Burchett fundraiser fulfills on fun – and finances

Knox County Mayor – and 2nd Congressional District candidate – Tim Burchett gets a kiss from his daughter, Isabel.

Whereas many political fundraisers provide the attendees with a few cheese cubes and crummy donated wine in a drab banquet hall, the one three local couples had for Tim Burchett last week was over-the-top fun!

I guess it should have been, with the $1,000 per couple price tag and all. But it did not disappoint.

Held at the beautiful lakeside home of Steve and Becky South in the tony Harrison Keepe neighborhood, the cocktail party featured live music, a sumptuous buffet and a full bar. Speeches were kept to a minimum, and everyone enjoyed the camaraderie and the lovely spring evening on the patio.

The best part? The event raised over $90,000. In addition to the Souths, the other hosts were Greg and Melissa Isaacs and Teddy and Christy Phillips.

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KSO spreads its wings at Cirrus Aircraft hangar

Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian and flutist Hannah Hammel during a “KSO UnStaged” performance at Cirrus Aircraft’s “Vision Center.”

Over the next few years, expect to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra playing unusual music in unlikely places as part of its new “KSO UnStaged” series of performances. This year brought the core musicians to a brewery for “KSO UnStaged: Craft” and, most recently, to the Cirrus Aircraft hangar in Alcoa for “KSO UnStaged: Flight.” Continue reading

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Ken Burns: U.S. needs ‘less pluribus; more unum’

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, left, interviews historian Ken Burns.

Historian Ken Burns was in Knoxville recently, appearing on behalf of the East Tennessee Historical Society and Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law. The $300 per seat dinner at the downtown Hilton featuring Gov. Bill Haslam interviewing Burns was a sellout, as was Burns’ much less expensive ($55 per ticket) appearance at the Tennessee Theatre. Continue reading

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Eclectic Ely Building initiates downtown home tour

Homeowner Kelley Reymond in the master bedroom of the Ely Building last night.

Hey, everybody! It’s not too late to tour 11 residences on the City People Downtown Home Tour. The tour kicked off with a VIP reception on Thursday, but the tour itself runs tonight until 9 and tomorrow (Saturday) from noon until 4. Cost is only $35.

You can pay and get your wristband at one of two check-in locations: Jackson Central in the Old City (111 E. Jackson Ave.) or the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (17 Market Square). You’ll get a map and directory with a description of each home on the tour.

The VIP reception was in the historic Ely Building, located at 406 W. Church Ave. It contains 6,000 square feet on three floors and is the home of our next-door neighbors, Kelley and Eddie Reymond.

According to Knox Heritage, the Ely Building was built in 1903 as a physician’s office with a residence or an infirmary on the second floor. Initially, it was occupied for many years by the offices of Dr. S.M. Miller. But it is known by the name of the law firm Ely & Ely, which had offices there from 1950 until the late 1970s. The building also was home to the fictional office of Teddy Ruzak, the “highly effective detective” in three Richard Yancey novels. And newly elected Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay had the offices of his Double Jay Creative in it prior to the Reymonds moving in. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 6 Comments

Get hitched – and everything else – at the Mule Barn

Jane Creed, left, with Duane Grieve and Anna Ford at the first event to be held in the historic Mule Barn at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a 47-acre public garden in East Knoxville just two miles from downtown. If you’ve never been, you definitely need to go. Admission is free, and every visit is unique because of the sheer size and scope of the property.

The latest addition to the Garden is its newly restored 100-year-old Mule Barn, available now for party and event rentals. Last Saturday, Kenneth and Jane Creed and George and Stephanie Wallace cashed in on an auction item they purchased at last year’s Green Thumb Gala and held the first event in the newly available space. It was a casual dinner party for 20.

According to Larissa Orten, the Botanical Garden’s membership, marketing and sales manager, the Mule Barn was part of the original Howell Nursery. It literally was falling down prior to the recent renovation, which included replacing the roof and putting in a concrete floor to take the place of the dirt floor from when it literally was a barn for mules. Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Historic preservation | 3 Comments

So many hats — and only one head!

Kelly Burchett, Knox County’s First Lady, joined in the fun.

Maybe it was the startlingly beautiful weather last Friday. Or maybe it was the mimosas and Bloody Marys. Or maybe it was just getting a bunch of nice ladies and a bunch of nice hats together in one spot.

Or a combination of all three.

But, whatever it was, something made the 6th annual “Hats in Bloom” luncheon at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum an absolutely joyous occasion. People could not stop smiling as they tried on hats designed by acclaimed milliner Patricia Frankum prior to a delightful lunch by caterer Rex Bradford Jones.

The noise level rose to a loud roar as more and more women poured into the Dogwood Center located on the 47 acres that comprise the East Knoxville garden. The only misstep of the day was when the champagne ran out during lunch, which was probably for the better! Continue reading

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Symphony ShowHouse goes uptown. (You should, too!)

Nick and Rebecca Cazana. Nick, who was strutting around like a proud father, is the proprietor of The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel & Residences. But he prefers to call himself simply “the innkeeper.” (The blue footies, provided on-site, are required for all who take the tour.)

Every year, the Knoxville Symphony League typically selects a brand new 5,500-square-foot home, usually on the water, and invites an assortment of interior designers to decorate its various rooms. Called the Symphony Designer ShowHouse, tours of the home are one of the League’s largest fundraisers of the year.

Folks love to go through the tricked-out home looking for good ideas and shopping in the creative gift shop, which usually is set up in the home’s three-car garage.

But, this year, the ShowHouse has moved in from the suburbs. It is set up in three residences located on the sixth floor of the stunning Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel & Residences , which is at the corner of Henley Street and  Clinch Avenue across the street from the Knoxville Convention Center and the Sunsphere.

You’ve got to see it. Designers from Laws Interiors, Bennett Galleries, Bill Cox Furniture, Westwood Antique & Design Market, Ethan Allen and Gail Gamble Reed Trends and Traditions have outdone themselves making each residence unique and doing everything possible to showcase the fantastic views afforded of World’s Fair Park, the downtown skyline, the mountains and the University of Tennessee. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Knoxville, Music | 5 Comments

Jazz ‘changed everything’ for visiting artist

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris charmed the crowd with his remarks last night. He will perform tonight with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra at the Bijou Theatre.

The lobby of the historic Arcade Building on Gay Street was the perfect setting last night for a reception honoring patrons of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and welcoming guest artist Stefon Harris, who will perform with the KJO tonight.

With noshes provided by Bistro by the Tracks and stunning flower arrangements by Jazz Orchestra board chair Jan Bechtel, the atmosphere was convivial and celebratory as guests and jazz musicians mingled.

Vance Thompson, the leader of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, introduced Stefon Harris as “one of our most innovative educators in music.” Harris, the associate dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music, also teaches at universities all over the world.

In brief remarks, Harris said he taught himself how to read music and play the piano beginning at age 6 when his parents moved into an apartment that contained a piano with music books in the piano bench. And there was church. “My earliest experience of music was in the black church,” he said. “Our job was to amplify the voice of the people.” Continue reading

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Knox chefs shine at Big Ears

Jesse Newmister, chef owner of Kaizen in downtown Knoxville, loading up the buffet for Sunday’s VIP brunch.

Of course, folks came to the Big Ears Festival, held last weekend in downtown Knoxville, for the music. And, this year in particular, for the films and poetry. But we had another great asset on display, as well: our food and our fantastic chefs. With a wine tasting (covered here), three brunches and an after party, Knoxville’s diverse culinary smorgasbord was on full display.

Chefs Joseph Lenn, Matt Gallaher and Jesse Newmister threw themselves into it as did Shaun and Meg Parrish of Wild Love Bakehouse, folks from Blackberry Farm and the guys at Sweet P’s Downtown Dive.

All the brunches — one hosted by Visit Knoxville for out-of-town journalists and public officials; one for folks who paid $50 to add it onto their weekend passes; and one for folks who bought VIP tickets to the Festival — were held in a huge heated tent erected on The Mill & Mine’s big lawn on Depot Avenue. Continue reading

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The winning wines of Big Ears

Keyboardist John Medeski and a bottle of 2015 Albert Bichot Macon Lugny Les Charmes from Burgundy, France. This is a chardonnay I actually like!

“My name is John Medeski. I play music and I drink wine!”

With that introduction, renowned keyboardist John Medeski, in town this past weekend to perform several times during the Big Ears Festival, proceeded to introduce a few fortunate Big Ears supporters to six of his favorite wines.

“I’ve known John for years, and I’ve been a lucky beneficiary of his knowledge and appreciation of wine,” Big Ears founder Ashley Capps said. “So I suggested the idea to add another fun facet to the Big Ears experience. And he readily agreed.”

The wine tasting was in a perfect, intimate location, J.C. Holdway on Union Avenue. Chef Joseph Lenn and his staff provided his four most popular appetizers for pairings. And the mostly out-of-town crowd was wowed.

“Oh my God, that pimento cheese!” raved a woman from Saint Paul, Minnesota, who sat across the table from me. Continue reading

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