A Night in the City or Why I Didn’t Do My Assignment

Camille Thurman with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, April 2022
Camille Thurman with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, April 2022

You are free to look at this article in either of two ways. It could be a perfect example of an urban night. It could also be an excuse for not writing the column I had planned. It’s probably both.

It started around 5:30 when I arrived a little early to Merchants of Beer for an interview on WUTK’s remote broadcast of Knox on Tap. The show started at 6:00 and I sipped a cider while chatting with Zack and Doc about the website and what’s happening in the city. After my segment, the sunshine in the beautiful MOB courtyard called and I finished my beverage while listening to the conclusion of the show.

After a chat with some folks I bumped into there, I walked back to the condo to find food and start writing. Urban Woman had been offered a free ticket to the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra show featuring Camille Thurman. I began preparing a fajita, asked Alexa to kindly play some Herbie Hancock and poured a glass of wine. Next up: Writing today’s article for you wonderful readers.

And then I got a text. Two wonderful friends who would not be able to attend the KJO concert, but had front row center balcony tickets, were offering a free seat for the show. Attending would mean either writing all night or not having an article for today. Attending would bring great joy. I struggled with the decision for about fifteen seconds before texting back that, of course I would take the tickets.

Here’s where I explain that this is a perfect example of life in the center city: You think you are settled in and then lighting strikes and something great is yours for the taking just a few blocks from the house. It is an entirely different, very common experience (when we aren’t having a pandemic) than I ever had in the suburbs. The city offers surprising twists and turns, and they are often exhilarating.

Camille Thurman with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, April 2022

The show was wonderful. Vance Thompson announced this was the concluding show of the twenty-first season of the orchestra. They were eight years in before I moved downtown, and I had never heard of them. How is that possible in the same city? Season tickets for next year go on sale soon.

Camille Thurman wowed the audience with her saxophone solos as well as her vocals. One of her compositions was also featured. The band sparkled, maybe more so for those of us who are starved for live music. The world and the city felt almost normal for the first time in a long time. The Bijou, which has seen everything possible come and go, added its magic to the gumbo. It was a perfect night.

And that, dear readers, is how the city rolls — or used to, and is now assuming its equilibrium once again, if only for a time. Here’s hoping we are in for a good, long run. I promise to do my assignments even in the face of the magic. At least most of the time.