Lunchtime is better with the Blue Plate Special.
WDVX presents a live show at the Knoxville Visitor Center every Monday through Saturday at noon. The show features artists of all varieties for lunch break entertainment.
Tony Lawson, the station's program director, said the Blue Plate Special began in the mid-2000s when WDVX moved from a camper to its current station downtown.
Now a Knoxville staple, the Blue Plate Special seeks out artists of any genre. Sounds range from bluegrass and steel drums to honky-tonk bands. They have also had live theatrical performances along with spoken word poets.
The Knoxville band Maplehurst will play the Blue Plate Special on Dec. 3. David Platillero, the band's guitarist, said he believes their sound is a mix of many of the genres heard on the show and hopes to fit right in.
"We have a little bit of a blend; there's a couple different things in our sound," Platillero said. "All four of us were in vocal ensembles at UT, so there's some classical there. Jenna, our vocalist, she's actually had training in opera, but with the band, she took on a singer-songwriter style. We kind of started as singer-song then started a little jazzier, a little bluegrass and a little pop."
Interested artists typically have to book months in advance to perform. The show also receives many requests for artists to bring in. Lawson said that although WDVX cannot book everyone, they try to keep a decent standard of talent.
Platillero said Maplehurst experienced first-hand how long it can take to get to perform on the Blue Plate Special.
"We contacted them about a month ago, and are just getting to play," Platillero said. "They're pretty booked."
Notably, Marty Stewart, Ricky Skaggs and the String Cheese Incident have performed on the show, and bigger acts like the Avett Brothers appeared on the show before they became popular. Local Knoxville bands, the Black Cadillacs and the Black Lilies, also played the show before their names were widely known.
With the talent that has come to the stage, there is always the possibility for the next big thing to walk through their doors.
"You never know what's going to happen," Lawson said. "You never know what band's going to bust open. It's wonderful to see bands like that play here and then go on, like the Black Cadillacs."
However, despite the previous giants that have walked onto the stage, Maplehurst is not looking for a big break, but rather an opportunity to simply share their music through a new medium.
"I've never played on the radio before ... It makes you feel pretty accomplished, and it's real exciting," Platillero said. "We're not putting all our marbles into it, but it is a pretty cool opportunity for us."
Shows do not always run quite according to plan, and the Blue Plate Special has seen its share of hiccups. These bumps have turned into stories for Lawson to share regarding the spontaneity of the radio and music business involving local artists.
"One of the strangest stories, when I wasn't here, the fella that was supposed to play wasn't here five minutes before noon, and Scott Miller was in the audience," Lawson said. "They called me, and I said, 'Well, there's a guitar downstairs. Go get it and see if Scott will do the show.' So, he did the show as Joe Ely, doing the show talking about how great a songwriter Scott Miller is.
"Another time, Tommy Emmanuel showed up once when the show was about done and just got up on the stage and started playing guitar, and he's one of the best guitar players there is, so that was pretty cool."
In the end, Lawson said he wants people to know WDVX's Blue Plate Special is about a good time and great music.
"You can bring your own chair and bring your own lunch," Lawson said. "It's just a great way to experience live music in Knoxville."