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!
Bijou Theatre board members Angie Wilson, left, and Shanna Browning were looking and feeling festive!
Kelly Street, left, and Brent Midyett having warm-up drinks.
Alan Carmichael and Lisa Sorensen at the Bistro prior to the show.
The N’awlins food was out of this world! Clockwise from top left: mini muffalettas, gumbo, fried oyster po’boys, Oysters Bienville, red beans and rice.
Bistro proprietor Martha Boggs with Tom Bugg, general manager of the Bijou Theatre.
Courtney Bergmeier, executive director of the Bijou Theatre, with Jack Singleton, treasurer of the board of directors.
Emmie Palmer and Kelly Headden of BarberMcMurry Architects.
Jimbo Patteson passed Bananas Foster!
WBIR’s Robin Wilhoit, right, with Bijou board members A.J. Dave and Shanna Browning.
Upstairs at the Bistro, Robin had a reading by Whitney Petelka from House of Tarot.
I was not sure what to make of this, but it added to the creepy atmosphere of the Tarot reading!
Then we took a walk through the silent auction, where Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar was on the block. We didn’t buy it.
It was time to head to the Bijou for the music! Here’s Courtney Bergmeier, executive director of the Bijou, on stage welcoming everyone.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which has been playing with various members since 1977, is nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best American Roots Performance” category. Awards will be given on Feb. 5.
Kirk Joseph, sousaphone player, comforts Gregory Davis, on trumpet and vocals. Davis announced that the band had buried another band member that day. They then launched into a particularly somber version of “The Old Rugged Cross.” But they picked up the tempo after that.
Do you think this woman on the front row was having a great time? I had spoken with her at the Bistro prior to the show and discovered she had driven to Knoxville from Bristol just for the performance. She was going back to Bristol immediately after the concert.
Tab Benoit took the stage after the Dirty Dozen. The sound was so ear-splittingly loud that we decided to go back to the Bistro.
That’s where we saw our third band of the night: Brown, Linton, Mullican and Jordan. Pretty (and much more listenable) jazz.
And we spent some time with our friend Martha Boggs and her husband, David Patterson.
Our heroes. Outstanding bartender Jeff White, left, and server Jared Cherry.