Two great music series are up and running on Market Square. One is returning and the other making its debut this year. The first is the Jazz on the Square Series on Tuesday night from 8:00 – 10:00. A core of musicians including Vance Thompson (leader of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra), Greg Tardy (Head of the UT Jazz Department), Keith and Kenneth Brown and Clint Mullican are joined by a range of musicians including Jamel Mitchell and others.
The photographs here are of some of these musicians playing recently at Bella Luna. If you haven’t exposed yourself to the Knoxville Jazz scene, these Tuesday night shows are the simplest, most pleasant place to start. They are free, though I strongly encourage you to tip. The crowds are large, but easy going. Right now the weather is perfect and there’s just not a more perfect way to spend an evening. The series runs every Tuesday through August. I promise, if you try it a time or two, you’ll be hooked.
The Thursday night series runs a little earlier – from 7:00 – 9:00 and the musical genres vary. It’s a bit strange for me to see the generally quiet, older crowd on Thursday nights when I spent Thursday night this time of year for many years at Sundown in the City. The two series will not be confused, however, as the artists for this series tend to be local and draw a different demographic.
I’ve already mentioned the first night with Robinella. It was good to see her on the Market Square Stage again – or any stage for that matter. She still has a voice to die for and we loved listening to her while we ate outside at Bella Luna. We also knew there were out-of-town guests seated a few feet away and they had to feel the incredible vibe on the square that night.
Last week, as you might guess from the photographs, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Orchestra played to a very large and appreciative crowd. It’s the kind of thing I think they should do more of. I talked to one couple who said they didn’t know Knoxville had an orchestra, which is pretty amazing. The event, no doubt, exposed them to people who would never otherwise have heard them.
And what they heard was fun, popular tunes by well-known composers such as Rossini, Scott Joplin, Leroy Anderson, Irvin Berlin and John Philip Sousa. The crowd whistled along and conductor Lucas Richman engaged the crowd warmly. Photographs were taken all around and, again, I think that’s a good thing. I’m not sure that everyone in the Symphony’s organization understand the power of social media to influence behavior. Even the program that night, unfortunately, contained the warning, “The use of recording devices and/or cameras is strictly forbidden.” Of course, this was roundly ignored as people recorded the event in every possible way.
Urban Girl got her a dose of the orchestra, as well. Again, this is a benefit of a production like this one. We would not be likely to pay for her a ticket when she might or might not make it through the evening, but the risk was low taking her to this show. She’d turned to me the day before and said, “Take me to do something different, some time.” And so we did.
She wasn’t sure what an “orchestra” was and it made her a little nervous. The feedback from the amps before the show didn’t encourage her. But then she heard the music and she loved it. We won’t have any trouble getting her to the orchestra again. Of course, she didn’t make it all the way through as she is accustomed to an 8:00 bedtime, but it was a good first experience.
This week the featured artist is the Ensemble Swing Time Band. I think their name says it all. Why not bring out the chairs, the kids and have a great time dancing to some excellent music? This series only runs through the end of June, so you have this week and six more shows.