Monday, October 4, 2010

First Friday at Market Square: Juke Joint Sorority Girls in Pink

Kelle Jolly sings the blues, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010
Emily Mathis Plays while Kelle Jolly
I realize First Friday's have gotten bigger just by the number of blog posts it takes to cover the topic. I've already talked about the Block Party on the 100 Block of Gay Street. Between the music and the art exhibits, food and drink, as well as booths and displays, there was plenty of stimulation for a full evening without leaving that section of downtown.

Mayor Haslem declares the importance of Reading, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010

YMCA representative kicks off the Big Read
Market Square was even more overwhelming in all it's florid (literally and figuratively) glory. The central event on the square was the kickoff of the Big Read. The Big Read is an effort to have everyone in a community read the same book at the same time. The hope is that a conversation will ensue that inspires citizens to think outside their usual, small world. 

Is this man comfortable with EVERYBODY? Mayor Haslem, fan, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010

This year's book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, which engendered a great outcry at its publication in 1937, fell into obscurity and was lifted out again by the recognition accorded its author by Alice Walker. I can't help but think of the parallel story of Bessie Smith who was, possibly, the most famous recording artist of the 1920's, fell out of fashion and out of circulation, and then was revived by the reverence accorded her by Janis Joplin. But I digress.

Swinging ladies from a bygone era, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010

The event on the square featured a simulation of a juke joint (which is a setting prominent in the book) complete with Kelly Jolly (vocals) and Emily Mathis (keyboard) offering jazz and blues from the period. People were encouraged to wear period dress, and some did.

Waiting for Their Eyes Were Watching God, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010
One of the great sights of the night was the line that snaked its way across the square as people lined up for a free copy of the book and a reader's guide. Who said reading is dead? 

Gifts and Education about breast cancer on the Square

Pink Balloons outside Cocoa Moon, Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010
But that didn't begin to cover everything brewing on the square. Pink prevailed in every direction as various fund raisers and educational efforts centered around breast cancer vied for attention with the Big Read. Lovely ladies offered pink paper flowers, for a suggested donation of three dollars. They said that the money went to "free women's mammograms." It seems the men will have to pay their own way.

Lovely ladies with flowers. Will pose for money. Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010.

Urban Baby says, "What? Three bucks and no smell?"
The strangest event on the square may have involved these young women. I asked them what was going on and they said it was "the Big Reveal." I remained clueless (and apparently obviously so) until one of them helpfully explained that this was the moment they would find the identities of their new "big sisters." I realized I was in sorority land and far from my home. They were later heard squealing with what appeared to be delight.

Waiting for the "Big Reveal," Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010

"The Girls on the Corner Dress Up for Each Other," Market Square, Knoxville, October 2010
Not finished yet, the evening continued with the library's series of free movies. What else could this week's edition possibly be but "Pretty in Pink." Just like the 100 block, one need never have left this one spot for everything needed for a great evening, including a perfect autumn evening in East Tennessee.
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