Get away from that screen!

Betsy PickleOur Town Arts

According to the Hallmark calendar, sappy-movie season is already in full swing. Fortunately, there are numerous area events offering live performances free of schmaltz.

Sturgill Simpson

His show isn’t till next year, but country star Sturgill Simpson is putting tickets for his “A Good Look’n Tour” on sale tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 8. Simpson’s tour starts Feb. 21, and his third stop will be Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Simpson’s opener will be Tyler Childers. Tickets will be available through

‘I Hate Shakespeare’

No, you don’t. Yes, I do. Do you really? Find out when the Gibbs High School Drama Department presents “I Hate Shakespeare” this weekend.

Shows are at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, at the school auditorium, 7628 Tazewell Pike, Corryton.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 students, and ticket sales benefit the school’s drama department.

The Cajuns are coming!

And it’s not even Mardi Gras! The four-time Grammy-nominated Pine Leaf Boys and Roux du Bayou will share the sounds of Cajun music at Legacy Housing Foundation’s upcoming fundraiser, Knoxville Fais Do-Do. The dance-party will be held Friday, Nov. 22, at The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Ave.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the party starts at 7:30 p.m.

Legacy Housing Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves subsidized housing communities throughout East Tennessee by providing programs and goods for individuals and families with limited income. All proceeds from Fais Do-Do will go toward the foundation.

The Lone Mountain Drifters

Lone Mountain Drifters + 2

Years ago, adrift on Lone Mountain, fiddler Darrell Acuff and banjo player Morgan Simmons had nothing better to do than to form an old-time musical duo they called the Lone Mountain Drifters.

That’s not entirely true, except for the name. Acuff and Simmons have spent decades not only performing as a duo but also attaching their talents to such acts as the Mumbillies, the Hellgrammites, the New Dixie Entertainers and more. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, they’ll be joined by guitarist Don Wood and vocalist Bonnie Simmons at the Laurel Theater, 1538 Laurel Ave. Good music will ensue – that’s definitely true. You should go. (Full disclosure: I’m friends with most of these folks!)

From the mountain to the valley

Emmy-nominated Inversion Vocal Ensemble will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Oak Valley Baptist Church, 194 Hampton Road, Oak Ridge. The special holiday concert is free and open to the public. Seating will be first-come, first-served.

Inversion Vocal Ensemble will perform in Oak Ridge.

“We feel blessed here in Oak Ridge and are delighted to offer this musical celebration to the community free of charge,” states Pastor Derrick Hammond of Oak Valley Baptist. “This is just one way for folks to settle down and relax during this hectic holiday season. We hope everyone will bring friends to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon.”

Under the direction of David Ragland Jr., Inversion was born from a desire to showcase an array of talented friends. They bring an eclectic vibe to a variety of musical genres. The Vocal Ensemble is comprised of classically trained students and alumni of Tennessee State University, Oakwood University, Vanderbilt University, Morehouse College, University of Tennessee and Union University.

In April 2016, Inversion Vocal Ensemble was requested by the National Civil Rights Museum to sing at their inaugural memorial service for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Inversion was requested specifically to sing their rendition of “Precious Lord,” King’s favorite hymn. The event was attended by the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County, thousands of spectators and King’s comrade, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.  In January 2019, Inversion was the featured performer for Nashville Symphony’s annual “Let Freedom Sing” Martin Luther King celebration concert.

Two weeks at the Bijou

The UT Opera Theatre presents Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love” this weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. … From the Bijou’s Imagination Series comes “The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12. … “WDVX Birthday at the Bijou” celebrates the beloved homegrown station’s 22 years with an array of fine musical acts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13. … Comedian Lewis Black brings his “Joke’s On Us” tour to town at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. … “The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow” with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith arrives at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18. … The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s 20th anniversary celebration is 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19 … “Coming Home: An Evening of Music Benefitting Bridge Refugee Services” will bring Knoxville and Nashville musicians together for the nonprofit at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21.

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