Local CD Review: Don Cassell: 'Music Pals 2'
Published 07/25/2012 at 11:37 a.m.
Solo is an imprecise term for the work of a small convention of musicians: some from Cassell’s bands the Dismembered Tennesseans (featuring Bright and banjoist Doc Cullis, among others); the Tennessee Sheiks (featuring singer Nancy Brennan Strange and guitarist Don ...
Trivia Knoxvillia: 12 Questions
Published 07/25/2012 at 11:11 a.m.
Test your Knoxville knowledge!
What Ho! A Rare Meeting of the Knoxville Chapter of The Wodehouse Society
Published 07/25/2012 at 11:07 a.m. 1 Comment
On Saturday at noon, as hundreds of people in shorts swarm the stalls of Market Square and defy the glaring sun at the café tables on Gay Street, another, slightly more formal group finds chairs at a long table at ...
The Public Image
Published 07/18/2012 at 12:13 p.m.
The news can make you feel old. Last week’s paper ran big headlines about the reborn Tourism and Sport’s Corp.’s exciting new name, the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau. It seemed a pretty good idea; as much as we all ...
An Archaeological Excavation for the Union's Fort Sanders
Published 07/11/2012 at 11:12 a.m. 1 Comment
The Faulkners are different. They have been conducting science’s first archaeological excavation of Union Fort Sanders.
Two Local Eateries in Transition
Published 07/03/2012 at 5 p.m. 2 Comments
The Krystal suddenly boarded up on Cumberland Avenue was no architectural marvel. Its functionalist building had been completely rebuilt, perhaps more than once, in its half-century on the Strip. I won’t argue it was historic. Still, it was a real, ...
The Last Illusionaire: After 70 Years, Jazz Saxophonist Lance Owens Cuts an Album
Updated 07/15/2012 at 10:44 a.m. 1 Comment
Last month in a basement studio in West Knoxville, Lance Owens, the city’s oldest living jazz player—heck, maybe the city’s oldest performing musician, period—laid down tracks for his first album. After 70 years of playing. Jack Neely sits in on ...
Lakeshore Mental Institution's Superintendent Talks About His Unusual Campus
Published 06/27/2012 at 11:47 a.m.
He’s the last superintendent of Lakeshore Mental Health Institute on Lyons View, which closes forever on June 30, after operating there, by various other names, since Grover Cleveland’s first term.
Three Historic Houses Threatened by UT Expansion Plans
Published 06/20/2012 at 3:26 p.m. 4 Comments
By a plan disclosed just this month, as a result of some bureaucratic paperwork, the University of Tennessee intends to demolish three Victorian houses, just like that. The university, whose student body hasn’t grown in decades, wants to awe us ...
Which Came First: the Panhandler or the Chump?
Published 06/13/2012 at 12:12 p.m.
Walking to the bus stop, late at night, I meet friendly strangers.
The Scarred Ground: Searching for the Remnants of Knoxville’s Civil War Forts
Published 06/06/2012 at 3 p.m. 4 Comments
If you look closely, you can find traces of Knoxville’s Civil War forts. Telling what was what requires much scholarship, a good deal of exploration, and some educated guesswork. What we can find in 2012 is a small fraction of ...
The House on Branson: A Possible Happy Ending for the Obscure Home of an Artistic Legend
Published 06/06/2012 at 11:33 a.m.
Some major historical figures seem so elusive they don’t quite seem real, almost as if they lived in a slightly different dimension that only occasionally intersected with ours. Take Lloyd Branson. Maybe Knoxville’s first professional artist, he’s sort of famous.
Complaining About County Taxes? Seriously?
Published 05/30/2012 at 4:12 p.m. 3 Comments
In our agony about raising money for Knox County schools, we should take just a moment to acknowledge that among urban counties with populations of over 400,000, Knox County is still one of the nation’s basement bargains. I own a ...
Knoxville's “Demolition by Neglect” Ordinance Finally Gets Some Teeth
Published 05/30/2012 at 1:51 p.m.
The city’s old “Demolition by Neglect” ordinance finally has a mechanism by which it might make a difference: a $100,000 enforcement budget. Jack Neely reports.
Aslan Foundation Acquires a Kingston Pike Landmark
Published 05/30/2012 at 1:49 p.m.
Last week, the charitable Aslan Foundation purchased one of Knoxville’s most unusual historic houses. Westwood on Kingston Pike went for $570,000. Aslan is a fairly new foundation instrumental in purchasing wilderness properties to be included in the Legacy Parks project ...
Knoxville Cuisine's Identity Crisis
Published 05/23/2012 at 3:21 p.m. 4 Comments
Knoxville’s generally proud of its restaurants, but they rarely get much attention outside the metro area. Well-traveled newcomers I’ve met are often disdainful, claiming they find only one or two that are passably interesting. I should say here, and quickly, ...
Knoxville's Boat People
Published 05/23/2012 at 2:56 p.m.
Surely one of the biggest surprises of first encountering Knoxville is that this peculiar place, 400 miles from the nearest seashore, and 1,600 miles upstream from any briny water, offers an abundance of marinas. Within an hour’s drive of Knoxville ...
Thanks to Two New Projects, 'Tour Guy' Gets Some Relief
Published 05/16/2012 at 12:48 p.m.
This Saturday, on Market Square, Knox Heritage launches its Historic Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour. It’s a handsome piece of work, a long, pocket-sized booklet with photographs. It’s the closest realization of an amenity I had hopes would be in place ...
Local Color: South Knoxville's Vestal Neighborhood
Published 05/09/2012 at 2:48 p.m.
In the second installment of our series on Knoxville neighborhoods, photographer Shawn Poynter walks the streets of Vestal to create a wide-ranging portrait of this unique community.
A Walk in the World's Fair Park
Published 05/09/2012 at 12:49 p.m. 2 Comments
I was there nearly every day of the 1982 World’s Fair. I lived a block and a half away from the western gate, and I worked there, mostly in crowd control. Assignments to monitor unruly lines put me in nearly ...
Cormac McCarthy's 'Suttree' in the 21st Century
Published 05/02/2012 at 4:26 p.m. 2 Comments
Suddenly there’s a third, and a fourth, bar on the once-forlorn 400 block of Gay. Things are looking up for that problematic block; 20 years ago it seemed too big and woebegone to revive. The bad news is that the ...
Taking a Look at 'East Tennessee Art & Artists'
Published 04/25/2012 at 11:46 a.m.
East Tennessee Art & Artists is not a big exhibit, but you can easily kill an hour or so, as I did, just puzzling over it.
The Battle Over the Birthplace of Adm. David Glasgow Farragut
Updated 04/26/2012 at 10:11 a.m.
This Saturday morning, the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will unveil a Civil War Trail Marker at Admiral Farragut Park on Northshore Drive. It will honor the renowned historical figure Adm. David Farragut of “Damn the torpedoes!” fame—a figure who’s ...
Published 04/18/2012 at 12:35 p.m. 3 Comments
The Rossini Festival is next weekend, 10 years old now. In my experience with my home town and its festivals, Knoxville Opera’s annual street fair was the first one that clicked on all cylinders: interesting food, good drink, diverse music, ...
Knoxville’s Most Intimate Connection to the Titanic
Published 04/11/2012 at 12:08 p.m. 1 Comment
On Central Street, at the very foot of Cumberland Avenue, is a plain white cinder-block church. A wooden sign calls it the Romanian Church. Thanks to the scarcity of intervening buildings, you can see it from Gay Street. The building’s ...
New Theater Company Debuts With 'Pardon Me for Living'
Published 04/11/2012 at 11 a.m.
Jayne Morgan says she sees a big space between the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown company, a nationally recognized professional company with a big budget, and community theater, which is often performed on a volunteer basis. “There are very few ...
The Arby’s Building, By Any Other Name
Published 04/04/2012 at 1:15 p.m. 1 Comment
Many folks middle age and beyond remember that before the building at Gay and Union was Arby’s, it was Spence Shoes. In fact it was a shoe store, on the ground floor, for more than 40 years, with a tailor, ...
An Evening With Jazz Legend Harold Mabern
Published 04/04/2012 at 11:08 a.m.
The dozen or so regular diners at Market Square’s Bella Luna got a bit more than they expected Monday night when they went out for Italian right after the big storm. At one crowded table up front, piano master Donald ...
Sundown vs. Nightfall: A Textbook Case of Urban Economics
Published 03/28/2012 at 2:30 p.m. 1 Comment
Sundown in the City has been a dilemma on Market Square, but it wouldn’t be even roughly the same thing anywhere else.
Knoxville’s Ever-Changing Public Image
Published 03/28/2012 at 1:37 p.m. 1 Comment
John Gunther’s remark in his 1947 best-seller alleging that Knoxville was the ugliest city in America prompted a whole new Dogwood Arts Festival—and a civic insecurity complex. But Knoxville has enjoyed, or endured, several distinct spells of good and bad ...
Published 03/21/2012 at 11:54 a.m. 2 Comments
Walking into the door was like changing channels. Inside that warm room of dark, ancient brick was a friendly, casual scene from one of those dreams where you suddenly see people you knew a long time ago: a dozen people ...
The Santorum Vote: Primary as Postlude
Published 03/14/2012 at 12:27 p.m. 1 Comment
I watched the returns carefully, just because I’m curious about historical resonance. Since the Civil War, East Tennessee has voted differently from the rest of the state. Even within Tennessee’s newfound red-state status are echoes of old divisions.
Cornerstone Foundation Study on Knoxville’s Potential Raises Interesting Proposals
Published 03/14/2012 at 11:43 a.m.
“Greater Knoxville: Community Research 2012” is the latest attempt by the Cornerstone Foundation, one of Knoxville’s major philanthropic organizations, to make some sense of this perpetually puzzling place. Since the 1990s, Cornerstone has conducted careful studies of metropolitan Knoxville’s wants ...
No Destination Attractions? Knoxville?
Published 03/07/2012 at 11:21 a.m. 8 Comments
Everyone’s list of what makes our hometown interesting is different. But when I heard that some folks’ lists of Knoxville’s assets have nothing much on them, I wondered if maybe they’d be interested in borrowing mine.
Some Late-Winter Desk Clearing
Published 02/29/2012 at 2:36 p.m.
Jack Neely fills us in on a London crime scene, Knoxville Gray, our almost-superlative statue, and a chronic building-naming dilemma.
Tennessee's Red-State Blues
Published 02/29/2012 at 12:24 p.m. 2 Comments
While we weren’t looking, Tennessee does seem to have become dyed in the wool as a “red state,” a state that votes Republican in presidential races every four years. For most of its history, Tennessee was never subjected to the ...
PBS Music Series 'Music Voyager' Will Land in East Tennessee in April
Published 02/29/2012 at 8:48 a.m.
East Tennessee PBS confirms that public television’s national Music Voyager travel series episodes about Tennessee, which is apparently already running in some parts of the country, will air here on Thursdays in April at 8:30 p.m.
The Lamentable Tragedy at the Washington’s Birthday Zouave Ball
Published 02/22/2012 at 12:18 p.m.
If the Zouave Grand Military Ball at Spiro’s Hall wasn’t the social event of the season, it was the liveliest thing afoot on the evening of Washington’s Birthday.
PBS Show About Knoxville Music Will Play Here... Eventually
Published 02/22/2012 at 11:06 a.m.
A PBS show partly about Knoxville music may air in several national markets weeks before we get to see it here.
Published 02/15/2012 at 12:07 p.m. 2 Comments
For years, I told people I’d been inside a Walmart only once in my life, offering my vivid memory of that huge place with the friendly greeters and an unbelievable amount of well-organized stuff. It was on Chapman Highway, on ...
The Carousel: Maybe America's Oldest Theater With a Stage in the Middle
Published 02/08/2012 at 3:41 p.m.
Last year, the University of Tennessee chose not to level Clarence Brown Theatre, as planned. Still in the UT bulldozer’s long-range sights is the Carousel Theatre, which sits separately, like Clarence Brown’s big garden shed.
Local Color: Knoxville's North Central Neighborhood
Published 02/01/2012 at 2:26 p.m.
Central Street is Knoxville’s defining axis. All addresses in the county from here to Farragut are numbered from it. Few blocks suggest its role as the spine of a metropolitan county of more than 400,000 people. It seems altogether too ...
Is Knoxville the Birthplace of the First Rock ’n’ Roll Star?
Published 02/01/2012 at 11:13 a.m. 2 Comments
Knoxville is the birthplace of Atlantic Records' first big star, who was one of the founders of rock ’n’ roll. Granville McGhee’s name is not as recognizable as that of Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley or Howlin’ Wolf—but as Stick ...
Edwin “Rocky” Wynder, 1928-2012
Published 02/01/2012 at 10:38 a.m.
Rocky Wynder’s long career linked the era of tent vaudeville and black speakeasies to a time of upscale-restaurant jazz nights in a reborn downtown. He began his career before rock ’n’ roll, and dabbled with R&B, but always favored jazz, ...
Possum Without the O
Published 01/25/2012 at 12:08 p.m. 2 Comments
I’ve been enjoying Bill Landry’s book, Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures. It chronicles the back story of the long-running WBIR series of anecdotal stories about backwoods crafts, sports, cuisine. I have only one complaint about the book. Landry spells possum ...
Gloria in Excelsis
Published 01/18/2012 at 12:41 p.m. 6 Comments
Folks have been asking me what I think of Gloria Ray, and especially whether she earns her annual compensation, which is slightly larger than that of the president of the United States.
The Stories Behind a Couple of Recent Demolitions in Bearden
Published 01/11/2012 at 11:28 a.m. 2 Comments
You can’t help but notice that the Bearden area has gotten a little flatter in recent months. Near Kroger and Starbucks, an old motel building vanished. Its name, Biltmore Court, has an odd connection to some painted words barely visible ...
University Commons vs. Cumberland Corridor
Published 01/11/2012 at 10:54 a.m.
The announcement that a major development involving the Florida-based Publix grocery chain and international retail Godzilla Walmart would be lumbering toward central Knoxville was startling news in itself. But this 211,000-square-foot development is proposed for the foot of Cumberland Avenue, ...
A Sense of Moment
Published 01/04/2012 at 12:19 p.m. 2 Comments
In history, no city’s judged just by how amused and trendy and well-fed its citizens are. If people of the future are at all interested in learning about the Knoxville of 2012, well, it probably won’t be for the tonnage ...
Eerie, Dark, and Uplifting: Hudson K at Home
Published 01/04/2012 at 12:18 p.m.
Hudson K may intimidate the weak. It’s not just that Christina Horn is an especially talented vocalist, pianist, and songwriter. Standing at her keyboards, she wields her ice-blonde persona like a stiletto, as if maybe she’d kill you if doing ...