Chaos on the Square at 7:00 AM

Welding Railing Atop Preservation Pub, Market Square, Knoxville

Walking my dog at just after seven in the morning not long ago, I heard the unmistakable sound of amplified guitars coming from Market Square. It seemed early for a sound check for an evening concert. I immediately thought of the residents on Market Square who might have had a rare morning to sleep in and, of course, I wondered what in the world could be happening. I tucked away our skittish dog, grabbed my camera and walked in the direction of the music.

Welders Atop Preservation Pub

Along the way I passed Bernadette and Scott West eating breakfast. I spoke, and Bernadette spoke back, not knowing I’m sure, who in the world I might be. The first thing that caught my attention when I entered the square was the top of their establishment: Preservation Pub. Sparks flying, helmet in place, two men welded what must be destined to be the railing around Bernadette’s hard-fought for roof-top balcony. That didn’t explain the guitars.

Setting Up, Checking Sound, Market Square Stage, Knoxville

Support crew and perhaps band members unloaded guitars and other instruments, played to check sound levels and generally scurried about the Market Square stage. Massive soundboards sat twenty yards or so to the south of the stage and a similar number of people adjusted, plugged, unplugged and otherwise plotted how to make the sound perfect.

Video and Sound Crews scramble on Market Square

Video and Sound Crews

Then there were the camera men: adjusting large professional video equipment, including booms, massive cameras and laying tracks for the cameras to follow. Each of the teams seemed unconcerned with the others for the moment. Large contingents of family or fans also loitered about sipping coffee and talking to the various workers. Some were drafted into the melee to mark spots for sound or video.

View from behind the stage, Market Square, Knoxville, June 2011

Backstage Goodies – those demanding Christian Rock Stars!

I wandered to the back of the stage to get a view from that side. Several workers erected an awning to one side of the stage and set up food and drink for everyone involved at a table beneath it. They told me they were prepared to feed the crew for most of the day on that site, but that filming had already taken place in the Old City and might return there. I noticed scaffolding just over their shoulders on the side of the building at 36 Market Square where workers either painted or patched the brick on the south side of the building about three stories in the air.

Keeping ’em feed and hydrated!

Workers on the south wall of 36 Market Square

That Wall Avenue was filled with numerous support vehicles for each of these endeavors came as little surprise. The fact that the actual square was filling with vehicles was a bit startling. Several trucks and a crane pulled to that end of the square. The crane appeared to be present in support of the welder’s efforts, as I think were the trucks.

Crane backs into place along store-fronts on Market Square
Hissing, stretching, reaching past video crew’s ladder.

I realized that each group no doubt had permits – probably provided by different city departments who had no idea what the others might be up to. I’m not sure how it all worked out peacefully. Could the crane position itself where it needed to be given the technicians and equipment all over that end of the square? Could the sound issues possibly be solved for the video shoot while the crane groaned, creaked and hissed? Would a camera man fall prey to a swinging crane? I can only assume they resolved the inevitable complications. Clearly, large amounts of money were riding on the resolution.

Instructions for marking spots yelled over the crane.

As for the specifics of who would be setting up such an adventurous shoot at 7:00 AM, that would be “a Christian music video.” I can only guess that the name on the sign was a fake name for the shoot, since I can find nothing resembling it on the web, other than a small-time praise band from Louisiana. Clearly, there was no benefit happening on the square that day. Still, someone spent major money on a video shoot.

Trucks, equipment, cranes, equipment trucks mingle with cameras and artists.

In any event, I’d bet there were some nervous moments as people jockeyed for position to complete their various pursuits. I hope Scott and Bernadette didn’t suffer from indigestion as they returned from breakfast. Somehow, I imagine they took it in stride.

It also underscores what I wrote about recently: by having one spot commonly acknowledged as “downtown” we are going to have problems trying to accommodate everyone who wants to use it at a given time. Time has come to spread out and find other colorful, useful and fun spots to hangout – and do video shoots – downtown.