A retirement that’s hard to celebrate; but we tried!

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Rick Emmett, Knoxville’s downtown coordinator, at one of his retirement parties last week.

Downtowners — residents and business owners — attended a festive party at Radius Rooftop Lounge recently to celebrate Rick Emmett’s retirement from his position as downtown coordinator for the City of Knoxville. But I think I speak for everyone when I say we had to force ourselves to put on a happy face at the event.

Don’t get me wrong. After working for the City of Knoxville for over 30 years under the leadership of five different mayors, Emmett, 67, deserves his retirement. But he’s done such a good job as downtown coordinator for the past 12 years, that many of us are concerned about him leaving. His duties are to be divided among several others at City Hall. Point person will be another friend of ours, Chip Barry, the deputy chief of operations, but downtown coordinating will not be his only job, as it was Emmett’s.

“Rick is one of those rare people who has been in public service a long time, but has no enemies!” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said at the farewell event hosted by the Downtown Knoxville Alliance. “Rick anticipates problems. But when he comes to me, he doesn’t just bring the problem, he brings a solution.” She added that she always was confident that Rick “had my back.” Continue reading

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Mardi Growl ’23: You can’t stop smiling!

This smiling drum major took first place in the “Vol Spirit” category!

There are few happier places to be in Knoxville than at the annual Mardi Growl parade and festival benefiting Young-Williams Animal Center.

This year’s event was held last Saturday at World’s Fair Park, after a parade from the Old City. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to attend next year: be prepared for your face to hurt from smiling so much! It’s literally impossible not to be happy when you are at this fun event.

Young-Williams is the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County. Mardi Growl is its single largest fundraiser every year. In addition to hundreds of happy hounds and their people, at Mardi Growl you will see about 100 vendors catering to dogs and dog lovers, numerous food trucks and an enthusiastic group of volunteers staffing the adult beverage booth where, we were told, drinks like Bloody Marys and Mimosas out-sold beer by a long shot! Music was provided again this year by an energetic and versatile band called K-Town, which bills itself as “Knoxville’s house band!” Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events | 11 Comments

A jaunt to Scotland — without leaving Knoxville

A toast with one of the four Scotch whiskies offered for tasting! From left, Karen and Reinhold Mann and John and Linda Haynes.

A packed Scottish pub. Scotch eggs. Four kinds of Scotch whisky. And Scottish music – with a couple of tangos thrown in for good measure.

That’s what the sold-out “Scotch and Strings” fundraiser at Boyd’s Jig and Reel offered participants this past Sunday as a benefit for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. About 90 people — some in kilts — traveled to Knoxville’s Old City (a lot closer than Scotland!) to celebrate and contribute. The $65 price of admission got you tastes of four Scotches plus a bounteous buffet of Scotch-themed edibles. (Thankfully, no haggis!) Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Music | 4 Comments

It was a souper good time!

Emcee for the event was Angela Bartlett, senior manager of community engagement and capacity building at the Knoxville-Knox County CAC Office on Aging. You couldn’t dream up a better shirt for this duty!

One of the tastiest and most laid-back fundraisers in Knoxville has to be CAC Beardsley Community Garden’s annual “Snow Day” soup competition. I’ve been going to it for years and, I swear, the soups keep getting better and better! This year was no exception.

Held at Hi-Wire Brewing in South Knoxville, it featured entrees from nine local eateries. A $25 entry fee got you an all-you-can-eat ticket. A cash bar provided libations. This year’s event was the most successful ever with the most attendees and biggest financial haul since I started attending in 2012. The event blew past its original $6,000 goal and raised more than $15,000.

All contest entries were either vegetarian or vegan and had to be made from locally sourced ingredients. Winners were determined by votes of attendees. And they were Kandilige Spicy Food’s vegetarian lite soup in the vegan category and Tako Taco’s “crab” rangoon bisque in the vegetarian contest. Congrats! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 4 Comments

Mardi Gras on Magnolia!

Hostess Kim Trent opened her home and transported a bevy of bon vivants to Mobile — or New Orleans — not sure!

Kim Trent is an expert on Mardi Gras. She is from Mobile, where the first Mardi Gras was held. So, it was with great enthusiasm that I signed up to attend a Mardi Gras-themed Elegant Dining fundraiser for the Knoxville Symphony League to be held at her historic house in East Knoxville.

The Baumann and Baumann-designed home was built in 1926 by A.H. Whisman, whose firm went on to become today’s Johnson and Galyon Construction. It is located on Magnolia Avenue in the historic Park City neighborhood. In fact, the house has a name: “The Magnolia.”

As you will see, Kim enlisted some friends to co-host the event, several of whom are from New Orleans and know a thing or two about Mardi Gras, themselves!

The sold-out luncheon event was over the top in terms of food, drinks, music and decoration. Come along to the party and let the good times roll! Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Music | 6 Comments

KSO’s next season will be out of this world

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Aram Demirjian introducing the upcoming Moxley Carmichael Masterworks and Chamber Classics series of concerts.

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra held a little cocktail party at The Emporium Center on Gay Street recently to unveil to its board members and major supporters the schedule for the 2023-24 concert season, which starts in September.

(You can see the entire Masterworks and Chamber Classics schedules when they are posted on the KSO website in a few weeks. The schedule for the next Pops season will be announced later.)

But — wouldn’t you know it? — the music I am most looking forward to seeing performed is near the end of the season. More than a year away. It’s the April 14, 2024, Chamber Classics program. It features a Charles Ives (whom I normally do not like) piece and four other classical works that are included on the so-called “Golden Record” that scientists sent into space in 1977 aboard the two Voyager spacecrafts.

The Golden Record is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images that portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Its contents were selected by a committee headed by scientific genius Carl Sagan. The four classical pieces are Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, “I;” Beethoven’s “Allegro” from Symphony No. 5; Beethoven’s “Cavatina” from String Quartet No. 13; and Mozart’s Symphony No. 4, “Jupiter.” Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Music | 3 Comments

Does your doc rock? These do!

Dr. Mike Elliott is the front man for Whiskey Compass, which opened the evening’s festivities.

Hey, I like attending a fancy fundraiser at a swanky country club as much as the next person. But, sometimes, something a little different is what the doctor ordered! Case in point: Doc Rock, a battle of bands, whose members must include at least two physicians.

It was a couple of Saturdays ago at The Concourse, a relatively new location for the music venue in Northgate Plaza shopping center on North Broadway. Five bands played 45-minute sets and the audience voted for the winner. Each band played on behalf of a different medical charity — and the charities got the prize money, based on their sponsor band’s ranking in the votes. This fun annual event, sponsored by the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Alliance, has been happening since 2006.

Audience members could attend for $25 for the standing area. Or, you could drop $125 and get a VIP ticket which got you into an area with seating, food and a private bar. That seemed like the obvious choice to us. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Knoxville, Music | 5 Comments

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