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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Dinner club our way — and thoughts on variations

Janet Testerman Creswell stirring the risotto to accompany her entree.

So, some friends and we have started a dinner club. We have done some research on how to do it “right” and have discovered, thankfully, that there is no “right” way! So, we’ll tell you what we are doing and give you some links to other resources. We definitely think you should do it. It’s so much fun!

Ours started with four couples — most online resources say between six and 10 people is the ideal number, so we are good there. Because we all are so crazy busy, we decided just to do it quarterly. This is an anomaly. Most dinner clubs apparently meet monthly or even more often.

We also are going to be the kind of dinner club that actually cooks the meal at the dinner location. Some bring already prepared dishes, but, to us, that seemed more like a potluck than a dinner club.

Anyway, follow here and we’ll show you what we did and give you some links to see what others do. Continue reading

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Symphony in the Park: soggy but still swell!

Stephen Lyn Bales, a senior naturalist at Ijams, and Olivia the possum greet guests at Symphony in the Park. Olivia can’t survive in nature because she has a deformed hand.

It never rains on Symphony in the Park. Not in 33 years. Somehow, the major fundraiser for Ijams Nature Center, an outdoor dinner featuring music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, has dodged the wet stuff.

Until this year.

But the folks at Ijams are professionals, and they were prepared. They moved the silent auction into the Visitor Center and provided several huge tents for dinner service and the concert.

In addition to the always stunningly beautiful music of the KSO, this year’s event featured several pieces by R.B. Morris and his band members, Greg Horne and Daniel Kimbro. Alan and I are fans of R.B. Morris, Knoxville’s first poet laureate, but for many in the crowd, it was their first exposure to his haunting melodies and moving lyrics. Morris brought the chatty audience to appreciative silence. (There’s a sample of his set at the end of this post.) Continue reading

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Rebel Kitchen rocks refined rations

Chef Paul Sellas, right, with D Leron, the employee with the third-longest tenure at Old City Wine Bar, a sister business.

Rebel Kitchen opens today at 5:30 at 108 W. Jackson Ave., in Knoxville’s Old City. Our recommendation to you: go as soon as you possibly can!

Alan and I attended a soft opening on Saturday night with our friends Bill and Gay Lyons and, I have to admit, I was a little dubious about it. How, I wondered, could this new place measure up to the great local chef-owned gourmet restaurants we already have and love downtown? Our favorites like Emilia and Knox Mason by Chef Matt Gallaher, J.C. Holdway by Chef Joseph Lenn and Lonesome Dove by Tim Love? Even our favorite go-to everyday eatery, Martha Boggs’ Bistro by the Bijou?

Well, I’m happy to say our old friends need to make a little room for Rebel Kitchen in their luscious lineup. It’s that good. Continue reading

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Southern hospitality on Sylvan Lane

Homeowners Shawn and David Owens rolled out the Southern hospitality as they welcomed guests to check out their recent renovations.

Knox Heritage’s popular Summer Suppers ended on a distinctly Southern note recently with a garden party in the backyard of a renovated Craftsman-style home on a little-known street in Sequoyah Hills. To underscore the Southern theme: all the dishes were prepared with recipes from Southern Living magazine. My favorite? Warm turnip green dip!

The house, located on tiny Sylvan Lane, was built in 1935. Shawn and David Owens purchased it in 2011. “We fell in love with the house,” David said. “And we’re still in love with it.” Nevertheless, renovations were in order.

Shawn decided to be her own general contractor, and the couple hired Sean and Sara Martin of Open Door Architecture to be their architects. The result is a comfortable living space on a spectacular piece of property — great for parties! Come check this one out! Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 5 Comments

Cash makes ‘Candide’ climb

Roy Cockrum, right, with Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian and his wife, Caraline, at a dinner Cockrum hosted prior to the opening performance on Friday.

Several years ago when our client Pilot Flying J got into the racing business by sponsoring a professional NASCAR driver, company CEO Jimmy Haslam told me, “Money equals speed, Mox.” What he meant was that the more money you put into a racing team, the more successful the team will be.

So, this week I learned a similar lesson. Money equals talent. Another client of ours, Knoxville lottery winner Roy Cockrum, poured a ton of money into underwriting the current joint Knoxville Symphony and Clarence Brown Theatre production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” and the result is over-the-top amazing. What that generous infusion of cash did was allow Clarence Brown’s artistic director, Cal MacLean, to audition singers in New York and Chicago and bring them to the Knoxville stage. The result is spectacular. Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Theater | 8 Comments