Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jay Clark at Preservation Pub: Homegrown with i105

Jay Clark at the Preservation Pub Speakeasy
The second week of the Homegrown series hosted by WFIV, 105.3 in the Preservation Pub Speakeasy was a great sophomore effort. Jay Clark is a wonderfully talented local singer-songwriter whose roughly textured voice and smooth delivery are perfect for the venue.
Jay Clark singing on Homegrown, WFIV
Always engaging, Jay sang songs with political overtones - or direct statements - such as I'm Confused. One wonders if he's really as confused as he might like to claim. The song lays out contradictions in our thinking like dropping bombs while we claim to believe in a God who says not to kill. He calls out a country who accepts a president who lies to them and elects him on moral terms. He acknowledged his left-leanings with humor. "Progress" is another of the politically charged songs which challenges our cultural definition of progress.

Jay Clark in the Preservation Pub Speakeasy
Many songs are of more personal nature like Sunday Afternoon. He deftly weaves divergent sentiments into single songs and renders them logical and honest. "Sunday Afternoon" has the protagonist attending church and musing on God while attaining a Sunday afternoon beer buzz. Other songs deal with domestic issues and, often, drinking. When I Get to Drinkin' and Better Man are two of my favorites.
Jay Clark at Preservation Pub

Jay Clark and Joe from WFIV
Mostly, they are simply great songs. He's another of our local treasures. I suppose other places must have great singer-songwriters and bands, but we seem to have more than our fair share. And I appreciate i105 being willing to give them air time and Preservation Pub agreeing to host the whole affair. It makes for a good time. Why not try to make it down for the fun at 7:00 tonight for Chip Searcy? I hope to see you there.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a sample of Jay Clark. This is "Sunday Afternoon." Enjoy.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Black Market Closes, Crass Couture Opens on Market Square

We lost an old neighbor and immediately gained a new one at 23 Market Square on August 19. Unlike other transitions downtown which have resulted in a temporary vacancy before a new tenant could be found or could re-design the space to their needs, this transition happened almost seamlessly. I'm thinking it was more like a hand-off than your usual closure and opening.

I never found much occasion to enter Black Market after welcoming them to the neighborhood because I was very clearly not their demographic. Crass Couture is so cool I'm not sure I'm worthy to even mention them in my blog. If I understand what they are doing, which is not an insignificant question, I believe the idea is to take vintage clothing and re-purpose or slightly re-design it.

You'll have to check out the designs for yourself, but suffice to say Urban Guy will probably stick to the uniform that has served him quite well from sometime far back into the previous century. I'll leave it to you hipsters to check out the too-cool-for-Urban-Guy fashions. Here's wishing them the best.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Bobbie Ann Mason at Union Avenue Books

Bobbie Ann Mason at Union Avenue Books, Knoxville
Bobbie Ann Mason's recent visit to Union Avenue Books marked a major coup for the store. A nationally and internationally recognized author, Ms. Mason can do as she pleases and the fact that it pleases her to support small independent book stores pleases me greatly.

Bobbie Ann Mason introducing the book The Girl in the Blue Beret
I actually first met her at Davis Kidd Book Store off Cedar Bluff between ten and fifteen years ago. She was already well known for her books including In Country. She was a delight to speak to, very attentive and patient with all the incoherent babbling and slight, if not imagined, connections presented to her by excited fans. I ran into her a number of times afterward at book festivals in Nashville and Chattanooga and she was always the same kind, soft spoken person she had been on the first meeting.

My most memorable encounter with her came in Cincinnati sometime in the mid-nineties at a Bob Dylan concert. I didn't speak to her that day, but watched a young man approach her. He obviously was working her for something: money, a ticket to the show, or maybe offering her a chemical enhancement to the experience. In any case, she extricated herself at the first opportunity and I didn't see the good in disrupting her any further, so I let her pass.

Bobbie Ann Mason reads from her new book to a packed Union Ave. Books
She told me the story of that day when we spoke at Union Avenue Books the other night. She actually met Bob Dylan thanks to a mutual friend who made the arrangements. I'll leave the details to her, but I will say that she found Mr. Dylan warm and respectful. Those of us who have seen "Don't Look Back," understand what a relief that might be.

Bobbie Ann Mason signing her new book at Union Ave. Books
She is currently touring in support of her latest book, The Girl in the Blue Beret, from which she read a few excerpts. The story involves an aviator who was shot down in France during World War II and is now, many years later, returning to the scene of that experience. As he meets the people from the French Resistance who facilitated his escape, he learns of the great suffering they endured. He searches for and finds a particular person, the girl in the blue beret, who helped him on his first journey and now will help him on this later journey to find resolution and peace with that harrowing and painful period in his life. It is told with all the power and honesty her readers have come to expect from her work.

After the reading Ms. Mason, as graciously as was the case all those years ago, spoke to everyone and signed everything that was put in front of her until there was no one left wanting her time. It was a great evening with an important author, but more particularly, a wonderful human being.

Ms. Mason sharing a laugh with a local fan at Union Avenue Books
If you'd like a copy of this book, please buy it from Union Avenue Books. They have autographed copies and would be happy to allow you to make one your very own. If you can't make it to the book store, follow the link above a few pennies of your purchase will make their way back to yours truly. Keep a watch out for future author events at the book store. I've never been to one that wasn't interesting and often I find them fascinating.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

East Tennessee History Fair 2011

Tomorrow meets yesterday at the East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville
The entire cast of characters, East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville
This has to be one of the most picturesque events in Knoxville every year. It almost doesn't much matter which direction you point your camera something good is likely to happen. The only other event about which I might make the same statement would be the Hola Festival. As a result, I had great difficulty narrowing my photographic selections for this post. You may not believe me after you see how many pictures I've included, but I eliminated a very large number that I took that day.
East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

Indigenous Representative, East TN. History Fair, Knoxville

East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville
So, I'll be short on words and let the pictures talk. For the uninitiated, this is an event sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society. It features reenactors from every era as well as history-related booths and organizations. The emphasis this year was on the Civil War which began 150 years ago this year. Also on the agenda was the David Crockett 225th birthday celebration which I covered in a recent blog.

"You got a problem with me walking in front of you? Seriously?"

Excellent Harmonies, East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

Trolley tours took riders through the city's most famous historical landmarks, walking tours of historical preservation efforts were led by Kim Trent of Knox Heritage and a stage in the center of the park hosted a wide range of musicians, many of whom played period songs such as "Look Away Dixie Land," which I heard performed beautifully.

Visitor or a participant? I just liked the way he looked.

Urban Toddler having a ball at the East Tennessee History Fair 2011.

My favorite images this year were of the people dressed from bygone eras juxtaposed with our modern streetscapes. I hope you find a few you enjoy sprinkled among the photographs included here.

East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

Revolutionary War Soldier, East Tennessee History Fair 2011

Suffrage Women are always the most beautiful. East TN History Fair 2011

East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

Firing Pottery, East Tennessee History Fair 2011, Knoxville

A little spooky, East Tennessee History Fair 2011

Sun sets on a tired Civil War surgeon, East Tennessee History Fair 2011

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Peak into Brownlow Condominiums

Brownlow Lofts at the former Brownlow Elementary School
I've heard of Brownlow Lofts the 4th and Gill area. I knew it was located in the former Brownlow Elementary School.  I remembered the news story when it broke and the opening sales. Beyond that I had no clue.

Urban Woman checks out the interior of a loft at Brownlow Lofts.
With the help and cooperation of Brownlow pioneer and personal friend of Urban Guy and Urban Woman, Ms. Connie, I recently got a small peak one of the units. Maybe more so than many developments, this one includes a very large range of sizes and shapes within its walls. Consider if you redesigned a classroom into a condo and then redesigned the stage area of the gymnasium into a condo. They would look considerably different.

Kitchen view in Brownlow Lofts.
Ms. Connie's condo was taken from the stage area of the gym and features great exposed brick walls and a very very high ceiling. It includes two bedrooms built over the main floor which includes the kitchen and den areas. The main bedroom is a loft with a view down on the rest of the condo giving a nice touch to a very cool space.

Ms. Connie hostin' it up in her Brownlow Loft.
More photos of the lofts are available on the link above. A number of the units remain unsold and are priced from just below 100K to just below 200K, which is pretty reasonable to be in such an historic and resurgent neighborhood. It's also a pretty easy bike ride to the heart of downtown.

From the gym ceiling (master BR) overlooking the kitchen.
The most interesting fact I learned about  the building is that it was used in the film "Rocket Boys" for the interior shots of Big Creek High School. That's probably an important fact in that to do the filming, the production company had to deal with the asbestos which, in turn, made the building more attractive for development as condos because that expensive hurdle had been crossed.

If you like touring condos in restored and preserved older buildings, you should consider buying tickets for the upcoming Downtown Home Tour sponsored by City People on October 9. Offering tours of a wide range of styles and sizes of homes, the tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the tour and you can buy them here. It's great fun - but be warned - many current downtown residents got hooked on downtown living during just such a tour!
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