Adventures on an August First Friday

Storm Clouds outside the Knoxville Museum of Art, August 2012

Just a couple of weeks ago, I decided my new strategy for First Friday was to hit fewer places and try to really enjoy those as opposed to skimming so many I couldn’t remember them all until I reviewed the photographs. That plan didn’t make it through this week. There were just too many places I wanted to visit.

It’s First Friday – Expect Squirl Boy on the Street, Knoxville, August 2012

Urban Woman and I decided to eat very early, since a sit-down restaurant with a First Friday crowd can easily mean missing most of the events and openings just to eat. And who wants to cram your food in just to rush away? So, around 4:45 we ordered “Parisian” crepes at the French Market, which are their traditional ham and cheese crepes, grilled to make them a bit more crunchy. We brought our own wine and paid a two dollar corkage fee. I don’t mind a little fee, I suppose, but I’ve never understood that completely. I brought my own bottle and glasses and the bottle had been opened and capped at home. Not enough to worry me, but still, I don’t get it.

Blue Mother Tupelo, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, August 2012

Blue Mother Tupelo, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, August 2012

Blue Mother Tupelo, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, August 2012

After a delicious crepe paired with people watching from the outdoor seating, we stopped by our home for one of us (not me) to freshen-up our make-up. Shaft joined us for the walk over to the KMA’s Alive After Five which featured Blue Mother Tupelo, one of my absolute favorite bands. I’ve written extensively about them before, so you can go back and read that post if you missed it, but I will say that they sounded as great and put on the charm as much as ever. I’m glad to see them coming through downtown more often these days. Downtown personality, Lincoln, played the part of bouncer. Very well done, Lincoln.

oung Dancer at Blue Mother Tupelo, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, August 2012

Young and Old Dancer at Blue Mother Tupelo, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, August 2012

One of the fun things about Alive After Five, of course, is watching the dancers. I particularly enjoy seeing older people dance with younger people, children dancing and the random person who simply has none of the inhibition that haunts me. It was difficult toleave after one set because BMT is so incredible, but it being First Friday, other events called.

Jetta, Morgan and Paul behind the counter at The Tree and the Vine, Knoxville, August 2012

Steve Lareau and his art, Tree and Vine, Knoxville, August 2012

Donna helps customers at The Tree and Vine, Knoxville, August 2012

We had to take Shaft to The Tree and Vine, which had a line of customers when we arrived. I met Steve Lareau, the artist responsible for the great computer-generated art on exhibit there. I’d encourage you to stop by and see it. The very complicated process is just now becoming possible through technology to achieve the effect he has sought for years. It’s really remarkable. Steve also is a one man show at the Knoxvillle First Friday website in which he attempts to list every art opening downtown on First Fridays.

City Councilman Finbarr Saunders and Ellen Bebb wade into the crowd at the Downtown Grill, Knoxville, August 2012

Tinah holds court while Shaft looks at the Art, Sapphire, Knoxville, August 2012

Kristin Kindall and her art, Sapphire, Knoxville, August 2012

Kelsie – Venice by Kristin Kendall

Rain threatening, Urban Woman declared it a night and Shaft and I moved on alone. Tinah stopped on the sidewalk and did a 180 to join us. After confirming that Halerin Hill had arrived at the Arcade Building approximately fourteen hours before us and I got that event all mixed up, we walked to Sapphire for free rum and art. I got to meet artist Kristin Kendall, whose painting I’d posted on this site before. She is a delight and her art is excellent, so I’d encourage you to check it out. I love this particular painting.

Larry Crowell and his Beer Hats, Gallery 133, Knoxville, August 2012

Beer Hats by Larry, Knoxville, August 2012

Tinah peeled off at this point and Shaft and I stopped in to see Larry Crowell, who had a showing of his beer hats at Gallery 133. Larry’s a great all-around-guy who I first photographed for the blog two years ago sporting one of his, now classic, hats. He loves music as much as I do, so we see each other at shows all the time. Who knew when I first spotted him and his hat that he’d become a recognized artist on down the line?

2 Many Pixels, Sports Photography Exhibit, Knoxville, August 2012

We stopped in briefly at 2 Many Pixels to see the photography exhibit there, which is always enjoyable, then met Kevin and Melinda at  the entrance to the Emporium only to have the lights start flashing indicating that 9:00 PM approached and we all needed to go home and get into bed. Have I mentioned that I hate the fact that First Friday ends about the time it should be getting cranked up? 11:00 PM is so much more sensible. Does New York City shut down at 9:00 PM? I don’t think so. We’ll have to work on that.

I’d heard that the Emporium had stopped offering wine due to complaints, and that possibly some other places had done the same. I never made it far enough into the Emporium to investigate, but that just seems crazy. I’ve never seen anyone drunk or out-of-control from the Chardonnay, so I just don’t get it.

Ratchett mans the bar, Casual Pint, Knoxville, August 2012

First Friday officially ended, we walked to the Casual Pint where I finally got to meet Ratchet, one of Knoxville’s preeminent authorities on craft beer (see his site under my “Important Links,” above). I settled on a great cherry cola in a bottle that looked enough like a beer bottle that I could blend right into the crowd and do a fairly good imitation of a real man. A table by the window sat empty just waiting for us and it’s as pleasant a place as I had imagined. I will say that the same complaint that has been made about Suttree’s is true at Casual Pint: When it is packed, it is loud.

Shaft split off for home around 10:00 and I decided to get some coffee at the Bistro at the Bijou and listen to Kukuly, but it was packed and the crowd there was so loud I couldn’t hear her. I wandered down the street planning to get coffee and sit outside Coolato Gelato and listen to jazz. The line stretched the length of the shop and I left for Coffee and Chocolate which, naturally, had a line to the door. I walked down Gay Street, still teeming with life: Suttree’s was packed and I spoke to Anne and Matt who had taken refuge on the sidewalk for a little break. Sky Bar sat virtually empty. I even walked downstairs to the very cool bar on that level and it was the same. What’s wrong with that place?

Sky Bar, Downstairs, Knoxville, August 2012

At last, my feet hurt, my old eyes grew heavy and I walked home. Another fun First Friday passed and maybe, just maybe the next one will be a bit cooler. Here’s hoping. I hope you enjoyed your night, as much as I enjoyed mine.


  1. Hey, Urban Guy: Great running into you Friday, although only briefly and we were headed in different directions! We stuck to our pledge to limit our stops on First Friday and try to enjoy them more. We had my out-of-town brother and sis-in-law in tow and, after cocktails at a friend’s in East Knoxville, here’s what we did: wine tasting at Downtown Wine + Spirits; drop by at Art Market (fun art, decent wine, good snacks and also good music); tastings at Tree and Vine (sis-in-law made substantial purchases); and dinner at Chesapeake’s (enough off beaten track to not have lines). Love First Friday — especially when entertaining outside company.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      It is a perfect time to have out-of-town guests – pretty much whatever they enjoy is happening. I think a lot of people dropped a lot of money in that place Friday night. They were packed.

  2. I haven’t heard anything official regarding the wine. That said, I’ve see an increasing number of people on the street on First Friday’s with little cups of it. And since it’s not a UT football game (where a longstanding tradition of turning a blind eye applies), that can get frowned upon by KPD.

    I’ve been a little concerned as when I was living in San Antonio there was actually a “crack down” on First Friday festivities there due to the number of open container violations. I’d hate to see that happen here.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I also hope there is no crack down. I don’t really see the harm and I think they have turned a blind eye on First Friday much as they do on game day. I was in Mobile recently for a similar downtown night out and the crowd carried their drinks with them as they went. In a way, it could reduce the amount of drinking in that people could sip as they walk rather than guzzling a glass every time they get ready to walk to the next stop.

  3. Great pics, as always. Since I couldn’t go this month, your pics and descriptions are the next best thing. And now that I’ve seen the beer hats, I’m wondering who needs to receive one as a Christmas present. Hmmm.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Interestingly, Larry says he has no plans to market them. He said they are too labor-intensive and he’d have to charge more than people would likely want to pay. That said, I think I remember seeing them in Fizz at one point, so who knows?

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