Stay entertained but informed

Betsy PickleOur Town Arts

There’s no denying, COVID-19 is going to change life as we know it for a while.

Declared a pandemic on Wednesday by the World Health Organization, the potentially deadly virus has led to cancellations of large-scale events and quarantines in multiple countries.

The Big Ears festival scheduled for Knoxville March 26-29 was canceled on Wednesday afternoon. Last night, the NBA suspended its season.

The University of Tennessee is among many colleges and universities suspending in-person classes. Cracker Barrel has removed its peg and checkers games from its tables.

Yes, it’s that serious.

As of Wednesday night, nine persons in Tennessee had tested positive for the virus, the nearest in Sullivan County in upper East Tennessee. So far, Knox County has seen no cases, but health officials expect that to change. In the meantime, there’s been no notice of any cancellations of events this weekend at the Bijou or Tennessee theaters.

The Bijou is set to have Trey Kennedy tonight, Marc Broussard with Jamie McLean on Friday, the Banff Mountain Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday, and Four Leaf Peat on Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day.

The Tennessee has an equally full schedule, with Tommy Emmanuel tonight, Amy Grant on Friday, America on Saturday, and the KSO Moxley Carmichael Masterworks series next Thursday and Friday.

Cancellations are popping up rapidly, so keep an eye on the venue websites to see if an event you’re planning to attend will go on as scheduled.

Don’t rain on our parade

Leanne Morgan

It was announced Monday that Belfast was canceling its St. Patrick’s Day parade, and late Wednesday night New York newspapers were saying the Big Apple’s parade had been postponed. But so far, the Knox St. Patrick’s Day Parade – with grand marshal Leanne Morgan – is still stepping off at 12:55 p.m. Saturday at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, traveling west on Church Avenue and then turning north on Gay Street to Summit Hill. It will go through the Old City and wrap up at the Regas Building.

A Cel-O’Bragh-tion Block Party in the “Festival District” (Clinch Avenue/Market Street) will immediately follow the parade, with all kinds of food vendors and live music by Appalachian Celtic rock band Tuatha Dea and the Top 40-style Ville Band.

Look sharp: The Knox Shamrock Fest, a fundraiser for the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation, will be on Market Square 3-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. The Lucky Kidney Run starts and ends on Market Square beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The scruffy side of Celtic

If you’re in the mood for more Celtic/Irish-influenced music, head to Scruffy City Hall. Red Haired Mary is playing there at 9 tonight, and local legends Cutthroat Shamrock will rock out at 10 p.m. Saturday.

Women jazz it up

Nancy Westmoreland

The fifth annual Women in Jazz Jam Festival is this weekend in downtown and West Knoxville.

The Women in Jazz Jam Festival Band will perform at 6 p.m. Friday at the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Alive After Five event.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Kelle Jolly, Will Boyd and WJJF Friends will spend an hour performing on WDVX’s “Kidstuff” show at the Knoxville Visitor Center. The festival’s headliner, jazz cellist, composer and bandleader Akua Dixon, will perform on the WDVX Blue Plate Special at noon at the center.

New this year will be a free poetry open-mic event from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Hosted by Rhea Sunshine & The 5th Woman, it will be at the Maple Hall Lounge, 414 S. Gay St.

The festival’s culmination will be a concert from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Jewelry Television auditorium, 9600 Parkside Drive. In addition to Dixon, performers will include pianist Nancy Westmoreland and Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego.

Bluegrass at Ijams

Ijams Nature Center is hosting a Bluegrass Jamboree from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday in its visitor center. Acts will include the Hatfields Heathens, New Johns Creek Grass and Tim & Jodi Harbin. Tickets are $5 at the door. The beer garden will be open, and a food truck will be on site.


You’ll definitely want to stay abreast of cancellations in the coming weeks, but even if you’re stuck at home, you won’t have to deprive yourself of art and entertainment. Make sure your library card is up to date, and check out a good book (or several), or take advantage of the library’s movie collection. Or you might use the opportunity to binge-watch something on your favorite streaming service. Maybe a self-quarantine won’t be so bad after all.

Betsy Pickle is a veteran entertainment, features and news reporter.

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