The historic Bijou Theatre has played a significant role in Knoxville's arts and music culture for many years with performances by countless famous musicians.
Each year, the theater hosts its annual Bijou Jubilee, a fundraising event celebrating the various aspects of the theater. Saturday night, the 2014 Bijou Jubilee is hosting Knoxville native band Gran Torino for a one-night-only reunion performance.
Michele Purcell, chairperson of the Jubilee Committee, said the fundraiser is a chance for fans to celebrate the rich history of the theater.
"It's an important building to maintain," Purcell said. "The diversity of the programming we provide to the community is important; we try to tie things in some way to the rich history of the theater."
This event is important to the non-profit Bijou, as it is the theater's primary fundraiser for the year's programs. The building hosts a variety of concert performances throughout the year, and local groups can rent the theater for various functions.
The theater also provides various programs for Knoxville's younger community. During the summer, the Bijou holds acting camps where children ages 9-12 learn basic stage skills and improve techniques. Every January, the theater hosts the Bijou Awards, a music and drama competition for local high school students.
This year, the Bijou Jubilee will bring together all the original members of the funk-rock band Gran Torino, a phenomenon that has not occurred in more than a decade.
"It is such an honor for Gran Torino to perform at this year's event," Purcell said. "When you go to one of their shows, you are guaranteed a good time."
"It's obvious their fans agree; the event is completely sold out."
The music and arts culture in Knoxville is able to not just survive but
thrive through venues including the Tennessee and Bijou theaters.
Notable performances including SoMo and Local Natives will hit the U.S.
Cellular Stage at the Bijou next month, bringing countless attendees to downtown Knoxville.
Bijou Jubilee event manager, Mänya Whitney-Miller, said she believes Knoxville is lucky to have a beautiful and historic theater like the Bijou.
"To me, the Bijou is a magical place," Whitney-Miller said. "If you have ever seen a show there, you know what a special place it is and how there isn't a bad seat in the house."
Purcell also admires the theater's notoriety, and she said she appreciates the programming it provides to the community.
"The acoustics are unparalleled and documented by famous musicians who have performed onstage," Purcell said. "The Jubilee is going to be a great night in a beautiful, historic venue."
In addition to the performance, the Jubilee is throwing an exclusive VIP Sound Check party prior to the show with special songs from Gran Torino, priority concert seating and catered food options.
By attending, Whitney-Miller said audience members also support the Bijou.
"The fundraiser makes a huge impact on the theater's annual budget to keep the facility running," Whitney-Miller said. "People should attend to get to see the reunion of Gran Torino, which may never occur again."
The fundraising event is completely sold out, a success, Purcell said, for the Bijou Theatre and its programming.
"If you aren't able to make it to the show, consider attending a future show or event at the Bijou," Purcell said. "It truly is the gem of the South."