What does it matter what you do on New Year's Eve? Chances are you won't remember most of it, you'll be embarrassed by what you do remember, and your head's going to hurt no matter what. If you're doing it right, anyway.
But you still have to pick something not to remember on Jan. 1 if you're going to celebrate into oblivion. So here's a rundown of the biggest New Year's Eve celebrations in town. Hang onto it; maybe it'll help you piece together just exactly what you did—and take your mind off the Outback Bowl, if things don't go well for the Vols.
Scott Miller, the grand old man of Knoxville New Year's Eve (he even broke up his band on Dec. 31, 1999), has something like 15 "Auld Lang Syne" performances in a row, both solo and with the V-Roys. He'll ring in the New Year once again, but he's at least getting a new venue this time out, as he and the Commonwealth, along with former V-Roy Mic Harrison and The High Score, will play at the Valarium in the old Electric Ballroom building on Western Avenue. Tickets are $25; hotel packages are available at the Sheraton Cumberland House on White Avenue. Call 971-4663 so you don't kick off 2008 in jail.
The Knoxville Drops Its Ball celebration moves out of the Old City—it's been held at Barley's the last four years—to Ironwood Studios on Jennings Avenue, where it gets the room to blossom from a line-up of live music into a full-fledged over-the-top multimedia gala. New Year's Eve veterans Dixie Dirt headline the music performances, with the Royal Bangs and the recently reunited Divorce opening and DJ Mini-Tiger providing a late-night comedown set. There's more, though—belly-dancers, art on display, the Boozehound Gandy Dance Hobo Cabaret, and sculptor and Ironwood proprietor Preston Farabow building a replica Sunsphere out of scrap metal.
The Vermont jam band RAQ will complete a two-night stand at the Bijou Theatre on New Year's Eve. Phish was from Vermont, too, and RAQ sounds a lot like Phish, with a bit of New Wave and '90s alternative rock thrown in for good measure. The show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $19.50.
If you don't want to start the year with a hangover, Market Square will host an all-night family-friendly festival of food, ice skating, belly-dancing, pirate music, fireworks, and the Last of the Full-Grown Men. The live entertainment starts at 7 p.m. with the Gypsy Hands belly dancers, followed by live flamenco and swing music with the Ramboleros and Cutthroat Shamrock's punked-up Irish jigs and reels. Texas rocker Webb Wilder will lead the crowd in the countdown to 2008. If the sober people on the Square get to you, duck inside Preservation Pub, where Sara Schwabe and Her Yankee Jass Band and The Bearded will be counting the year down.
A few blocks away, just across Henley Street, the Knoxville Museum of Art shifts its weekly Alive After Five series into Alive Into 2008! with Dallas blues man Zac Harmon and locals Sharon Mosby and the Wendel Werner Quartet. Tickets are $55 and include a buffet and party favors.
Blue Cats doesn't have a live music headliner, but you'll be able to dance like a crazy person all over the club with DJ Slink—the courtyard and the adjacent Tonic will be open for the club's fourth-annual New Year's Eve party, sponsored by 94.3 WNFZ. The $169 ticket package includes admission for two, a champagne toast to go along with the midnight balloon drop, a room at the Hilton and transportation from the hotel to the club—and, more importantly, back to the hotel.