Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Too Busy To Keep Up

Hello Friend, I'm too busy these days to keep up the Knoxville Trivia Blog. If you would like to take it over, send me a message or leave a comment. - Bro. Byron


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trevor Bayne Goes Volcanic!

A quick check of Google Trends reveals that our Knoxville NASCAR hero, Trevor Bayne, reached "Volcanic" hotness levels Sunday at 2:00 PM PST, (which would be 5:00 PM our time).


Monday, February 21, 2011

Climb Aboard the Bayne Train!

By now you have probably heard the news that Knoxville has its own NASCAR superstar. Twenty year old, Trevor Bayne, won the Daytona 500 yesterday and broke Jeff Gordon's record as being the youngest driver to win the coveted race.

Knoxville is hometown proud of young Trevor. Facebook, Twitter, and the local news has been buzzing ever since he crossed the finish line yesterday (WATE, WBIR, WVLT). Gibbs High alumni, like myself, can also boast of having yet another celebrity from our school.

I loved his post race interview where he gave glory to God. A real cool piece on CNN's Faith section details how Trevor mentioned Back2Back ministries, which is one of the missions that he is involved with.
"Hopefully this money will help us get some more races, and there are a lot of foundations and ministries that need support. Back2Back ministries in Mexico is one, and there are a lot of good organizations that need some help, and we will help them out as much as we can."
One of Trevor's good friends is also one of my friends and former classmate from Gibbs, Greg Schmid. Greg is a youth minister and also works for the YMCA. Channel 8 News interviewed Greg after the race and gave him his 15-seconds of fame! I thought that was pretty cool, even though they mislabled another guy as Greg in the first part of the video (which I haven't been able to find anywhere).

WATE wrote a real nice piece on Trevor also that details his faith.
"Trevor lives his faith, and it's very important to him," said Fairview Baptist Church Associate Pastor Wayne Davis."
You can watch his victory lap and post race interview below:


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Knoxville Based Company Builds Tennessee's Largest Solar Array

Nice mention of Knoxville based company, Efficient Energy of Tennessee (EETN), in this article from Renewable Energy World.com.

JACKSON, TN, Tennessee's largest solar energy power project is being unveiled today in Jackson, TN. The project, located at the American Drive Business Center, consists of 4,914 Sharp solar modules manufactured at Sharp's Memphis, Tennessee IBEW union-supported manufacturing facility. The Business Center solar farm will be participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Generation Partners Program, which provides technical support and incentives for the installation of renewable power generation systems. The 1 megawatt (MW) system was designed and built by Knoxville based Efficient Energy of Tennessee (EETN).
Read the rest of the above article HERE.

About EETN:Efficient Energy of Tennessee (EETN), located in Powell, was created to provide affordable, quality, sustainable solutions to rising energy demands in Tennessee and the surrounding areas. EETN currently specializes in solar PV design and installation as well as power factor correction technology for both residential and commercial customers. Read more here.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knoxville ranks in top 5 of Editor's Location Picks

The Editors of Business Facilities Magazine has selected Knoxville, TN as one of the top 5 location cities.
A galaxy of emerging stars made this year’s selections a tough choice for our panel of editors. Here are the standouts that caught our eye with sparkling innovation and steadfast growth.


The magazine lists several factors for why they chose Knoxville; good location for shipping, economic recovery efforts, new advances in technologies, and new product development to name a few. To read more about this visit the Business Facilities Website.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The ultimate sign of conceitedness?

Gretchen Wilson's 18-wheeler traveling West bound on I-40 in Knoxville, TN.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pickin' for a cause - Knoxville's finest step up to help out

I originally posted this on the Knoxville Gospel blog but thought I would include it here as well since so many famous Knoxville Bluegrass artists were involved.
The setting for the concert was a benefit singing that was put together by Randy Smiddy, for his brother-in-law, Jamey Hill, who had a kidney transplant last year. Jamey's hospital bills added up in the thousands of dollars. This was a very worthy cause and several great Bluegrass bands stepped up to the plate to play at this benefit. I was invited by my good buddy, Jerry Butler, lead singer and founder of the Blu-J's, which was one of the headliners of the night. Besides Jerry Butler and the Blu'J's, there were three other groups, Rocky Flatts, Don Rigsby and Midnight Call, and Paul Williams and the Victory Trio were also on the playbill.

On the evening of the concert I called my parent's house to see if my dad would go with me. He had church obligations and couldn't go but my mother said she would love to go in his place. So, we drove down to Anderson County High School in Clinton, TN where the concert was being held. We were a little bit late but I was surprised at the amount of people that were attending. I'm not a good guesser at crowd numbers but I would say there was at least 500 people there. The concert was held in the gymnasium and the center section had metal folding chairs setup. There didn't appear to be a single seat available so my mother and I sat on the bleachers off to the side of the stage. As we were sitting there we notice that over on the far left of the stage on the front row, there were about 5 empty chairs. We kept eyeballing those seats while Rocky Flatts was on stage and we wondered if the chairs were reserved for them. After they finished playing my mother went over to the folks sitting beside the empty seats and inquired about them. "Nope, they ain't reserved," they said. We quickly sprinted across the gym and had the perfect front row seats right in front of the loudspeaker.

Since we had gotten there late, we missed most of Rocky Flatts set, however, I had hosted them at my church last year and was really familiar with their sound. From the few songs that I did hear, they did a fantastic job. They are pretty much no-nonsense on the stage, just straight picking, singing, and testifying. They are a talented group of guys. I wish I had gotten more pictures of them but like I said, I didn't have the most choice seat at that time.

Next up was Jerry Butler and the Blu'J's. Of course I have had the pleasure of hearing Jerry Butler on many occasions but this was the first time I had heard him with his new band, the Blu-J's. They were outstanding! Their mandolin player, Bobby Clark, was not able to be there due to the death of his mother, but, Don Rigsby gracefully filled that position and did a fantastic job. I had heard John Wade's bass playing skills when he was with the Carolina Road band and I knew he was top-notch. I was most impressed with their Resonator Guitarist, Tim Goins. Not only was his picking skills superb, he has nice rich vocals and he is an excellent song writer. Banjo player, Daniel Oxendine, plumb wore out the 5-string banjo and I really enjoyed his big smile and obvious enjoyment of playing with the band. What else can I say about Jerry Butler that I haven't said before? He is one of the finest lead vocalists and guitar pickers in the business. The rich quality of his voice sets apart any band that he is involved with and his stage presence and camaraderie with the audience is second to none. The band probably played every song off of their latest CD, Haulin' Grass, and a few others that I had never heard before. I can't wait to hear these guys in concert again.

Next to hit the stage was Don Rigsby and the Midnight Call. I had never heard Don Rigsby before. I wasn't sure what to expect. You know that old saying, "you can't judge a book by it's cover?" Well, let me tell you, just a casual glance at Don Rigsby you would never know how much talent he has hidden beneath his unassuming frame. From the first song he belted out, to the last, I sat in awe at his amazing tenor vocals. When I thought there was no way his voice could possibly go any higher, he would reach further up into the rafters. When he sang, Kentucky Waltz, I nearly cried it was so good. Then, by popular demand of the audience, he pulled off one of the best renditions of Rocky Top I have ever heard. I will definitely be looking for more opportunities to see Don Rigsby again.

Last but certainly not least, Paul Williams and the Victory Trio took to the stage. I have listened to Paul Williams' music for several years and knew that he was a superb singer and musician. I had never seen him perform in person and had no idea how spiritual he was. Being a minister of music myself, I was thrilled to see a group with such talent, dedicate their lives and music to the Lord. Sitting there in that gymnasium felt much like being in a really good church service. Shouts of Amen could be heard echoing off of the bleacher lined walls as Paul Williams would testify on stage. They sang for about an hour and every song was like listening to music from Heaven. Paul also had 2 special guests step up to the microphone, the first one was local Bluegrass/Gospel artist, Mavis Hughes, who had written a song that Paul Williams had recorded and he asked her to come up and sing it with them. Wow, talk about a voice! She reared back and let it rip, nearly bringing me to my feet with a shout. Then Paul asked the concert host, Randy Smiddy, to come to the stage. Randy sang 2-songs with them and he did a wonderful job. He has a very nice, rich baritone voice and was a delight to listen to. I know it was a thrill for him to sing on stage with Paul Williams & Victory Trio.

One of the deacons at my church has been trying to get me to book Paul Williams at our church for the past 3-years. I actually came close to achieving that about 2-years ago but the only date they had available was right before Christmas and we just had too much going on at the church to do that. After seeing and hearing them in person, I will go the extra mile to book them now. I'm thinking a Saturday evening concert might work out better than a Sunday booking. I'll keep you posted about that.

The entire evening was emceed by WDVX radio personality, Freddie Smith, and he did a great job keeping things running smoothly. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings of bluegrass/gospel music that I've experienced in a long time. From what I understand, there was around $5,000 dollars raised and there is talk of another benefit concert being held this summer. Keep checking back for more information. If you would like to send donations for Jamey Hill, you can send them to the following address:
Shultz Hollow Baptist Church
c/o Jamey Hill Kidney Fund
P.O. Box 1002
Clinton, TN 37717

See all pictures from this great night HERE.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Phil Leadbetter leaves Grasstowne

Knoxville's award winning resonator guitarist, Phil Leadbetter, announced today that he is leaving the super Bluegrass group, Grasstowne.

From the Grasstowne Forum: Today at 05:24 PM

"I want to announce that today, I am stepping down as a member and partner in the band Grasstowne. I started this band along with my friends Steve Gulley and Alan Bibey in December 2006. I have had a good run of 3 years and 2 successful CDs here, but I have decided to pursue a few others interests. Some of these are musical, and some are non-musical. It just seems like the right time, and I didn’t want to leave the guys hanging during the upcoming festival season. This will allow plenty of time for a replacement to be found. I have really enjoyed working with Alan, Steve and Jason as well as Lee Sawyer, Jamey Booher, Travis Greer and Dale Perry who have also been members of the band. Thanks to everyone who has supported me and been a friend.

Many of Uncle Phil's fans were concerned and voiced their opinions in comments on his Facebook page. Phil was quick to assure everyone that he is not going to quit picking: "Thanks for all the nice comments, and I appreciate all you guys support. I totally stopped playing from 1985-1988. Never played a note for 3 years....I can tell you one thing, that won't happen again. I was miserable not picking. I will keep you guys updated, but picking is certainly part of my plan. I have a couple of other things I'm gonna dabble in as well, but I'm not quitting. I'm hopefully just unlocking another door.Thanks for all the support. More news to come..."

As a long-time fan of Phil's, I know we will be hearing more from him in the future.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Haulin' Some Knoxville Flavored Grass

Lots of stuff has been going on around K-town since my last post. I would blog about it but my heart just isn't in it. Don't get me wrong, I still love Knoxville and trivia but on the grand scale of things it just isn't that high on my list. One thing that is still high on my list of important things though is good music and good friends. That's why I was tickled today to get to spend my lunch hour with my good buddy, Jerry Butler. You probably recognize that name as one of Knoxville's finest Bluegrass musicians. Jerry has a history in Knoxville Bluegrass that can be considered legendary. If you have been living under a rock for the past 30 years and don't know who Jerry Butler is, visit THIS POST where I "picked" on him pretty heavily.

Jerry, along with his fellow ex-Carolina Road band member, John Wade, recently started a band they promptly named, the BLU-J's. Earlier this year they went into Tom T. Hall and Miss Dixie's studio and recorded a fine mix of Truckin' songs with a Bluegrass twist which debuted on Blue Circle Records this past September. I was fortunate enough to hear a rough cut of it before it was finalized so I knew it was going to be awesome. Well, today I received my copy of the finished product, "Haulin' Grass." I've got one word for it, "WOW!"

If you are a fan of Country/Bluegrass/Trucker Songs, etc., you will absolutely love this CD. It takes me back to the days of the CB radio craze and truck driving songs. Add that to my deep love for the Bluegrass music sound and this is a real winner for me. At times it brings recollections of another Tennessee musician, Jimmy Martin (also surmised by Charlie Hall in the Cd's liner notes.)

I'll have to say that it's hard for me to pick just one tune to call my very favorite but the ones that seem to connect the most with me are, The Road I'm On, Back Home Again, and Daddy's Girl. You can order your own copy of "Haulin' Grass" or listen to samples, by visiting Jerry's website, Jerry Butler Online.

I would go into a full review of this CD but there has already been some really great ones written. See the links below:

Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books and Brainstorms - probably the best writeup of all. Very in-depth and lots of great photos.

BluegrassJournal.com - another good album review with info about the start of the BLU-J's.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Protests in West Knoxville

Anybody know what this is all about? These folks have been out here for the past few days in front of Fort Sanders West hospital. Same thing is happening down the road in front of the West Knoxville YMCA. I would've asked them but crossing the street right there at Kingston Pike and Center Park would be suicide! So, instead of being dead, I just snapped a couple of pics with my Blackberry from across the road.

I find it odd that I've not been able to find any kind of media coverage concerning the "shame on..." protests. The one at the YMCA has been going on for weeks. A co-worker just informed me that a similar one is being held at a Covenant health facility off Pellissippi Pky and Dutchtown Rd., and someone else mentioned another one at UT hospital. Is this one big media cover up or some type of conspiracy?

UPDATE 9.29.2009: http://www.covenanthealth.com/news/?sid=1&nid=45 (hat tip to commenter Jason!)


Saturday, August 15, 2009

But can Kiffin's cockiness produce wins?

"Lane Kiffin isn't concerned that his highly publicized verbal jabs and headline-seeking antics will make things tougher for Tennessee this season." Interesting article at The Spread (best viewed with Firefox browser)


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some Knoxville Kids Get Connected In A Big Way!

Knoxville, TN – Yesterday, Connected Tennessee presented 152 foster children throughout East Tennessee with brand new Dell laptop computers through the Computers 4 Kids program. Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids (C4K) initiative places computers into the hands of underprivileged children and their families across Tennessee. C4K is an innovative project designed to positively impact the future of disadvantaged children in Tennessee by distributing computers to children and families facing economic challenges, in the foster care system or that struggle with behavioral disorders and other issues.

Yesterday’s event was held at the Florence Crittenton Agency in Knoxville. State Senator Tim Burchett was on hand to show his support for the Computers 4 Kids program. Read more here.

About Connected Tennessee's Computers 4 Kids Program:

Computers 4 Kids (C4K) is an innovative initiative designed to positively impact the future of children in need in Tennessee by awarding computers to kids and families facing economic challenges, in the foster care system or struggling with behavioral disorders and other issues. Connected Tennessee is coordinating the Computers 4 Kids project with the State of Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Human Services. Working with our private partners, C4K will also be enriching the educational landscape of Tennessee’s communities by placing computer labs in non-profit organizations that work to enhance the lives of students and families in their area. With the computer labs, these non-profit groups will be able to offer programs that teach, serve and impact youth in Tennessee. Find out more about Connected Tennessee


Sunday, June 7, 2009

This IS your Father's Vacation Bible School!

In the wacky world of Vacation Bible School themes, which include; Boomerang Express, Crocodile Dock, Outer Space, and of all things, a Hollywood game show theme, there is one church in Knoxville that is sticking to tradition.

Highland Baptist Church, 6014 Babelay Rd. in Knoxville, TN, believes that there is nothing wrong with doing things the "old-fashioned" way. According to Highland's VBS director, Byron Chesney; "I looked at all of the themes that were being offered and all of the churches in our area were pretty much doing the same thing and following the same themes. The message of Jesus was not clear in those themes, that is why we decided to create our own, based on the Biblical foundations. Our theme this year is "Christ Is All I Need." I don't think there is any mistaking what that theme is about."

When asked about how he felt about the loud rock type music and energy filled atmosphere of most of today's VBS themes, Chesney states; "According to the Bible I use (Authorized KJV) it says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to day, and for ever, who are we to say otherwise? Crafts, refreshments, music, classes, pledges, memory verses, and sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is what VBS should be about. Yes, this IS your Father's VBS."

Highland Baptist Church has been a beacon of hope and light in the Babelay Rd / Washington Pike area since 1942. Vacation Bible School has always been one of the largest Gospel outreach missions of the church. Long-time residents of the Babelay Rd. community can attest to that fact. "I can remember Highland's Vacation Bible School parade from when I was just a little girl," says Sandra Zachary who used to live on Babelay Rd. in the 1950's.

Every year the church comes together for a full community parade which includes numerous cars, trucks, motorcycles, dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, vans, and SUV's. This year's parade included 39-people complete with two police cruisers and 14 other assorted varieties of vehicles. "I've been looking forward to riding my 4-wheeler in the parade for a long time," says 14-year old, Jesse Perkey, who lives nearby. Church members distributed around 700 flyers inviting people to attend Vacation Bible School.

Highland's pastor, Rev. Dave Hutchison, says; "I love our Bible school theme. If people only realized that if they had Christ in their lives, all of the other stuff would just fall into place. Christ really is ALL we need."

Highland's VBS is being held Monday, June 8th through Friday, June 12th from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. Friday night will be family commencement night complete with a community-wide cookout immediately following. For more information about Highland or "Christ Is All I Need," visit the church website at: http://www.hbcknox.org/


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your chance to win a $50.00 gift card!!!

Economic times are tough. We all know that. And, Earth Fare, the healthy supermarket, seems to know that too. Have you been to their stores? If so, you would know that they are always trying to make healthy eating affordable, easy and delicious! Seriously - have you tried their homemade, all-natural chocolate chip cookies - if not, it is .99 cents of deliciousness! Well, in celebration of the opening of their new Knoxville store on June 17th, Earth Fare gave me a $50.00 gift card to give away! Yeah, very cool. They just said, hey Byron - give this away for us.

So, now, we want you to tell us why you deserve or just plain want this gift card. We've all got stories. You may have a family of four to feed on a tight budget. You may have lost your job recently and just need some extra help. You may be a cookie lover or organic food nut! Or, perhaps for whatever reason, you've never tried a healthy food store and just want to see what it's like! Give us your best reason, and we'll consider it for the prize.

The best story gets the card. So, ready, set, and get writing. Post your reason in the comments below today! You only have until Friday, June 12 to get your entry in. And, we're waiting..


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Billy Meyer, sometimes nice guys finish first, despite being last

The name, Bill Meyer, was once very popular in Knoxville. We used to have a baseball stadium named after him, Bill Meyer Stadium. Of course that was back before Knoxville leaders (mainly this guy) made the boneheaded decision of letting our baseball team leave the city. We could be enjoying great family times at the ballpark in K-town but noooooo.... Instead they thought it best to build a white elephant. Go figure. I'm not the only one with a sore spot over this either.

I attended a few baseball games at Bill Meyer Stadium. It was an exciting place to be even though it was in a really poor section of town. You always wondered if your tires would be slashed or windshield broken out when you got back to your car, but it was fun. I never really thought about who Bill Meyer was. I guess I didn't really care. Of course as I grew older and became a pretty big baseball fan, I discovered more about the man.

I haven't gave much thought to Bill Meyer over the past few years until tonight while I was doing some research on a few famous Tennesseans. I noticed that Bill Meyer's birthday is coming up next week (Jan. 14th.) I started poking around and reading various articles on Meyer and found it to be quite interesting. For instance, why was his number retired even though he had one of the worst careers in baseball? Why didn't Bing Crosby fire him when he had the chance? Was he really so nice that Knoxville felt they had to name a stadium after him? I don't know the answer to those questions but I've highlighted a few things below that you may not know about

Billy Meyer:

From MLB.com: Billy Meyer - Born Jan. 14, 1892 in Knoxville, Tenn., died March 31, 1957 in Knoxville. Threw and batted right handed. A catcher with the White Sox and Athletics (1913, 1916-17), Meyer won eight pennants as a manager of Minor League clubs from 1926 through 1947 before becoming the Pirates manager in 1948. Known for his rapport with players, fans and the press, Meyer managed in Pittsburgh for five seasons, compiling a record of 317-452. He was Manager of the Year in 1948 when the Bucs compiled a record of 83-71. Following his five-year tenure as Pirates manager, Meyer was a Pittsburgh scout for three years. Number retired in 1954. -Source: Pittsburgh.Pirates.MLB.com

From Wikipedia: William Adam Meyer (January 14, 1892 – March 31, 1957) was an American baseball player and manager. He holds the dubious distinction as having played for, and managed, two of the worst teams in the history of Major League Baseball.
A catcher who spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues, Meyer broke into the majors with the 1913 Chicago White Sox, but played only one game. Three years later, in 1916, he returned to the American League with the Philadelphia Athletics; he appeared in 50 games for a squad that won only 36 games and lost 117. (The following year, he played in 62 games for an A's club that "improved" to a 55-98 mark.) Then, a generation-and-a-half later, Meyer piloted the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates to the worst record in their history, the Bucs winning only 42 of 154 games.

Despite a managing record of 317-452 (.412) over five seasons, all with Pittsburgh, and a career batting average of only .236 (with one home run and 21 runs batted in), Meyer was given two significant honors, a measure of how widely respected he was. For years the baseball park in his native city of Knoxville, Tennessee, was named Bill Meyer Stadium. And the Pirates retired Meyer's uniform number (1), despite that horrible 1952 campaign.

Meyer was frequently troubled by ill health during the last decade of his managerial career. Once in retirement, he suffered a stroke in 1955 and died two years later, in Knoxville, of a heart attack at age 65. - Source: Wikipedia.com

From Uni Watchblog.com: 2/07/2008: Fascinating bit of info came up on the SABR listserv yesterday. Baseball Hall of Fame curator and Uni Watch pal Tom Shieber had asked a question about the exact dates when certain numbers had been retired, including the Pirates’ retirement of No. 1 for former manager Billy Meyer (who, as you can see, is listed here ). That led to the following response from one of the list’s powerhouse researchers, Fr. John Hissrich:I [too] have tried to track down information on Billy Meyer’s #1 with Pittsburgh — not only when it was retired, but WHY? Meyer had a just a few years as the Pirates manager and had a losing record, meaning that every Pirates manager for the last fifteen years is up for that honor [of number retirement]. - Source: Uni Watchblog.com
From City of Knoxville.org: City Presents Plaques at Ridley/Helton Field - January 28, 2008 - Mayor Haslam honored three of the most important figures in Knoxville's baseball history in a special ceremony at Ridley/Helton Field on Monday, January 28.Plaques commemorating the contributions made to baseball in Knoxville by Neal Ridley, Todd Helton and Bill Meyer, were presented in the special ceremony.
Bill Meyer - a Knoxville native who played for the A's (In Kansas City) and the White Sox and then managed the Pittsburgh Pirates. The baseball home of what was then the Knoxville Smokies was named after him in 1955. Some of the greatest players in the game played on this field, which was the home of the Knoxville Smokies, the Knoxville Sox, or the K-Sox, the Knoxville Jays and finally, fittingly and forever, the Knoxville Smokies again. - Source: City of Knoxville.org


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hey Knoxville, Got Nuts?

Growing up here in East, TN, we always had an abundance of Walnuts. I never much cared for the things as a kid but my dad always made us gather them up so he could lay them out in the sun to dry. He would eat them over the winter. I always remember a 5-gallon bucket of walnuts sitting in the basement beside dad's workbench. He would crack them open on a piece of metal and eat them on occasion.

Here it is 30-years later and I'm torturing my son with picking walnuts up out of the backyard so I can dry them out and eat them later on. I'm still not a great big fan of the taste of walnuts. I prefer almonds, cashews, or peanuts. But, hey, walnuts are free and boy do we have a bunch this year!

I didn't know until this morning, that the technical name for the American Black Walnut is Juglans Nigra. If I had known that as a kid I certainly would have steered clear of them! I also discovered that there is a "Walnut Council," seriously!

I started out by cranking up the old leaf blower and tried to blow most of the leaves out of the way. Then we raked as many as we could into piles on the ground. The whole time we were gathering nuts, the wind was blowing and more nuts were falling off of the tree all around us. My son thought it would be cool if one fell off of the tree and hit him in the head. So, when he wasn't looking, I tossed one at him. I missed his head and hit him the leg. At first he thought it had fallen out of the tree, but common sense prevailed and he knew I was guilty.

We had more walnuts this year than I've ever seen in my life. There was hundreds of them scattered all over the ground. We found a couple of nice ones. One was double jointed, which kept Matthew giggling, saying it looked like a behind. We called it "Shreks behind." Then we found another double with a single still adjoined. Exciting stuff, right? We ended up collecting 5-milk crates full of walnuts. We spread them out on a tarp underneath the playground. I guess they'll do ok under there. If not, who really cares? I had a lot of fun just hanging out with my son on a beautiful Saturday East, TN day.


Nice day for a little Knoxville plowing

It was a beautiful October day here in Knoxville. The sky was blue with big white fluffy clouds. There was a slight cool breeze cold enough to warrant a flannel shirt or light jacket. The fall colors are showing themselves this year but it's not quite peak time yet.

My mother called to let me know that there was some old fashioned plowing going on over by the railroad tracks on Murphy Rd. My wife and I quickly jumped in the Xterra and headed on over there with my Rebel in hand. Sure enough, as we approached Murphy Rd., just across from Weigel's and Washington Pike, I could see a faint cloud of dust rising up from behind a row of cedar trees. We turned right onto Murphy and slowly made our way toward the action. In a large field beside the railroad tracks was 3-different teams of draft horses, plowing, disking, and smoothing the ground.

It brought back memories of my papaw Chesney plowing our gardens every Fall and Spring with his mules and draft horse Clyde. I had Mary drop me off at the side of the road, and I got out and walked over to the field where they were plowing. I wanted to speak to one of the men who was talking to two other folks that had stopped by, but, before I got the chance, he climbed back onto his plow and took off. I was satisfied with just standing on the sidelines shooting pictures.

All of this was a display by the East Tennessee Draft Horse and Mule Association. They have done this for the past few years. They are trying to preserve the heritage of how our community and lives used to be back before we all became a bunch of lazy couch potatoes (those are my words, not theirs.) Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool. Here is an article that was posted in the Knoxville News Sentinel from last year's plowing. Below are a few of the pictures that I took today:


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A virus free tour of House Mountain

Yesterday before I came down with a stomach virus, I took a hike up the highest point in Knox County, House Mountain. It's probably been 10-years since the last time I hiked it. I used to climb that thing all the time when I was a young boy. Of course that was before it became a State Natural Area. I used to hunt squirrels on top of House Mountain, those days are over now.

Anyways, I was feeling really bad and coming down with the stomach virus when I was hiking. I didn't enjoy my hike at all. First of all there were hundreds of gnats flying around my face and ears the entire time, making it difficult to breath without sucking one up my nose or down my throat. I was swatting at those stupid things the entire hike. I was also feeling very weak and dizzy, causing me to have to stop a lot and rest. I'm sure being 50 lbs overweight doesn't help matters in that dept. There was a young guy with two dogs that was practically running up the trail. I stepped aside and let him zoom past me. I was so out of breath I couldn't even say hi to him. It was also a very hot day for hiking. Temperatures were in the 80's, and that's too warm for hiking. I love my Canon Rebel XTi and even though it only weighs about a pound and a half with the lens, that dadgum thing felt like it weighed 100 lbs slung around my neck the entire time. If it wasn't so expensive I would have left it on top of the mountain. The leaves have not changed much on the mountain yet either. I was expecting lots of fall colors but it was mostly green. As I pulled myself up onto the rock of the West overlook, I felt like Moses finally looking out over the promised land.

It took me 5-hours to do the whole hike. By the time I reached my truck I knew how Esau felt and would have easily traded my birthright for a drink of water. I was hoping for a much better trip than I had. I'm sure it was mainly because of the virus. I live just below the mountain on Bud Hawkins. I could hike it every day if I so desired. Right now I don't desire to at all...

Meanwhile, enjoy a virus free virtual tour of House Mountain below:


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Don't You Give this CD a Try?

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, when I was growing up here in good old East, TN, my family spent many hours sitting around the living room picking and singing gospel music. We would pull out the old maroon Church Hymnal and sing until our throats gave away. Those old songs always had a way of lifting you up when you were sad, or giving hope in times of trouble. I’m happy to say that the tradition lives on.

Being a Baptist music minister, a purveyor of music, and bluegrass aficionado, I can say with complete authority that the CD that I’m holding in my grubby hand, ‘Why Don’t You Give Jesus A Try,’ is the best Bluegrass/Gospel CD that I have listened to in years. I had the pleasure of listening to Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road perform most of the songs from this Blue Cirlce Record's project earlier this year. So, I already knew I was in for a treat before I even took possession of it. Jerry Butler finally had a free moment from his busy touring schedule and invited me to drop by and pick up my copy.

I couldn’t even make it home without tearing the shrink-wrap off and popping the CD into the disc player of my vehicle. Normally, my kids are sitting in the backseat with their I-pods stuffed in their ears, but tonight they were singing along with Carolina Road! Many of the songs they were already familiar with, as we frequently sing them during church services. Titles such as ‘Just A Little Talk With Jesus,’ ‘I Like the Old Time Way,’ and my youngest daughter’s favorite, ‘In the Sweet Forever,’ made this an instant hit. There are 12 cuts on this CD and not a stinker in the bunch. There are even two Lorraine Jordan penned songs, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Track 1 of the CD kicks off with Butler’s rich voice belting out the catchy, ‘I Like the Old Time Way,’ complimented with a nice 4-part harmony courtesy of the other Carolina Road members.

Track 2 is another catchy tune, which was penned by group founder, Lorraine Jordan, called ‘The Judgment Day.’ All 4 vocal parts are also showcased on this one.

Track 3, ‘Harp With Golden Strings,’ was an audience favorite when I heard them perform it at Boxcar Pinion Festival this past May. The song’s lyrics have Butler pining for the day he’ll “trade in his old guitar for a harp with golden strings.” However, if you have ever witnessed the way he cherishes his Mike Long guitar, you would be hard pressed to believe that anyone could ever pry it out of his fingers, even for a golden harp!

Track 4 is another Jordan written song called, ‘Smiling Faces.’ According to the liner notes in the CD, Lorraine wrote the words after visiting an orphanage in Russia and witnessed that even among the sadness she saw the smiling faces of the children.

Track 5, ‘It’s Time to Give Jesus A Try,’ was written by Tom T. and Dixie Hall, and is also the title cut. It talks of how after you’ve tried everything in the world and discovered that nothing can cure your troubles, you just need to turn to Jesus and give Him a try.

Track 6, features the high tenor voice of Josh Goforth, as he leads the gospel standard, ‘Just A Little Talk With Jesus.’ If you were brought up in an old fashioned kind of church, you will quickly recognize this as being page 92 in the Church Hymnal. Coincidentally, a fellow Tennessean, Rev. Lister Cleavant Derricks, wrote this song. Derricks once lived in Knoxville where his two famous actor twin sons, Cleavant and Clinton, were born.

Track 7, is another old-time gospel tune, ‘Just Over In the Glory land.

Track 8, ‘Let the Church Roll On,’ is a refreshing song with a sense of humor. “Well there’s a deacon in the church (oh my Lord) and he won’t do right (oh my Lord) what shall we do? Turn him out and kick him out and let the church roll on!” Read all of the lyrics here.

Track 9, ‘I Saw the Light from Heaven,’ is an old traditional gospel folk song. In it’s entirety the song tells 5 different Bible stories all packed into a neat 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Josh Goforth, arrangement.

Track 10, ‘In the Sweet Forever,’ as I’ve already mentioned is my youngest daughter’s favorite. We sing this song quite frequently at church. Our Alto section really shines on it. In fact, we just sang it this past Sunday. Carolina Road does a wonderful job on this one as well.

One song that I have taken particular liking to is track 11, ‘You Gotta Believe,’ written by Tony Rackley and Pat Terry. I had never heard this one before. It is reminiscent of an old George Jones song with a catchy upbeat tempo likening to a Ricky Skaggs or Michael Martin Murphy hit. I believe it would be instant radio success. The first verse of the song tells the story of a church congregation that loses their church to a fire. The second verse tells the story of an alcoholic finding the strength to give up his drink, and how his loving wife stood beside him through it all. Both stories are followed with the chorus; “You gotta believe through the darkest hour, put your faith in a higher power, find the strength to start again, you can’t give up and you can’t give in, hold on with all your might, let love be your guiding light, everything will turn out right, you gotta believe.” Beautiful song beautifully performed.

Last but certainly not least, track 12, an instrumental of, ‘Tell It To Jesus Alone,’ really showcases the musical talents of this fine bluegrass group. It’s just the kind of tune you would expect to hear at the end of a Carolina Road performance, just before the audience is standing and yelling for an encore.

If you are a bluegrass or a gospel music lover, you will not be disappointed with this new Carolina Road project. So come on, why don't you give this CD a try? You know you want to!

Listen to samples and buy a copy from the official Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road Website.


Friday, July 11, 2008

A Corryton traffic jam

Friday evening rush hour traffic in Corryton.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wogan On Sports Bluegrass!

You see Jim Wogan on WATE-6 News, reporting on sporting events. You would think that I would ask him about his love of sports or what life is like in the 6-News room, but nope. You see, I recently discovered something about Mr. Wogan that I never knew. While on TV, he's always calm, cool, and laid back. What you can't see from the confines of your living room couch is that beneath his perfectly pressed sport's blazer beats the heart of a bluegrass fanatic trying to get out! I've done online interviews with several local news celebrities but I've got to admit that this has been the most fun thus far. Enjoy!

KTB: First let me say that I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with the Knoxville Trivia Blog. Not only are there a lot of local TV news fans that visit this site, there are a lot of music and bluegrass fans as well. So, this is like a little treat for both!

While I was visiting with Knoxville bluegrass guy, Jerry Butler, he brought up the fact that you were not only a sports nut but also a big bluegrass fan. I noticed from your bio on WATE’s website, that you were born in PA, brought up in NY, and went to college in Arizona, how does a guy from that kind of background come to love bluegrass music?

JWogan: Let me start by saying Jerry Butler is a great guy. I emailed him one night after the NASCAR race at Richmond and it turns out he was also watching. He's a great musician-- and a true sports fan. Jerry's the guy I really want to be. Unfortunately, I have no talent for creating music. As for my epiphany with bluegrass, it all begins with WDVX. It's an East Tennessee treasure. I discovered them nearly nine years ago and consider myself a loyal listener. They, more than anything, helped expand my knowledge of various types of traditional music-- bluegrass included. Also, there was always country music on the radio in our house when I was growing up. My Dad was a Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash fan, and my Mom liked guys like Eddie Arnold. As a teenager (even in NY) I got hooked on southern rock. I LOVED the Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels. Still do! While going to college in Arizona, I started to appreciate what is now considered classic country. I saw Mel Tillis perform at the Arizona State Fair, and to this day I really love artists like Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. How did I get from there to bluegrass? I don't know. Like I said, I blame it all on WDVX.

KTB: Within bluegrass music there are a few variations of style: Traditional, Progressive, and Gospel, among others. Which style would you say is more up your alley?

JWogan: Definitely traditional. Ricky Skaggs does a version of Carter Stanley's On A Lonesome Night that I really like. More than anyone, Skaggs has helped me connect with the music of Bill Monroe other great, early, bluegrass artists.

KTB: If I raided your music collection, what would I find?

JWogan: I'm like most people. There's some variety. As for bluegrass, I'm a HUGE Del McCoury fan. I've also got some Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Pine Mountain Railroad, Gibson Brothers, Wild Blue Yonder, Wildfire, Mountain Heart, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Robinella. Now it gets interesting. Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, James McMurtry, Neil Young, Los Lobos, (oh no) early Ted Nugent, Sinatra, and Dean Martin. It really depends on my mood-- and where I want my head to be. Right now, I'm exploring some Latin stuff. There's a Spanish band called Amparanoia that has a great sound.

KTB: If you were stranded on a desert island with only a CD player and one CD of your choice, what would it be?

JWogan: Man, you're tough. What about CD changer? Ok, you make the rules. Thank goodness for iTunes. I'd compile a CD to include McCoury's version of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Skaggs doing Uncle Pen, Buffett's A Pirate Looks At Forty, and other selected cuts from all of the above artists. In fact, I've already got that CD made, because I've often said someday I WILL find that island to get stranded on.

KTB: I know you stay pretty busy reporting on sporting events, but do you ever get the chance to go to any bluegrass or other musical events, and if so, what was the last one you attended?

JWogan: I really need to attend more bluegrass festivals. My wife and I have visited events in Townsend and we saw Mountain Heart play at the Lily Barn a few years ago. We've also seen Ricky Skaggs headline a show at Smokies Park with Pine Mountain Railroad. We've seen Del McCoury twice-- once at a festival in Sevierville. What amazes me about the festivals is the folks who show up to play informally around the campsites. It is a remarkable thing to be part of-- even as a bystander. It's the ultimate grass roots music experience.

KTB: If you were organizing the ultimate bluegrass band, whom would you pick (past or present) to fill all of the positions?

JWogan: Wow. I'm definitely more qualified to name the ultimate, all-time, UT football team. And I'd still be afraid to do it. Let's just say Gene Patterson won't make this list. I've heard him sing.

KTB: I read on your bio that you are learning to play guitar, how is that going for you? Do you play any other type of instrument and if so, which one(s)?

JWogan: My guitar playing needs some serious work. Actually, a good friend of mine, Ray Rose, helps and gives me encouragement. I started learning on an old guitar my wife had as a teenager. I bought my current guitar at Ciderville Music. I'm self-taught. I need to challenge myself more-- although it's amazing how many songs you can play in C-G-D, with an occasional F. Some artists have made millions off those chords-- and I mean that in a nice way. I took trumpet lessons when I was a kid, but I quit. One of my lifelong regrets.

KTB: If someone had never heard of bluegrass music before, what band would you recommend to him or her to listen to?

JWogan: Hard to say. I know what I like almost as soon as I hear it. I'd really recommend all of the bluegrass bands I mentioned above. I enjoy them all. For some reason, Del McCoury really resonates with me. I also recommend you see bluegrass in person. It is some of the most intricate music on Earth! So many moving parts! You gain a real appreciation for the musicians when you see it happen live. After that, it's easier to visualize and appreciate when listening to a CD or the radio.

KTB: Besides our mutual friend, Jerry Butler, have you rubbed elbows with any other celebrity musicians?

JWogan: I talk with Bill McBee of Pine Mountain Railroad. He's been very good to me-- and has extended an invitation to join them for a road trip on their bus. I've told my wife if this TV thing doesn't work out, I can always become a bluegrass roadie. Bill has been super. I've talked with Jimbo Whaley, and still receive emails about his new releases.

KTB: Finally, not to sound sadistic, but if you knew your time on earth was coming to an end, what song would you want played while folks were standing around your pine box?

JWogan: I guess Amazing Grace would be the proper answer. But gotta be something by Buffett. ''.. some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life anyway." (He Went To Paris, Jimmy Buffett). Hopefully we won't need that for a while.

KTB: I know that was just a bunch of silly questions and doesn’t have a single thing to do with your WATE-6 sport's career but I think it will be interesting for Knox trivia readers and news fans alike. Again, I appreciate your willingness to play along. Have a good one and we’ll be seeing you on the news (or maybe a bluegrass event!)


Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the road with Carolina Road

What a beautiful day for a Bluegrass festival! Waking up to cloudless blue skies and warm weather just started things off right. I arrived at Jerry Butler’s place at the appointed 9:00 hour to board the Carolina Road tour bus. It would just be Jerry, myself, and fiddle player, Josh Goforth, making the trip to Chattanooga for the 18th Annual Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival. The rest of the band would meet us there. We climbed aboard the 45-foot Prevost custom coach, and settled in for the ride.

The trip to Chattanooga went extremely smooth. Traffic was light and we only stopped one time and that was for breakfast. Jerry somehow managed to squeeze the bus into a very small and crowded parking lot at Bojangles, which left me both nervous and impressed. If you’ve ever tried to force 50-lbs of potatoes into a 25-lb sack, then you can imagine what was involved to pull this off. I enjoyed the trip, listening to Jerry and Josh talk about the ins and outs of living life on the road as Bluegrass musicians. Anyone that thinks these guys just live a life of fun and luxury is badly misinformed. There is a lot of time, hard work, and sacrifice involved in their kind of lifestyle; the fun stuff is just one of the few perks. I got to hear things about industry insiders that the average fan never gets to hear. I promised not to “tattle blog,” so you’re not going to read any dirt here. I did learn that the guys have a deep respect for the band’s owner, Lorraine Jordan, and I appreciated their devotion to her. I believe that is one thing that makes their band so successful.

Carolina Road had never played the Boxcar Pinion Festival before, so they didn’t know what to expect. We arrived at the Raccoon Mountain Campground about an hour and half before the band was scheduled to perform. The band’s new bass player, Gary Creed, and his girlfriend, Cindy, were already there and greeted us warmly. First on the list of things to do was unloading the product table and setting up the tent. The only issues here were battling some very windy conditions and making sure that everything was securely tied down. Mandolin player and band owner, Lorraine Jordan, and banjo picker, Ben Greene, arrived soon after we had finished setting up the table. They had flown in to Nashville and drove a rental to the event.

Probably my very favorite part of the whole trip was getting to sit in on the practice session before their stage performance. Fiddler, Josh Goforth, appeared to be the band’s music coordinator as he would call out songs, parts, and riffs for them to practice. Bassist, Gary Creed, being the newest band member, paid close attention to each part making certain that he had everything perfect. Of course Gary is professional and no stranger to bluegrass as he played several years for Randy Waller & the Country Gentlemen, as well as several other big name bands. Banjo player, Ben Greene, effortlessly plucked out his part on his 5-string, as Jerry Butler and Lorraine Jordan both joined in solidifying the band’s awesome sound. I could have left the festival at that point and been happy, as I was thoroughly entertained.

The first band on stage was Peanut Faircloth & Bluebird Special. Peanut Faircloth is well known throughout bluegrass and has been entertaining audiences for many years. He told lots of old stories and jokes, keeping the audience laughing. He was also the festival’s Emcee throughout the whole day and kept things running very smoothly and on time. Carolina Road was on next and they took to the stage and took over. If there was anyone in the audience that had never heard of the band, they left there that day as a huge fan. While all groups that performed did a fine job, Carolina Road was without a doubt the hot band of the day. They are not just a group of folks that went out and bought themselves some bluegrass instruments and decided to try and play, no sir, these people are talented professionals and in it for life. The only performance that I heard yesterday that was any better than their first set on stage, was their performance on the second set. From my front row seat in the grass just 10-feet from the stage, I felt like I was in Bluegrass Heaven. Speaking of Heaven, in my opinion Carolina Road’s gospel numbers are their best. Judging from the audience’s reaction, I was not alone in my thinking. Loud whooping, hollering, whistling, and clapping could be heard ringing from the hillside after each song was played. Fans will be delighted to know that Carolina Road has just finished an all-new Gospel CD and should be released within the next few weeks. I can’t wait to get my hands on that!

After the band’s performance, eager folks wanting to buy Carolina Road merchandise swamped their product table. Even though they had just performed a solid hour of hard-hitting bluegrass in very hot conditions, I watched as they warmly greeted each person, signed numerous autographs, and posed for pictures. Try finding that kind of hospitality in other genres of music. I’m positive that Carolina Road added many new folks to their long list of fans.

Like the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. I could have stayed on for many more hours but the time came that we had to pack things up and head back to Knoxville. It was a day that I’ll never forget and I deeply appreciate Jerry and the rest of the band for allowing me to tag along. I hope I wasn’t too much of a pest!

Below is the complete lineup of bands that performed yesterday:

Peanut Fairchild & Bluebird Special

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

The Mueller’s, a family group from Maine. They traveled over 1200 miles to perform at the festival.

Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen

Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press. Bobby is of course one of the famous Osborne Bros.

Bent Creek Bluegrass Band


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