Feb 9 2009
03:29 pm

I loved Big Ears. On more than one occasion, I heard people from Chicago and NYC saying "Wow, I wish we had this cool of a music festival."

So let me get the bad parts over with so that the good parts are more memorable.

The Great Square Room Penis Debacle of 2009!

One of the Big Ears acts, Matmos, was censored by the Square Room and chose not to perform there. They wanted to show video of a guy wanking off in a hot tub during their performance. Now before you say "what about the children eating chicken fried waffles on the other side of the glass in Cafe 4!!!", remember, there is a heavy drape between the square room and cafe 4 and it cannot be seen through when drawn.

a) No one was going to see this video who didn't pay to see it.

b) The avant guard of performance art/music, which is what Big Ears is all about, is deliberately messing with our notions of what pornography is, not just to shock but also to challenge some societal hang-ups we have about sexuality.

Given all this, didn't the Square Room see this coming? If not, they need to have a gut check on wether or not they really want to host art. If they did see it coming, they should have steered clear of the whole sheebang.

By censoring art that they had been well paid to host, and that would have soiled NO ONE who didn't want to be soiled in just exactly that sort of way, the Square Room confirmed everyone's worst fears, namely that their evangelical bent and good ol boy bucks would stifle creativity. They also undid part of the good will that Big Ears has earned Knoxville among the leaders of the global arts community. I still see the point of engaging with censorship prone evangelicals, kind of like I see the point in engaging with China or Myanmar, but I'm a lot less interested in it now.

From now on, anyone who plays the Square Room should devote part of their show to a sermon on the evils of masturbation and public sexuality.

Matmos went on that evening to deliver a show at the Catalyst which pursued, with great vigor, the themes they were denied access to at the Square Room.

Favorite acts.

#5 Negativland- While I was annoyed with the ideas this band tried to convey, I really liked the form in which they conveyed them. It was kind of like watching one of those old films of a nuclear bomb drop. Beautiful, horrifying and enraging all at once.

They came at you with a single theme- "There is no God", elaborations on which consisted of :

"Its all in your head"- Everything is just a chemical reaction originating from your brain. Why should I believe this? I kept asking myself. Much like the religions they kept giving blunt parodies of, Negativland failed to supporting their statements with any, hard, soft, sonic, squishy, fuzzy, knife edged or otherwise tangible evidence. None. For all their brainy penetrating energy, in the realm of intellectual honesty, Negativland is no better than Rush Limbaugh.

Science- and only science- can be trusted. Nevermind that science has shown itself to be easily manipulated and perverted by the corporate giants that Negativland takes such joy in lambasting. Their unexamined faith in science, regardless of who practices it, why, and who is paying them to do it, is no less reprehensible than Sarah Palin's pastor chasing around witches. "Church of Einstein" I yelled out during the break. I don't think they caught my meaning.

Faith is stupidity. Coming from such intellectual light weights, this statement had no impact but kept coming back like a nasty old slim jim you should have stayed away from.

Now, having said all that, the FORM that Negativland has pioneered is worth seeing. I found their sonic collage performance art extremely inspiring and flawlessly executed. The pompous message was worth sitting through just to see their art.

#4 Fennesz- After about five minutes, I wanted to give it a bit more chance, before I ran out of the room screaming. After about 10 minutes, I was waiting for that chance to run. After 15 minutes, I was kind of OK with staying. After 45 minutes I was in some sort of waking dream with a mouse and a race car destined for Mississippi. When it ended, I wanted it to go on.

#3 Luminescent Orchestrii- Having them sing to me while eating the french toast and bacon at the Bijou was exhilarating perfection. My four year old was completely mesmerized.

#2. John Hassell and Maarifa St.- Wow. The most soothing music I have heard in a long long time. It transformed the room into a mysteriously warm night spent looking at the moon.

#1 Antony and the Johnsons- Just mesmerizing. I had expected some sort of hair raising tranny burlesque, but instead got just about the warmest, most sincere show I have EVER been to. And it was funny too. Definitely my all time high for Bijou shows. The band was so good I had to pinch myself. I've not heard many better, either in concept or delivery.

I also can't remember being in the presence of a more charming performer. The transgender community could not have a better ambassador to the world at this time. The feeling in his voice is so deep, and rich, and gushing. And his between song stories conveyed so much about his world in so few words. One was about how he used to be afraid that his soul might someday get stuck inside of a rock, but that he's OK with that now having stood on one particularly resonant rock in Norway.

In some strange way, I don't think I'll ever be the same after having seen Antony and the Johnsons. I feel I understand transgendered people just a smidgeon better, but somehow that changes a lot regarding my outlook on life.

I don't think Antony and the Johnsons fully translate when recorded. I bought all three of his full length CDs, and while they are all excellent, none of them have that live sound. Here's to hoping he comes back soon!

Thank you AC entertainment!!! You all hit it out of the park with this one.
We owe you so much for this amazing gift, wether or not we know it.
I sincerely hope Knoxville gets to have another Big Ears.

Tim's picture

You call it "censorship;" I

You call it "censorship;" I call it "choice."

It's just too bad that the Square Room didn't realize what was coming down the pike, so that they could have exercised their choice earlier and without all the hubbub.

Bobknob's picture

That was just poor show

That was just poor show advancing by the promoter/band/venue. Let's communicate people.

Dave Prince's picture

Anyone else find it humorous

Anyone else find it humorous that such a diatribe on Negativland's "It's All In Your Head FM" themes comes from someone who can't be bothered to correctly spell the group's name?

Dave Prince's picture

I dunno. We're dealing with

I dunno. We're dealing with either a set of fundamentalist anti-"scientific hegemony" counterpoints with the subject of the day copy-pasted to fit or an inadvertent tribute to same. Both are pretty bleeding-edge, considering.

Of course, couching my objections in the whole "har dee durr, teh misspellz" thing isn't exactly the height of intellectual discourse, but arguments so laden with fallacious leaps and self-congratulatory one-liners don't exactly inspire me to bring out the big guns.

sugarfatpie's picture

Yes! I find that hilarious!

Yes! I find that hilarious! So funny that I fixed it!
So what did you like about Negativland?

I also don't think my statement qualifies as diatribe. I was inspired by their art, quite a lot in fact, just not their message.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

StaceyDiamond's picture

Ears, Square

I enjoyed the Big Ears stuff I saw and met some nice people who had come from out of town. All of downtown seemed crowded Sat. I talked to a guy last night that said a guitar player during the finale on Sunday was horrible but he enjoyed the rest of it. With all the Square Room's recent coolness, people forget that it is there to fund a religious organization. Although it sure is less evangelical than I thought it would be and it sells alcohol, the people involved in it once were part of very right wing churches. The whole thing is strange, everyone says the food is bad in the place but its always crowded.

sugarfatpie's picture

I may have to disagree with

I may have to disagree with you on the food. They have a slammin burger, but that isn't really fine food is it. Ah but the eggs bennedict...that was good too!
I have to agree with you on the growing creepiness of their right wing fundy connections. They could have earned some major cred by turning a blind eye to the nerdy gay cock rock of Matmos.
Too bad.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

mte's picture

The New York Times' review

The New York Times' review of the festival went up yesterday:


R. Neal's picture

Wow, that's some great press

Wow, that's some great press for Big Ears and AC. Congratulations, and best of luck for next year!

Pam Strickland's picture

Also, great press for the

Also, great press for the Bijou and Knoxville.

It just tickles me pink that Knoxville got some positive press that didn't involve athletes wearing orange. It is wonderful news following the long string of negative things that have gotten the region in the news over the last year.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

sugarfatpie's picture


Big Ears had no corporate sponsors and no local financial support. Clearly Mr. Capps will be losing money. “We did it the scary way,” he said, over breakfast in Knoxville on Sunday morning. “We knew what we were getting into. We’re rolling the dice, but the intent was to create a spark for an ongoing series of events.”

He said he had decided not to deal with sponsors because he didn’t want the distraction. “I’m not opposed to it,” he said, “but I thought it was important to get the concept out there, and if there are sponsors, I want them to be the right ones — integrated into enchancing the event, and not just tacked on.”

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

sugarfatpie's picture

From the band's point of view

As related by (link...)

Sadly, this kind of
resistance to a sexual minority on the part of the landlord for the
Square Room, if that is what it is, confirmed the worst stereotypes
about a bigoted, narrow, and, if I may be blunt, culturally retarded
and backwards mindset that snobby coastal types tend to think pervades
the Deep South; it was exactly the sort of thing that surely this
festival, with its inclusive programming of Antony and other queer
voices, so beautifully counteracted. But luckily, the owner of the
Square Room does not speak for Knoxville. The Big Ears people were
completely supportive and understanding and the show was moved to the
Catalyst, where a loud and large audience took in the show and voiced
their strong support of what we were doing. The Catalyst venue
welcomed us when we were in a tight spot, and the result was a really
hectic Round Robin with Dan Deacon afterwards, and a fun and positive

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

sugarfatpie's picture

From the landlord's point of view

As related by (link...)

• Summary of God’s Vision for a City from Isaiah 65:17-25 (in today’s context):

A place of joy—of creativity, beauty, fun, festivals, art, music, and celebrations.
A place that is healthy.
A place where people have good housing.
A place where people have plenty to eat.
A place of economic prosperity and opportunity for all.
A place of justice and fairness.
A place of spiritual vitality.
A place of unity and peace.

All very nice, but I think, for the sake of honesty, they need to quote some bible verses that explicitly address the role of masturbation and public sexuality in urban development. Perhaps something from Genesis 38:6-9 -- The sin of Onan:

One passage, in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), describes the death of Onan. It was a widespread belief that Onan was killed by God because he masturbated.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Pam Strickland's picture

Square Room and Big Ears

Can we stop talking about the confusion between Matmos and the Square Room? It's over, it's done and I'm thinking that the Square Room folks learned to ask more questions when booking. Further, as best I can understand (I don't stay out or awake that late), it worked out better for Matmos. They got to perform in another good place, and then got to jam with those Baltimore folks. Everybody was happy.

On the other hand, let's talk about the great things that came out of the weekend.

In that NYT article:
"Big Ears was for concertgoers who appreciate not hearing a lot of introductions and context and sponsor announcements before the music even starts. In other words, at times it was heaven."

About the Bijou: " of the best-sounding rooms I’ve experienced in this country."

Quoting Jon Hassell, a Memphis native who had never performed in Tennessee:
“I was completely enchanted with being back in Tennessee,” he said later, from Pennsylvania. “The warmth of the people, the landscapes, even the gun shops and tattoo parlors. It was like that T. S. Eliot quote about how the point of living is to come back to where you started and see it as if for the first time.” (He was paraphrasing from “Four Quartets.”) “But I also think,” he added, “it means the world has changed, suddenly.”

And Wayne Bledsoe's piece on, closes with this quote from the festival's big draw, Philip Glass:
"I think it's a very auspicious omen for the festival," said Glass. "It was a tremendous experience ... It's my impression that there's a real cultural renaissance going on in the South ... We haven't really talked about it yet, but I look forward to coming back."

Philip Glass wants to come back to Knoxville. Now, that's news.

And, one more thing, somewhere, maybe it was mte's blogging for MetroPulse, said that Ashley Capps was as giggly as a school girl during the Q&A with Glass. And, I'm thinking we all should be. I only saw two performances (Glass and Wendy Sutter then Antony and the Johnsons), and they were among the best shows I have ever seen. Ever. I would be hard pressed to say which of the two was best.

Other folks were equally thankful for seeing The Necks or Fennesz or (name that band). Let's celebrate that, celebrate what a cool thing happened in our city.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

sugarfatpie's picture

I'll agree with you that

I'll agree with you that there are way more positive things to talk about regarding Big Ears than censorship at the Square Room.
But I don't think we can hope to get the full benefit of an event like Big Ears, or even hope for its return, if we just sit by and "think positive" while right wing christians censor our arts scene. That is fiddling while Rome burns. That is also, in part, how Knoxville lost country music to Nashville.

I also think that any artist who might like to play the Square Room should know that there is a distinct possibility that they will be censored if they do anything that the Cornerstone Foundation finds objectionable. I shudder to think what the fallout would have been if AC had booked Negativland at the Square Room. Those guys would have raised an infernal stink about this censorship.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture


Alright, Alex, I'm intrigued by this statement in the context of your concerns about the Matmos/Square Room thing:

That is also, in part, how Knoxville lost country music to Nashville.

Before I launch into my standard garden club/Rotary luncheon speech about the various fallacies in the Knoxville belief that Knoxville "lost" its chance at becoming headquarters of the country music industry or (more nefariously) Nashville "stole" Knoxville's opportunity, I do need to hear the logic behind your theory as it seems to represent a new twist on the familiar old tale.

Would you mind sharing how a night club not wanting to show video clips of grainy out-of-focus film-damaged gay pornography during a performance relates to the age old Knoxville v. Nashville chestnut?

sugarfatpie's picture

My understanding of how

My understanding of how Knoxville lost country music to Nashville involves two main narratives:
1) Our "town fathers" decided they didn't want a bunch of fornicating, drinking, and otherwise seedy musicians hanging around. So they did various things to discourage them from staying. This story relates to the Cornerstone Foundation and censorship.
2) Nashville was a bigger, more progressive town, with more money to support the arts. This story doesn't have that much to do with censorship.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Pam Strickland's picture

Alex, I've been away from


I've been away from the computer, and am very glad that AC followed up with the detailed explanation. I think it's right nice that he's taking so much responsibility for what happened. Although, I really do think that the Square Room folks, knowing what they building owner has stipulated, should have been a bit more pro-active in the booking process.

As for your accusation that my desire the look at the positives was the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns, I think you're protesting too much and too loudly. No one was censored. The show went on. They had, by all accounts, a great audience and a great experience.

If Matmos had truly been censored, yes, I would be complaining long and loud. You'll find few stronger supporters of the First Amendment. And, I think AC and others are right that as a private business, the Square Room has a right to say what they will tolerate.

Further, I'm having trouble seeing how one incident lead you to determine that "right wing christians [are] censor[ing] our arts scene." I think that gives them too much power. It's one venue, not the entire city.

Also, as a "left wing" Christian, I thank you for acknowledging that they are "right wing."


Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

AC's picture

Hello Alex - I really

Hello Alex -
I really appreciate your support and enthusiasm for Big Ears, but I think you are a little off base on the Square Room/Matmos issue. I'm going to post what I wrote at Knoxblab...just to set the record straight:

Wow...I tried to disappear for a day yesterday and I find large mountains being constructed from little molehills...this subject seems to have gotten more attention here than any other aspect of the festival and the people who attended and participated in the festival barely noticed that it happened.

I have to take full responsibility for Matmos being booked to play the Square Room. In retrospect, I perhaps should have known better but I just didn't think through it very well. I chose the Square Room because I think it's a great space to hear live music and that it would be a great space for this show. So, when working through the intricacies of the schedule, I put Matmos there.
I have seen Matmos several times, most recently this past June at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona as part of Sonor, and, in all honesty, it didn't really cross my mind that there would be an issue.
The bottom line is this:
We love the Square Room. It's a fantastic venue and a great addition to the Knoxville cultural landscape. The people who work there are great and they do an excellent job. I was excited that they were willing to be a part of Big Ears. Like most people, they really had no idea who the artists were that were playing the festival. So...they were totally blindsided by this experience.

I stand behind their right, as a private business, to determine what they do and do not wish to present in their venue. Similarly, I also stand behind Matmos and their right as artists to present the work that they wish to present.

In truth, this issue was quickly resolved and Matmos was able to present their show in front of a capacity crowd at the well as participate in the Baltimore Round Robin later that evening. Things worked out well and everyone was happy.

On a personal level, I want apologize to the Square Room and others that this happened in the first place. It was simply a mistake.

On another level, the entire incident was so minor in the grand scope of the weekend, that I find the focus on this to be really ridiculous, but it appears that are always some who cannot resist stirring the pot when presented with an opportunity, however insignificant it may be.

We had an amazing event in Knoxville this weekend! We should celebrate that!!!

AC's picture

As an addendum, let me also

As an addendum, let me also note that it no way, shape, form, or fashion do I believe that this issue was even remotely related to gay issues per se. I think the Square Room would have exactly the same response to any video involving material of a sexual nature.

AC's picture

One final bit of info...the

One final bit of info...the folks at the Square Room were also very helpful in the efforts to move the show and make the transition as easy as possible...including loaning some tables/chairs and gear to the Catalyst for the evening.

That's it! More than enough said at this point.

bizgrrl's picture



michael kaplan's picture

I was able to attend only

I was able to attend only two events: AC's conversation with Philip Glass at the Woodruff Building (great space on the 5th floor!) and Antony and The Johnsons at the Bijou. Both were really excellent. The Q&A with Glass was filled with humor and insight, and Antony was, well, superlative - as might have been predicted by listening to him on vinyl.

I thought it was very positive that several free events were offered over the weekend, making it possible for people of limited means to participate.

StaceyDiamond's picture


Sometimes I think Knoxville is hopelessly repressive, but then there is stuff like the Preservation Pub being crowded on a Sunday night with the Band of Humans and the crowd singing songs about drugs, sex and other craziness, all in fun. That show was a good end to the Ears Festival, though not part of it.

Bbeanster's picture

I did some research on

I did some research on country music and Knoxville a while back for a story I did on the Midday Merry-Go-Round., and kept hearing the old-timers talk about how Knoxville blew the chance to be the country music capital of the world.

While it's true that there was a vast migration of talent (mostly from Union County, which is another story) led by Roy Acuff, Carl Smith and Chet Atkins that transplanted itself from here to there, Nashville was there first with the most -- bigger, more powerful, richer and knee-deep in performers.

The Grand Ole Opry started in 1925 and had a big head start over the Merry-Go-Round, which began in 1936.

Nashville had WSM, Knoxville WNOX. WNOX could be heard in a lot of remote locations when conditions were right, but WSM was a clear channel station that could be picked up all over the country.

And, probably most important, Nashville had the Life&Casualty Insurance Company to foot the bills.

Knoxville didn't "blow" it, except for not having the foresight and the resources to leave the MGR downtown in a time when everybody was abandoning the core city.

**Correction : That's National Life and Accident that founded WSM. L&C founded competitor station WLAC.
Duh. Anyhow, insurance money funded a thriving radio scene in Nashville that Knoxville couldn't match.

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

Music City

In my absence, Betty hits a lot of the high points of the talks I frequently have given on the same topic.

The clear channel status of WSM (We Shield Millions) is the primary catalyst for Nashville becoming the home of the country music industry. As Betty (and Jack Neely and others including myself) pointed out, the Grand Ole Opry predates the Midday Merry-Go-Round by a decade.

While Knoxville was home to the first radio station in Tennessee (WNOX), it was late in the game in developing a long-lasting and popular radio program showcasing the region's talent. The clear channel status helped WSM/Nashville here also. The Merry-Go-Round was broadcast on weekdays during the lunch hour when the size of the listening audience was pretty strong (most folks could only listen on their lunch break from the factory work or work in the fields) but nothing compared to what WSM could generate by broadcasting on a Saturday night to most of the Eastern U.S. and a good chunk of the rest of the nation.

Knoxville was never in the race (though no one knew a race even existed) to become "Music City, USA." If anyone even realized that country music was to become such an industry as it is today, it's a safe bet the top contenders for becoming country music's business headquarters would have been Atlanta (WSB-AM), Nashville (WSM-AM), Cincinnati (WLW-AM) and even Chicago (WLS-AM). These cities were home to clear channel stations and popular live country music shows that generated a critical mass of aspiring artists to come to the city to seek national fame. Because of this critical mass, these cities also began to develop as early hubs of professional recording of country music. In the early days of country/hillbilly music, the music had to be recorded in New York City, then Chicago, and eventually Atlanta.

In the end, through shrewd business deals, restrictive artist contracts, and its willingness to embrace new technology such as television, the Opry survived them all and continues to broadcast on Saturday nights 84 years later. (Knoxville's own Roy Acuff plays a significant role in the Opry's rise to dominance, but that's a book in itself.) Soon, Atlanta was surrendering its crown as the recording center of the south to Nashville.

The Merry-Go-Round actually owes a good deal of its success to Nashville. The Opry's managers and promoters would often make use of the WNOX program to test market new talent and to take advantage of the program's 5-shows-per-week schedule. In my opportunity to interview some of the country recording pioneers from that era, this was often mentioned.

Most notably, Charlie Louvin (of the Louvin Brothers) mentioned specifically that he and his brother Ira failed in their first audition for the Grand Ole Opry. However, the show's management thought the brothers had potential and offered this advice: "Go to Knoxville. Get on the Merry-Go-Round if you can. Folks out there know good music. If you can get a following out there, we'll know you can do it here."

As Charlie told me, "We found out the fastest way to get to Nashville was go to Knoxville."

In this case, WSM was encouraging the use of WNOX as a test market and also a place for developing acts to get used to the idea of performing regularly on the radio and building a brand name following. In baseball language that Roy Acuff would appreciate, WSM was the major league club and WNOX was a very good AAA team providing the club with reliable talent to secure a NY Yankees-style musical dynasty. The two cities' musical scenes very much needed each other.

Further, Opry and other Nashville-oriented musicians found that WNOX (and competitor WROL) offered a great sales opportunity. Thanks to those restrictive artist contracts I mentioned earlier, Opry performers HAD to be in Nashville on Saturday night. But then, as now, artists made most of their money from live shows not record sales. WNOX and WROL proved to be ideal for artists to have a live radio audience during the weekday. Their popularity on the midday shows allowed them to book and promote weeknight shows throughout the region at various school houses, fairgrounds, churches, community centers, etc., and still be able to get back to Knoxville for another midday show and be close enough to Nashville to get to the Opry on Saturday night.

The geographic proximity to Nashville is actually what helps Knoxville's country music scene not only survive but thrive in an era when television is quickly killing off live music radio programs elsewhere. Because of Nashville, Knoxville becomes the home base of operations for artists such as the Carter Sisters, Flatt and Scruggs, the Osborne Brothers ("Rocky Top"), and others. It is telling, after all, that the Midday Merry-Go-Round finally goes off the air in the 1960s, when most of its cohorts had ceased to broadcast a decade earlier. I contend that the support of live music on Knoxville radio at that late date is because of Nashville's role as "Music City" not (as others would think) in spite of it.

I think most folks today equate the "silk stocking crowd's" disdain for Cas Walker personally and/or politically as also a statement on their belief of the small (but not insignificant) country music industry in Knoxville. Yes, there were certainly some amongst the "Silk Stockings" and "Silk stockings wannabes" that turned up their nose at the radio programs in Knoxville. There's also a pretty good recorded history of this in the letters archives of WSM, WSB, WLS, and other stations. It was not unique to WNOX, WROL, (and later) WIVK. There are always folks who think the music is an obstacle to their vision of progress.

WSM famously almost gave in to demands of such people early on (and I would suggest that Nashville's "Silk Stocking Crowd" packs considerably more influence than Knoxville's). The station wanted to appeal to as large an audience as possible. In the end, more listeners were tuning in to the Opry than to the grand opera that preceded the show (and gave the Opry its name).

It's hard to say if Knoxville's business leaders were much opposed to the programs of WNOX, WROL, et al., as very little was written in the newspapers of the day about the shows one way or another. It is, in fact, likely that there have been more column inches devoted in the local newspapers (daily and otherwise) about WDVX's Blue Plate Special than were ever likely written about the Midday Merry-Go-Round, the Farm and Home Hour, the Tennessee Barn Dance and all the other local shows of the era combined when they were on the air. At worst, the city's business folks were likely apathetic about it all. One thing is for certain, if the area's businessmen weren't supplying WNOX with advertising dollars, the show would not have been on the air as long as it was (if at all), so they at least recognized the show's importance for generating customers.

The purpose of all this long-windedness is to say that Nashville did not steal country music from Knoxville. Instead, the two helped build each other during their important formative years.

Knoxville was never fated to become the industry hub that Nashville became. That is not to say that Knoxville does not have potential in today's new economy to stake a claim to its share of the business. There are plenty of opportunities to build a new vision of "Music City, USA" for the 21st century. If Knoxvillians quit worrying about what Nashville has and focused instead on the strengths of what they already possess (hint: WDVX, Jubilee Community Arts, Bijou, Tennessee Theatre, a vibrant music scene, a strong pool of people with experience in traditional and new media, successful festival promoters with a proven track record, and audiences who--75 years later-- still "know good music," to name a few things) then the potential for Knoxville as a hub for a new generation of country/bluegrass/Americana/alt-country/roots music is well within the city's grasp.

Now, about that old wives tale about Chattanooga "stealing" the aquarium...

R. Neal's picture

And next up, how Knoxville

And next up, how Knoxville lost the Delta hub to Atlanta, and an international transportation giant was born...

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

And next up, how Knoxville

And next up, how Knoxville lost the Delta hub to Atlanta, and an international transportation giant was born...


Somewhere, someone is probably talking into his beer about that. Fortunately, I've never heard it. (I have heard the aquarium meme way too much, though.)

Maybe Fred Smith stole the idea for FedEx from a UT student. We should get an investigative team on that one...

R. Neal's picture

No kidding. I heard this a

No kidding. I heard this a long time ago. As I recall, Cas Walker was involved, obviously.

AC's picture

Thanks for sharing this,

Thanks for sharing this, Betty. I've often wondered about this perception as there was always something about it that didn't quite ring true to me...but I've never really looked into it. This makes more sense.

mte's picture

more coverage from the

more coverage from the baltimore city paper (edited by former MP music editor lee gardner) here:


and pitchfork review here:


Bbeanster's picture

Somebody stole Cas's

Somebody stole Cas's emails.

Cas and email in the same sentence just makes me grin.

StaceyDiamond's picture


I've never been anywhere else that has daily concerts at noon, so with the Blue Plate and the Sunsphere we have something.

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