Blue Plate Special Draws Downtown Crowd

Jim Avett, father of the Grammy-nominated Avett Brothers, headlined the Blue Plate Special concert series in downtown Knoxville on June 21.

The free concert, also featuring The Green Boys band, was held inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center and is part of a summer series that includes live lunchtime performances six days a week. More than 75 people attended the show, some bringing their own lunch.

“We have two performances every day and we love the crowd that comes out, their energy attracts the performers we are lucky enough to book,” said Tony Lawson, program director for WDVX.

Avett has played in New York, California and Nashville in the last two months but enjoys coming to Knoxville. Being raised in North Carolina, on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, he sees the similarities in the people and feels comfortable here.

Explaining to the crowd that he usually plays Knoxville when he is passing through to Nashville, he sang “Leaving Knoxville”, his song about running from a woman although he loved the town. Written in Knoxville, the smooth tune led many Knoxvillians to follow along with bobbing heads and tapping feet.

Avett told stories about each of the six songs he played, from revealing that he wrote “Leaving Knoxville” in a Strawberry Plains motel room to warning young men about the danger of certain phrases uttered by their lovers.

“When she says ‘I love you, but’, you’re headed down the toilet, son,” Avett joked with the crowd.

While Avett has toured since the ‘70s, The Green Boys formed two years ago and recently released their first album. What they lacked in folksy stories, they made up for in energy.

Featuring an upright bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin and lap steel guitar, the four-piece band combined the sounds of Appalachian bluegrass and honky-tonk country. The diverse footwear of the crowd, from boots to sneakers to a barefooted man, went from tapping to stomping.

Dressed in neckties, black slacks and boots, the Virginia-based band played six songs from the album they released in May, taking breaks to make jokes about having bottles thrown at them in bars and admit to their lack of touring experience.

“We’re trying to play regionally now,” said guitarist Sean Green, “this is the end of our 12 day tour through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.”

The concert series runs from Monday through Saturday until July 31. Listeners can also tune in to WDVX 89.9 FM to listen if they cannot attend the show on Gay Street

Knoxville Catholic High School to hold Brixx FIRE Volleyball Tournament

Knoxville Catholic High School in west Knoxville will hold the Brixx FIRE volleyball tournament on June 22 and June 23.

The second annual Brixx FIRE grass volleyball tournament is to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society. All of the proceeds from the tournament and the events surrounding it will go to the society’s signature event Relay for Life. This year’s goal is to reach $15,000.

The tournament is welcome to players of all ages and skill levels. It has men’s, women’s, and juniors’ divisions and includes players from around the Southeast. Laura Dammer, Brixx manager and tournament director, hopes Brixx FIRE will create the largest competitive volleyball tournament in the area while supporting the Knoxville community.

“The volleyball community is very large in Knoxville and all over Tennessee, but most of the large tournaments in the Southeast are hours away.  This tournament allows players to compete closer to home, as well as bringing in players from all over the Southeast,” Dammer said.

The Southeast is known for having volleyball excellence with a large number of players especially in Tennessee. Just last year The University of Tennessee’s volleyball team barely missed out on having the top class in the conference. Co-tourney director and head volleyball coach at Knoxville Catholic, Andrew Garland, said that everyone involved with Brixx FIRE is dedicated to making this tourney a “first class event” that will invite players from all around.

Garland believes that Brixx FIRE is something to support with great pride.

“It’s a fun-filled weekendwith great cash and prizes for division winners and lots of other goodies for everyone involved. All this, combined with it’s all for a great cause, makes it a special tourney,” Garland said.

This is the first time the volleyball tournament will be held at Knoxville Catholic High School. It is Garland’s hope that the school will become the permanent host site for the tournament due to the central location and its facilities, which includes a practice football field with concessions and bathrooms.

Related web sites:
Brixx FIRE

This article was written by Melitta Markey,
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Laura Dammer, 504-878-6148, ‎
Andrew Garland, 865-789-5407,

Staff profiles: Melitta Markey

Melitta Markey is a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in journalism and electronic media and minoring in business administration at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She graduated from Independence High School in Thompsons Station, Tennessee in 2012 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a year before transferring to Knoxville. Transferring to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was an easy decision for her since she had heard great things about the news broadcast program at Knoxville, which is what she plans on specializing in along with visual studies.

While in high school Melitta took four years of electronic media courses. During this time she participated in filming and editing for the school’s broadcast news team and was eventually given the opportunity to be the producer her senior year. Indy News won multiple awards from the Williamson County Film Festival while Melitta was the producer. She also won multiple awards for her personal work from film festival and from the Student Emmy’s.

Melitta had an internship at the local government access channel, Williamson County Television,  from January 2010 to May 2012. At her internship she filmed and edited programs around the county including football games, basketball games, school board meetings, library events, and bicycle public service announcements. During her final year at WC-TV she was named the chief intern. With this role she was put in charge of the other four interns and given a larger workload.

She now plans to become involved in news broadcasting at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and one day dreams of being an executive producer of a news stations while filming and editing videos on her own time.


Great Smoky Mountain database continues to grow with panoramic photos

Since November, the Database of the Smokies has become a source for both scholars and people with casual interest in the area to find information on the Great Smoky Mountains as well as submit findings of their own to make this a primary source for information on the mountain range.

Now the Great Smoky Mountain Regional Collections – the main site over the database – has another addition to make the database even more special: digital collection of Elgin P. Kintner’s panorama photographs of the mountain range.

Kintner, a physician from Maryville, Tenn., often hiked the Great Smoky Mountains and caught many images of them with his camera. After his death in 2008, his daughter, Beccie King, brought the images to the Collections with the promise that they would be of value to this database.

Anne Bridges, co-director of UT’s Great Smoky Mountain Regional Project, described the photos as unique. In the 1960s and 1970s, Kintner would go on top of the fire towers and take still photos. Members of the project have stitched those photographs together in order to make the panoramas.

“The technology didn’t exist [then] to stitch them together, so we saw them on a foam board where he just pasted them together to make overlapping images so he could see them,” Bridges said.

The project has since digitized most of the images as well as added metadata, or catalog records, to some of the images to give information to the one of a kind photographs.

Bridges said she believes what makes Kinter’s images so unique is the fact that there just aren’t many panorama-type photographs of the Great Smoky Mountains form the time period they were taken.

“Some of the photos are more important now because [Kintner] stood on top of fire towers that no longer exist now,” Bridges said.

In addition to acquiring the Kintner photographs, the project has also added many full text items and up to 3,000 records thanks to crowd sourcing and other scholars working in the area.

Staff profiles: Jordan Achs

Jordan Achs is a student at the University of Tennessee majoring in Journalism and minoring in Spanish and Business.

Originally from a ski town in Idaho, she spent her high school years in rural Illinois. While there, she’s had a plethora of weird jobs, from corn detasseling to being a summer janitor for the elementary school. Despite working, she managed to be a good student, getting Illinois State Scholar and being in the top five of her class, although the class only had 48 students in it.

Jordan has many different hobbies, including: rock climbing, reading, watching TV, making horrible puns, and going to the movies. In addition, she follows street art religiously, is addicted to the internet, and Obi Wan is her only hope. Her favorite way to keep up with news is via Reddit, and her Klout score fluctuates between a 58 and 61.

Jordan has many different hopes and dreams right now, especially when it comes to a career. One dream is to work for Entertainment Weekly, covering the movies and TV shows she spends so much time watching.

TheAggie: Undergraduate to launch online shopping platform for Greeks

Story originally posted on Feb 19, 2013 on The California Aggie

By Alyssa Kuhlman

A loud truck blaring music pulls up outside the house where Mike Eidlin, a third-year economics and Japanese double major, sits with his friends. Girls in bikinis hop out, passing out free Monster energy drinks.

No, this isn’t your average frat party.

After Eidlin did his research, he discovered it’s actually a little something sweet called product sampling.

“[Product sampling is when] the [company] gets the products into the potential users’ hands; it’s a very efficient form of marketing,” Eidlin said.

Eidlin, a member of Delta Sigma fraternity, decided to start his own company, GreekDrop, using this strategy of product sampling.

“We feature clothing, accessories, events, bicycles, hotels, but all [at] discounts. For people who want something familiar [to compare it to], think about Groupon or or JackThreads, but for Greek life members,” Eidlin said.

Liz Zimmer, a third-year mechanical engineering major and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, loves the idea of having an online catalog where Greek students can score deals.

“I will definitely use this site when it gets launched. My twin brother goes to UC Irvine and the only way I can visit him is if I fly,” Zimmer said. “When this site gets going I will definitely look into cheaper airline tickets so I can visit him more often.”

Until March, students like Zimmer can read and browse information about the online catalog on or their Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Eidlin first incorporated GreekDrop in August, putting in his paperwork to the Secretary of State after researching from June through July on how to make the idea of deals on any and every products for Greek students a reality.

“I did my research and found out there wasn’t already something going on like this,” Eidlin said.

Eidlin then applied to a start-up accelerator in December called Davis Roots. Run by two UC Davis professors, including entrepreneurship specialist Dr. Andrew Hargadon from the Graduate School of Management and a CEO, Davis Roots is going to help Eidlin officially launch his company this March.

“[They] take a small company that still isn’t really running yet, just an idea, and help them become established. They are going to give me office space in downtown, and that’s where I’ll have my interns or employees work at,” Eidlin said.

Currently the program is gearing up with clients and student customers in order to rev up a solution to the needed revenue cycle, Eidlin explains.

“Right now, it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. We need users for them to buy our clients’ goods. We have our students who are users, and we have our clients who are brands. We can list all the brands we want, but if we don’t have people to buy them, then it’s not going to do us any good,” Eidlin said.

Eidlin currently has a team of students helping him fuel GreekDrop, and hopes to expand with more interns and employees.

Eliot Shoet, a first-year computer science major, works as Eidlin’s web designer and programmer.

“I met Mike through [the ASUCD entrepreneurship] competition and then after I presented my project, he contacted me,” Shoet said.

Shoet is one of many students who are helping to build GreekDrop before the official launch in March when Greek students will be able to order online from it.

Shoet is responsible for helping prepare the website for smooth running and making it ready for customers once March hits.

“[We want to] set up a site that’s easily scalable, so that our site can know how to handle many servers,” Shoet said.

Eidlin has become busy with balancing school and GreekDrop, and admits that while it may be hard starting a business, he doesn’t regret the exciting experience.

“It’s always on my mind. I’m probably spending more time on GreekDrop than school, which is why I convinced my dad to let me defer next quarter so I will be able to work on this full-time,” Eidlin said.

Taking next quarter off and also having the summer to test GreekDrop’s productivity and success will allow Eidlin to see if he should continue with the company or return full-time to school, studying investments and finance.

While Shoet does not get paid, he does get experience as an intern with the promise of pay once the company officially launches.

Eidlin, who was born in Tokyo to a Russian father and Japanese mother, grew up speaking Japanese fluently alongside English. He aspires to use his Japanese background to contact business clients in Japan and further spread the benefits of GreekDrop internationally.

For now, Eidlin looks forward to taking a break from his Japanese classes and focusing solely on reaching out to more clients and students for GreekDrop.

“Business opportunities are few and far between, and I don’t wanna ‘half-ass’ school and ‘half-ass’ business relationships, because there are gonna be people who are counting on me,” Eidlin said.