Knoxville Marathon 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

It’s hard to know at the end of this week whether I should continue recounting last weekend or move the focus to the upcoming weekend. I’ll go with last weekend, but I must mention that this weekend is likely the biggest of the Dogwood Arts Festival, with the Arts and Crafts Festival on Market Square and throughout Krutch Park. The artisan works are phenomenal and the food tent, in which chefs prepare dishes with wine pairings, is one of my favorite single events of the year.

Mayor Rogero, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Mayor Rogero, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

American Flag on Clinch Avenue, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

American Flag on Clinch Avenue, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Still, I must give a nod to last weekend’s Knoxville Marathon which drew several thousand people. The race has grown to include a 5K, Half-Marathon, Marathon and Marathon Relay. Urban Son-in-Law backed off to the half-marathon this year and many Urban Friends ran various other races. I think one reason for the massive crowds last weekend was the marathon, as a number of people came in from out of town or simply stayed downtown to enjoy the other events going on.

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists2, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists3, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

I love the fact that a fitness-based event has become so big in the city. It also works beautifully to have so many great activities downtown to greet any out-of-town visitors. There is no way someone visited the city last weekend, encountered the beautiful weather, pianos on the square, Chalk Walk, First Friday, Rhythm and Blooms and came away with anything other than a very positive impression of what is happening here. They also spent time and money in the Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Runner, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Runner, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

The starting line and staging area always attract me. Nerves jangle about at every turn, runners giddy with excitement warm up maybe a bit too much. Proud families wish their loved ones well. The mayor spoke at this year’s opening and the national anthem makes any sporting fan’s blood reach a quick boil of anticipation. Some are there to win, others to have fun and others simply to finish. Music pounds from a PA system as it will throughout the race as live bands play for the runners.

Entertainment on Market Square, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Entertainment on Market Square, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

John D. Cable and the Empty Bottle Band, Clinch and Locust, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

John D. Cable and the Empty Bottle Band, Clinch and Locust, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

I photographed eventual winner Wojciech Kopec (2:22:15) as he left the start line (red jersey above, number 2), but missed him at the twenty-five mile mark. I did catch Edward Tabut passing the UT Conference Center, heading into the final stretch. He was about three minutes behind first place. He also nearly left the course by not turning onto Locust, but a policeman yelled, pointed and Edward corrected his course.

Second Place Runner (No. 4), Mile Tweny-five, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Second Place Runner (No. 4), Edward Tabut, Mile Tweny-five, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Third Place Runner, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Third Place Runner, Bryan Morseman, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Fourth Place Runner, Mile Twenty-Three, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Fourth Place Runner, Stewart Ellington, Mile Twenty-Three, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Fifth Place Runner, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Fifth Place Runner, Abraham Kogo, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

About four minutes behind him was Bryan Moresman in third and I really felt for the next two guys as I photographed them leaving Market Square. They ran within steps of each other around the twenty-four mile mark and clearly, they would battle to the finish line. In the end, while Stewart Ellington (No. 6) lead by a few yards at that point, Abraham Kogo (No. 3) would pass him in the end to win fourth place. Two seconds separated them at the finish line. You can find complete results here.

Half-Marathon Medal, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Half-Marathon Medal, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Others would pass through downtown on into the afternoon. In fact, Urban Son-in-Law spotted a couple going through around 4:00, well after the official times have stopped. It reminds me of Cake’s awesome song, “The Distance.” All that matters at that point is finishing. And whether anyone else knows or acknowledges the fact, you know. It has to feel good. I never made it to the complete marathon and I admire those who do.

Morelock Music Feels Like Home

Matt waits on a customer at Morelock Music while his dog smells her feet

We each probably have a few places which aren’t our home, but which give us a good feeling every time we walk inside. Downtown has quite a few spots that residents obviously feel that home away from home feeling. Most evenings if you walk down Gay Street you’ll see the same crowd at Downtown Grill. Some people have made Java Old City or Coffee and Chocolate their spot.

I have several myself. I feel most comfortable in the businesses in the Daylight building; talking books in Union Avenue Books, buying a few groceries or eating chocolate with Urban Toddler in Just Ripe, talking to John and Amanda or petting Molly in John Black Studio. Outdoor seating at Preservation Pub with Shaft or Trio with Urban Woman on Market Square or the French Market on Gay Street suit me really nicely.

A packed house, Ferd and Matt at Morelock Music

Ferd and Matt at Morelock Music.

One place that invites you in with its smells of old wood, sounds of instruments in the hands of people who know how to use them and a congenial vibe is Morelock Music. I’ve passed through on a couple of recent Friday nights and enjoyed the music of Matt and Ferd, but also bands passing through. There’s a tip jar by the stage and, often, a packed house with most people standing. I’m not sure Matt makes any money when it’s that packed, but he certainly banks a lot of good will.

Band plays at Morelock Music on a Friday night in Knoxville.

Matt sits in on Jew’s Harp.

A group plays at Morelock Music, Gay Street, Knoxville, 2012.

My favorite moments in the store are when it’s less packed and I can look around at the array of new and vintage instruments, listen to a little local conversation and speak to whomever happens to be working or passing through. Almost any local musician is likely to be spotted in a random visit and that’s fun, but it’s more than that.

Morelock Music, Gay Street, Knoxville, 2012

The place has that something extra that makes it feel like your place and mine. Is it the comfortable couches, the small collection of vinyl albums, the hodge-podge of items lining every wall or the friendly greeting when you walk in? Yes, it’s all that, plus a vibe that’s hard to describe. It’s that home feeling: Familiar places, sounds and people.

Morelock Music, Gay Street, Knoxville, 2012

It’s definitely one of the places that defines downtown, making us distinctive from about any other place that you can name. We have several of those. But mostly, it just extends a welcome out onto the sidewalk, gently tugging anyone passing by to pause and slip inside. Why not do that yourself next time you are downtown? You’ll be glad you did. In the meantime, why don’t you tell me – which places downtown give you that “at home” feeling?

More Blue Plate Special: Snowy Day Edition

I have to say I absolutely adore being downtown when life is just a little off-kilter. Sunday mornings are a bit like that with the whole “Sunday Morning Coming Down” feel. Holidays are even more that way. On Christmas all the businesses are closed, workers stay home and downtown settles into the neighborhood and only the neighborhood. It’s a quiet, laid-back, friendly vibe.

Adrian Krygowski, WDVX Blue Plate, Knoxville, December 2010

I recently got to experience that vibe with the snowfall that placed most of Knoxville on pause. It was great to sleep late and ease out in time for the Blue Plate Special at noon, followed by a hot bowl of corn chowder at Cafe Four. There were people around and lots of smiles as we walked very slowly across the sidewalks or in the street where the footing was better.

Adrian Krygowski, WDVX Blue Plate Special, Knoxville, December 2010

The Blue Plate Special was also different as a result of the snow. Adrian Krygowski of (or AKA?) Adrian Hardkor was able to make it, so that part stayed the same. Adrian currently lives in D.C. and he and his band tour from that home base. This is his second swing through Tennessee and he sported his western shirt and boots from his first trip. He is staying with new friend and local musician Roman Reese and supporting the CD Road on the Left. The music is a folk/alt country blend. His voice reminds me of a young Jimmy Lafave. He plays a lovely Martin guitar (I’m biased) and his songwriting is exceptional. I bought his CD and I think you should, too. He says he’ll be coming back through in the early spring.

Cruise Contreras, Matt Morelock, Glen Fields, WDVX Blue Plate, Knoxville

The other artist scheduled to appear today cancelled because of the weather. What’s a WDVX to do? Call on some of the many fine musicians who live downtown and could walk to the gig! Recently that group has included Cruz Contreras who was joined today by long-time WDVXer and downtowner Matt Morelock, most recently of The Bearded and Morelock Music. Sitting in on drums was Glen Fields from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Cruise Contreras, Matt Morelock and Glen Fields, WDVX Blueplate Special

The set consisted mostly of traditional songs with a sprinkling of Black Lillies material – acoustic, of course. Cruz continues to get better and the release of the next Black Lillies album promises to be a major event on the Knoxville music scene. A CD release party is slated for the Bijou in January. You can get tickets here. (And you should. I’m being a little bossy, today. Trust me, my father’s nickname was “Doctor.”)

Cruise Contreras, Matt Morelock, Glen Fields, WDVX Blue Plate Special

It was a perfect winter day antidote. Only about twenty hardy souls made it into the studio, so everything was laid back and comfortable and the music was excellent. What a neighborhood.