We know that Knoxville loves First Friday, but before it descends, let’s take a moment to celebrate Thursday.
The underappreciated day before the start of the weekend holds something special this week: The legendary Boz Scaggs is performing tonight at the Tennessee Theatre on his “Out of the Blues” tour.
Scaggs paid his dues for years before finally breaking through in 1976 with “Silk Degrees.” It was one of those albums everybody loved, whether you never listened to anything but the radio or dug deep on every 10-inch record to find the hidden gems. “Silk Degrees” had both hits and secret treasures, and its songs remain some of the best of ’70s pop R&B.
Not the most prolific recording artist around, Scaggs always creates excitement when he releases new music or goes on tour. Tonight is your chance. Don’t miss it.
‘Make tonight a wonderful thing’
Speaking of acts that dominated the 1970s, the much-admired Steely Dan tribute band The Fine Colombians is playing at 8 p.m. Friday at the Open Chord, 8502 Kingston Pike. The ensemble of veteran local musicians made its debut in December 2017 and has developed a rabid fan base. Turns out locals love both Steely Dan tunes and great musicianship.
Tribute to Toni
Downtown Knoxville gets the most attention on First Fridays, but always keep your eyes and ears open for outlying events. Central Cinema will screen “The Pieces I Am,” a documentary about Toni Morrison, twice on Friday, with more screenings through next week. The acclaimed author of “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon” died last month at age 88.
Just to demonstrate the depth of variety of Central Cinema, the theater is also opening “Satanic Panic” (2019) – about a newbie pizza delivery driver whose last stop on her first day is to a bunch of Satanists – on Friday and playing the 1995 version of “A Little Princess” on Saturday and Sunday.
Big man on campus
First Friday is good about emphasizing local talent, but this month there’s a bonus. Homegrown comedian Henry Cho is performing at 8 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre. A veteran of the big screen and the small screen, Cho is both hilarious and a great guy. Go downtown early to check out the art, and then have some laughs with Cho.
Head here, there, everywhere
There’s art everywhere you turn on First Friday, so how do you decide what to see? Well, the easy place to start is the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay St. From 5-9 p.m., you can check out the fall juried show by the Tennessee Artists Association; the “Art of Science” representing works by scientists from the University of Tennessee, the University of Washington and Australia National University; “Twisted Woodturning” by Brian Horais; paintings from “An Abstract Narrative” by Victoria Phillips; and drawings and paintings by Anthony Donaldson. Music will be provided by pianist Curtis Tipton, and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Galleries, restaurants, bars – you’ll find something creative everywhere throughout downtown and the Old City. The big buzz is around the Art Slam hosted by Dogwood Arts in Strong Alley. You can watch as 17 of Knoxville’s most talented artists create works of art under a three-hour deadline, starting at 5:30 p.m. The art will be auctioned off to benefit the Art in Public Places Mural Program. Strong Alley is between Gay Street and Market Square; enter from Wall Avenue or Union Avenue.
Makes Cents Jewelry will be at the Knoxville Visitors Center from 4 to 6, with proceeds from sales going to mental-health awareness (there will also be live music). Knoxville author Jack Neely will spill “The Mysteries of Union Avenue” at Union Ave Books, starting at 6.
There are already two things to love at Coffee & Chocolate, and this month you can fall in love with another when you check out paintings by Heather Finney from her series “Acceptance.” The Gratitude Bar at Body Mind Realign, 111 N. Central St., will host the Knoxville debut of artist Beth Free, who works with such varied techniques as palette knife, acrylic pouring, mixed media and mosaic.
Find details on these and much more here.