One of the scores of percussionists at Mead’s Quarry on Sunday. (Photo by Jim Nichols)
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision on my part. Something I’m not really supposed to do without consulting my business (and life) partner, Alan Carmichael. (I did get his buy-in later before it became official.)
But Ashley Capps and Mary Thom Adams made the finale of the Big Ears Festival, called Inuksuit, sound so darn intriguing that I told them Moxley Carmichael would be a $10,000 sponsor. That contribution would allow the public to attend the event free of charge.
I didn’t even know how to pronounce Inuksuit (click here for that), but they told me it would involve up to 99 percussionists playing their instruments outdoors at Mead’s Quarry at Ijams Nature Center (where Mary Thom worked at the time) and the sound would echo off the quarry walls in a way that would be a different experience for every person depending on where they were standing (or sitting or lying down). I loved the idea. I said yes.
Both Ashley and Mary Thom had experienced Inuksuit, a 70-minute work written by John Luther Adams, in previous years of the Big Ears Festival. But they said only a few hundred audience members attended. Moxley Carmichael’s sponsorship could change that, they said, allowing for the general public to attend without buying tickets.
Mead’s Quarry was the beautiful setting. (Photo by Maria Cornelius)
We decided to make a party of it, inviting our staff and their families, along with our personal friends, to a private luncheon on the site an hour prior to the performance. And we invited the general public, of course, to participate in the free musical experience. We made posters and put them up downtown. We sent out news releases. We booked folks from Big Ears to go on TV shows to promote the free “concert.” We even purchased underwriting announcements on WUOT, the public radio station. (Inexplicably to me, by the way, the radio station would not allow us to announce that the performance was free. They have a rule that you can’t say what the “price” of something is! Why, why, why?)
And we made souvenir T-shirts for our staff and friends to wear on the day of the event.
It was a blast! Because admission was free and because folks drove in, biked in and hiked in it’s impossible to say how many people actually were there. But they flooded in. I would estimate between 1,500 and 2,000 at least.
Here’s a look at the very unusual Sunday we had last weekend. Thanks to the entire team at Moxley Carmichael who pitched in to make it the fun success it was.
Before everyone arrived, I walked around a little. Saw a lot of these.
This was a big clue of what was to come.
An hour before the “concert,” we started setting up for our private event.
Our friends from Sweet P’s were a welcome sight!
The Moxley Carmichael staff was out in force! (The folks who weren’t there were helping our client Covenant Health at the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.) In front, Charley Sexton and his wife, Linnie; at far left, Erica Beck; in the back, John McCulley and his wife, Crystal; and at right, Amanda Jennings and her hubs, Mark. (Fun selfie by Charley Sexton.)
Moxley Carmichael’s CFO Shaun Fulco Hyver, left, and intern Emily Breeden were great setting up and working the bar. Thankfully, Emily is a REAL bartender at Aubrey’s.
From left, Richard Ford, Christopher Ford (of Sweet P’s) and Patrick Roddy (of AC Entertainment). They were wearing caps of their favorite baseball teams in honor of the official start of the 2106 MLB season.
My silly husband, left, with our friend Desiree Eldridge.
From left, Daryl Johnson, Alan and Becky and Jeff Ashin.
From left, Moxley Carmichael folks Amanda Jennings and Erica Beck with Crystal McCulley, who is married to our digital media guy, John McCulley.
Photographer Gary Heatherly, left, with our creative director, Charley Sexton, and his wife, Linnie.
From left, Paul James, the executive director of Ijams Nature Center, and my friends Gay Lyons and Dawn Ford.
Awesome turkey sandwiches from Sweet P’s.
And, for the vegetarians, spinach quiche squares. Yum.
Our downtown neighbors, Peter and Jen Moore. Peter said they just heard that we are moving out of our Cherokee Lofts condo into the J.C. Penney Building. He’s trying to demonstrate that he’s sad!
From left, Kael Schneider, Jonathan Knisely, R.J. Hinde and John Winemiller.
Michael and Judith Foltz.
David and Desiree Eldridge with Moxley Carmichael’s Maria Cornelius, at right.
The party scene. Relaxed.
At table, our downtown friends Alan and Karen Sims (he’s the “Urban Guy” whose blog, “Inside of Knoxville,” is listed as one of my favorites on this site), Sibylle and Jeff Mansour, in back, and Bill Lyons, at right.
Paul James, center, with Mayor Madeline Rogero, right, and her friend, Teresa Dorian. Mayor Rogero and Teresa hiked five miles from south Knoxville to get to this event. Yay them!
Our friend Richard Ford had a knee replacement not too long ago. He was stretching his leg, per doctor’s orders.
Brandon and Amy Barger, left, with Halie Sharpe and Savannah Ivey. Amy is with Moxley Carmichael and Savannah is one of our great interns.
From left, Richard Ford, Carmen Hicks and Phyllis and Jim Nichols.
Hallelujah ham sandwiches!
A closeup of Sweet P’s muffaletta sandwiches.
Gay Lyons and David Butler.
Chelsea Pemberton, left, with Becky Hancock.
Cute picture of Desiree and David Eldridge.
Moxley Carmichael’s Maria Cornelius made friends with Johnny Benson and his cute doggie, Margo. (Maria, herself an animal lover, has one dog and six cats!)
Our former intern, Lindsey Collins, with Zak Goeringer.
Daryl Johnson, left, with Danielle and Jim Hemsley.
From left, Erin Donovan, Kim and Scott Bumpas and Becky Hancock.
Soon, the performance started. We left our party site and headed towards the edge of the quarry.
One of many drummers. (Photo by Jim Nichols)
Typical attendees (Photos by Jim Nichols)
A very pretty sound came from this.
As I said, some folks biked in.
Everyone had his or her own way of enjoying the sounds.
Our buddies Carmen Hicks, left, and Phyllis Nichols chose this route.
The show continued. (Photo by Jim Nichols)
Maria wandered off and took a pic of Lance the dog. (Photo by Maria Cornelius)
Back at the party site, Erin Donovan with Eric Willie.
Kerry O’Brien and Andy Bliss, co-directors of Inuksuit, dropped by to say hello.
From left, Emily Breeden, Amanda Jennings, Shaun Fulco Hyver and Andy Bliss.
Other drop-ins after the show were, from left, Ian Blackburn from AC Entertainment, Lila Honaker of the Tennessee Theatre and Scott Barker of the News Sentinel.
In all these pics, you can only see the front of the shirts we made. Here’s the back. Erica Beck, left, designed them. Natalie Bailey, right, was part of our event team for Inuksuit. We ended up giving the musicians all our leftover shirts.
Here’s a little taste of Inuksuit.
Hate that I missed this. But it was a great day for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and with this report on the Big Ears finale, I’d say it was a great day for Knoxville overall. Big thanks to Moxley Carmichael and our wonderful clients for sponsoring the concerts, races and other events that make this such a cool place to live.
You know it’s going to be a mellow day when the Yankees and Red Sox fans are convivial.
New York was represented by Richard and Christopher and Boston by Patrick and Erin. In all, a beautiful day.
What a fun and interesting event! Big thanks to Moxley Carmichael for making it all possible. I am blessed to work for a company that gives so much back to our community.
Unique and fun! Thanks for making it possible. It was a great finale to Big Ears.
Thanks for sponsoring this unique event & for inviting us to join you. It was a one-of-a-kind event & a lovely way to spend a few hours on a beautiful (if slightly chilly) spring day. It was great seeing so many people enjoying the experience & the environment. What a great finale for Big Ears. And thanks for the pronunciation guide for Inuksuit.
Thank you for inviting us. The food was great, the company was fabulous, and the overall experience was exciting ! We would not have experienced this innovative event had it not been for your invitation.
Thanks, everybody, for your comments. Moxley Carmichael staff members — you were awesome. Also want to salute our brave guests who came out on Sunday despite not having any idea what to expect. I think it turned out to be a pretty good day!
Looking for me at a party? Find the animals. I enjoyed the people, too!
a great event, so cool ya’ll sponsored!! Tinah aka TRU Dog Network!
Thank you both for the sponsorship and for inviting us to your tent. It was a great day and a beautiful experience.
Thanks for coming, Alan!
Looks like you all had a marvelous time! Thank you so much for sponsoring the event and allowing people to enjoy a wonderful show! (And P.S. The FCC won’t allow public radio stations like WUOT make any reference to pricing, and that includes the word “free.” It’s not a station policy, it’s the FCC!) Thanks again for all you do to make Knoxville a great place to live!
Thanks for your comment, Cindy. And welcome to your new job at Ijams.
Regarding WUOT’s policy of not allowing non-profits to say an event is “free” because that is a “price,” I would suggest that it is a matter of interpretation of FCC policy. The reason I say this is because, as you know, I am the president of the Knoxville Symphony Board and the KSO similarly is not allowed on WUOT to say “Ticket prices start at $15” in our underwriting announcements. However, our marketing consultant who works with symphonies all over the country tell us that some other public radio stations do allow that statement in underwriting announcements. So I can only assume it is a matter of interpretation on WUOT’s part.
The FCC’s guidelines only apply to for-profit organizations, so Moxley Carmichael, for example, wouldn’t be able to mention pricing, including the word free, and that’s what I was responding about.
However, your consultant is absolutely right when it comes to nonprofits — they can say whatever they like as far as the FCC is concerned, but many public radio stations, including WUOT (at least when I worked there; I can’t speak for them now), hold nonprofits to the same standards to maintain a noncommercial “sound” consistently from message to message. Ain’t public radio fun?
Again, thanks so much for sponsoring Inuksuit and for all you do for this community. I’ll see you at Symphony in the Park if not before! 🙂
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