Programming at the Square Room will be getting a makeover in the next few weeks as Kenny Woodhull and New City Resources, a non-profit Christian organization that has taken over booking for the venue, implement their particular vision for the Market Square space as home to “an eclectic array of stuff.”
“I say ‘stuff’ not be vague. We’re not simply music,” says Woodhull, who ran New City Cafe in the Old City for a decade before completing a graduate program in California and returning to Knoxville last year.
Some of Woodhull’s plans for the Square Room, a 450-capacity performance space adjacent to Cafe 4 on the southeast corner of Market Square, are obvious in recent bookings: pioneering contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Michael Card is scheduled for March 12, and next-generation CCM artist Andrew Petersen will play on April 12. But the room will also host alt-country singer Tift Merritt on Feb. 20, the Chattanooga folk duo Ten Bartram on March 9, and local Celtic band Four Leaf Peat’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 15.
Knoxville Jazz Orchestra will continue its Jazz Lunch series on the first Wednesday of each month, joined by a new classical music series. Woodhull says he intends to build on those series with monthly “bite-size performances of dance and drama” featuring groups like Appalachian Ballet and Ballet Gloria. A new singer/songwriter night is set to start soon.
An immediate casualty of the new management, however, is the Scruffy City Ramble. That series, broadcast live once a month on WUTK and initially called Scruffy City Roots, is officially on hold for the time being, though Woodhull says he would like for the Square Room to continue to host the Ramble.
“Our hope is that we can figure out a way to make that work for us and for [Scruffy City Ramble promoter Chyna Brackeen], ongoing,” Woodhull says. “It’s a good deal, the room is equipped for Internet streaming and video. That would be our hope, that in time we can work something out.”
According to Brackeen, the Scruffy City Ramble is not immediately on hold—there will be another show at the Square Room on Feb. 21. Performers will include offbeat Australian singer Henry Wagons; "hillbilly soul" singer Sturgill Simpson ("Life Ain't Fair and the World is Mean"); Lydia Salnikova (local keyboardist/singer/songwriter), formerly of Grammy-nominated Russian band Bering Straight; and This Mountain, a fairly new alt-string band from Johnson City. Scott Miller hosts.
SCR may take March off, but Brackeen says they will do an April 18 show, with the performers already confirmed—venue still to be announced.
Updated with show info from Scruffy City Roots organizer Chyna Brackeen.