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2 / N.47

What’s it like to find yourself—and your family— in the middle of a wildfire? by Élan Young • photos by Bruce McCamish


What’s Happening With the Kern’s and KUB Building Refurb Projects


Jazz Piano Genius James Booker’s Mysterious Knoxville Concert


The Nearly Forgotten Arthur Q. Smith Finally Gets a Lasting Tribute


Burlington’s Santa: Preserving the Spirit of Christmas at $1 an Hour

: our CHAPTER 1




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KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

Dec. 1, 2016 Volume 02 / Issue 47 “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” —Henry Ford

12 Fire on the Mountain



10 Refurb Update

Months of East Tennessee wildfires spread choking smoke and pushed fire fighters to their limits, but they turned out to be a mere prelude to what happened in Sevier County on Monday. Fed by strong wind gusts, fire engulfed Gatlinburg and hemmed in Pigeon Forge. As we went to press on Tuesday, media accounts of evacuation and destruction were rampant. Élan Young, who experienced the wildfires in Walland firsthand, tries to convey what’s it’s like, and S. Heather Duncan reports on the longterm efforts to avoid wildfire destruction. Plus: the frighteningly beautiful forest-fire photos of Bruce McCamish.

Help Support Independent Journalism! Nobody said this would be easy. Turns out there’s a good reason why! But if you appreciate our effort to provide a locally owned media voice for Knoxville, consider pitching in. Find out how you can help:




4 Letters to the Editor 6  Howdy

8  Scruffy Citizen

20 Program Notes: Nearly forgotten

Start Here: Dumpster Dive, Public Affairs, and PechaKucha Knoxville—each week, we run a slide from an interesting local presentation.

38 ’Bye

Finish There: Restless Native by Chris Wohlwend. Plus Crooked Street Crossword by Ian Blackburn and Jack Neely, and Spirit of the Staircase by Matthew Foltz-Gray.

Jack Neely attempts to track down a performance by jazz pianist James Booker at the World’s Fair of 1982.

9  Small Planet

Patrice Cole profiles Green Energy Biofuel’s efforts to collect East Tennessee’s leftover grease.

Construction is about to begin on the last of Gay Street’s big eyesores: the former KUB building with the green bricks. And as downtown’s stock of old, empty buildings wanes, developers having been turning outward. Thomas Fraser gives us progress reports on Dewhirst Properties’ effort at the Kern’s Bakery building in South Knoxville, as well as Tombras Group’s revamp of the KUB building.

CALENDAR country songwriter Arthur Q. Smith at last gets a fitting tribute.

21 Inside the Vault: Eric Dawson

24 Spotlights: British vocal ensemble Stile Antico and the Clarence Brown Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol.

shares a video of Arthur Q. Smith at his favorite hangout, the Three Feathers.

22 Music: Matthew Everett talks with Mike Baggetta about tackling the music of Ornette Coleman.

23 Movies: Nathan Smith previews the Public Cinema’s new series called the Lab.

December 1, 2016


LETTERS Delivering Fine Journalism Since 2015


I am a better and more informed person thanks to the Mercury and Metro Pulse before it. And Knoxville is a better, more informed, transformed city due in part to the awareness of the important things these papers have provided. As much as I have enjoyed the whole, I must say it is the stories written by Donna Johnson I have most clipped to save and share [Sacred & Profane, a monthly column]. Her writing is transporting. She is an articulate, thoughtful adventurer, explorer, and warrior who faces, shares, and overcomes circumstances many of us will never know. Thank you for the whole and the ongoing fight. Thank you for the platform which supports your writers and keeps us readers thinking and feeling. Tom McDaniel Knoxville


This is the second time in as many months that I have been unexpectedly exposed to cock-fighting. The first time was within a DVD based on a Great Novel. There it was, and you can rent Day of the Locust from the library. The scenes back up “Fowl Fight” by Chris Wohlwend [Restless Native, Nov. 3, 2016]. The people I meet from Union County are pilgrims in that culture.

Pilgrims but not hobos. Animal activists are there, as well as many who will take in a lost dog or a stray cat. And if someone does relate a sad animal thing, they do it with some regret. Like the old-timer who told me how he caught rabbits by the fur with barbed wire, “but I only did that because it was the Depression, and I was hungry.” Anyone who has lived on a farm has stories about fowl. When chicken was on the supper menu, my little Christian Mammow would go out the back door, grab a chicken by the neck and in three seconds it was an ingredient. Papow shot a rooster one time. I don’t remember why, but the event was bloody. Yes, fowl do run around after they are dead. My grandparents were different than the participants mentioned in “Fowl Fight.” Grandparents take roles and do things that they felt had to be done. What’s more important is they did it Stone Cold Sober. Cock fighting isn’t necessary; that’s why the article is really a story of drinking. That’s why the sport finds its real courage in a bottle. Larry Pennington Knoxville



Want to support your local independent weekly—and delight your well-read loved ones? Just head over to the Knoxville Mercury online store to find a delightful collection of branded merchandise. We’ve got: Koozies! Tote bags! Two styles of T-shirts! A hoodie! And a letterpress art print of our very first cover. Or, if you’d like to make a non-tax-deductible donation to our taxing effort, you can do that, too—easy peasy!


• Letter submissions should include a verifiable name, address, and phone number. We do not print anonymous letters. • We much prefer letters that address issues that pertain specifically to Knoxville or to stories we’ve published. • We don’t publish letters about personal disputes or how you didn’t like your waiter at that restaurant. • Letters are usually published in the order that we receive them. Send your letters to: Our Dear Editor, Knoxville Mercury 618 S. Gay St., Suite L2 Knoxville, TN 37902 Send an email to: Or message us at:


If you weren’t able to attend our comic-strip artist Matthew Foltz-Gray’s book signing and launch party last month, please do not fret—you can still purchase copies of his Spirit of the Staircase collection, Tap Water and Tuna Party. For a mere $10, you can join Mumford and Matt on their colorful misadventures in Knoxville, printed on much nicer paper stock. (You can see the colors as Matthew intended them!) It’s available at Union Ave Books downtown, or online at: 4

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016


Chris Barrett Ian Blackburn Patrice Cole Eric Dawson George Dodds Thomas Fraser Lee Gardner Mike Gibson Nick Huinker Donna Johnson Tracy Jones Catherine Landis

Dennis Perkins Stephanie Piper Ryan Reed Eleanor Scott Alan Sherrod Nathan Smith April Snellings Joe Sullivan Kim Trevathan Chris Wohlwend Angie Vicars Carol Z. Shane


Hayley Brundige Maria Smith


Charlie Finch


David Luttrell Shawn Poynter Justin Fee Tyler Oxendine CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS

Matthew Foltz-Gray




BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jack Neely Coury Turczyn Joe Sullivan Charlie Vogel The Knoxville Mercury is an independent weekly news magazine devoted to informing and connecting Knoxville’s many different communities. It is a taxable, not-for-profit company governed by the Knoxville History Project, a non-profit organization devoted to exploring, disseminating, and celebrating Knoxville’s unique cultural heritage. It publishes 25,000 copies per week, available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader. © 2016 The Knoxville Mercury

Historic Holidays (You can do all these upcoming history-themed holiday events—but you’ll have to plan!) more information, see northhillsgardenclub.

Before the 1840s, few Tennesseans recognized the Old World holidays. But Blount Mansion’s annual holiday event, observed at Knoxville’s oldest home since 1931, has become historic in itself. This Friday, Dec. 2, at 6 PM, the Blounts’ 1791 frame house on Hill Avenue will be offering decorations, music, and refreshments, 1790s style. This “Merry and Bright” event is free, but donations are encouraged. Beginning Saturday, the excursion coal-fired steam train known as the Three Rivers Rambler begins offering this year’s holiday special, the “Christmas Lantern Express,” with local celebrities reading the popular children’s book The Christmas Lantern, by Karen Bishop. The jaunt begins at the depot at University Commons, and lasts about 90 minutes, as the antique train takes passengers through East Knox County on an 11-mile trip to Forks of the River, and then returns. There will be 23 trips in all between now and Dec. 22. Check for times, or call 865-524-9411 for reservations.

From 10 to 4 that Saturday, Happy Holler hosts Winter Holler Day, a little festival in the near-north business district known for fun times since the 1880s. And still the same day, Saturday the 10th, Candoro Arts and Heritage Center, the 1923 Vestal-area marble-company headquarters that today makes one of the most unusual historic buildings in Knoxville, hosts its annual holiday open house from 5 to 8, a free event with donations accepted.

Artist Adelia Lutz at work in her extraordinary 1890s studio at Westwood, 3425 Kingston Pike. Knox Heritage will recreate Lutz’s studio with her original paintings and a lecture by historian Steve Cotham on Dec. 12. Later, on Dec. 18, Knox Heritage will host a free holiday open house in the Victorian home.

On Saturday the 10th, 5-8, and Sunday, the 11th, at 2-5, the 1858 Mabry Hazen House is hosting its annual Christmas Tours. The tours are free but donations are encouraged.

Knox County’s oldest stone house, the 1797 Ramsey House, hosts its annual candlelight tours for the public on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 6 to 8. It’s another voluntary-donation event. Its architect, Thomas Hope, was born near London on Christmas Day, 1757!

Image by Thomas Fraser

This weekend, Dec. 3-4, is Old North Knoxville’s annual Holiday Home Tour. This late-Victorian neighborhood, which once had its own municipal government, is full of stories and interesting architecture. Saturday evening candlelight tours and a Sunday afternoon tour, each $10. For reservations, see VictorianHolidayHomeTour. com. The East Tennessee Historical Society holds a family-oriented Holiday Open House at the East Tennessee History Center on Dec. 10 from 11 AM to 3 PM with storytelling and ornament-making, with free admission to the museum. A special feature this year is large, elaborate 200-year-old German creche brought to East Tennessee by immigrants and somehow preserved through the generations. Throughout the month, the museum presents the especially interesting new exhibit, “Rock of Ages: East Tennessee’s Marble Industry.” It runs through April. On Saturday, Dec. 10, Marble Springs, the rural homestead of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier (1745-1815), presents its Christmas Candlelight Tours, with demonstrations of open-hearth cooking. A donation of $2 is suggested. For more information, call 573-5508, or check The same day, the North Hills Garden Club sponsors its annual Holiday Home Tour of seven houses from that 1920s-30s suburban neighborhood. For

Adelia Lutz (1859-1931) was Knoxville’s first prominent female artist. Known for her still-lifes and portraits, she has a special place in the culture of Knox Heritage. That 42-year-old preservationist nonprofit’s Kingston Pike headquarters was built in 1890 as her residence, noted even in its day for the extraordinary studio in which she worked for 40 years. On Dec. 12, at 7:00, they’ll be revealing her reconstructed studio, with paintings gathered together in the room where most of them were created. Steve Cotham, executive director of the Calvin McClung Collection, will speak on her legacy. The event is a fundraiser for Knox Heritage, and tickets are $50. See for reservations. The same elaborate Victorian home will be the site of a holiday open house, with period decorations, on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 1 to 5.

To help keep this educational presentation going, and in so doing to help the Mercury, please send a contribution to the Knoxville History Project, 516 West Vine Street, Knoxville, 37902. Watch for our website, soon to go online at

Source: Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection

The Knoxville History Project, a new nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion of and education about the history of Knoxville, presents this page each week to raise awareness of the themes, personalities, and stories of our unique city. Learn more on • email December 1, 2016


HOWDY DUMPSTER highlights DIVE Weekly from our blog Read more at

Photo courtesy of Laura Baisden

PECHA KUCHA NIGHT KNOXVILLE LETTERPRESS (OR…BITING OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW) | Laura Baisden | Presented Nov. 15, 2016 Camp Nevernice is a budding letterpress design and illustration shop, owned and operated by Laura Baisden. She has 10 years experience in the field, but in her first year as a sole proprietor, she’s learning many lessons…including the lesson of time-management. | Watch the 6-minute presentation at

TCWN JOINS CALL FOR NEW WASTEWATER STANDARDS The Knoxville-based Tennessee Clean Water Network added its voice to a coalition advocating stricter curbs on the introduction of phosphorus and nitrogen to waterways in states that border the Mississippi River. While the Mississippi is obviously on the other side of the state, pollutants that enter the water in East Tennessee eventually make it downstream to the Mississippi River by way of the Ohio River basin. Phosphates and nitrates are regulated only by a “narrative standard,” such as signs of algie blooms. WHEELED TRASH CARTS INVADE KNOXVILLE Beginning Dec. 1, Knoxville residents will receive the first of 60,000 new wheeled trash carts at no charge. The new household additions are key components in modernizing and improving the household garbage collection by the city of Knoxville, which is expected to save almost $2 million per year. FUNDRAISER FOR PHYLLIS WHEATLEY CENTER A group of five UT students is hoping to raise $1,500 to help the YWCA’s Phyllis Wheatley Center—which provides after-school programs, activities, and tutoring to middle school students—enhance their technology room. The crowdfunding campaign can be found at



7 p.m., Gay Street, Downtown Knoxville. Free. Santa returns to Knoxville for the 44th time as the headliner at WIVK’s Christmas parade. But no horses are allowed (according to the parade manual), so don’t expect to saddle up. And dogs must now ride on floats only, so no pooch parades. But there should be lots of happy humans! Info:


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016


11 a.m.-5 p.m., Market Square. Free. Local vendors will line Union and Market with farm-raised holiday decor, baked goods, artisan foods, crafts, and more. Enjoy hot beverages and food from local food trucks while you shop for holiday gifts and decor. Info:


4-7 p.m., WDVX (301 South Gay St.). Free. Ever wonder what it’s like inside the big-city offices of a public radio mega-station like WDVX? Now’s your chance to rub shoulders with the people behind those voices and watch radio being made. Plus, we hear there’s a make-your-own cocoa bar. Info:


7-11 p.m., Scruffy City Hall (32 Market Square). Free. So you’re not into mistletoe and egg nog? Then the Knoxville Horror Film Festival has the ultimate X-mas party for you. They’ll be screening “X-mas horror classics,” giving out presents, and providing the opportunity to have your photo taken with Slasher Santa. Motto: “Help us spread the Holiday Fear!”


r a b t e e l e L C ocal! s te ’




Keller Williams Haun-Laing


Kaleidoscope Boutique


Join The District in Bearden for local bites, libations and cheer!

Friday, December 2 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday, December 3 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Shop locally.

December 1, 2016



Mr. Booker on Piano and Vocals A couple of musical surprises with a shared last name BY JACK NEELY


arlier this year a couple of readers alerted me to an electronic curiosity making the rounds. James Booker, who died in 1983 at the age of 43, was a genius of jazz piano, one of those musicians other musicians speak of with awe. He was never a superstar, never had a hit song, but he had a brilliant, tetched style you can’t mistake for anyone else’s. His exuberant persona naturally spawned nicknames, the Piano Pope, the Ivory Emperor, the Bronze Liberace. The Bayou Maharajah is the name of a recent documentary film that aims to raise his stature in the history of American music. In life he was better known in Europe than he was in the United States. He spent most of his life in New Orleans, and sometimes got in trouble, especially with dangerous drugs. He wore an eye patch with a star on it. What happened to his left eye was always a matter or speculation, but the story was that he stiffed the wrong mobster. He didn’t tour all that much in America. I didn’t know he ever performed in Knoxville, unless it was when he was touring with Dr. John, who did a couple of shows at the Civic Coliseum in the mid-’70s. But now, making the rounds, is a 43-minute YouTube audio-only recording identified only by “World’s Fair Knoxville, Tennessee, 1982.” And what you hear is James Booker himself, having a great time


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

playing piano. He opens with his own lush, reckless version of “Blue Skies,” and hardly stops before he’s playing a manic New Orleans barrelhouse version of “The Man I Love.” It sounds like about three people are playing the piano furiously. Then it’s on to “Baby Face.” All songs that were half a century old when he played them, but nobody ever played them like this. Then “Angel Eyes,” which he sings, or growls, and then plays an instrumental version of “You Go to My Head,” which evolves into “These Foolish Things” as if they were the same song. (Someone out there hears “Autumn in New York” in there as well.) Later on he plays Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” The clip hasn’t exactly gone viral, with not quite 2,000 views, but it has elicited a good deal of interest from Booker fans. It’s hard to guess at the venue, or the circumstances. It sounds like an indoor space, not the Tennessee Amphitheatre, where the big mainstream daily shows were, not the Folklife Festival, the little campground-like spot on the hill, where several not-quite-forgotten country and blues legends performed. Certainly not the Strohaus or the Down Under Pub. It sounds like there may be as few as half a dozen people applauding, but they sound tickled to be there. Maybe it’s just a sound-check. Could it be the Flamingo Lounge,

which was on the top floor of the Candy Factory? They featured live jazz, I recall. But I don’t think so. It sounds like a late-night place with nothing going on but Booker’s performance. Maybe it was even off-site. The L&N Hotel had a piano and a tolerance for jazz, as did a couple of places downtown. I’ve found no account of it in the papers. Was there anybody who wrote for the papers in 1982 who would have recognized his name? REM played in a bar here that year, and they didn’t make the papers, either. In recent weeks, posts have suggested a deflating rumor that this recording wasn’t really in Knoxville at all, but at the Maple Leaf Bar, Booker’s favorite haunt in New Orleans. One seasoned witness says the piano sounds like the one he played at the Maple Leaf, and that in 1982, the last full year of his life, Booker wasn’t traveling much. Which would make a World’s Fair appearance all the more interesting. I’d be ready to believe almost anything about the World’s Fair. I remember the day Jerry Lee Lewis showed up unannounced at the Strohaus and played for a startled lunch crowd. I was working outside that day, and had to content myself with eyewitness reports. With my own eyes I saw Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee playing for about eight befuddled people on the sidewalk. And there was the afternoon the B-52s showed up as tourists who wanted to see the China pavilion. On any given day, the most memorable event of the day was only occasionally the one that made headlines. If anyone has any memory of a James Booker performance in Knoxville, in or out of the World’s Fair, please be in touch.

He wouldn’t be the last Booker to record some old songs in Knoxville. This other Booker we know more about. Bob Booker was one of the leaders of the civil-rights movement of the early 1960s, then an elected politician, then longtime leader of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, a newspaper columnist, author, and chronicler of Knoxville’s previously overlooked black history and culture. He has a whole six-lane concrete bridge named for him, but that’s not nearly enough. Soaring somewhere past 80, he figures he has time to squeeze in at least one more career. Hence, Bob Booker has released his debut album, Doing It My Way, on CD. I talk to Bob pretty regularly, and it was a surprise to me. Anyone who remembers Booker’s time on City Council, or, long before that, in the state Legislature, might have guessed he had a rich baritone singing voice, and he proves it with this one. He’s gotten encouragement from folks who’ve witnessed the octogenarian author singing in bars like Marie’s Olde Towne Tavern on North Central. You’d expect old songs from a historian, and he provides them, a few R&B standards like “The Great Pretender,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” and “Since I Met You Baby,” but there’s more pop music of the ’50s and ’60s, including some Sinatra, as the title suggests—and also pop country of the Nashville Sound era, like “For the Good Times” and “Make the World Go Away.” I’m not sure he’s bound for the Grammys, but those who feel themselves feeling the burden of the years, it might present a new challenge. ◆

I’d be ready to believe almost anything about the World’s Fair.


Biodiesel Deliverer Green Energy collects greasy fuel from East Tennessee’s restaurants BY PATRICE COLE


hen Rudolph Diesel invented the engine named after him around 1900, it ran on peanut oil. Whether he was inspired by egalitarianism, safety considerations, or merely an abundance of the resource, Diesel’s choice of a vegetable oil to power machines and vehicles seems prescient now. One might even wonder how and why we came to embrace petroleum so much as an alternative fuel. It has taken only a century or so, but Diesel’s good idea has cycled back around in the form of biodiesel. And a local nonprofit is doing its part to convert the waste from scores of local restaurants into a resource that reduces our dependence on petroleum and has multiple other environmental benefits. As an inventor, Diesel is said to have been motivated by societal concerns, specifically wanting to improve people’s ability to operate independent of large industry. Vegetable oil extraction could be done on a small scale throughout the countryside, providing home-grown fuel ready to use in engines that were changing the way people worked, traveled, and built things. The higher compression and longer duration of combustion in the diesel engine was much more efficient than steam engines and is more efficient than gasoline engines. But somehow gasoline became the primary fuel running internal combustion engines, although Ford’s Model T could also burn ethanol. In fact, Henry Ford believed ethanol was

the fuel of the future and that America would grow its own energy supply. Instead, petroleum distillates with the flash point of ethanol power most cars, and the heavier distillates mimicking vegetable oils power most diesel engines. Meanwhile, the power of vegetable oils mostly went into food, and much of it ended up being thrown away. I don’t know how much used cooking oil has gone into landfills or down drains across the nation, but I did see waste vegetable oil being “land-applied”—plowed into the soil to be biodegraded—some 30 years ago. That’s an unsettling thought for those who are now in the business of making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil. Craig Oetting is director of operations for Green Energy Biofuel, located at the University of Tennessee. Craig became interested in biodiesel when gasoline prices spiked after Hurricane Katrina. He and his father started making biodiesel as a hobby, and they quickly discovered that getting the “grease” was the hardest part. Much of that waste stream was going into animal feed. When Craig decided to make this hobby his career, he met some resistance because he didn’t have formal credentials. It happened there was a new degree program in bioenergy at UT, and Craig had that degree in hand by 2012. Meanwhile, the UT-affiliated nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy had started collecting used cooking oil from area restaurants. Green Energy Biofuel, a

company based in South Carolina, bought SACE’s customers. A synergy developed that resulted in what is now known as Green Energy operating out of a UT-based facility. Green Energy collects its liquid gold from all over South Carolina as well as East Tennessee. The Tennessee office services restaurants along the Interstate 75 corridor from Chattanooga to Bristol and Gatlinburg to Cookville. The company also picks up from all the collection centers operated by the city of Knoxville and Knox County. That raw material gets a preliminary clean-up at Green Energy’s location at UT just off Alcoa Highway. Fried food particles are filtered out and the dewatering process begins. When 6,500 gallons have been processed, it’s off to Winnsboro, S.C. for processing into biodiesel. As well as becoming a component of commercial diesel fuel at the pump, some of the resulting product goes into a charcoal lighter fluid called Smarter Starter that is sold at Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Whole Foods stores. Green Energy is a partner in BIO4EDU, which provides funding to schools for educational programs promoting biodiesel production and use. It seems, though, that the idea is selling itself. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that hotels and restaurants in the United States generate 3 billion gallons of waste cooking oil per year. When you consider how much it could cost to otherwise dispose of that stuff, it makes a lot more sense to turn it into a resource. When Rudolph Diesel designed a peanut-powered engine, he couldn’t

have been thinking about the global climate benefits of biofuels, where plants grown to produce the feed stock are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Fast food, processed food, and fried foods in general weren’t nearly as prevalent as now, so cooking oil wasn’t a huge waste stream for which disposal could be problematic. Diesel would have had no inkling of the environmental and geopolitical ramifications of our eventual addiction to crude oil and its distillates. Vegetable oil was simply easy to obtain and wouldn’t blow up in your face like some of the lower flash point fuels he had attempted to use in other inventions. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it seems a good idea now. If you want to do your part to make biodiesel a bigger part of our energy mix and reduce your environmental footprint, bring your used cooking oil in any non-glass container to any of the following locations during their respective business hours: • City of Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 1033 Elm St. • Earth Fare, 140 North Forest Park Blvd. • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy office, 3804 Middlebrook Pike • Knox County Convenience Center, 3606 Neal Rd. • Knox County Convenience Center, 10618 Dutchtown Rd. • Knox County Convenience Center, 1810 John Sevier Hwy. ◆ Patrice Cole taught biology, ecology, environmental planning, and sustainability at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College. Small Planet examines local issues pertaining to environmental quality and sustainability.

When Rudolph Diesel designed a peanut-powered engine, he couldn’t have been thinking about the global climate benefits of biofuels. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, and it seems a good idea now.

December 1, 2016


We catch up with two big development projects: one of downtown’s last empty buildings, and a new beginning in South Knoxville BY THOMAS FRASER


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

proposals—which must meet city specifications for mixed uses of retail, commercial, and residential development—citing a statute that allows city procurement efforts to proceed in private during negotiations. “The RFPs do not become public records until a proposing company is selected and a contract is prepared and on City Council’s agenda for approval. That’s to allow local governments the flexibility to negotiate contracts and terms with vendors,” says city spokesperson Eric Vreeland. Depending on negotiations, city officials hope to have the final recommendation in the hands of City Council by the end of January. Right now, at the corner of Church and Gay Street, contractors have begun interior demolition work at the old KUB building, built in the 1920s and soon to be the new Tombras Group headquarters. “This is one of the last few that can be done,” says project architect John Sanders of Sanders Pace Architecture. “There are not that many buildings left to renovate [downtown].”

There are about 130 renovated buildings in the downtown area, Sanders says. The decline in historical building stock may prompt more construction downtown. Once there are no more buildings to renovate or rehabilitate, “after that you’re going to have to start building new,” he says. “It will increase density is what it does on an urban scale.” The waning stock of old buildings has also opened up other parts of the


city to the historical renovation boom. Development is already moving north of downtown and south of the river, especially along Sevier Avenue. On Chapman Highway is another closely watched project: developer David Dewhirst’s revamp of the 1930s-era Kern’s Bakery building. Will it show the way forward in continuing Knoxville’s redevelopment boom? Here’s the latest from each of these high-profile projects.


harlie Tombras, owner and president of the ad agency, says the rebirth of downtown prompted his company’s estimated $10 million investment in the center city.



Courtesy of Sanders Pace Architecture


s renovation work is set to begin on one of Gay Street’s last big eyesores—the former KUB building with the shiny green bricks— it raises an interesting dilemma for downtown developers: What’s next? The city’s interior stock of non-reused historic structures is beginning to dwindle. One of the last remaining opportunities is the empty Tennessee Supreme Court building at the corner of Henley Street and Church Avenue. The city bought the 1.7-acre property and its 1950s-era Art Deco expanse last year for $2.47 million. It’s an important block in the continued development of downtown, says Dawn Michelle Foster, city development director. “It hinges right there between UT and downtown—the whole vibrancy of that corner is important to us to link to the rest of downtown,” she says. Proposals for the building were submitted to the city by Knoxville-based Marble Alley, Dover Development, Commercial and Investment Properties, and Nashville-based BNA Associates. The city declined to release any of the

Photos by Thomas Fraser

Courtesy of Sanders Pace Architecture

Refurb Update

The former KUB building—almost universally agreed upon as being the ugliest downtown—is about to start getting a major revamp into the new headquarters for Tombras Group.












City of Knoxville establishes KUB after purchasing the system from the Tennessee Public Service Company



KUB leaves the building and moves to the newly restored Miller’s Building





The Tombras Group begins work to establish a new headquarters in the former KUB building




1980s to Present


Photos by Thomas Fraser

The Tombras headquarters will be housed in a smooth concrete-slat and brick building—with ample floor-toceiling glass—that will take about a year to complete. Tombras will relocate some 250 workers from its current complex on Concord Street to the new headquarters at the corner of Gay and Church streets. The 70-year-old Knoxville-based ad agency has billings of $160 million annually, and has offices in Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Louisville, Ky. Michelin and McDonald’s are among its clients. Sidewalk closures and other inconveniences should be minimal in coming months as work begins in earnest on the five-story, 54,000-square-foot structure. The building, mid-modern in its last iteration, has been renovated at least three times over the past 90 years, and is actually a collection of three buildings and three different construction types. “It’s kind of a Frankenstein sort of structure,” Sanders says while standing in the dusty interior, where work is under way. Interior designs include a two-story lobby and a separate two-story production studio. Gone will be the infamous green exterior of the building, and the narrow windows will be replaced to capture more natural light. The building will be 100-percent commercial, though with a casual feel: Two outdoor patios will occupy the structure’s rooftops near an employee break center. The modern amenities and sleek renovations will provide those employees “a premier work space in what is now a vibrant downtown,” Sanders says. Tombras credits both the private and public sector with making downtown so amenable for his and other businesses, but would like to see more major employers centered in the center city. He says his company will bring 225-250 new workers downtown when construction is complete in December 2017. Work continues on the new Regal office complex, which should bring another 350 downtown jobs across the river. The renewed vitality and vibrant restaurant and retail community downtown makes a good recruiting environment for the creative class, Tombras says, especially those hailing from major cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. “The first thing they want to do is

see downtown,” Tombras says. “That’s where the vibe of the town starts and goes from there.” Multiple dining and lodging options will be within walking distance of the new headquarters, which will itself include a public Tombras-branded coffee shop on the corner. “It really (was) more appealing to renovate an existing structure,” he says. “We don’t want to be perceived as becoming too corporate in appearance. “I think community leaders have done a great job to revitalize and make our downtown a really cool place,” he adds. The project qualified for tax-increment financing of some $3 million from the city. Across the Tennessee River, not far from the Regal complex and the Urban Wilderness, Dewhirst—who for a time held a separate stake in the old KUB building—is still dreaming of what may come.


irst, the building’s enormity engulfs you. Then you notice the relics: A battered time clock. A sign admonishing “Hairnets beyond this point.” Posters depicting potentially disastrous bread-packing outcomes. A painted farewell to the building—“Goodbye old girl.” Interior work has so far cleared both time and space from the Kern’s bread factory built in 1931; it was last occupied by Bimbo—a Mexico-based baked-goods business—for use as a

distribution facility. Dewhirst and his partners in the deal acquired it in 2015. “As you get in a building and begin to clean it out, you begin to see the real structure, how it was used in the past, and what is interesting about it,” he says during a phone interview. At 77,000 square feet, it’s the third-largest project Dewhirst Properties has taken on. And the space yields so much possibility, he hasn’t yet arrived at a conclusive end-game for the 14-acre property at 210 Chapman Highway. “Right now we are looking toward developing the most broad array of interesting options we can,” he says, but most if not all options entail a tie-in to the Urban Wilderness. His first priorities are to finish gutting the building, and get it well-lighted and landscaped. And his plans for the property might yield a few surprises as he thinks—and rethinks—outside the box. “You have to approach that little bit of insanity in an analytical manner if you want to pull it off,” he says. While there is obviously great interest from restaurateurs—he foresees “amazing pedestrian build-in” along the waterfront—his company is “striving for the most interesting and interactive solutions we can come up with. Simultaneously, they have to be bankable,” he adds, meaning attractive to both investors and loan officers. His options are vast, given the

In South Knoxville, the iconic Kern’s Bakery building has been undergoing a long refurb by Dewhirst Properties. interesting and historic nature of the building: The now-dormant illuminated Kern’s sign and the facade itself are Knoxville institutions; there are bow-string trusses in the freight-dock area; a Quonset-hut structure is attached; and the structure has riveted columns. “This is really rich because these materials are thick and beefy and well-done,” he says. The Kern’s project, like the Tombras headquarters, also received some help from the city: Dewhirst received a $200,000 grant from the city to apply toward renovation of the historic property for a mixed-use project. The public investment is a good one, says Dewhirst, who paid, with his partners, $625,000 for the combined parcels—especially if it protects historic buildings that may otherwise be demolished for less-intensive uses. He plans to announce details of the project’s scope, which will likely include “an outdoor recreation theme” that connects with the nearby Urban Wilderness, within the next year. “Old buildings are authentic and come with a lot of character,” he says. “How many people walk in a new suburban bank building and say, ‘This is so gorgeous I’d love to have dinner here?’” ◆ December 1, 2016


What’s it like to find yourself—and your family— in the middle of a wildfire? by Élan Young • photos by Bruce McCamish


onths of East Tennessee wildfires spread choking smoke and pushed fire fighters to their limits, but they turned out to be a mere prelude to what happened in Sevier County on Monday. Fed by strong wind gusts, fire engulfed Gatlinburg and hemmed in Pigeon Forge. Great Smoky Mountains National Park indicated on social media that the fire had spread from the Chimney Tops fire that had started last week inside the park. Gatlinburg and


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

parts of Pigeon Forge were evacuated, and about 1,300 people were in shelters by Tuesday morning. Media reports indicated about 150 homes had been destroyed as well as major hotels and tourist attractions. Emergency responders were still battling at least 30 structure fires at press time. By Tuesday afternoon, four significant injuries but no fatalities had been reported to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed all facilities after rescuing 29 backcountry campers.

campus, at the time news reports said it had burned to the ground, and I thought of the times I’ve been there for exhibits or classes and felt a palpable comfort surrounded by art and artists. I also considered the deep irony that the current exhibit, Piecing Together a Changing Planet, features fiber arts highlighting climate change in America’s national parks. Isn’t that at least part of what’s going on? Thirteen days ago from the time I write this, my home community in Walland experienced a wildfire scare, but now seeing the enormity of the situation in Gatlinburg, I was able to grasp just how lucky we were. What we experienced was terrifying, but it never descended into chaos—my family’s experience in no way compares to the Level 3 State of Emergency in the next county.

Photos by Elan



n Monday night, like many East Tennesseans, I watched in horror as flames engulfed downtown Gatlinburg and roared toward Pigeon Forge, creating an unprecedented nightmare situation for our area. The fire that began the night before near Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was stoked by heavy winds, with some gusts reaching 70-80 mph. As the wind sent limbs crashing onto my roof, I mentally willed the weatherman’s green satellite blob closer to where drenching rain was needed. I saw harrowing footage passed around on Facebook that showed residents fleeing, and I could tell that the news crews were having a difficult time reporting the scope of the situation. My heart ached for the community just over the mountain that was now living in fear, panic, shock and desperation. There’s nothing like feeling powerless to do anything but passively watch a tragedy from afar. At the time I write this, three confirmed fatalities have been reported, but I know that the dust hasn’t fully settled yet. In the wee hours, I remembered times I’ve visited Little Greenbrier School and the Walker Sisters Place, and I considered that these and other irreplaceable historic structures in the park might only live on in memory. I thought of all the people left homeless at the beginning of winter and the hard economic times ahead for them and small business owners. Even though it was later reported that Arrowmont had only suffered partial damage to its

Photo by Bruce McCamish


n Thursday, Nov. 17 at 1:54 pm, I got a call from a neighbor telling me that a fire had started behind Walland Elementary, just a few miles from my home. I checked for news online and scrambled to call the fire station. “It’s just a 200 by 100 brush fire, ma’am,” a woman who answered told me. “It’s contained.” The students at Walland Elementary had been evacuated, but no structures were threatened. I breathed a sigh of relief from 40 minutes away in Knoxville and tried to focus on work. About 20 minutes later, a neighbor who lives closer to the school called me in distress. She was breathless and said it looked bad, very bad. We talked hurriedly, so she could continue packing her car. Soon after, pictures popped up on

Thursday night: A crowd gathers at Walland Station to watch the mountain burn. Friday afternoon: Chris McLemore of Blount County Fire Department takes a much-deserved break. He was the first person on the scene of the fire on Wednesday. Saturday afternoon: One of many Black Hawk helicopters flies over the Little River to fill up water at Perry’s Mill.

December 1, 2016


Facebook, and another neighbor mentioned evacuating. I studied the ominous smoke plume in various photos in my news feed and decided that even though my heart was pounding, I would not panic. I trusted what the fire department had told me: this was a small fire, and it was under control. Leaves create a lot of smoke, I said to myself. Yet. Had I not just heard the fear in the voice of my neighbor, who was so close to the scene that she could see danger with her own eyes? Since the election, my internal sense of safety in the world has been thrown off-kilter. The post-election news has been too much all at once, and now a direct threat to the safest place I know was causing me to lose perspective. I realized, too, that the drought has contributed to my background stress level. Without the regular release of negative ions from rain, it’s harder to simply relax. Blount County is listed as being in Extreme Drought, and no real accumulation is expected until January. The Little River is the lowest I’ve seen it, and the forests have become a tinderbox. I decided to call the fire department again, just to be sure. This time, 14

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

Was my family safe? Yes. That was the only thing I knew for certain, and it would have to do for now. no answer. I called another station. No answer. After the fourth station, I finally spoke with a firefighter who explained all that he knew. Again, I was told there was no need to worry. When I mentioned what I had read on Facebook, he let out a long sigh and said that Facebook was notorious for spreading incorrect information and he encouraged me to relax. I silently noted this had been one of the problems during this election: Fake news spreading like wildfire. I have learned that worrying unnecessarily drains the life out of me, and I craved this calm reassurance, even if it wasn’t the full truth. Was my family safe? Yes. That was the only thing I knew for certain, and it would have to do for now. At home that evening, my husband, Jeremy—who is a former

firefighter for the Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department—remained calm in stark contrast to the smoke billowing in the sky overhead. He noted that winds were not blowing toward our house. “Shouldn’t we pack a bag?” I implored. “Sure, if it will make you feel better,” he replied. All I wanted was a straight answer from someone: Should I plan for my personal apocalypse or plan my son’s birthday party on Saturday? Having grown up in Texas and California where wildfires have engulfed whole communities, I had to work to keep my imagination from running wild even as I was told that the fire was contained. While I didn’t feel as threatened as I had earlier in the day, I was visibly unsettled, unable to focus or relax. The traffic was

heavy on our road, which was normally quiet at night, and it was clear that people had come out to watch the mountain burn. My husband suggested I join them. It might even put my mind at ease. I drove the half-mile to Walland Center where the crowd seemed like one waiting for Fourth of July fireworks. I talked with Ryan O’Donnell of WATE who also gave me some peace of mind from his experience covering wildfires over the years. He said to pack a bag for one or two nights just in case, but to try not worry myself sick. If we really needed to evacuate, the firefighters would be right there pounding on our door to let us know. It was then I was able to step back to take in the view. A mountain on fire. No fireworks could compare to this. A beautiful sight, even for the fear and destruction it was causing. I had friendly conversations with locals, even dipping my toe in the water to ask opinions about climate change, which given the severity of the drought and the strangely warm weather, seemed like a legitimate conversation topic. I got shut down pretty quickly—science is mostly

theory, after all, and didn’t I know that the polar caps were expanding in places? I didn’t ask for news sources. Even when no structures or lives are threatened by wildfire, a common response is to view it as a sad event. While it’s true that fire is destructive in the short-term, it is also regenerative to forests in the long-term. By no means do I condone the actions of arsonists who selfishly put human lives and property at risk, but fire suppression, which is the predominant management plan in American forests, has had its downside too. Jeremy, who teaches forest ecology at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, tells me that pine-oak forests predominantly live on south-facing slopes, and as a result have become acclimated to fire over centuries. Some species, such as Table Mountain Pine, don’t open their pine cones unless fire is present. Smokey the Bear has perhaps been, counter-intuitively, the greatest enemy of American forests over the last one hundred years. We’ve learned only in recent decades that fire is a natural system that needs to be reintroduced back into our forests like any other native species extirpated from them due to human interference. Otherwise, fires that take place in future years could be even far worse. After a night of fitful sleep, I awoke on Friday morning and poked my head outside into the thick campfire-smelling air. Down the street, the charred earth met the road in a wavy edge. Images by photographer Bruce McCamish quickly went viral on Facebook, showing the fire in its frightening splendor. The whole day I felt as though I were in a war zone from the constant thrumming of two Black Hawk helicopters flying overhead as firefighters tried to keep the blaze from coming down the other side of the mountain in front of our home. The choppers filled water into Bambi Buckets (the term firefighters use for helicopter baskets) from the Little River at Perry’s Mill, returning to the mountain dozens of times in an attempt to douse the flames. By late afternoon, I stopped to talk with firefighter Chris McLemore with Blount County Fire Department, who I spotted walking out of the woods near my house. Low flames were burning off the leaf layer and dead trees around him. I chatted with him as he sat on the truck to rest.

He’d only gotten three hours of sleep, and I learned he was the first one on the scene the day before. We speculated about what could have started it (arson, it was reported later) and I thanked him for all his hard work. Later, another firefighter I spoke with in the vicinity said not to cancel my son’s birthday party over “a little mountain fire.” So I talked with the Highway Patrol manning the roadblock and they agreed to let the guests in the next day. I should have know it wouldn’t be quite that easy, and while we still managed a cool party with helicopters in the background, about one-third of the guests were turned away since our road was only open to residents. The air remained thick and white for days. Ten days after the first spark, 1,500 acres had burned, and the fire was 90 percent contained. No structures are currently threatened, and there have been no reported injuries. The Blount County Red Cross helped feed the fire crew, 40 of whom came in from Oregon and Alaska to help, and who worked through Thanksgiving. When I dropped off a donation sent by a friend who made Rice Krispy Treats and bought AA batteries used for their helmet lights, a large crew was coming off duty. They looked tired and hungry, but also fulfilled by their work. Many looked to be in their 20s, and they were a mix of ethnicities with long and short hair, dreadlocks, beards and clean-shaven faces. I nodded and thanked them for helping our community, and they beamed proud smiles through soot-stained faces as they lined up for a barbecue supper at the fire station. After the threat to our home was over, I was able to look upon the smoldering flames in the woods with a new perspective. They twinkled like fairy lights. In the next few years, the thick underbrush that has burned away on the mountain will make way for wildflowers and new life. That is something I need to see. I just hope that people who say “pray for rain” will also do more, like put pressure on lawmakers who are in adamant denial of climate change at the expense of human lives. To the extent that our shared life together is sacred, then it’s time to find the courage to demand that God and science can indeed occupy the same spaces, whether in conversations or on mountaintops. ◆ December 1, 2016



etirees Gary Stephens and his wife Marilyn were at their Florida home last spring when they got the call about the house they had built in Sevier County. “There’s a fi re going right toward your home,” one of their English Mountain neighbors told them. That was the beginning of a long, sleepless night scrounging for fi re updates from different neighbors. Thinking about the advice state forestry officials had given him, Gary Stephens wondered whether the steps he had taken to protect the house would work. Following the recommendations, Stephens had cut down pine trees on the steep mountain slope beneath his house, trimmed hardwood branches that were less than 12 feet from the ground, and reduced underbrush. But in a real wildfi re, would any of it make any difference? The next day, the Stephens flew to Kentucky, then raced to English Mountain. On their way up, they met neighbors gathered at a Smokies overlook that overlooked nothing but


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

This year, Tennessee has seen 43,500 acres go up in smoke. What can our growing number of rural homeowners do about wildfires? by S. Heather Duncan smoke. No one could see the Stephens’ house—just flames flaring up through the haze. Continuing past a roadblock, they fi nally glimpsed the outline of their home, with a fi re truck and other fi refighting equipment jammed into the driveway. The house was intact. “The fi re came up right behind house and to the driveway,” Stephens says. “If we’d had all these pine trees and things around, I don’t know if the fi re department and forestry service could have saved it. I think it would have been a lot more difficult for them to control the fi re around the house.” As it was, the fi re department kept a truck in the driveway for three nights

to look for flare-ups caused by embers as the fi re continued across the valley. It eventually burned about 600 acres. The amount and intensity of the spring wildfires, including the one on English Mountain, pale in comparison with the tens of thousands of acres that have burned across the state this fall, and other homeowners have not been so lucky. With some exceptions around Chattanooga, most of this fall’s fi res burned uninhabited woods until swaths of Gatlinburg were destroyed this week, leaving some people fortunate to escape with their lives. Residents become more susceptible to harm as people are drawn to the serenity of living in the woods or on

steep mountaintops at the edges of civilization. That’s why the state has been trying to work directly with homeowners’ associations to reduce the risk to these homes. The English Mountain fi re swept all the way around the Stephens’ house, but it didn’t damage their home or any of the others in the neighborhood. Stephens credits the neighborhood association’s promotion of the state Firewise program, which provided valuable tips to residents about reducing potential wildfi re fuel on their property. But these measures can only help so much in unusual conditions, like the 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts whipping drought-parched Sevier County this week. The Gatlinburg community of Cobbly Nob had a Firewise plan, but early reports indicate that 75 to 100 homes there were nevertheless destroyed by the wildfi re that spread through embers from Great Smoky Mountains National Park Monday night. The Firewise program, offered through the Tennessee Division of Forestry, falls under the umbrella of a

federal “Fire-Adapted Communities” initiative, which helps neighborhoods and towns reduce fire risk, prepare for safe evacuations, and plan for putting out wildfires.


Leon Konz, a wildfire mitigation specialist based in Knoxville, helps Tennessee communities develop wildfire protection plans, mostly by partnering with neighborhood groups like the English Mountain Homeowners Association. Other participants include neighborhoods in Sevier, Blount, Monroe, Union and Claiborne counties in East Tennessee. So far, he says, only one city in the state has developed a wildfire protection plan: Bolivar, in West Tennessee. Like most neighborhoods, English Mountain got involved through contacts from state foresters offering to come present Firewise information at a neighborhood association meeting. English Mountain was one of several areas in Sevier County that experienced wildfires this spring, and provides an example of exactly what the forestry division wanted to accomplish: Saving homes (and sometimes lives) by empowering homeowners with the information they need to protect themselves. Another fire on nearby Bluff Mountain during the same period destroyed cabins in a community that had not participated in the Firewise program, Konz says. Wildfire protection plans assess community fire risks and strengths, including the width and steepness of roads, access to water sources, and types of housing, Konz says. The plan identifies improvements like reducing brush in communal areas and improving street signs for responders, as well as long term goals like increasing the number of fire hydrants, creating guidelines for the design of new roads, and limiting building materials allowed for new houses (like banning wood shake shingles). “A lot of it is just common sense, like keeping leaves out of your gutters,” Stephens says. “They teach you what takes your home is just the underbrush and leaves that creep up under your house.” Konz says more than half of homes catch fire because an ember lands on roof or deck where leaves or needles have accumulated. December 1, 2016


“Basically as a society we’re not comfortable with using fire because we don’t understand it.”

as sistant distri

Photo ct forester, Te s cour tesy of Natha n Water nnes see Divis s, ion of Forestry

— WALLY AKINS, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

CATCHING THE FIRESTARTERS Arson is always one of the major causes of wildfires. State and local fire officials have said both the Walland and Great Smoky Mountains National Park fires were caused by humans, although it’s not clear yet whether both were intentional. This year the state is blaming about 79 percent of the acres burned by wildfires on arsonists, and at least seven arrests have been made—a higher number than usual, says Tim Phelps, communications director for the Tennessee Division of Forestry. As of Monday, the state had identified 666 of this year’s wildfires as arsons. (No, we did not make up that apt-sounding number.) “Historically speaking, from convictions, it’s folks that are looking for excitement,” Phelps says. “Or they have a vendetta against somebody like a family member or a girlfriend.” They tend to be uneducated young white men, he says. The Division of


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

Forestry maps the state’s fires each year and has seen patterns indicating where the same arsonists, who haven’t been caught, appear to set fires year after year, Phelps says. “Woods arsonists are sometimes hard to track down,” he says. “They do it alone at night on some backcountry road. Fortunately this year, through tips from the public to the arson hotline, the (agricultural) crime unit and sheriff’s offices, we’ve been able to catch a few and make those arrests. There’s a lot more leads.” Anyone with information about the origin of any East Tennessee fires can call the arson hotline 24 hours a day at 800-762-3017, or report arson to the Tennessee Division of Agriculture Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). The state’s arson reward fund is now at $2,500 for a tip that leads to an arson arrest and conviction—or callers may remain anonymous. —S.H.D.

“These big fires we’re experiencing now are lofting and carrying embers farther than normal,” he says. “If they land on your home, even if it’s a mile or half-mile from fire, it can catch fire.” In addition to keeping leaves and needles cleared, Konz says the most important thing a homeowner can do is to reduce the amount of highly flammable pines, laurel, and rhododendron within 30 to 100 feet of the house. Stephens is on a committee of residents who inspect other homes in the neighborhood and provide owners a list of recommendations for ways to reduce wildfire risks on their property. This ongoing process, paired with an annual Firewise education day, is an annual requirement for communities to stay in the program, Konz says. English Mountain might have been more open to the idea because residents there had seen four condominium buildings go up in flames atop the mountain in 2012. But some that did not really participate in the Firewise effort before this spring have since taken measures like bulldozing firebreaks behind their homes, Stephens says. On average, Tennessee battles about 1,200 fires burning 20,000 acres each decade, says Tim Phelps, communications unit leader for the Tennessee Division of Forestry. But this year has seen the most wildfire activity since 2000, at the end of a two-year drought. “That year we had twice as much burn as what we have currently,” Phelps noted last week, with the current extreme drought only having begun in late summer. As of Tuesday, almost the entire state was listed in at least severe drought by the U.S. Drought monitor, with all or part of about 15 counties in exceptional drought. That laid the groundwork for more than 43,500 acres having burned statewide since the beginning of the year, according to the division of forestry. The fires were even more dramatic this year because of the contrast with recent years, when the

state has had a record low number of fires, Phelps says. Rain is forecast to finally help with both the drought and fires this week, although the wind accompanying those storm fronts can be dangerous. Last spring, Stephens watched from his home as the fire that bypassed his house ate up the valley beneath. Fire fighters thought they had contained it at the next ridge, but wind gusts blew it over the fire breaks. “When it hit those pine trees, it would just go up like a Roman candle,” says Stephens, who watched a helicopter drop water on the ridge. “And then the wind blowing up these valleys, it’s just amazing to see.”


In recent years, Western and Gulf Coast states have tried to reduce the intensity of forest fires, even deep in the woods far from human structures, by encouraging private landowners to conduct controlled burns. That’s a reversal. The old Smokey the Bear message generally led the public to assume all fires were bad. “Basically as a society we’re not comfortable with using fire because we don’t understand it,” says Wally Akins, a wildlife biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Our grandfathers and people before them used fire quite a bit. It was a common practice for people to burn their property, probably mostly with farming to keep fields from being overgrown.” But removing regular burns from the equation meant that a tremendous amount of dead wood and pine needles built up. Controlled or “prescribed” fires, set by trained experts in the right weather conditions and at the right point in the growing season, remove this fuel but don’t burn hot enough to kill trees. In Tennessee, prescribed fire is used less. That’s mostly because 90 percent of its forests are dominated by hardwood, which is more easily harmed by fire, Phelps says. But prescribed burns are growing more common nonetheless, says

Akins. “We have increased our acreage in prescribed fire every year for the last 8 to 15 years,” he says. And state experts actively encourage well-planned prescribed burns. For a small fee, the 30 area foresters working for the Division of Forestry consult with private forest owners—who own 80 percent of the woods in the state—to help them plan and even conduct the burns. Most interested landowners want to use fire to improve wildlife habitat, particularly for turkey, Phelps says. “We usually have more demand for conducting prescribed fires than we can provide, mostly because there are small windows of time when it’s safe and appropriate to do that,” he says. Federal cost-sharing programs, most notably the “EQIP” program offered through the Farm Bill, can help landowners pay for conducting prescribed fires to benefit wildlife. EQIP, which stands for Environmental Quality Incentives Program , is used most often by farmers, who receive incentives for making their field edges and uncultivated land more beneficial to air and water quality, as well as wildlife. Prescribed fire helps improve habitat for grassland songbirds, deer, turkey and other animals, Akins says. ◆


Holiday Art Show & Fundraiser


Bruce McCamish, Shii Kaina, Jeremy Presnell, and more


Friday, Dec. 4, 5:30-9 p.m.


Arcade Building (618 S Gay St.)


If you are impressed by Bruce McCamish’s fire photos in this issue, he’ll be giving them away at the show—for each $40 (or more) donation. All proceeds will go to support volunteer firefighters in the stricken areas.

December 1, 2016



P rogram Notes

Missing in Action Nearly forgotten Knoxville songwriter Arthur Q. Smith finally gets the tribute he deserves


he life of Arthur Q. Smith could be a country-music song. The gifted and deeply troubled Smith saw some of the biggest country stars of the era—Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Don Gibson, Kitty Wells— turn his songs into hits in the late 1940s and early ’50s. Among his songs are familiar gems like “Wedding Bells,” “Rainbow at Midnight,” and “Missing in Action.” But Smith rarely got credit—or royalties—for his work. Smith sold the rights to almost every song he wrote for next to nothing, $10 or $25 or less, often to pay a bar tab at his favorite hangout on the corner of Gay Street and Jackson Avenue. Smith finally had a hit with his name on it when Ricky Skaggs’ version of “I Wouldn’t Change You (If I Could)” was a number-one single in 1983—20 years after Smith had died.

21 20

Inside the Vault: Arthur Q. Smith

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

For decades, Smith has been a little-known tragic figure in Knoxville’s country-music history. But he’s getting the star treatment this month, when the prestigious German reissue label Bear Family releases Arthur Q. Smith: The Trouble With the Truth. It’s a two-CD set featuring original recordings by classic country’s most recognizable names and demos recorded by Smith, accompanied by a 120-page booklet. The booklet contains an introduction by Marty Stuart (“I hereby nominate Arthur Q. Smith to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame—it’s long overdue”), dozens of photographs, and an exhaustive essay written by Bradley Reeves and News Sentinel music writer Wayne Bledsoe. “The whole story is Knoxville and Knoxville’s huge contribution to country music history, which is sometimes overlooked, and how many of the early


Music: Mike Baggetta

hits were produced by this one man,” says Reeves, a cofounder and former director of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. (Much of the material in the new Bear Family set comes directly from TAMIS.) Smith was born in Georgia in 1909 and spent his childhood in Kentucky. He moved to Knoxville in the 1930s to work in the burgeoning music industry with WNOX. By the late 1940s, though, Smith’s alcoholism had made him unemployable. He set up office at the Three Feathers Sandwich Shop, a beer joint on Gay Street, near the WNOX studio. He’d spend hours there, writing songs that would later be hits, and sell the rights to musicians passing through town, their managers, or to Leonard and Helen Shersky, the owners of the Three Feathers. “He just churned them out, one right after the other,” Reeves says. “To pay his bar bill, he’d sell these songs to the Sherskys—sometimes 50 percent, then he’d go back and do another 25 percent until he’d sold the whole song.” Reeves says Smith was one of the definitive songwriters of his era. The Bear Family set, he argues, is an opportunity to give Smith credit and to acknowledge Knoxville’s contributions to early country history in general. “Don Gibson always called it the Knoxville sound,” Reeves says. “If you listen to the music of the 1940s and ’50s, that’s what it is. It hearkens back

to the earlier days, to the older mountain melodies. It’s really hard country, and that’s what was selling on the Nashville record labels.” After working as a guitarist in the WNOX Mid-Day Merry Go Round band and later as a booking agent for the station, Smith spent time as a staff songwriter for King Records and for Acuff-Rose, the publishing house in Nashville. He was also, for a brief period, Hank Williams’ manager. But his side deals and his drinking interfered with regular work. He died in a hotel room on Vine Avenue in 1963. “As creative as he was, he needed a business manager,” Reeves says. “He was totally inept at controlling his own affairs. That’s the sad part. The man drank from beginning to end. His son said he couldn’t even write a song unless he was drunk. And that’s a trap to be in.” Reeves and Bledsoe will both appear at a release party for The Trouble With the Truth at the Emporium Center (100 S. Gay St.)—across the street from the site of the old Three Feathers—on Friday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. Also on hand: Jesse McReynolds, of Jim and Jesse, who will perform with the Barstool Romeos, Larry Odom, Jack Cate, Nancy Brennan Strange, and Steve Horton. TAMIS will screen film footage of Smith (see Inside the Vault on page 22 for more info on that). Admission is free. —Matthew Everett

The whole story is Knoxville and Knoxville’s huge contribution to country music history, which is sometimes overlooked, and how many of the early hits were produced by this one man. —BRADLEY REEVES on Arthur Q. Smith


Movie: Never Eat Alone

Inside the Vault

On the Corner TAMIS takes a rare look inside songwriter Arthur Q. Smith’s headquarters at the Three Feathers Sandwich Shop BY ERIC DAWSON


rthur Q. Smith: The Trouble With the Truth is a new two-CD set from the German reissue label Bear Family that focuses on the little-known Knoxville songwriter Arthur Q. Smith. During the 1940s and ’50s, Smith wrote songs that were recorded by Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, and dozens of others. But he rarely received much recognition, in part because he often sold the rights to the songs for $15 or $20 to pay his bar tabs. (See Program Notes on page 20.) The Trouble With the Truth was possible because of the wealth of material collected by the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound in the past decade or so. One of the discs is made up entirely of Smith’s demos and other recordings that the archive holds, and most of the photographs and documents in the accompanying book are from TAMIS. What wasn’t made available in the package, however, are home movies featuring Smith, which, like the recordings and photos, have trickled in from various sources. The earliest footage we have of Smith is a from a two-minute film from around 1942 documenting an WNOX road show in rural Kentucky, probably at a coal-mining camp. Smith, the booking manager for the station,

arranged out-of-town gigs like this. Smith can be seen in a clear close-up and hamming it up onstage in a comedy routine with Smilin’ Eddie Hill. This footage, which came our way courtesy of Tony Cianciola, an accordion player who occasionally brought his 8mm camera to WNOX gigs, also includes the earliest known moving images of Chet Atkins performing. Smith also turns up in a remarkable film shot backstage at WNOX in 1953. The three-minute reel consists of close-ups of more than 25 WNOX performers, including Lowell Blanchard, Claude Boone, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, Speedy Krise, Fred E. Smith, and Carl Story. Smith makes an appearance lighting a cigarette and grinning. It’s unclear who shot the film, but it appears to have been made just to have a visual record of who was present at some unknown occasion. TAMIS only has Story’s VHS copy of a silent 8mm film transfer, so the quality could be better. But it’s unlikely another home movie featuring so many WNOX performers of the time will turn up. Smith frequented the Three Feathers Sandwich Shop, at the corner of Gay Street and Jackson Avenue, where Nouveau Classics is today. Before Smith’s time, the space had been a


saloon; despite its name, the Three Feathers was essentially a beer tavern. It was a popular hangout for musicians who wandered over from the WNOX studios across the street, looking for a bite and a beer before or after performing. They might also buy a tune from Smith, who spent hours sitting at the bar. The Three Feathers was owned and operated by Leonard Shersky (the brother of Harold’s Deli proprietor Harold Shersky) and his wife, Helen. Emilee Shersky, Leonard and Helen’s daughter, donated to TAMIS a batch of her parents’ papers, which included extensive documentation of songs they had purchased from Smith. They seem to be the only ones who kept evidence of such transactions. A while back, Emilee dropped off some films, among them a 16mm reel from around 1950. The interior of a bar appeared in flawless Kodachrome color. We recognized Leonard and Helen Shersky behind the bar. The man at the counter reading a newspaper and draining a beer glass also looked awfully familiar. It took a few seconds to sink in that we were actually looking at Arthur Q. Smith, holding court at what served as something like an office for him. It would be a pretty remarkable piece of footage, even if Smith weren’t in it. I showed the reel to Florentine Films producer Junie Dunfey, who was in town looking at material for Ken Burns’ upcoming Country Music series, and she was fascinated. It’s rare to find such lingering views of a mid-century bar interior on 16mm. The film’s processing box had a return address: American Heating and Supply Co., 310 W. Jackson Ave., a place operated by a man named R.L. Scruggs. It was just around the corner from the Three Feathers, where the Happy Envelope is today. Scruggs must have had a film of the bar made and given it to the Sherskys. Maybe he made similar films of the other businesses on the 100 block of Gay Street and on Jackson Avenue, and we just haven’t come across them yet. ◆ Inside the Vault searches the archives of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound for nuggets of lost Knoxville music and film history. December 1, 2016




Photo by Scott Friedlander

The Shape of Jazz New Knoxville transplant Mike Baggetta takes on the music of Ornette Coleman BY MATTHEW EVERETT


or the last couple of years, the guitarist Mike Baggetta has been performing instrumental, improvisational interpretations of songs made famous by Patsy Cline. The experiment, which he performed in Knoxville earlier this year, was a self-imposed challenge for Baggetta—a measure of his playing against the music he loves, jazz guitar against country standards. “The thing that interested me was to see, can I put my aesthetic on someone else’s music and make it successful?” Baggetta says. “I love her


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

voice, as just a musical voice—it’s so strong, with such a personal identity. I also love the songs. But on top of that, I wanted to see if my idea of how to play music held up outside of my own compositions. You can compose in a way that plays to your strengths, but to me it was important to see if what I consider my strengths hold up on someone else’s music.” Now Baggetta’s raising the stakes, taking on a contemporary of Cline’s whose music could hardly be more different than hers. Next week, Baggetta and his ad hoc band—bassist

Matt Nelson and drummer Nolan Nevels—will perform an hour-long set of music by Ornette Coleman as part of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s Jazz Lunch series. Coleman is best known for his landmark 1961 album Free Jazz, released the same year that Cline had hits with “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces.” Free Jazz is a half-hour swirl of heady free-form improv delivered by some of the finest and most forward-thinking horn players of the day—Coleman, Don Cherry, Freddie Hubbard, and Eric Dolphy. It defined Coleman’s career for more than half a century. He never stopped exploring—his career lasted until his death, in 2015, and included excursions into orchestral jazz, funk, fusion, and world music, a MacArthur Fellowship genius grant, an appearance at Bonnaroo, and a Pulitzer Prize. But Coleman’s reputation has always been linked, especially among casual jazz listeners and die-hard traditionalists, to Free Jazz and the out-there avant-garde jazz movements that followed. During the 1970s, Coleman was often dismissed by critics. In the 21st century, though, he’s claimed a position as one of the most important and influential voices of post-1950s music. “Ornette has been one of those touchstone musicians in my life,” Baggetta says. “I love the idea of his aesthetic, changing the way jazz was thought about—‘Maybe you can play anything over this stuff, maybe it doesn’t have to be this way’—and causing a lot of controversy. I love it when somebody discovers something new.” Appropriately, don’t expect straightforward renditions of Coleman’s music at the tribute concert. Baggetta and his bandmates will use Coleman’s compositions as a framework for their own improvisation and exploration. “What I wanted to go into this concert thinking about was to not necessarily play the compositions the way people might be familiar with them, or the way they were recorded by Ornette and his band, but to take the aesthetic of his music and try to translate that in a way that the three of us could communicate with,”

Baggetta says. “So maybe not being true to the recorded version but being true to the aesthetic of Ornette Coleman as a musician. “Trying to figure out how to do that and how to talk about it with the guys I’m playing with—and to feel like we’re doing something interesting with it—was the biggest learning experience for me.” Baggetta has performed in Knoxville a handful of times over the last two years, but the Coleman tribute show will be his first notable headlining show since he officially settled here. After several years as a professional musician in New York, he welcomed the opportunity to move here with his girlfriend this summer. “It got to the point where we didn’t want to do a long-distance relationship and she didn’t want to move to New York, which I understand,” he says. “It’s kind of a weird place to live. I felt like the day-to-day was getting to me and I could take a break. I really like it here—I actually love it here. It’s a cool city with a great music scene—and everybody’s nice.” ◆


Knoxville Jazz Orchestra Jazz Lunch: A Tribute to Ornette Coleman with Mike Baggetta


The Square Room (4 Market Square)


Wednesday, Dec. 7, at noon




Experimental Movies The Public Cinema launches the Lab, a new series of microbudget films BY NATHAN SMITH


ext week, the Public Cinema launches a new strain of programming they’re calling the Lab. With the series, Public Cinema programmers Paul Harrill and Darren Hughes intend to cast light on emerging no-budget fi lmmakers, the kind of scrappy but resourceful do-it-yourselfers who make up for limited resources with strong voices. The fi rst Lab screening is a double feature: two fi lms that reflect on eating and our relationship with it. In the fi rst movie, mastication is a method of masochism; in the other, it’s a means of meditation. First up is “Shade,” a short film by Julian Tran and Cuyler Ballenger. It’s a story of perversion and intense anal fi xation in which the lives of Shade, a girl with braces who lives to chew, and Clementi, a slick businessman with a taste for homeopathic drugs, intertwine. It’s shot on what looks like DV tape, or at least some type of low-grade camcorder, which lends the film an illicit air. Its style exists on the same continuum as many of the great American lo-fi films of the past decade; it recalls more recent mumblecore-adjacent movies like Nathan Silver’s Stinking Heaven and early ’00s movies like Damon Packard’s Reflections of Evils and Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland. In “Shade,” Tran and Ballenger linger closely on every face, cutting an instant ahead of each word and action, turning the comfort of food into a cringe-inducing frenzy. The second film in this program, the much quieter Never Eat Alone, plays as a poignant chaser to the teeth-grinding grit of “Shade.” Never Eat Alone is the debut feature from Canadian director Sofia Bohdanowicz, who has received previous acclaim for “Last Poems,” a trilogy of shorts. Like films by many of her no-budget peers across the northern border—Kurt

Walker (Hit 2 Pass) and Isiah Medina (88:88, which the Public Cinema screened last winter)—Bohdanowicz’s work is a tender slice of docu-fiction. It’s the story of Bohdanowicz’s real grandmother, Joan Benac, and her bond with Audrey (Deragh Campbell), her fictional granddaughter. In the 1950s, Benac appeared in a televised musical melodrama filmed at Casa Loma, a Gothic revival mansion in Toronto that is now a museum. She reflects on a brief romance with a baritone-voiced cast member whom she attempts to track down with the help of Audrey and the Internet. At fi rst, Never Eat Alone reads like nonfiction; the photography feels almost accidental in its naturalism, but there’s an intentionality to Bohdanowicz’s sense of framing and cross-cutting that betrays its fictional elements. Bohdanowicz masterfully moves among Joan, Audrey, and an old man whom we presume is Joan’s ex-lover as the three exist in quiet solitude; ironically, they’re often shown eating alone. The fi lm’s repetition allows it to explore the ritual of our relationships, both with ourselves (eating, preparing food) and with others (reading old letters to a granddaughter, trying on a grandmother’s clothes). Bohdanowicz’s quiet precision and her interest in cross-generation relationships among female family members inevitably recalls the work of the late Belgian director Chantal Akerman, whose 1975 masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is perhaps the greatest—and most sour-tasting—fi lm about food. By choosing two food-focused fi lms to initiate their new series, Harrell and Hughes offer us a bit of self-reflection. Movies about food often are less about the act of eating


and more about the communion that happens within the theater. The fi lmmaker may break the bread, but it is the audience members who share the loaves and fishes. In the case of the Public Cinema, the programmers have as much hand in the cooking as anyone behind the camera. Many of my favorite Knoxville memories across the past year and a half have happened at Public Cinema screenings in the darkness of the Knoxville Museum of Art auditorium or on the uncomfortable seats at Pilot Light. I have shared cinematic feasts with old friends, hardcore cinephiles, casual moviegoers, and complete strangers thanks to Harrill and Hughes. The Lab’s launch is another step in the right direction for Knoxville’s loose but growing cinematic community. The fi rst installment proves that fi lmmakers—and fi lm programmers—with minimal resources can still say quite a bit. ◆


The Public Cinema: Never Eat Alone


Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson Ave.)


Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m.



December 1, 2016



Thursday, Dec. 1 MATT BROWN WITH BRANDON FULSON • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE THE JONNY MONSTER BAND • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • FREE WUTK EXAM JAM • Scruffy City Hall • 8PM • A fundraiser for WUTK, produced by the station’s music department. With Sweet Years, Peak Physique, Ex Gold, and Tree Tops. O RYNE WARNER AND WES TIREY • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM  THE BLUE LINE BLUES • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up.  TIGERDOG • Preservation Pub • 8PM • 21 and up. • FREE Friday, Dec. 2 MORGAN WADE WITH NEWTOWN • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE THE JOHN HATCHETT BAND • Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg) • 7PM • FREE THE DELTAS • The Open Chord • 7PM • Old-school R&B and beach music. All ages. • $10 THE HOT SARDINES: HOLIDAY STOMP • Clayton Center for the Arts (Maryville) • 7:30PM • Capping off a year that’s seen the Sardines play to sold-out venues throughout the U.S., New York’s hot-jazz darlings get into the big, brass-filled spirit of the holiday season. • $27-$43 FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 8PM • Jason Thompson’s band doesn’t play bebop, the mainstay of the American saxman for more than half a century. He prefers to do something different. Frog & Toad can sound more old-fashioned than bebop, with Dixieland and ragtime tunes. But then, in the same set, they’ll sound more modern than bebop, with funk or fusion, or something original he wrote last week. • FREE JAMIE LAVAL • Laurel Theater • 8PM • Fiddler Jamie Laval will present a program of traditional music from Scotland, Ireland, Bretagne, Galicea, Quebec, and Appalachia. • $20 1964: THE TRIBUTE • The International • 8PM • A tribute to the Beatles. All ages. • $25-$40 JACK’D UP • Two Doors Down (Maryville) • 9PM  RICK RUSHING • Brackins Blues Club (Maryville) • 9PM  RUMOURS • The Concourse • 9PM • A tribute to Fleetwood Mac. 18 and up. • $12-$15 SCOTT STEVENS • Wild Wing Cafe • 10PM • FREE THE BURNIN’ HERMANS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM  THE DEAD RINGERS • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up.  THE HOWLIN’ BROTHERS • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE FAT PENGUIN • Bar Marley • 10PM • FREE Saturday, Dec. 3 FREQUENCY WITH LOOSE HINGES • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE KATY FREE AND WENDEL WERNER • Red Piano Lounge • 6PM  JAY CLARK AND GREG HORNE • Royal Oaks Event Center (Maryville) • 7:30PM • Visit • $15 24

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

TENNESSEE SHEIKS • Laurel Theater • 8PM • Taking inspiration from the great Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, they describe their music as acoustic swing. • $13 GIRL POWER: ANNANDALE, THE BILLY WIDGETS, THE CRYPTOIDS, AND IN SERVICE OF SOUND • The Open Chord • 8PM • Welcome to the Open Chord’s third installment of our Girl Power series, celebrating women in music. The night will feature four incredible female-fronted rock acts from the region. All ages.  NEAL MCCOY • Knoxville Civic Coliseum • 8PM • Neal McCoy is an American country music singer. He has released ten studio albums on various labels, and has released 34 singles to country radio. Presented by the Knoxville Fire Fighters Association. • $29 CYPHER: A HIP-HOP SHOW • The Birdhouse • 9PM • Open mic for the first half of the night, then two featured artists to close out the night. 18 and up.  EXIT 60 • Two Doors Down (Maryville) • 9PM  JOHN SUTTON • Brackins Blues Club (Maryville) • 9PM  ALMOST DEAD • Scruffy City Hall • 9PM • A tribute to the Grateful Dead.  C2 AND THE BROTHERS REED • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up.  KUKULY AND THE GYPSY FUEGO • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE WOODY PINES • Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg) • 10PM • FREE THE JERRY GARCIA COVER BAND • The Concourse • 10PM • 18 and up. • $5 CRAVE ON WITH BEIGE BLOOD • Pilot Light • 10PM • 18 and up. • $5 NAVAJO JOE • Preservation Pub • 8PM • 21 and up.  NEW ROOTS • Bar Marley • 10PM • FREE Sunday, Dec. 4 SHIFFLETT’S JAZZ BENEDICT • The Bistro at the Bijou • 12PM • Live jazz. • FREE SUNDAY JAZZ BRUNCH • Downtown Grill and Brewery • 12:45PM • Knoxville’s coolest jazz artists perform every Sunday. • FREE DETROIT DAVE: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE • The Concourse • 4PM • Join us in celebrating the life of Knoxville guitar legend and friend, Detroit Dave Meer. This will be an afternoon of music, storytelling, and fellowship by those who loved Dave. Donations for Dave’s arrangements will be accepted and a silent auction will be held. All ages. Visit • FREE BOBAFLEX WITH SUPER BOB, MEDICINE MANN, AND BELFAST 6 PACK • The Open Chord • 7PM • Bobaflex is known as one of the hardest working bands in the country. Renowned for their high energy, live shows and relentless touring the band was formed in 1998 by brothers Shaun and Marty McCoy. The brothers are known for their ancestral ties to the most infamous family feud in American history between the Hatfield and McCoy. Bobaflex is on tour now supporting their seventh album Anything That Moves. All ages. • $8-$10 THE CHARLES WALKER BAND • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up. KITTY WAMPUS • Roger’s Place • 9PM  Monday, Dec. 5 MIGHTY MUSICAL MONDAY • Tennessee Theatre • 12PM • Wurlitzer meister Bill Snyder is joined by a special guest on the first Monday of each month for a music showcase inside Knoxville’s historic Tennessee Theatre. • FREE LES KERR WITH CAREY OTT • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national

Photo by Marco Borggreve


Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

STILE ANTICO: WONDROUS MYSTERY St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral (413 W. Cumberland Ave.) • Sunday, Dec. 4 • 7:30 p.m. • $25-$50 • or

Fans of Renaissance polyphonic vocal music might just have one of the 10 or so CD recordings by the British vocal ensemble Stile Antico on their holiday gift list this year. But no sound system in the world can replicate the ecstatic sonic experience of hearing this award-winning 12-member ensemble live in a hall of warm stone and wood that lavishes its natural acoustics on the music and performers. Local audiences have just such an opportunity this season, as Stile Antico takes a concert stop in Knoxville at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in a program that mirrors one of its recordings, Wondrous Mystery. The ensemble’s name derives from a 17th-century term meaning “old style,” describing Renaissance church music of the earlier period of Palestrina. Today, Stile Antico fills a busy year with concerts, international touring, and recordings that feature the wealth of 16th- and 17th-century polyphonic music composed by Palestrina, his Flemish and Spanish contemporaries, and a variety of English composers such as Taverner, Tallis, and Byrd. The ensemble’s solid reputation also reflects a collaborative process of development that “allows its members to contribute artistically in crafting its performances.” Wondrous Mystery, Stile Antico’s Christmas program, mixes works of seasonal interest in polyphonic style with Renaissance dances and folk tunes. On the program is a Christmas mass by the Flemish composer Clemens non Papa and a host of traditional German motets and carols: Eccard’s Übers Gebirg Maria geht and Michael Praetorius’ Magnificat, which includes the carols “In dulci jubilo” and “Josef lieber, Josef mein.” The concerts often open with Praetorius’ “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” familiar to English ears as “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming.” (Alan Sherrod)


Spotlight: A Christmas Carol

CALENDAR Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE NEW RADIO DIALECT • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM THE MALLETT BROTHERS • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up. Tuesday, Dec. 6 DOUG WILHITE WITH LEFTFOOT DAVE AND THE MAGIC HATS • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE THE PELLISSIPPI STATE BLUEGRASS ENSEMBLE • Wild Wing Cafe • 5:30PM • FREE RITZ WITH JARREN BENTON • The Concourse • 9PM • Nowadays, the rap career of Gwinnett-raised Rittz is rapidly on the rise. From his affliation with one of the hottest new rappers coming out of the South to his first mixtape, Rittz White Jesus (hilariously inspired by a friend’s term of endearment), everything is coming together now, two years after he nearly lost everything. 18 and up. Visit • $15-$65 PALE ROOT • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM Wednesday, Dec. 7 KIEL GROVE WITH THREE STAR REVIVAL • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE KJO JAZZ LUNCH: TRIBUTE TO ORNETTE COLEMAN • The Square Room • 12PM • Drawing from the works of the Free-Jazz pioneer, saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, Mike Baggetta has assembled a group of fearless improvisers with whom to reinterpret Coleman’s music with a newfound experimentalism paying tribute to the spirit of its creator. Visit • $15 • See preview on page 22. FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 6:30PM • FREE TENNESSEE SHINES: THE JON STICKLEY TRIO • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7PM • Jon Stickley Trio has made waves with the independent and fan-funded release of their second album, Lost at Last [October 2015], produced by Dave King of The Bad Plus. Part of Tennessee Shines, WDVX’s series of weekly live-broadcast concerts. • $10 SLIM CESSNA’S AUTO CLUB • Pilot Light • 9PM • Apocalyptic Americana from Denver. 18 and up. • $12 SLANDER AND NGHTMRE: GUD VIBRATIONS • The International • 9PM • With Habstrakt and Krne. 18 and up. Visit • $20-$30 The Georgia Flood • Preservation Pub • 10PM • The Georgia Flood aren’t messing around with their debut album. People Like Ourselves draws on indelible melodies, clever lyrics, and an infectious energy. 21 and up. Thursday, Dec. 8 JACK LAWLESS AND REBECCA MAE WITH THE HWY • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE RED SHOES AND ROSIN • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • FREE KIEL GROVE • Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg) • 7PM • FREE KJO SWINGIN’ CHRISTMAS WITH NIKI HARIS • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Holiday favorites in the styles of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and more. Show-stopping vocalist Niki Haris joins the band this year to help make your

season bright. Tickets are available now online at or by calling 656-4444. • $39.50 BONNIE BISHOP WITH MOJO:FLOW AND HAYLEY REARDON • The Open Chord • 8PM • Grammy-winning Bonnie Bishop delivered her sixth album, ‘Ain’t Who I Was,’ on May 27. Produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell), the album features 10 new recordings, including six songs co-written by Bishop. All ages. • $8-$10 POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE • Scruffy City Hall • 9PM BILLY STRINGS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM THE GHOST OF PAUL REVERE • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up. Friday, Dec. 9 OSCAR HARRIS • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE THE WORD ALIVE WITH VOLUMES, ISLANDER, AND INVENT, ANIMATE • The Concourse • 7PM • On their fourth full-length album, Dark Matter, the Word Alive amplify every aspect of their signature sound. The lyrics are more personal. The melodies are more engaging. The songs are bigger. It’s the apex of the Phoenix heavy alternative quintet’s sound to date. All ages. Visit internationalknox. com. • $16-$18 THE BIRD AND THE BEAR • Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg) • 7PM • FREE LUCY ROSE GEORGE • Vienna Coffee House (Maryville) • 7PM • FREE HOME FREE: A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS • Tennessee Theatre • 7:30PM • Home Free is bringing new music, new production, more country and holiday favorites as they come to town in A Country Christmas Tour. The five-man band has become known for their show-stopping performances that mix their signature no-instrument, all-vocal music with their quick-witted humor. • $27.50-$150 DELBERT MCCLINTON • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • I’m an acquired taste in that my kind of music’s not for little kids,’ Texas singer- songwriter Delbert McClinton says. ‘It’s adult rock ‘n’ roll. I write from the sensibility of the people I knew growing up, and I grew up with all the heathens, the people who went too far before they changed and tried to make something out of their lives.” • $37 FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 8PM • FREE THE TEMPER EVANS BAND • Two Doors Down (Maryville) • 9PM THREE STAR REVIVAL • Scruffy City Hall • 9PM • Jazzy, jammy, funky Americana. ROOTS OF A REBELLION WITH TROPIDELIC AND JOSIAH ATCHLEY AND THE GREATER GOOD • Preservation Pub • 9PM • 21 and up. CAUTION • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM BRENDAN JAMES WRIGHT AND THE WRONGS • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE FALLOIR WITH SLEEPING POLICEMAN • Pilot Light • 10PM • Falloir sails through proggy waters with tricky time signatures and dynamic shifts, knotty, cascading dual-guitar riffs, and dense, pummeling percussion. 18 and up. • $5 ARTHUR Q. SMITH: THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRUTH • Emporium Center for Art and Culture • 6PM • Jesse McReynolds, of the legendary bluegrass duo Jim and Jesse, is joined by the Barstool Romeos, Larry Odom, Jack Cate, Nancy Brennan Strange, and Steve Horton for a night of music (and film) celebrating the release of Bear December 1, 2016


CALENDAR Family’s new set of classic country songs from the 1940s and ’50s written by Knoxville’s Arthur Q. Smith. Bradley Reeves and Wayne Bledsoe, co-authors of the booklet accompanying the set, will sign copies. See Program Notes on page 20. Saturday, Dec. 10 BROOKS DIXON WITH JASON RINGENBERG • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE ROGER ALAN WADE • Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg) • 7PM • Roger Alan Wade has penned songs for country legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and the number one hit “Country State of Mind” for Hank Williams Jr. • FREE WHITECHAPEL WITH LORNA SHORE, REALM, THE GUILD, HATESTOMP, AND ANNIVERSARY • The Concourse • 7PM • Returning with the fifth full-length of their decimating career, there is no stopping the juggernaut that is Whitechapel. Our Endless War is the culmination of everything the Knoxville, Tennessee sextet have worked toward since their inception. A ruthlessly honed album that refuses to compromise on brutality, it is also by far their most streamlined, atmospheric, and emotionally powerful release, pushing every aspect of their sound to the next level. 18 and up. • $12-$17 CHRIS YOUNG WITH DUSTIN LYNCH AND CASSADEE POPE • Thompson-Boling Arena • 7:30PM • Chris Young has accomplished more by 29 than some artists do in a

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

lifetime. Already a Grammy-nominated recording artist, he’s also a dynamic live performer consistently in demand, an international ambassador for his genre, a talented songwriter with six Number Ones to his name. • $39.50-$199 DRAPER, REYNOLDS, AND RODGERS • The Open Chord • 7:30PM • Vanessa Draper, singer songwriter Karen E. Reynolds and Kit Rodgers—three very different musical friends, touring, recording and gigging for years. It never should have worked, but somehow, it worked really well. The trio played about every stage possible in and around Knoxville and toured like crazy in the Southeast. Three part harmonies, original music, laughter and just enough silliness onstage to allow the audience in on the inside jokes and to feel as if they were part of the group. And, in reality, they were. And still are. • $12-$15 DAVE BARNES • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Although born in South Carolina, singer/songwriter Dave Barnes spent most of his childhood in Mississippi, where he formed an early attachment to hip-hop but was also exposed to classic soul, blues, and RandB by his parents. • $29-$75 DOR L’DOR • Laurel Theater • 8PM • Dor L’Dor is a multi-generational klezmer band based in Knoxville, Tennessee, that international city famous for its yiddishkeit. Visit • $13 BILL MIZE • Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Gatlinburg) • 8PM • Raised in East Tennessee and internationally recognized, Bill Mize is a Winfield National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion. His music appears on the Grammy-winning CD “Stellaluna” and Emmy-winning productions such as PBS “National Parks” series by Ken

Burns. • $15 THE JAILHOUSE REVIEW • Two Doors Down (Maryville) • 9PM KITTY WAMPUS • Paul’s Oasis • 9:30PM DEMON WAFFLE • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM THE BEARDED • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE EBONY EYES WITH YUNG LIFE • Pilot Light • 10PM • 18 and up. • $5 THE BURNIN’ HERMANS • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up. Sunday, Dec. 11 SHIFFLETT’S JAZZ BENEDICT • The Bistro at the Bijou • 12PM • Live jazz. • FREE SUNDAY JAZZ BRUNCH • Downtown Grill and Brewery • 12:45PM • Knoxville’s coolest jazz artists perform every Sunday. • FREE KNOXVILLE GAY MEN’S CHORUS: ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS • Knoxville Civic Auditorium • 3PM • The concert features traditional carols such as The First Noel, I Saw Three Ships, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as fun and fresh takes on favorites like Sleigh Ride, Blue Christmas, and Jingle Bells, plus many more. Visit • $25 THE BROCKEFELLERS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 8PM LORD NELSON • Preservation Pub • 10PM • 21 and up.



Thursday, Dec. 1 IRISH MUSIC SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM • Held on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Visit • FREE BREWHOUSE BLUES JAM • The Open Chord • 8PM • Join Robert Higginbotham and the Smoking Section for the Brewhouse Blues Jam. Bring your instrument, sign up, and join the jammers. We supply drums and a full backline of amps. Sign-ups begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 BARLEY’S OPEN MIC NIGHT • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria (Maryville) • 8PM Tuesday, Dec. 6 PRESERVATION PUB SINGER-SONGWRITER NIGHT • Preservation Pub • 7PM • 21 and up. Visit OPEN CHORD SONGWRITERS NIGHT • The Open Chord • 7PM • Hosted by Karen E. Reynolds. OLD-TIME JAM SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM • The musicians sit together and pick and strum familiar tunes on fiddles, guitars, and bass. Open to all lovers and players of music. No need to build up the courage to join in. Just grab an instrument off the wall and take a seat. Hosted by Sarah Pirkle. Visit • FREE Wednesday, Dec. 7 TIME WARP TEA ROOM OLD-TIME JAM • Time Warp Tea Room • 7PM • Regular speed old-time/fiddle jam every

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KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016


CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Clarence Brown Theatre (1715 Andy Holt Ave.) • Through Dec. 11 • $26-$32 •

As far as holiday signposts go, A Christmas Carol is right up there with low-fat egg nog and the Norelco Santa skiing his way down the mountainside on his rotary razor sleigh: so familiar that we often relegate it to the background of our Christmas traditions. But now, more so than usual, A Christmas Carol takes on renewed relevance as we enter an age of Scrooges run amok—not only for its always comforting tale of redemption, but also for its underlying message, which we inevitably seem to forget between readings or performances. You may recall the story for its archetypes: Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean old guy; the Cratchits are a loving family despite their obstacles; the ghosts are pretty cool. But what Charles Dickens really intended for his “sledge hammer” was to expose the social effects of rampant greed during the Industrial Revolution. As England prospered, the poor paid the price, putting their children to work and suffering for lack of education or societal safety nets. Scrooge is not just a crank—he is the personification of an entire class that places itself above all others and disdains anyone who hasn’t succeeded. Helping the less fortunate is just a waste of money. But Dickens also knew that people usually ignore polemics, so A Christmas Carol is timelessly entertaining—and the Clarence Brown company’s production (directed by Micah-Shane Brewer and adapted by Dennis Elkins) is a delight. Dominated by a massive ticking clock, the artfully lit set provides an imaginative backdrop for everything from Victorian London streets to ghostly visitations marked by rolling mists and creative sound effects. The actors, led by a magnetic David Kortemeier as Scrooge, exude not only joyous participation, but also convincing British accents—typically the Achilles’ heel of many productions featuring English characters and American actors. Better yet, all the classic Christmas carols are skillfully woven into the story, as if Dickens had intended his parable to be a musical all along. So, let us seek optimism from a play about a guy who’s made absolutely horrible life decisions, resulting in a joyless existence of pursuing money at the expense of community well-being. If this guy can learn from his mistakes—albeit nearly too late—perhaps all of us can likewise find

December 1, 2016


CALENDAR Wednesday. All instruments and skill levels welcome. OPEN CHORD OPEN MIC NIGHT • The Open Chord • 7PM • Both solo performers and bands are welcome to perform. Signups start at 6 p.m. • FREE BRACKINS BLUES JAM • Brackins Blues Club (Maryville) • 9PM • A weekly open session hosted by Tommie John. • FREE Thursday, Dec. 8 SCOTTISH MUSIC SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM • A proud tradition, Scots love nothing more than music and drink. The drink is strong and the music is steeped in the history of the green highlands and rocky cliffs. Whether lyrics or no lyrics, every song tells a story. The hills of East Tennessee are a home away from home for this style. Pull up a chair to listen or play along. Held on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. • FREE Sunday, Dec. 11 SING OUT KNOXVILLE • Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church • 7PM • A folk singing circle open to everyone. • FREE


Thursday, Dec. 1 SASSY PIRATE PARTY IV • Bar Marley • 10PM • Grab your pirate booty and party like a parrot. Treasure Island has been getting wild. Hear DJ Funsize spin all the cheesy fun

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

pop dance hits of the 90s and 2000s and get a little wild. • FREE Friday, Dec. 2 PILOT LIGHT DANCE NIGHT • Pilot Light • 10PM • With Big Merg, Mini Tiger, J.S. Bowman, Dr. Hollywood, B.J. Alumbaugh, and Nathan Moses. 18 and up. • $5 RETRO WEEKEND DANCE PARTY • Hanna’s Old City • 9PM • Hanna’s Retro Weekend dance party with DJ Ray Funk is where you will hear all of your favorite 80’s and 90’s dance hits. So get down to Hanna’s in the Old City this weekend to party like it is 1999. SOUTHBOUND FRIDAYS • Southbound Bar and Grill • 9PM • With DJ Eric B.

Saturday, Dec. 10 KNOXVILLE GUITAR SOCIETY WINTER BENEFIT CONCERT • Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan • 7PM • Join the Knoxville Guitar Society for its December benefit concert. Visit • $20 Sunday, Dec. 11 OAK RIDGE WIND ENSEMBLE: MUSIC OF THE SEASON CHRISTMAS CONCERT • First Baptist Church Oak Ridge • 3:30PM • For more info visit or call 865-482-3568. • FREE

Saturday, Dec. 3 SOUTHBOUND SATURDAYS • Southbound Bar and Grill • 9PM • With DJ Eric B.



Thursday, Dec. 1 CHRISTMAS WITH THE KNOXVILLE CHAMBER CHORALE • St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral • 7PM • The program features choral arrangements of Christmas classics as well as newer music arranged for a cappella choir by modern composers such as Connor Koppin, Joseph Gregorio, Philip Lawson and Ēriks Ešenvalds. Visit • $10 Sunday, Dec. 4

t– December 1s

STILE ANTICO: A WONDROUS MYSTERY • St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral • 7:30PM • Stile Antico is firmly established as one of the world’s most accomplished and innovative vocal ensembles. Visit • $25-$50 • See Spotlight on page 24.

Thursday, Dec. 1 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 7:30PM • The tradition continues – anew! With a brand new look and a new adaptation, we return with a classic holiday favorite. Join us as Ebenezer Scrooge gets one last chance for redemption when he sees his past, present, and the possibilities for the future with four persuasive ghosts. Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. THEATRE KNOXVILLE DOWNTOWN: ‘SEASONAL ALLERGIES’ •

Bach or Basie?




Friday, Dec. 2 KNOXVILLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE: ‘GODSPELL JR.’ • Knoxville Children’s Theatre • 7PM • Prepare ye for the timeless tale of friendship, loyalty and love based on the Broadway musical that inspired a generation. The disciples help Jesus Christ tell parables, using a wide variety of songs and comic timing. An eclectic blend of music, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, is employed as the story of Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance and love come vibrantly to life. Dec. 2-18. Visit • $12 BROADWAY AT THE TENNESSEE: ‘RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA’ • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • The 2016-2017 season kicks off with the Tony Award-winning Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. From the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific, this lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love – the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more – plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this


r u o p a r w n U Unwrap a new special each day! Follow us on Facebook for each day’s deal!

Theatre Knoxville Downtown • 8PM • Nine out of 10 people have seasonal allergies, but nobody has a case worse than Julia Shelby and her brother Peter. So get ready to laugh away your throat tickle, and clear your sinuses with a healthy dose of holiday fun. Nov. 25-Dec. 11. Visit • $15

Your music, your choice. Your classical and jazz station.




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KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016 WUOT_Ad_4.625x5.25_ClassicalJazz_KnoxMerc.indd 2

9/17/16 5:00 PM

CALENDAR hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream… or a really great pair of shoes. • $37-$77 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 7:30PM • Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. OAK RIDGE PLAYHOUSE: 1940S RADIO HOUR • Oak Ridge Playhouse • 8PM • Just before Christmas 1942, a seedy little New York radio station—WOV—takes to the air to record a broadcast of The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade for the troops overseas. As the harassed producer copes with the lead singer who is often drunk, the second banana who dreams of singing a ballad, the sexy chanteuse who drives the men wild, and the delivery boy who just wants to be on the air, the show bursts forth with the rhythm and stomp of the big band sound. Nov. 24-Dec. 11. Visit THEATRE KNOXVILLE DOWNTOWN: ‘SEASONAL ALLERGIES’ • Theatre Knoxville Downtown • 8PM • Nov. 25-Dec. 11. Visit • $15 Saturday, Dec. 3 KNOXVILLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE: ‘GODSPELL JR.’ • Knoxville Children’s Theatre • 1PM and 5PM • Dec. 2-18. Visit • $12 APPALACHIAN BALLET COMPANY: THE NUTCRACKER • Knoxville Civic Auditorium • 7:30PM • The Appalachian Ballet Company will present the annual holiday tradition The Nutcracker in their 45th anniversary season. The production features live music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. New sets, props and costumes will bring the charming and spellbinding production to life. BROADWAY AT THE TENNESSEE: ‘RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA’ • Tennessee Theatre • 1PM and 7PM • $37-$77 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 7:30PM • Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. OAK RIDGE PLAYHOUSE: 1940S RADIO HOUR • Oak Ridge Playhouse • 8PM • Nov. 24-Dec. 11. Visit THEATRE KNOXVILLE DOWNTOWN: ‘SEASONAL ALLERGIES’ • Theatre Knoxville Downtown • 8PM • Nov. 25-Dec. 11. Visit • $15 Sunday, Dec. 4 APPALACHIAN BALLET COMPANY: THE NUTCRACKER • Knoxville Civic Auditorium • 3PM • The Appalachian Ballet Company will present the annual holiday tradition The Nutcracker in their 45th anniversary season. The production features live music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. New sets, props and costumes will bring the charming and spellbinding production to life. KNOXVILLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE: ‘GODSPELL JR.’ • Knoxville Children’s Theatre • 3PM • Dec. 2-18. Visit • $12 BROADWAY AT THE TENNESSEE: ‘RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA’ • Tennessee Theatre • 1:30PM and 6:30PM • $37-$77 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 2PM • Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. OAK RIDGE PLAYHOUSE: 1940S RADIO HOUR • Oak Ridge Playhouse • 2PM • Nov. 24-Dec. 11. Visit THEATRE KNOXVILLE DOWNTOWN: ‘SEASONAL ALLERGIES’ • Theatre Knoxville Downtown • 3PM • Nov. 25-Dec. 11. Visit • $15 Wednesday, Dec. 7 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 7:30PM • Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. Thursday, Dec. 8 KNOXVILLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE: ‘GODSPELL JR.’ • Knoxville Children’s Theatre • 7PM • Dec. 2-18. Visit • $12 CLARENCE BROWN THEATRE: ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ • Clarence Brown Theatre • 7:30PM • Nov. 23-Dec. 11. Visit • See Spotlight on page 27. RIVER AND RAIL THEATRE COMPANY: ‘THE UNUSUAL TALE OF MARY AND JOSEPH’S BABY’ • The Fifth Avenue House • 7:30PM • This December, River and Rail Theatre Company will premiere a new original folk musical The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby. Written by Tennessee-based award-winning recording artist Don Chaffer and New York playwright Chris Cragin-Day, The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby surprises virgin-believing and non-virgin-believing audiences alike, engaging this this oft-told story with a sincerity and humanity that bursts with imagination and wonder. Dec. 8-18. Visit • $18-$25 THEATRE KNOXVILLE DOWNTOWN: ‘SEASONAL ALLERGIES’ • Theatre Knoxville Downtown • 8PM • Nine out of 10 people have seasonal allergies, but nobody has a case worse than Julia Shelby and her brother Peter. So get ready to laugh away your throat tickle, and clear your sinuses with a healthy dose of holiday fun. Nov. 25-Dec. 11. Visit • $15


Friday, Dec. 2 FIRST FRIDAY COMEDY • Saw Works Brewing Company • 7PM • A monthly showcase featuring local and touring stand-ups comics. • FREE THE OOH OOH REVUE • Cocoa Moon • 10PM • Knoxville’s exciting monthly fun and sexy variety show. We are classy cabaret, song, dance, comedy and bedazzling burlesque, every First Friday. This show features some of Knoxville’s best and emerging talent: singers, dancers, comedians, spoken word poets, burlesque artists and so much more. It’s a variety show where each cast member brings a different sizzling act each month to entertain, delight, surprise and more. It’s an evening designed to make you say “ooh!” Visit 18 and up. • $10


Sunday, Dec. 4 UPSTAIRS UNDERGROUND COMEDY • Preservation Pub • 8PM • A weekly comedy open mic. Visit Monday, Dec. 5 ON THE MIC WITH MIKE • Scruffy City Hall • 7PM • Bee Valley Productions and Scruffy City Hall are proud to present an attention-deficit, topsy turvy take on the late-night talk show format. Mike Bartlett created the show as a way of marrying his passion for music and comedy; the purpose is to showcase the abundance of talented artists in the Knoxville music scene. Each episode features unique interviews and performances from Knoxville’s best artists, as well as sketches, segments, games, and more. Visit beevalleyproductions. com/comedy/onthemicwithmike. FRIENDLYTOWN • Pilot Light • 7:30PM • A weekly comedy night named after the former red-light district near the Old City. Visit 18 and up. • FREE

December 1, 2016


CALENDAR Tuesday, Dec. 6 CASUAL COMEDY: CRAIG HOLCOMBE • Casual Pint (Hardin Valley) • 7PM • The “Wildman” of South Carolina Comedy, Craig Holcombe headlines this month’s Casual Comedy show. Touring with Craig will be Greenville, South Carolina’s Andy Cummins, along with Knoxville comedians Boston McCown, Lance Adams, Michael Shibley, and Sean Simoneau. • FREE OPEN MIC STAND-UP COMEDY • Longbranch Saloon • 8PM • Come laugh until you cry at the Longbranch every Tuesday night. Doors open at 8:30, first comic at 9. No cover charge, all are welcome. Aspiring or experienced comics interested in joining in the fun can email us at to learn more, or simply come to the show a few minutes early. • FREE MIKE BIRBIGLIA • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Birbiglia is a regular contributor to public radio’s This American Life. He has appeared as an actor in The Fault in Our Stars, Trainwreck, Orange is the New Black, Girls, Inside Amy Schumer, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and the forthcoming film Don’t Think Twice, which he also wrote and directed. • $39.50 Thursday, Dec. 8 PIZZA HAS • Pizza Hoss • 8PM • On the second Thursday of the month, Pizza Hoss in Powell hosts a showcase featuring sets from some of the best comedians in East Tennessee along with selected up-and-coming talent. Each month one of the hosts of Rain/Shine Event productions (Shane Rhyne, Tyler Sonnichsen, and Sean Simoneau) serves as your guide to introduce you the best

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

of our region’s comedy scene. • FREE


Friday, Dec. 2 WIVK CHRISTMAS PARADE • Downtown Knoxville • 7PM • Bands, dancers, floats, characters, and Santa Claus parade down Gay Street bringing fun holiday spirit to all. • FREE IVAN RACHEFF HOUSE AND GARDENS OPEN HOUSE AND GREENS TEA • Historic Ivan Racheff House and Gardens • 12PM • The house and gardens, donated by the owner of Knoxville Irons Works Ivan Racheff, is located next to the Gerdau Ameristeel foundry which is on the site of the original Iron Works. Available for purchase at the Open House are holiday wreaths, centerpieces, and tabletop designs created by members of the Board of Governors of Racheff. Also available for purchase will be baked goods, pecans, and gift shop items. For further information call 865-681-1704. BLOUNT MANSION CHRISTMAS MERRY AND BRIGHT CELEBRATION • Blount Mansion • 6PM • With fresh period Christmas decorations by the Knoxville Garden Club. Music of the season and tasty refreshments will be provided. The event is open to the public. Donations will be accepted and are encouraged. For more information please visit or call (865) 525-4374. • FREE Friday, Dec. 9 CHRISTMAS AT CHILHOWEE • Chilhowee Park • 6PM •

Lighting of the tree on the Chilhowee Park Bandstand. FREE Saturday, Dec. 10 MARBLE SPRINGS CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT TOURS • Marble Springs State Historic Site • 4PM • For more information please call (865)573-5508, email info@, or visit our website at www. • $2 MABRY-HAZEN HOUSE CHRISTMAS TOURS • Mabry-Hazen House • 5PM • FREE Sunday, Dec. 11 NARROW RIDGE HOLIDAY PARTY • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center • 2PM • For more information contact Mitzi at 865-497-3603 or • FREE MABRY-HAZEN HOUSE CHRISTMAS TOURS • Mabry-Hazen House • 2PM • FREE HISTORIC RAMSEY HOUSE CANDLELIGHT TOUR • Historic Ramsey House • 6PM •For information call 865-546-0745 or go to • FREE


Sunday, Dec. 4 MASTERPIECES OF INDIAN CINEMA: ‘MONSOON WEDDING’ • Lawson McGee Public Library • 2PM • A stressed father, a bride-to-be with a secret, a smitten event planner, and relatives from around the world create much ado about the preparations for an arranged marriage in India. • FREE Monday, Dec. 5

THE BIRDHOUSE WALK-IN THEATER • The Birdhouse • 8:15PM • A weekly free movie screening. Visit • FREE Tuesday, Dec. 6 THE PUBLIC CINEMA: ‘NEVER EAT ALONE’ • Pilot Light • 7:30PM • Toronto’s Casa Loma, a present-day landmark, is here configured as a metaphorical cage of memories, captured on film in the 1950s for a live televised melodrama. Preceded by the short film “Shade.” Visit • FREE • See review on page 23. Wednesday, Dec. 7 KNOXVILLE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL X-MAS PARTY • Scruffy City Hall • 7PM • Looks like Christmas is coming a little early this year. Join us for our annual holiday event where we’ll screen some X-mas Horror classics, give out presents and give you an opportunity to get your picture with Slasher Santa. This is one of our favorite events and we’ve got some really fun stuff in store for you. Spread the word and help us spread the Holiday Fear. NOKNO CINEMATHEQUE: ‘SERENDIPITY’ • Central Collective • 7PM • A love-at-first-sight romantic comedy from 2001 revolving around fate, destiny, and chance.With John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, and Eugene Levy. • FREE


Now Reopened The Red Piano Lounge Knoxville’s home for live Jazz, Blues and R&B The perfect intimate setting to unwind after work with friends or for that special night out. 4620 KINGSTON PIKE, SUITE #2 KNOXVILLE, TN 37919 865.313.2493 Forest Park Earth Blvd Fare Kroger


Kingston Pike

To West Hills


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016


Cocktail Hour Tues - Fri 5pm-8pm Featuring $5 House Martinis

Tile Sensations

Cordially Invites You to Our

Pop-Up Holiday Shop!

Enjoy a Winter Wonderland Shopping experience with Hot Cider and tasty treats!

Sunday, December 11th · 12p–5p Handmade goods from local artists and artisans, health and beauty products, vintage and flea market finds are just the beginning of our fantastic selection! A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Haiti Outreach Program

Hosted By:

3413 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville 37919 Questions? 865.329.3290


Friday, Dec. 2 VALOR FIGHTS 39 • Knoxville Civic Coliseum • 5:30PM • Live MMA action. Visit • $28-$106 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 10AM • $7-$45 Saturday, Dec. 3 RUNNER’S MARKET SATURDAY GROUP RUN • Runner’s Market • 9AM • Visit • FREE CATALYST ADAPTIVE CLIMB • River Sports Outfitters • 10AM • Join us the first Saturday of every month as we climb with Catalyst Sports. This event is for anyone with physical disabilities. All ages are welcome to come and climb our rock wall. • $10 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 10AM • $7-$45 Sunday, Dec. 4 KTC LEFTOVER RUN • Tyson Park • 2PM • This is a no frills event. Bring a bag and fill it with all of the leftover t-shirts and awards that you want from 2015. Any leftovers will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of the TN Valley. • $5 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 1PM • $7-$45 Monday, Dec. 5 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 4PM • Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice, presented by Home Federal Bank, is an outdoor ice skating rink in the heart of downtown Knoxville on Market Square. Enjoy skating under Christmas lights and stars while listening to music every night. The ice rink will be closed during inclement weather, please check the Holidays on Ice Facebook page to stay updated, For questions about Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice please call 865-215-4423. • $7-$45 KTC GROUP RUN • Mellow Mushroom • 6PM • Join Knoxville Track Club every Monday evening for a group run starting at the Mellow Mushroom on the Cumberland Avenue strip on the University of Tennessee campus. Visit • FREE TVB MONDAY NIGHT ROAD RIDE • Tennessee Valley Bikes • 6PM • The soon to be famous Monday night road ride happens every Monday. We usually split into two groups according to speed. Both groups are no-drop groups. The faster group averages over 17 mph and the B group averages around 14 mph. Visit • FREE BEARDEN BEER MARKET FUN RUN • Bearden Beer Market • 6:30PM • Visit • FREE Tuesday, Dec. 6 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 4PM • $7-$45 CYCOLOGY BICYCLES TUESDAY MORNING RIDE • Cycology

Bicycles • 9AM and 10:30AM • Visit • FREE HARD KNOX TUESDAY FUN RUN • Hard Knox Pizzeria • 6:30PM • Join Hard Knox Pizzeria every Tuesday evening (rain or shine) for a 2-3 mile fun run. Burn calories. Devour pizza. Quench thirst. • FREE Wednesday, Dec. 7 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 4PM • $7-$45 SMOKY MOUNTAIN HIKING CLUB: PANTHER CREEK STATE PARK • 8AM • We will hike the horse connector trail out to the Maple Arches loop trail and return the same way. Hike: 8 miles, rated moderate. Meet at Comcast, 5720 Asheville Hwy, at 8:00 AM to carpool. Leader: Chris Hamilton, • FREE FLEET FEET WEDNESDAY LUNCH BREAK RUN • Fleet Feet Sports Knoxville • 12PM • Visit • FREE KTC GROUP RUN • Runner’s Market • 5:30PM • Visit • FREE TVB EASY RIDER MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE • Ijams Nature Center • 6PM • Call 865-540-9979 or visit tnvalleybikes. com. • FREE


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Thursday, Dec. 8 HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 4PM • $7-$45 CYCOLOGY BICYCLES THURSDAY MORNING RIDE • Cycology Bicycles • 10AM • Visit • FREE NORTH KNOXVILLE BEER RUNNERS • Central Flats and Taps • 6PM • Meet us at Central Flats and Taps every Thursday night for a fun and easy run leading us right through Saw Works for a midway beer. • FREE FLEET FEET GROUP RUN/WALK • Fleet Feet Sports Knoxville • 6PM • Visit • FREE


Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts 556 Parkway (Gatlinburg) OCT. 20-DEC. 13: Pigment of Our Imagination, mixed-media jewelry by Sam Mitchell and Aric Verrastro. NOV. 14-JAN. 14: Piecing Together a Changing Planet, a juried exhibition of 25 quilts highlighting climate change in America’s national parks. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6-8 p.m. Visit

Photo: © Marco Borggreve

Thursday, Dec. 1 CYCOLOGY BICYCLES THURSDAY MORNING RIDE • Cycology Bicycles • 10AM • Visit • FREE NORTH KNOXVILLE BEER RUNNERS • Central Flats and Taps • 6PM • Meet us at Central Flats and Taps every Thursday night for a fun and easy run leading us right through Saw Works for a midway beer. • FREE FLEET FEET GROUP RUN/WALK • Fleet Feet Sports Knoxville • 6PM • Visit • FREE HOLIDAYS ON ICE • Market Square • 4PM • Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice, presented by Home Federal Bank, is an outdoor ice skating rink in the heart of downtown Knoxville on Market Square. Enjoy skating under Christmas lights and stars while listening to music every night. The ice rink will be closed during inclement weather, please check the Holidays on Ice Facebook page to stay updated, For questions about Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice please call 865-215-4423. • $7-$45

Art Market Gallery 422 S. Gay St. NOV. 1-DEC. 2 : Paintings by George Rothery and jewelry by Jenifer Lindsey. Visit The Central Collective 923 N. Central St. DEC. 2: Halitide, installation art by Chris Spurgin and Joshua Shorey. A First Friday reception will be held from 7-10 p.m. The District Gallery 5113 Kingston Pike DEC. 2-30: My Knoxville: Interpretations of Home, a group exhibit featuring artwork by Cinamon Airhart, Mike C. Berry, Gary Dagnan, Connie Gaertner, Kathie Odom, and Joe Parrott. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Dec. 2, from 5-8 p.m. and a group artists’ demonstration on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1-4 p.m. Visit thedistrictgallery. com. Downtown Gallery 106 S. Gay St.

Sunday, December 4th, 7:30 P.M. St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral 413 W. Cumberland Avenue Knxoville, Tennessee 37902 865.525.7347

Visit for tickets! December 1, 2016


CALENDAR NOV. 4-23: Guts Coming and Going, new video, sculpture, and installation work by Jessica Ann. Visit downtown.utk. edu. East Tennessee History Center 601 S. Gay St. NOV. 19-APRIL 30: Rock of Ages: East Tennessee’s Marble Industry. NOV. 19-JAN. 2: A Man and His Bike, an exhibit remembering Waymon Earl Terrell. Visit easttnhistory. org. Emporium Center for Arts and Culture 100 S. Gay St. DEC. 2-23: Arts and Culture Alliance 2016 Members Show. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Dec. 2, from 5-9 p.m. Visit Ewing Gallery 1715 Volunteer Boulevard NOV. 7-DEC. 11: The View Out His Window [and in his mind’s eye]: Photographs by Jeffrey Becton and The Lure of Main: Work by Carl Sublett and Holly Stevens. Visit Fountain City Art Center 213 Hotel Road NOV. 18-JAN. 12: Fountain City Art Guild Annual Holiday Show and Sale. Visit Knoxville Museum of Art 1050 World’s Fair Park Drive NOV. 25-JAN. 8: East Tennessee Regional Student Art

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

Competition. ONGOING: Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in Tennessee; Currents: Recent Art From East Tennessee and Beyond; and Facets of Modern and Contemporary Glass. McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture 1327 Circle Park Drive SEPT. 17-JAN. 8: Knoxville Unearthed: Archaeology in the Heart of the Valley. ONGOING: The Flora and Fauna of Catesby, Mason, and Audubon and Life on the Roman Frontier. Pioneer House 413 S. Gay St. NOV. 4-DEC. 31: Folk art, clothing, Nativa American artifacts, and more from the personal collection of Marty Stuart. Visit Westminster Presbyterian Church Schilling Gallery 6500 Northshore Drive NOV. 8-JAN. 2: Paintings by Rebecca Mullen. Visit



Stanley’s Greenhouse

ABOUT IDENTITY” • Clayton Center for the Arts (Maryville) • 7PM • Many parents have been grappling with how to have meaningful conversations with their kids about current events. Start (or continue) with this free art walk and workshop, which invites toddlers through adults to view and make art while discussing cultural labels and assumptions. To find out more about the series, email or call (865) 282-3883. • FREE LITTLE LEARNERS • Blount County Public Library • 10:30AM • Recommended for ages 3-5. Visit • FREE CHESS AT THE LIBRARY • Blount County Public Library • 1PM • For middle and high school students, with coach Tom Jobe. Visit • FREE LEGO CLUB • Blount County Public Library • 4PM • Visit • FREE Friday, Dec. 2 WIVK CHRISTMAS PARADE • Downtown Knoxville • 7PM • Bands, dancers, floats, characters, and Santa Claus parade down Gay Street bringing fun holiday spirit to all. • FREE Saturday, Dec. 3 CHESS AT THE LIBRARY • Blount County Public Library • 10AM • Visit • FREE BATH FIZZLE WORKSHOP FOR KIDS • Central Collective • 10AM • Parents and guardians- bring your child to learn how to make spa-like bath fizzies for holiday gifts. • $42 BLOUNT COUNTY NERD GROUP • Blount County Public Library • 3PM • Visit • FREE S.T.E.A.M. KIDS • Blount County Public Library • 4PM • For

grades K-5. Visit • FREE Tuesday, Dec. 6 LITTLE LEARNERS • Blount County Public Library • 10:30AM • Recommended for ages 3-5. Visit • FREE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS • Blount County Public Library • 5:30PM • Recommended for ages 10 and up. Visit • FREE Wednesday, Dec. 7 BABY AND ME • Blount County Public Library • 10:30AM • Recommended for ages 2 and under. Visit blountlibrary. org. • FREE Thursday, Dec. 8 LITTLE LEARNERS • Blount County Public Library • 10:30AM • Recommended for ages 3-5. Visit • FREE CHESS AT THE LIBRARY • Blount County Public Library • 1PM • Visit • FREE LEGO CLUB • Blount County Public Library • 4PM • Visit • FREE

LECTURES, READINGS, AND BOOK SIGNINGS Thursday, Dec. 1 CHARLES MAYNARD: “CHRISTMAS IN APPALACHIA” • Blount County Public Library • 7PM • This storytelling


Our business is growing!

Traditional favorites & unique new varieties of poinsettias, grown on site.

Sat. Dec. 3, 10:30-11:30am Holiday Plants 10 1 (Learn to decorat e for the holidays using pla nts)

1:30-2:45pm Wreath Dressing Like A Pro

(Join Lisa Stanley & Nancy Schneider for a wreath dressing instructional workshop)

Just 5 minutes from downtown 3029 Davenport Road (South Knoxville) 865.573.9591 M-F 8-5:30pm | Sat 9-5pm | Sun 1-5pm 32

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

Sun. Dec. 1-5pm 4,

Holiday O pen H o u s e (Enjoy mu sic

while you & refreshments sh poinsettia op. Plus free with purchase) every

Historic Laurel Theater 1538 Laurel Avenue

Thurs. Dec 15, 8PM Fri. Dec 16, 7PM & 9PM* Sat. Dec 17, 7PM & 9PM* Tickets $10 & $15 at the door Advanced tickets at *Attend the Fri & Sat 9PM shows for $5 off! Advance tickets only. For additional Information contact CMD at (865) 309-5309 or

CALENDAR event featuring Charles Maynard, popular local author and storyteller, will highlight the patchwork of traditions from many countries that make up the Appalachian Christmas experience. Maynard, an ordained United Methodist minister, was the first executive director of Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Call the library at 982-0981 or visit the Web site at www. • FREE Saturday, Dec. 3 EDWARD FRANCISCO AND MALLORY DILLON: ‘MALLORY’S WORLD FROM A TO Z’ • Union Ave Books • 2PM • Book signing with Edward Francisco and Mallory Dillon authors of Mallory’s World from A to Z. • FREE Sunday, Dec. 4 WILLIAM C. MCDONALD III: ‘SHADOW TIGER’ • Union Ave Books • 2PM • Book signing and talk with William C. McDonald III author of The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault. Visit • FREE


Thursday, Dec. 1 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@gmail. com. Donations accepted. CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY: KNIT YOUR WAY TO WELLNESS • Cancer Support Community • 1PM • Call 865-546-4661. All Cancer Support Community programs are offered at no cost to individuals affected by cancer. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center • 6PM • Visit • $10 KNOXVILLE PERSONAL TRAINING PILATES • Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church • 6:30PM • Every Tuesday and Thursday. First class is free. Call (865) 622-3103 or visit • $4 BEGINNING ACROYOGA • Breezeway Yoga Studio • 7:30PM • This beginner level class is for those either brand new to AcroYoga or just starting out. Each class explores the foundations of the AcroYoga practice. • $15 BELLY DANCE LEVELS 1 AND 2 • Knox Dance Worx • 8PM • Call (865) 898-2126 or email • $12 CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY CHAIR YOGA • Cancer Support Community • 10AM • 865-546-4661. All Cancer Support Community programs are offered at no cost to individuals affected by cancer. Friday, Dec. 2 UT ARBORETUM HOLIDAY CRAFT BRUNCH • University of Tennessee Arboretum • 10AM • A UTAS member will be conducting the workshop which will be held at the UT Arboretum Auditorium. Cuttings from the Arboretum’s Harold Elmore Holly Collection will be used to make the unique wreaths. Call or email Janet Bigelow at (865) 675-3822 or to register. Sign up today. To learn more about the Arboretum Society, go to • $25 Saturday, Dec. 3 YOGA AT NARROW RIDGE • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center • 9:30AM • For information call 865-497-2753 or email • FREE MARBLE SPRINGS CANDLE-MAKING WORKSHOP • Marble Springs State Historic Site • 11AM • This hands-on workshop will teach visitors about lighting sources of the

18th century; participants will get to make their own beeswax candle by the open hearth. For more information call (865)573-5508, email info@, or visit our website at www. • $20 Sunday, Dec. 4 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE BALLET BARRE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 1PM • Visit • $10 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE OPEN LEVEL MODERN TECHNIQUE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 2PM • Visit • $10 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE IMPROVISATION CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 3:30PM • Visit • $10 ACROYOGA FOUNDATIONS CLASS • Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio • 5:30PM • Visit • $5 Monday, Dec. 5 RESTORATIVE YOGA • St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral • 5PM • Performance Training, Inc. offers yoga to St. John’s members and friends. This class is offered at a slower pace for those who want to learn to relax. It will focus on the restorative aspects of stretching and yoga. Participants can expect to learn about proper breathing and body posture as well as basic mindfulness practices. All ages and backgrounds are welcome to join. For more information or to reserve your spot, email sjc@ BEGINNER MODERN BELLY DANCE • Broadway Academy of Performing Arts • 6PM • Tribal fusion belly dance is a modern blend of traditional belly dance infused with hip-hop, modern dance, and more to create a new, unique dance form. Each class will include an invigorating warm-up designed to increase flexibility and strength followed by an overview of posture, isolations, and basic footwork. At the end of class we put the moves together in a fun and simple combination. No dance experience is necessary. • $13 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 6PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@gmail. com. Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE PERSONAL TRAINING BOOT CAMP • Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church • 6:30PM • First class is free. Call (865) 622-3103 or visit • $15 Tuesday, Dec. 6 OPEN PROFESSIONAL-LEVEL CONTEMPORARY DANCE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 9:30AM • Taught by Harper Addison. First class is free. Class is designed to develop a well-rounded set of technical skills as well as encourage individual artistic expression. Her movement style and choreography highlight dynamic quality changes, level changes, and movement through space. • $10 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@gmail. com. Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 KNOXVILLE PERSONAL TRAINING PILATES • Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church • 6:30PM • Every Tuesday and Thursday. First class is free. Call (865) 622-3103 or visit • $4 HANDMADE BATH GIFT WORKSHOP • Central Collective • 6:30PM • Learn how to make pampering spa-like bath fizzies to give as holiday gifts—if you can part with them. Bring some friends and an adult beverage of your choice December 1, 2016


CALENDAR for an evening of fun. Hey Holiday Season, we got this. • $32 Wednesday, Dec. 7 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED MODERN TECHNIQUE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 BEGINNER MODERN BELLY DANCE • Broadway Academy of Performing Arts • 6PM • Tribal fusion belly dance is a modern blend of traditional belly dance infused with hip-hop, modern dance, and more to create a new, unique dance form. Each class will include an invigorating warm-up designed to increase flexibility and strength followed by an overview of posture, isolations, and basic footwork. At the end of class we put the moves together in a fun and simple combination. No dance experience is necessary. • $13 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE OPEN LEVEL BALLET CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 7:30PM • Visit • $10 CLIMBING FUNDAMENTALS • River Sports Outfitters • 6PM • Visit • $20 Thursday, Dec. 8 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@gmail. com. Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 KNOXVILLE PERSONAL TRAINING PILATES • Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church • 6:30PM • Call (865) 622-3103 or visit • $4

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

BEGINNING ACROYOGA • Breezeway Yoga Studio • 7:30PM • This beginner level class is for those either brand new to AcroYoga or just starting out. Each class explores the foundations of the AcroYoga practice. • $15 BELLY DANCE LEVELS 1 AND 2 • Knox Dance Worx • 8PM • Call (865) 898-2126 or email • $12


Thursday, Dec. 1 CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT GROUP • Cancer Support Community • 6PM • Call 865-546-4661 for more info. All Cancer Support Community programs are offered at no cost to individuals affected by cancer. CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY BREAST CANCER NETWORKER • Thompson Cancer Survivor Center West • 6PM • Call 865-546-4661 for more info. All Cancer Support Community programs are offered at no cost to individuals affected by cancer. ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES • The Birdhouse • 6PM • A 12-step meeting for adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. The group offers a safe space for emotional healing. Contact Laura at 706-621-2238 or lamohendricksll@ for more information or visit the international ACA website at • FREE AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 6PM • Visit or email FindHope@Farragutalanon. LAW´S INTERIORS & DESIGN

Saturday, Dec. 3 SEEKERS OF SILENCE • Church of the Savior United Church of Christ • 9AM • The meetings are open to all and free of charge, although donations are accepted. Visit • FREE AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 11AM • Visit or email FindHope@Farragutalanon. org. • FREE NARROW RIDGE SILENT MEDITATION GATHERING • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center • 11AM • For information call 865-497-2753 or email • FREE GERMAN TREFF • GruJo’s German Restaurant • 2PM • Whether you have lived in Germany and would like to share some memories, would like to explore your roots, practice the language, or if you are just curious and like to meet new people, this monthly meeting, held on the first Saturday of each month, is a great opportunity to have a wonderful time. • FREE Sunday, Dec. 4 AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 5PM • Visit or email FindHope@Farragutalanon. org. • FREE Monday, Dec. 5 GAY MEN’S DISCUSSION GROUP • Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church • 7:30PM • Visit Tuesday, Dec. 6 ATHEISTS SOCIETY OF KNOXVILLE • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 5:30PM • Weekly atheists meetup and happy hour. Come join us for food, drink and great conversation. Everyone welcome. • FREE STFK SCIENCE CAFE • Knoxville Zoo • 5:30PM • A free monthly discussion of science-related topics, hosted by the Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville. Email rsvp@ • FREE DER GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS STAMMTISCH • Los Amigos • 6PM • A weekly gathering for Germans and anyone interested in German culture and the German language. • FREE AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 7PM • Visit or email FindHope@Farragutalanon. org. • FREE THREE RIVERS! EARTH FIRST! • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 8PM • Call (865) 257-4029 for more information. • FREE Wednesday, Dec. 7 AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 11AM • Al-Anon’s purpose is to help families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with the problem




Kaleidoscope Boutique

Keller Williams Haun-Laing

est8te Kaleidoscope Boutique



Keller Williams Haun-Laing

org. • FREE KNOXVILLE WRITERS’ GUILD • Central United Methodist Church • 7PM • Additional information about KWG can be found at BLACK LIVES MATTER • The Birdhouse • 7:30PM • #BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. Visit • FREE




What District in bearDen business has the best

Holiday Bling?

Visit Downtown Knoxville

Holiday Shopping • 75+ Restaurants • Ice Skating Under the Stars The Elf on the Shelf® Adventure • Peppermint Trail of Treats Over 100,000 Lights • 42' Tree • Holiday Windows • Christmas Parade New Year’s Eve Celebration

iit’s up to you to DeciDe! Join us & vote for your favorite District in bear bearDen business holiDay holi oli Decoration! snap a photo of the store or the Decor anD post it on either facebook or instagram tag the business f for or example, @_insert business name Free parking weeknights after 6pm and weekends. 34

KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

hashtag ashtag this phrase #tDbholiDays

Friday, December 2

the DeaDline for entries is all Who ho enter are entere entereD into a DraWing to Win a $500 basket of gift car carDs to District businesses.

Thursday, Dec. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 11

drinking of a relative or friend. Five different meetings during the week: Understanding Ourselves literature study (Sundays), fellowship family group (Tuesdays), literature study (Wednesdays), Beginning Again Family Group (Thursday), and Reflections book study (Saturdays). Visit or email FindHope@ • FREE Thursday, Dec. 8 CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY LEUKEMIA, LYMPHOMA, AND MYELOMA NETWORKER • Cancer Support Community • 6PM • Call 865-546-4661 for more info. All Cancer Support Community programs are offered at no cost to individuals affected by cancer.  ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES • The Birdhouse • 6PM • A 12-step meeting for adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. The group offers a safe space for emotional healing. Contact Laura at 706-621-2238 or lamohendricksll@ for more information or visit the international ACA website at • FREE AL-ANON • Faith Lutheran Church • 6PM • Visit or email FindHope@Farragutalanon. org. • FREE


Thursday, Dec. 1 SANTA MOUSE CHRISTMAS HOUSE • Maryville College • 10AM • This show offers unique, one of a kind handcrafted items by 50 well known artisans from the

area. You will find Christmas gifts and ornaments, holiday home décor, fine art paintings, prints and cards, exceptional one of a kind beaded and sterling jewelry, glasswork, wood turnings, pottery, basketry, clay figurines, handmade soaps and creams, unique gourd creations, wearable and knit items, and much more. Parking and admission to the event are free. For more information, online at or 865-983-4825. • FREE Friday, Dec. 2 IRONWOOD STUDIOS HOLIDAY MARKET • Ironwood Studios • 6PM • You are cordially invited to a holiday shopping event at Ironwood Studios featuring original art and crafts made by local artisans. The two-day market will include woodwork, ironwork, leather goods, pottery, photography, jewelry, rare books and more. • FREE HISTORIC RAMSEY HOUSE HOLIDAY DINNER • Historic Ramsey House • 6PM • Join us for a unique holiday experience—a candlelight tour and dinner in the beautifully decorated, 1797 historic home of Francis and Peggy Alexander Ramsey. Reservations required; call 865-546-0745 or email Proceeds benefit Historic Ramsey House. • $125 SANTA MOUSE CHRISTMAS HOUSE • Maryville College • 10AM • For more information, online at www. or 865-983-4825. • FREE Saturday, Dec. 3 IRONWOOD STUDIOS HOLIDAY MARKET • Ironwood Studios • 10AM • FREE HOLIDAY GIFT MARKET 2016 • Holiday Inn Knoxville West •


9AM • Come support a group of local small business owners and get all of your holiday shopping done at one stop. This event features a huge variety of ready made and artisan goods perfect for everyone on your holiday gift list. Family photo sessions and visits with Santa Clause are also available.  SANTA MOUSE CHRISTMAS HOUSE • Maryville College • 10AM • For more information, online at www. or 865-983-4825. • FREE SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 4PM • Visit • FREE TVUUC SILENT AUCTION • Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church • 5:30PM • Hundreds of wonderful items to bid on (what better place to start your Christmas shopping?), delicious food to eat while you bid, and friendly bidding wars to strengthen your bonds. This is truly a special night, and there has never been a more enjoyable way to support the important work of this church: to create a welcoming community that nurtures spiritual growth and challenges us to transform the world through acts of love and justice. Visit • FREE MARKET SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET • Market Square • 11AM • Visit • FREE Sunday, Dec. 4 WINTER SOLSTICE SACRED CIRCLE DANCE • Square Dance Center • 7PM • Come join a festive Yule community gathering. All circle dances will be taught and no partner is necessary. Please wear white and bring a candle to add to the center of the circle. Children are welcome. • $5

IJAMS HOLIDAY MARKETPLACE • Ijams Nature Center • 12PM • We will have tons of local artists, crafters, and designers as well as local food, a beer garden, and more to add to all the festivities of the day. • FREE Thursday, Dec. 8 GOODWILL UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER PARTY • Bearden Beer Market • 6PM • Join Bearden Beer Market and Goodwill Industries-Knoxville as we master the art of the tacky sweater at our ugly holiday sweater workshop. Goodwill is providing the sweaters and swag to bedazzle and bedeck your festive-wear. Details at • $!5 CAMPFIRE STORIES • Central Collective • 6PM • Human connection thrives on storytelling, be it a joke, a family legend, fairy tale, or a paranormal experience. This month at the Central Collective, we’re calling forth this connection with stories around the [indoor] campfire, complete with tents and s’mores. • $10 KNOXVILLE SQUARE DANCE • Laurel Theater • 8PM • Visit • $7

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A vibrant district along Central Street and Broadway.

Visit Downtown North


consistently voted

10AM - 4PM Experience local artists, crafters, vendors, and businesses sharing the sidewalks of

Historic Happy Holler.

**Entertainment provided by DJ Trav**

Artist: Doc Cooper

1020 N. Broadway 865-971-3983




Please check the Historic Happy Holler Inc. Facebook page for information.

RETROSPECT Vintage Store

“Where Vintage is Always Affordable“ mid-century modern, antiques, vintage clothes, pop culture collectables, retro, original art & more! 1121 N. Central St. Knoxville | 865.522.3511 Open 7 days a week

’ 842 N. Central Ave 851-7854 KNOXVILLE MERCURY January 7, 2016

Hollerday 2016




“ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE ACCURATE. NONE OF THEM IS THE TRUTH.” — RICHARD AVEDON Do you have an existing photo series of life around Knoxville? We’re always on the lookout for new views of our city’s many different neighborhoods—and we’ll feature them in our Howdy section. For more information or to submit samples, email


Place your ad at

Support the Knoxville Mercury and sell your stuff by purchasing an ad in our classifieds section.


HOLIDAY TREATS headed your way!

MONDAY Central Originals for $5 after 7pm TUESDAY 25% Off Bottles Of Wine WEDNESDAY Trivia Night & Pint Night THURSDAY Whiskey Night $1 off all

Happy Hour 3-7pm coming in time for the holidayS

SHOP KNOX Your Local Guide to Holiday Shopping

NORTH KNOXVILLE’S PREMIER RENTAL HOMES Leasing adorable and affordable homes in north Knoxville since 1977.

JOBS WHOLE FOODS PREP PERSON NEEDED - NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. 865-588-1010. Sprouting, fermenting, dehydrating skills helpful. Flexible PT schedule. PLACE YOUR AD AT STORE.KNOXMERCURY.COM

ABBY - is a beautiful grey/ orange tabby mix. She is free to a good home during our cat special. She enjoys cat nip and treats. Visit Young-Williams Animal Center / call 865-2156599 for more information. DO YOU HAVE HEALTH RECORDS WITH LISA ROSS BIRTH AND WOMEN’S CENTER? We are leaving our current location on Ailor Avenue in early 2017. Medical records that are more than five years old will not be moved and may be destroyed. If you would like copies of your records, please send an email to records@ by December 31, 2016. A minimum fee of $20 and postage costs may apply.

SOPHIE - is a six month old very talkative kitty! She loves to be held and play with cat wands. She is ready to grow up in a loving home. Visit Young-Williams Animal Center / call 865-2156599 for more information.

XENIA - is a 9 month old Golden Retriever pup who loves to play! She gets along well with dogs and would do best with an active family. She is a ball of energy and a blast to be around! She is learning her manners and already knows basic commands! Visit Young-Williams Animal Center / call 865-2156599 for more information.

SHEBA - is a 7 year old, bright-eyed, adult cat with a loving personality. Visit Young-Williams Animal Center / call 865-215-6599 for more information.

Our Deane Hill location has moved to a new facility on Bearden Hill. Knoxville Locations BEARDEN HILL

Stop in Late for Nightly Specials $6 Daily Lunch Specials

on, For advertising informatiail em or 59 20 135-3 86 ll ca m


Ever changing. Always delicious. Created only from the freshest

6537 Kingston Pike • (865) 558-9822


103 Midlake Drive • (865) 687-7704


10820 Kingston Pike, Suite 11 • (865) 671-6720

Monday-Friday: noon-8 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. • Sunday: noon-8 p.m.

local ingredients.

Open till 3am Wed-Sat Open till 1am Sun, Mon, & Tue 1204 Central St., Knoxville 865.247.0392

Walk-ins welcome.

December 1, 2016



R estless Nat ive

Burlington’s Santa Preserving the spirit of Christmas at $1 an hour BY CHRIS WOHLWEND


became a professional Santa Claus not because of high-minded seasonal spirit. As a high school freshman, I needed spending money, and winter meant that my meager earnings from lawn-mowing were at an end. So I agreed to play Santa during a two-week gig in Burlington’s business district. Santa was to divide his time between the five and dime and the grocery store across the street. Both were locally owned, the proprietors familiar to me as fellow members of McCalla Avenue Baptist Church. The Santa suit was property of the five and dime owner, who I’ll call Mr. Cash. I was to be paid $1 an hour and would start at 4 p.m. and work until the 9 p.m. closing time. I would alternate between the two stores, though the five and dime soon began to dominate my time simply because kids tended to linger among the toys there. Mr. Cash, not surprisingly given his reputation for penny-pinching, would encourage me to delay crossing the street to the grocery, finding reasons for me to stay at my post in his emporium. When the grocer, Mr. Wright, realized why Santa wasn’t present around his check-out lines, he had words with Mr. Cash and I found myself spending more time across the street—there are always customers in a grocery. Even at age 14, I could appreciate the irony of such a conflict during the “Peace on Earth” season. Mr. Cash didn’t like to see me idle, either. So, when there were no kids in the store, I became the area’s only Santa-suited shelf-stocker. Not that there weren’t grocery-store episodes that did not fit with Christmas-season ideals. Both involved mothers who saw me as a useful tool to


KNOXVILLE MERCURY December 1, 2016

quiet rowdy children, who would be told to behave or Santa wouldn’t leave them anything under the tree. I was then expected to glare menacingly at wide-eyed toddlers. But my biggest problem came from older kids—my friends. The first afternoon of my duties, a couple of them came into Cash’s when I was seated in my Santa chair and started to harass me, one attempting to sit on my knee. Fortunately, Mr. Cash saw what was going on and chased them out. So they waited outside until it was time for me to move across the street, providing me with a heckling entourage. Mr. Wright, whose people skills were much better than those of Mr. Cash, suggested that they suit up in elves’ costumes and work as my helpers. They didn’t come around after that. I survived, though I was certainly glad to see Christmas Eve, knowing that my gig was just about up and that I would soon be paid $60 for my 12 days under the beard. That was more money than I had ever had at one time. But Mr. Cash had a surprise for me. An hour or so before I was to turn in my Santa suit, he called me into his office and told me that since I had not been Santa all the time, and that I had worked half the time as stock boy, he could only pay me 75 cents an hour. Obviously, I was not happy. And I still had an hour to go, an hour requiring a jolly demeanor. So I took up my seat with my sack full of holiday-colored ribbon candy to hand out to the children. Mr. Cash had emphasized that each child was to get only one piece. But I had been more generous when he wasn’t around. Now, I decided, it was time to get into the spirit of the season. The few children who were still out late on

Christmas Eve got handfuls. Finally, with about 10 minutes before closing time, a family of five came in. I recognized the children, a boy and girl of about 10 and 8, and a youngster of about 4. They were residents of one of the tar-papered houses on the wrong side of the ridge where I sometimes delivered newspapers. Mr. Cash was busy in his office and his wife was running the cash register out of sight of my station. I loaded up the two older children, cautioning them to put the candy in their pockets, out-of-sight. But the youngest was shy, peeking around the counter at me, not sure what this bearded character and his “ho-hoho’s” was all about. Finally, his sister convinced him that I was okay, and brought him up to me. I quickly stuffed his pockets full of candy, and told his sister to make sure


he didn’t bring out the goodies until they were outside the store. The mother then came to get them. “Santa’s got to start his deliveries,” she said. “It’s time to go home.” When she saw all the candy they were toting, she looked at me wideeyed. I winked. She smiled, and the family headed out the door, my turn at being Santa Claus at an end. That night, when I told my dad about Mr. Cash’s short-changing ways, he decided that he would not set foot in his store again. As far as I know, he kept his word. And, thanks to my mother, the story quickly spread through the church, further darkening Mr. Cash’s reputation. ◆ Chris Wohlwend’s Restless Native addresses the characters and absurdities of Knoxville, as well as the lessons learned pursuing the newspaper trade during the tumult that was the 1960s.

Spir it of the Staircase



December 1, 2016


There is no pain greater than losing a child. Where words may fail, Precious Prints can give comfort. Led by students from the University of Tennessee College of Nursing, the project honors lives that have been lost. Meet Volunteers who are making a difference at

Vol. 2, Issue 47 Dec. 01, 2016  
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