair Courtney Durrett.

If you stepped into the bright and noisy rooftop lounge at the downtown Hyatt Place hotel last night, you might have known you were at a political event — if only by the number of politicians present. But you would not have known the political persuasion of the candidate — Lynne Fugate, who is seeking re-election to her at-large seat on Knoxville City Council.

This is how it should be. City races are non-partisan. And Fugate is held in high esteem by prominent members of both parties, as evidenced by the names on her host committee.

You didn’t see red colors dominating the décor, the symbol of the Republican Party. Nor did you see Democratic party blue anywhere. Fugate has chosen green as her campaign’s official color. Not only is it politically neutral, but it also is the trademark color of her employer, Girl Scouts of the USA, where she serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, which spans three states and 46 counties.

“Lynne does the right thing,” said former Knoxville Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders in introducing her. “She always thinks of the citizens of Knoxville when she makes her decisions.” Saunders is a popular Democrat who has served on Knox County Commission, as well as City Council and numerous other civic organizations. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Politics | 2 Comments

Eating, drinking, dancing and saving animal lives!

Jerry Kruse, owner of The Pour Guys bartending service, visits with a cute canine guest.

Talk about a successful — and fun! — charity event. Cause for Paws, the signature fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center, had it all: a beautiful venue, creative decorations, great food and drink, music, dancing, a SHORT auction — and animals! This was the eighth year for the party, which this year raised more than $125,000 for the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County.

The focus of this year’s event was funding the organization’s Animal Compassion Fund, which provides money to pay to treat animals with medical conditions or behavioral problems that would otherwise cause them to be unadoptable.

The Compassion Fund pays for medical equipment and treatment as well as providing foster homes for the pets while they heal. Once restored to health, these special animals can be placed on Young-Williams’ adoption floor to find their new forever homes.

Cause for Paws was held at the Knoxville Museum of Art and it was a beautiful evening which allowed guests to mingle on the inside and outside of the pink marble landmark. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 6 Comments