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Entertainment at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

A cross between Rolling Stone, Soldier of Fortune and the Oxford American

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Venue news: Blackstock and NV Nightclub

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775598_251271605008005_1552319147_oThe new logo for Blackstock, the venue formerly known as The Valarium

Big doings going on in the music scene around here.

Yesterday afternoon, got an email from Andrea Kerns, the EDM go-to lady in the Knoxville scene and one of the organizers of the “Midnight Voyage Live” series of shows. Her email promotes “the return of the Blue Cats sound to Knoxville’s Old City,” and it signals the expansion of NV Nightclub — 125 E. Jackson Ave., where Blue Cats functioned as a live music venue from 2002-2007 — into more than just a shake-yer-booty destination.

According to the email, NV “will continue to host a wide variety of local, regional, and national and international talent spanning all genres,” and “in addition to the NV room, Carleo Entertainment (owned by Duane Carleo, who runs a number of Old City properties) will be hosting live music events at several other properties, including:
The Bowery (directly adjacent to NV, formerly Tonic)
Southbound / 90 Proof (106 S. Central)
Old City Courtyard (outdoor stage located in the  courtyard behind Southbound)
New Amsterdam on the Cumberland Avenue “Strip”

Kerns goes on to say that “Large events are in the works for Old City Courtyard, including festival-type productions which will utilize several of the aforementioned rooms.” In addition to continuing events like “Midnight Voyage,” Carleo Entertainment will soon be opening Wagon Wheel, “a country-style bar/lounge on South Central Street, next to Carleo’s,  scheduled for opening late February.”

Here’s a list of upcoming Carleo events:

  • Tonight (Feb. 1): “Midnight Voyage Live” presents Spankalicious with Bitch Please, IRell and Moniker, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $5 advance/$8 at the door
  • Tonight (Feb. 1): Metal, featuring A Soul Disowned with Serene Scream, Scent Of Remains and Rot Iron, 8 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • Feb. 8: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents Wick-It The Instigator with Archnemesis and The Floozies, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$12 at the door
  • Feb. 8: Rock, featuring Mobility Chief with Appalachian Fury, Pyramid Asylum and Coalition Of Benevolence, 8:30 p.m. at 90 Proof, $5
  • Feb. 9: Konkrete Jungle Knoxville presents Squake with Shadow Cartel, 9 p.m. at 90 Proof, $5
  • Feb. 11: Rock, featuring Pathway with East Old Topside, A Body Divided, Awake The Suffering and Ark Of Covenant, 7 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • Feb. 14: Rapture Productions presents “BassFace 20,” featuring Megalodon, Veltix, iRell and MSTR RPTR, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$10 at the door
  • Feb. 15: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents MartyParty, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $10 advance/$15 at the door
  • Feb. 15: Rock, featuring Lines Taking Shape with Sin, Crumbsnatchers, Yak Strangler and Smooth Operationz, 8:30 p.m. at 90 Proof, $6
  • Feb. 21: “Midnight Voyage Live” presents FIGURE with Spooky Jones and Paerbaer,9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $12 advance/$15 at the door
  • Feb. 22: Midnight Voyage Live” presents Arpetrio with Magmablood and Dialectic Sines, 9 p.m. at NV Nightclub, $7 advance/$10 at the door
  • March 8:Rock, featuring Ten Foot Grave with Afterlife, Shallowpoint and Annandale, 8 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7
  • March 9: Konkrete Jungle Knoxville presents DJ Odi with Sarah Burns, 9 p.m. at 90 Proof, $7/$10 ages 18-20

In other venue news, shortly after it was announced that The Valarium (formerly the Electric Ballroom) was shutting down, it was also announced that Ooga Mooga Tiki Tavern/former 4620 Jazz Club owner Daniel Leal had bought the establishment and was keeping it open as a live music venue. At first, it seemed like the transition would be seamless, but an early January show by local death metal heroes Whitechapel was moved to NV Nightclub, and ever since Leal has been mum about when his establishment, rumored to be called Blackstock Auditorium, would open.

It seems that’s going to happen sooner rather than later. Leal went live with a Facebook page for (just) Blackstock last night, and there’s also a website. It’s sparse, but we’re hoping details will fill in quickly. There are already a couple of events out there slated for Blackstock: EOTO with Crizzly on March 1, and Excision with Paper Diamond and Vaski.

Brent Thompson brings “Write Nite” to Preservation Pub

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Local musician/actor Brent Thompson has a message for you: If you write, you’re a writer.

“Brent Thompson’s Write Nite,” which kicks off Thursday, Aug. 2, at Preservation Pub in downtown Knoxville, is designed to showcase the budding poet/playwright/author in all of us. It’s a combination performance showcase and open mic, and the goal is to encourage anyone who’s dreamed of putting pen to paper to share their works with other lovers of the written word.

“I’ve been teaching singing lessons at Morelock Music, and I realized in helping people with their voices that it’s the most vulnerable part of them,” Thompson told me this week. “It’s not an instrument you can play and people can say, ‘Clearly you just need to work on that’ — it’s what you’re given. So I started talking about this to some friends of mine, and they would say, ‘I like to write.’ And I would ask them, ‘Well, do you?’

“Writers write. If you’ve written something, you write. If you’re singing in front of me, you’re a singer. We somehow think that if we’re not the best at it, we’re not that thing, but I say, ‘You’re trying!’ This is all about being a validation of human expression. It’s about creating a really supportive room, because it’s really nice when people are valuing what your little brain thought of and how you look at the world.”

The former co-host of “11 O’Clock Rock” on Knox iVi, Thompson is a singer-songwriter who was approached by Pub owners Scott and Bernadette West about putting together a project for the Pub’s second-floor Speakeasy. After Knox iVi shut down several months ago, Thompson has found talent work in local commercial, TV and film (including the gig of “Professor Less Plaque” in a new international campaign for Maryville-based Den Tek). He’s teaching at Morelock, singing with the jazz combo Frog and Toad’s Dixie Stomp and working on an album. But “Write Nite” allows him to do what he does so very well — play host and hang out with some insanely talented people, writers both known and unknown.

“When Scott and Bernadette first approached me, I thought I could curate more music, but they already do so much music that I put it out there to get some feedback,” Thompson said. “At first I was thinking a variety show, or a talk show, and then I started thinking about what isn’t being served but has a large audience. I decided to focus on writing, and it started coming into focus. There are a lot of folks out there who don’t identify themselves as writers, but they took a class once upon a time and wrote something they really like but are embarrassed to share.”

The guest for the inaugural show will be University of Tennessee professor and poet Marilyn Kallet; future guests will likely include local hip-hop artist/spoken word performer Black Atticus and poet/playwright/singer-songwriter R.B. Morris. The setup will feature a microphone on the stage for the guests, a microphone in the middle of the audience to encourage audience questions and participation and a wireless mic on Thompson, who will work the room and engage the wait staff, bartenders and couples in the back booths who have no idea what they’re in for.

At the end of the night will be the “Haiku Hustle”: Cards and pens will be set up at the beginning of each show with a topic written on the board; participants can compose a haiku based on the topic, and at 8 p.m., the haikus will be read. The winner will be crowned the “Haiku Samurai.”

“This is 100 percent uncensored,” Thompson said. “Anything can be said. And it’s got a great therapeutic sort of feel. I’m really excited about it.”

“Brent Thompson’s Write Nite” will take place from 6-9 p.m. every Thursday in the Speakeasy.

Written by wildsmith

July 23rd, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Wallypalooza on for March 1-4 at The Thirsty Turtle in Maryville

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323189_239985662711999_151461354897764_684817_3848353_oWallypalooza founder Wally Miles (left) and emcee Waylon Whiskey

Remember this, party people — bloody marys. Find a good recipe. Pre-make some. Keep a gallon of it in the fridge before you head out to Wallypalooza 2012: The Fifteenth Anniversary, details of which were revealed this morning by the man himself, organizer Wally Miles.

Why the need for a vat of bloody marys, you ask? Because you won’t be in any shape to make them on the mornings after, and you’ll need them to get better quick — because Wallypalooza is spread out over four nights this year.

“After 15 years of Wallypalooza, both the legend and the expectations have grown to levels unimaginable,” Miles said. “To celebrate 15 years of something I didn’t forsee still existing after all these years, the goal is to make this the absolute biggest Wallypalooza of all time, for those who have only heard the legend, and for those who have attended and have come to expect a weekend they will never forget.”

Here’s the skinny:

For those wondering what, exactly, Wallypalooza is … well, you’ve got to experience it. It began as a birthday celebration for Miles, a 1997 graduate of Maryville High School and a lifelong resident of Blount County (until recent years, at least). Miles invited friends to the lake in 1998, and they enjoyed an afternoon of music blaring from an old boombox. The next year, someone came up with the idea of getting a rock band to play for the annual gathering.

Over the next 14 years, the event was christened Wallypalooza and grew into the monster that it is today. And starting in 2008, when he booked three bands (Middle Finger, Stonemosis and Half of Something) at Nater’z Sports Grille in Maryville, it’s become a beast over which he has little control, at least in terms of how many people show up.

Read our cover stories on Wallypalooza from last March and last August.

And start doing liver squats or something, because your internal organ will require conditioning for this party.

Written by wildsmith

January 23rd, 2012 at 8:15 am

Laughing it up to help out a Blount County ‘Hellcat’

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Folks familiar with the East Tennessee entertainment scene probably know Laura Mullaney better as “Hellcat Harlowe” or “Miz Kitty,” the founder of the lovely ladies of White Lightnin’ Burlesque. For more than five years now, White Lightnin’ has provided area show-goers with laughs, gasps, titillation and provocative thrills.

What you may not know is that Mullaney was struck by a motor vehicle last month — Dec. 19 — and suffered serious leg injuries that are requiring a long convalesence. She can’t say much about the accident due to ongoing litigation other than she was a pedestrian, and that she’ll “be on hiatus as a burlesque performer while I recover. Hopefully I will be able to return to the stage by the end of 2012. Also, please mention the ladies of White Lightnin Burlesque will continue to perform in my absence!”

But while she’s gone from the stage, she’s not from our hearts — and on Tuesday, Jan. 31, a group of local comedians are throwing “Laughs for Laura,” a benefit to help cover Mullaney’s medical expenses. It takes place at 8 p.m. at Old City Entertainment Venue, 118 S. Central St. in Knoxville’s Old City, and it’s being thrown by a group of yuksters who call themselves the Black Liver Society and describe themselves as thus: “Black Liver Society is a branding of the best bar comics in the south, already in multiple states and spreading like herpes in a Waffle House bathroom. And now they bringing out some of the biggest names in comedy for East Tennessee to the stage for you. We are bringing the best of the dirtiest, drunkest, most entertaining comics in the South to the stage one night only to raise money for a damn good cause.”

Comedian Dave Wright will hosts the event, which will also feature special guest/White Lightnin’ performer Sassy Frass as well as comedians Riley Fox, Matt Ward, Justin Koontz, Trae Crowder, Waylon Whiskey and J.C. Ratliff. Admission is only $5 at the door.

Mullaney, a 1993 graduate of Blount County’s Heritage High School, started White Lightnin’ in 2006. The troupe was her brainchild, but she had a little help from other local ladies in getting it off the ground, and a lot of inspiration from her business trips to Las Vegas. Active in drama and art in high school, she studied theater at the University of Tennessee, but drama was unfulfilling.

“I wanted to be on stage, but I didn’t want to do productions; something about it was lacking,” she told us back in 2007. “I was into the gothic scene for many years, and I guess I still am, so I gradually started doing some other performance art.”

She also got involved working as a hair and makeup artist, which led to her trip to Las Vegas. Long a fan of burlesque, she had watch video clips of such classic burlesque pin-ups as Bettie Page and Tempest Storm, and she was also intrigued by the possibility of visiting Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, a high-profile burlesque club at Vegas’s Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. A return trip to Vegas merited another visit to the Forty Deuce, and at the end of the night, Mullaney found herself talking to a few of the dancers who had just gotten off work and were dressed in street clothes.

“When I talked to them a little bit, I thought, ‘I really should do this,’” she told us. “That was in October (2005), and I went back to Knoxville and thought on it and started making phone calls.”

She picked eight girls as the core members of the troupe in 2006, and by February of that year, White Lightnin’ was off and running. From club shows at dance nights sponsored by the local goth scene to wine-and-cheese nights at the Knoxville Museum of Art, White Lightnin’ has been on a mission to entertain and to empower women, Mullaney said.

“It’s the art of the tease, and it’s actually quite modest,” she said of burlesque. “It’s for entertainment, and it’s very empowering. We wanted women of all shapes and sizes, because we want people to know that we’re real women, that we look great and that we have a good time. That’s what we’re all about. That’s the reaction we love, when girls come up after a show and say, ‘I feel really good about how I look.’ And we get a lot of response from the men, too – you’d be surprised at how many men aren’t looking for Twiggy.”

If you want to help out but can’t attend, consider checking out the “Hellcat Harlowe Assistance Fund” on Facebook.

Written by wildsmith

January 19th, 2012 at 9:28 am

Todd Steed endorses UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living (a post about a new project by one of East Tennessee’s more talented, fascinating artists)

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For most people, one of the new projects posted today to iTunes would, on the surface, appear as just another self-help audio book, the latest addition to the “let-us-help-you-because-you-can’t-do-it-on-your-own-and-we-like-your-money” industry that’s been popular for several years now.

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(Editor’s note: Self-help programs, groups, books, etc., are a wonderful thing. It’s no secret I’m a member of a certain 12-Step recovery group, so I in no way mock or deride the self-help industry. But you gotta admit, it’s getting a little out of hand.)

However, local music scene fans will be pleased to know that it’s the latest project by one Mr. Todd Steed, a local music scene icon and veteran of such bands as Smokin’ Dave and the Premo Dopes, Apelife, Opposable Thumbs and his current project, Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere. It’s a complicated thing to explain, so bear with us.

First, the truth, as Steed wrote me this week:

“After my folks passed away (within a year of each other), I went into a low funk. Listened to a lot of ’self help’ audio books and read several as well — a lot of stuff inspired by Eastern philosophy, which I learned a bit about while being abroad.

“Some of the books were really great, but I couldn’t help but see humor in the whole New Age Eastern thing. And I thought, I should create my own self help book! And make it a lot funnier and perhaps a bit political as I was also in a funk due to the really sorry state of affairs brought about by these wars and bad economic policy. So, I just started writing, having freshly quit my job and having lots of time. And sure enough, all that writing turned into this audio book. It’s really an odd project — as it’s truly not all humor, but I don’t know what it is. There actually may be some good advice hidden in it.

“And, ironically, making this thing helped get me out of the funk I was in.”

God bless you, sir, for channeling your grief into art and having the stones to venture into experimental territory where, too often, musicians fear to tread. And so, Todd Steed and long-time co-conspirator/creative partner/long-time friend Bob Deck give you … “UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living,” presented by The Unmind Institute For Positive Waves and your host, Manfred Minsk (played by Deck).

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Manfred Minsk. Photo found buried in West Virginia.

Before you read this press release, we would like to RELEASE you from the PRESSure.   The PRESSure of modern life.

Avert your addictive scare from your computer screen for just a moment.  Inhale.  Hold.  Release.  See.  That’s easy.  Just do that until you no longer feel like strangling your editor.  Or your ex-roommate or a random political leader.  Or me.

This recording that is now in your possession is the result several hours of hard work with limited tea breaks.  UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living was created in a lab off I-79 in wild, wonderful West Virginia, complete with an overnight soaking in sacred goat urine and WD-40.  Then erased and re-recorded in Knoxville, TN.

UNMIND is a new philosophy based on forgotten sects of Zen, the behavior of well-trained circus monkeys, Revelations,  the Ghost of Cas Walker, samples of the sacred liquid of goats, and of nature itself in all it’s wet jungle glory and divine desert dryness.

It is our wish that all beings be happy.  Or, at least, that all beings become less likely to explode.

Through the UNMIND technique, we feel that all humans and and a small percentage of dolphins can reach a higher level of consciousness.  From there, they can go on to a more productive and meaningful life, full of laughter and organic cane juice.  Manfred Minsk, noted unthought specialist, will guide you there.

Manfred Minsk Biography

Often forgotten as being the second Test Tube Baby, Manfred Minsk was ‘born’ in Daugavpils, Latvia on the brink of a forgotten European war. From there, he attended Fresno State for two semesters where his academic focus was difficult to describe. On a trip to Japan to retrieve a lost meditation spoon, he accidentally knocked over a defrocked Zen Monk which turned out to be Roshi Umegashima Sencha the 48th.  He followed RUS48 around for a number of years until RUS48 became severely ‘minded’ and scooted him away.  Manfred founded Unmind Institute For Positive Waves when he couldn’t think of anything else.

EDITOR’S NOTE, AGAIN: Steed sent me a track off of “Unmind,” and I have to say … it’s wonderful. Ever since Deck recorded one of the spoken word (the intro, maybe?) pieces on Steed’s last album, “Eskimo Hair,” I’ve thought his voice would be perfect for an extended spoken-word piece. The track, “The Problems of Life,” is both politically witty (”If you still have your curiosity, and don’t sit around like a sheep waiting for Rush Limbaugh to tell you what to think, you are well ahead of most of the country right now!”), funny as hell (”Problems are everywhere these days; as common as Crocs footwear, and almost as annoying …”) and inspiring in an oddball, heartwarming sort of way. Underneath Deck’s animated reading of the script, Steed layers a little slinky jazz guitar, giving the whole thing a snake oil vibe that’s spot-on.

Seriously. This should be entertaining as all get out. Go purchase, now.

As for celebrating a proper CD release, Steed writes, “We have been incorporating bits of this into the Suns of Phere show. People seem to enjoy it, actually. We may do a reading at a bookstore for the release. But for the Christmas show (the annual “I Hate Christmas Songs” Christmas Eve performance on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special,” broadcast live and open to the public at noon on Dec. 24 from WDVX Studios, 301 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville), we’ll create segments to be interspersed.”

Written by wildsmith

November 18th, 2010 at 7:50 am

‘Knoxville’s Got Talent’ competition set

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Talented local hip-hop artist Mr. Kobayashi alerted me to the following event taking place Sunday, Sept. 19, at World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. It’s open to the public, but if you want to be one of the participants, you need to call organizer Becky Booker at 865-237-6968 to schedule an audition. Here’s the lowdown on “Knoxville’s Got Talent”:

Knoxville’s Got Talent is a venue for talented youth from various communities.  It is an event to highlight the positive aspects of our youth and local artists.  We have some very talented youth, and we want to encourage their God-given talent by creating a platform that allows them to showcase such talent.  In  addition, we hope to assist participants in connecting to various resources that would provide once in a lifetime opportunities!

The organizations (non-profit) mainly responsible for organizing this wonderful event are  Youth Leadership Academy of Knoxville and Project 2000, Inc.  We hope to continue this event throughout the year, due to the need for such venue and the excitement that this event has created in various communities surrounding the Knoxville area.  This event is open to the public, and we encourage everyone to attend and be proud of the youth representing our city!  The event is scheduled for Sunday, September 19, 2010 at the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater at 4pm.

For additional information about the event and future auditions, please contact us at (865) 237-6968 or knoxvilles_got_talent@yahoo.com.  Local artists are welcome to attend and gain recognition for accomplished works (recorded material), and possibly participate as vendors.

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Written by wildsmith

September 7th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Clayton Center for the Arts rolls out 2010-2011 season lineup

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The Clayton Center for the Arts over on the Maryville College campus got a test run when it opened at the beginning of the year, but now officials are preparing for the facility’s first full season of performances.

Clayton Center Executive Director Robert Hutchens unveiled the 2010-11 season for the center this week, and it includes something for everyone — literally — including some big names in jazz and bluegrass. Here’s what’s headed to Maryville this year:

And those shows are on top of what’s already been announced:

As far as ticket sales go — 12 of the events are being offered in subscription series of different sizes through Sept. 19.  Patrons who buy a series of five to seven performances will receive a 10 percent discount; those wanting 8 to 11 performances get a 15 percent discount; and those who purchase tickets for all 12 get a 25 percent discount. Regarding single-ticket sales — excluding the Groucho Marx dinner theater show, the average ticket price is $16.09 for adult economy tickets (average price for students and seniors — $12.50).

To reserve seats for any of the shows, call the Clayton Center box office at (865) 981-8590, visit the center online or go by the box office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets go on sale Thursday, Aug. 19.

Written by wildsmith

August 18th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Check out who’s stopping by Maryville …

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Gonna be some NASCAR star power and female hotness on Saturday at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. Here’s a press release on who’s coming to town:

WHAT: The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America will stop at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson on its 3,800-mile trek from Indian Wells, Calif. to Randleman, N.C. to raise awareness of and funds for Victory Junction. On May 8, at 11:30 a.m., a public celebration will be held at the dealership to welcome the riders.

Former NFL great and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker; actress and supermodel Niki Taylor; legendary NASCAR driver Harry Gant and nearly 200 additional participants are scheduled to join NASCAR driver and racing analyst Kyle Petty (and his wife, Pattie) on the Ride.

Victory Junction provides a medically-sound camping experience to children with chronic and terminal illnesses.

Call the dealership at (865) 977-1669 for more information or visit the Charity Ride’s website at: www.kylepettycharityride.com

Written by wildsmith

May 6th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts gears up

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This weekend, a lot of media attention will be focused on Knoxville, where the groundbreaking Big Ears Festival will be taking place. Hats off to Ashley Capps and his company, AC Entertainment, for putting together a truly spectacular festival of underground, avant garde, off-the-radar pop and unheard-of classical genius; we’ll have a few artist profiles of our own in this coming Friday’s Weekend entertainment section.

A little closer to home, however, there’s still big things happening. Starting Friday night, the newly built Clayton Center for the Arts will kick off its grand opening weekend with a concert by country artist Jo Dee Messina; tickets are still available and range from $36-$46. We put together a nice little Clayton Center package, including an interview with Jo Dee, a look at last-minute preparations for the grand opening gala on Saturday night and a timeline of the center’s construction, in last Friday’s Weekend. But that’s just the beginning of Clayton Center goodness taking place over the next several months. A few concerts have been announced already, a few are late additions to the lineup, and a few are outright surprises. Here’s a roundup of what’s coming to the Maryville College campus as the center’s season gets into full swing:

Beyond that, the fall season is currently being booked, and while official announcements have yet to be made, there are a few hints out there online. Bluegrass goddess Missy Raines lists on her website an Oct. 7, 2010 date at the Clayton Center with fellow bluegrass maestro Sam Bush.

Written by wildsmith

March 22nd, 2010 at 7:06 am

Clayton Center for the Arts tickets go on sale Friday

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Friday is the big day — tickets go on sale for upcoming events at the almost-completed Clayton Center for the Arts, construction of which is wrapping up on the Maryville College campus.

Earlier this week, readers of The Daily Times got a glimpse of the new Steinway pianos in the recital hall; starting Friday, they can begin planning their social calendars around several of the events taking place at the center in the coming months. Those events include:

In addition, the Clayton Center for the Arts will serve as a local Tickets Unlimited outlet, allowing visitors to the box office to purchase tickets for most Tickets Unlimited events in the East Tennessee area. For more information, visit the center’s website, call the box office at 981-8590 or visit in person at 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. The box office opens for business at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

Written by wildsmith

February 3rd, 2010 at 10:26 am