Eye on the Scene: Down the Block

Down the Block

One of Knoxville's unsung heroes has announced the conclusion of the treasured little secret that was the Writer's Block Live monthly concert series at Knoxville Museum of Art's intimate, acoustically perfect 170-seat auditorium.

December's installment of Writer's Block Live will be the last show for the nearly five-year-old series, created by host Karen E. Reynolds to showcase touring songwriters such as Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart, Kate Campbell, and Malcolm Holcombe and numerous local artists.

Writer's Block originated at WDVX, which is where the radio version of the show with Reynolds and co-host Dennis Double will continue on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. The two hope to syndicate Writer's Block early next year.

"I simply needed to let something go in order to have the time to spend on my own career," Reynolds says. "I've never made any money off the concert series because I set it up too philanthropically. The artists have done quite well. But whenever there were less than 70 people in the audience, I've had to pay expenses for the series out of my own pocket. I've loved every minute of it, even when I knew I had to write a check to pay for it."

Reynolds says the change is partly to help her take advantage of some opportunities coming her way as a songwriter. But "syndication of the radio show means a wider audience for musicians. Writer's Block also is set to become a ‘presenter' of sorts for shows at other venues."

Reynolds urges fans to come to the two remaining concerts: C.J. Watson, Steve Peavey, and Jeff Gilkinson perform on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The special final show on Wednesday, Dec. 3, will raise money for the Free Medical Clinic of America in South Knoxville and will feature Dave Landeo, Emily Shane, Hudson K, Robert K. Wolf, and Reynolds' old trio Draper, Reynolds & Rodgers. Says Reynolds: "Gotta go out giving something back, you know?" (Jack Rentfro)

Swanky Digs

Swank's Jazz Restaurant and Bar in downtown Maryville has gone non-smoking, effective Friday, Oct. 10. The upscale jazz nightclub, which opened this summer, regularly hosted shows by Knoxville's pre-eminent jazz performers, but has recently started booking more rock- and pop-oriented acts like Jackson Mohr and Robinella.

"This was no easy decision," owner Alan Swank wrote in an e-mail announcing the new smoking ban. "We have had a lot of feedback over the last few months on our smoking policy and we are listening to our guests... We have come to know, enjoy and love our clients and friends, we hope that this change will not deter anyone from frequenting Swank's. In fact we hope that it will encourage others to come and join us." (Matthew Everett)

Bar Examination

This weekend's Jazz for Justice concert, the third annual show benefitting the Northern Ugandan Girls' Education Network, will also be the grand opening for Barataria, a new club in the former Blue Cats space in the Old City. According to the club's MySpace page, the 700-capacity venue will "host local, regional, and national artists from bluegrass, jazz, rock, and hip hop. Room rentals will be available for private parties and special events."

No other shows are currently scheduled at Barataria. (Matthew Everett)