In the last few years, Knoxville’s underground music scene has blossomed as a new generation has risen to the call of the city’s rich musical past.
Smaller clubs, such as the Pilot Light and the now-defunct Blue Cats, have drawn bands whose reputations may be too small to fill the larger theaters on Gay Street or who fly under the radar of local promotion powerhouse AC Entertainment. The movement’s secret weapon, however, has been a certain “do-it-yourself” ethic, leading people to open up their basements and living rooms free of cost, taking gas money donations for touring bands in lieu of a door fee.
One such makeshift venue, the Birdhouse, which is located at the corner of Fourth Street and Gill Avenue, has built a reputation for quality acts and fostering local bands from the incubator to the headline of the bill. Many of its performers and behind-the-scenes contributors are UT students, who also keep up the house and use the upstairs for art studios and apartments.
Another non-profit movement that has rooted itself in the downtown area is the weekly gathering of Food Not Bombs, a national donation-based group whose mission is to cook and serve free food to all who come and promote community awareness, as opposed to stratification based on socioeconomic differences or any other particular distinction.
“We serve once a week, Saturdays at 2:30 at Krutch Park,” Brigid Oesterling, a member of the local chapter of Food Not Bombs, said. “Everyone is welcome.”
The group has also joined to voice concerns in the community. One such was a protest of the recent city council proposition that banned Knoxvillians from sitting on city sidewalks from the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. This item was a result of concerns from store owners and residents in the North Knoxville area, who claimed to be losing revenue and safety due to the homeless population loitering on their property. A special serving was prepared, and concerned citizens gathered outside the City County Building prior to the meeting in which the item was passed to raise their objections.
However, such organizations who subsist on the donations of strangers and friends and the monetary contributions of their members sometimes require additional funding to further their goals of spreading awareness to various causes. One such cause is a protest at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., a training facility for operatives whom the United States employs in Central and South America.
“We don’t need a lot of money, but we do (need money) for gas to get down to the (School of the Americas),” Oesterling said.
Knoxville Food Not Bombs is hosting a fundraiser show for the trip, as well as to generate funds for regular servings, today at the Birdhouse. For $5, attendees are invited to all-you-can-eat pancakes and performances from six local music acts and a DJ Acts include local high school songwriter Madeline Ava, noise pop collective The Internal Organ and Bones in the Museum. Also appearing are the One Dimensional Band, Dixie Ghost, the one-man medicinal musician the Sonic Healing of Senator Will Fist and DJ Heather Nijoli.
“Pancakes, cute songs and a great dancing ruckus are easily worth five dollars,” Avery Orvis of The Internal Organ said. “A wonderful time is guaranteed for all.”
Doors open at 8 p.m., while music begins around 8:30 p.m. and is scheduled to go on until 2:00 a.m.
For directions to the Birdhouse or further information, call 386-9520.
For more information about Food Not Bombs servings and how to contribute, contact Brigid Oesterling or Jorge del Campo at or at the Knox Food Not Bombs profile on MySpace.