Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus celebrates 20 years of changing lives

Students gather in the Magnolia Avenue Campus courtyard in pre-pandemic times.
Pellissippi State students gather in the Magnolia Avenue Campus courtyard in pre-pandemic times.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus will celebrate its 20th anniversary in a socially distanced way, in keeping with the challenges of marking milestones during a pandemic. 

The celebration will take place noon-1:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, over Zoom. Those who would like to attend should RSVP to tltrivette@pstcc.edu or call 865.329.3100 to receive the Zoom link for the event. 

Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman, who has served as dean since the campus opened, will oversee the celebration, which will include speakers sharing what Magnolia Avenue Campus did for them. 

“This was the only east campus (of Pellissippi State) when we opened 20 years ago, and we had the opportunity to serve this community in a way that they had not been served before,” Tillman remembered. “There was a reluctance at first to come inside a college door, but now they had a place in the neighborhood, and we tried to make them feel comfortable.” 

Among the students who have passed through the halls of Magnolia Avenue Campus over the years, one stands out in Tillman’s mind: a nail technician who came into the office 30 minutes into her first college class. Tillman recalled the student telling her, “I can’t do this. I’m too old,” but the Magnolia Avenue Campus staff encouraged her to stick with it.  

That student ended up getting her degree in education. 

That always has stayed with me because she was so devastated that day,” Tillman said. “We have been able to change people’s lives.” 

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. 

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Annual holiday concert shifts online during pandemic

Dakota Loo on marimba, Jacob Mincke on bells and Jennifer Vargo on vibraphone perform in the pre-recorded Holiday Spectacular in 2020
Pellissippi State students Dakota Loo on marimba, Jacob Mincke on bells and Jennifer Vargo on vibraphone perform in the pre-recorded Holiday Spectacular concert that will premiere at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 on Facebook and YouTube.

The talented musicians and singers at Pellissippi State Community College know that “the show must go on.” That’s why the College will present its annual Holiday Spectacular concert online this year. 

“Home for the Holidays … Again!” will premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, on Pellissippi State’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. 

Those who want to enjoy the concert will not need social media accounts to view the concert, as privacy will be set to “public.”  

Our annual Holiday Spectacular is one of the most well-loved events of the year, so we traditionally perform the show twice in the same night,” said Assistant Professor Meagan Humphreys, music program coordinator for Pellissippi State. “With so many of us working and learning from home this year due to the pandemic, we thought, ‘Why not bring the concert into people’s homes?’ It’s a very 2020 way to kick off the holiday season!” 

This year’s concert will feature Pellissippi State’s jazz band, studio orchestra, percussion ensemble, bluegrass ensemble, guitar ensemble and brass ensemble as well as pieces by the College’s two choirs: Concert Chorale and Variations. 

The eight songs will be a mix of sacred and secular holiday music, from “Away in a Manger” to “Jingle Bell Rock.” 

There is no cost to view the concert, which will feature more than 70 Pellissippi State students. 

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. 

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Free webinar highlights Knoxville as major hub for production vision, talent, output

The Pellissippi State Community College Media Technologies program will continue its free webinar series titled “The Art, Science & Impact of Digital Storytelling” on Dec. 1, with a focus on “Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community.” 

The session will take place 12:30-2 p.m. Eastern over Zoom. Registration is open now for professionals, faculty, students and alumni in digital, creative and strategic communications 

“Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community” will focus on the region’s wealth of creative intellectual assets and highlight Knoxville as a major hub of production vision, talent and output.  

The session, which will be moderated by Mary Beth West of Fletcher Marketing PR, will spotlight the future direction and demand for creative and production services. Panelists including Deborah Allen of Catalina Content, Doug Lawyer of the Knoxville Chamber and Joe Richani of Jewelry Television will address how the region can best position itself to grow and adapt to workforce development needs. 

This webinar series is sponsored by The Hive, Bagwell Entertainment and Jupiter Entertainment and will conclude Jan. 22 with “The Media Technologies Workforce Pipeline & 2021 Employer Hiring Priorities.” 

For more information on the webinar series or to register for upcoming sessions, visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs/mediatech

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Arconic Foundation funds new afterschool program with Pellissippi State

Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.
Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.

Arconic Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College $50,000 to start a new afterschool program for children in Blount County. 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program, which will be implemented at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville, will focus on career awareness, exploration and preparation for high-wage, high-demand advanced manufacturing and coding careers. The program will offer concentrations in robotics, additive manufacturing, coding, hydraulics and pneumatics. 

“The earlier a student is introduced to these jobs, the sooner they will see an optimistic future open to career-connected learning,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Exposing students to these career opportunities in middle school will allow them to better use their time in high school to prepare for the path they’ll take after graduation.  

Having an exciting experience with the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program could not only spark their interest in these careers, but also could help students understand the importance of taking advanced math, science and English courses in high school,” she added. 

The program, which will begin January 2021, will be led by a Pellissippi State employee, although the College is recruiting volunteers from industry and the community to help.  Activities will be interactive and age appropriate, introducing participants to the basic terminology and concepts that are critical to each concentration. Students will learn how to use the basic types of equipment common to each field and will build new skills through hands-on instruction. Guest speakers will help students make the connection between what they are learning and a real job.  

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program also will focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – four areas regularly identified by area business and industry leaders as skills that their employees need. Activities will address the barriers students may face when considering one of these career pathways and will highlight the resources available throughout the community to help them. Inspiring self-esteem in students is another program goal. 

“Blount County employers are emphasizing a desire to hire a more diverse workforce, but many underrepresented populations may not be aware of the opportunities for a career in advanced manufacturing or the educational pathway needed to be successful in manufacturing,” Brahams said. “This program will address both of these challenges.” 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program is open to students attending afterschool programs held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville. However, those who would like to volunteer to help with the program should contact Teri Brahams at tbrahams@pstcc.edu. 

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Help honor veterans by sponsoring a wreath this holiday season

Logo for Wreaths Across AmericaA group of Pellissippi State Community College students is spearheading a drive to provide 1,000 wreaths to decorate veterans’ graves in December, and you can help. 

Maya Billingsley, Celeste Christopher, Justin Hammack, Jake Harrell and Leslie Nokes are assisting Knoxwreaths, the local affiliate of Wreaths Across America, as their service-learning project for their Project Management and Design class.  

The group’s goal is to get 1,000 wreaths donated to the organization by Thanksgiving so that they can be placed on headstones at Knox County’s three veteran cemeteries at noon Dec. 19. 

Knoxwreaths needs 18,000 wreaths total. 

“This is very close to my heart – it’s very personal to me – because my father was a World War II vet and my grandfather a World War I vet,” Christopher explains in a video on the Knoxwreaths Facebook page. “Because I can’t thank them anymore in person, this is my way of contributing.” 

Assistant Professor Tracey Farr said this project picks up where a spring 2020 Principles of Marketing class left off. That class, taught by adjunct Mandy Summittmet with the United Veterans Council of East Tennessee to create a marketing plan for summer and fall 2020. 

“We are doing a lot of social media for them,” Farr said of the group of gentlemen who work with Wreaths Across America each year to provide wreaths for Knox County‘s three veteran cemeteries. “It’s a big goal, but we are hoping that the vast Pellissippi State community will contribute. 

Those who want to sponsor a wreath can do so on a Wreaths Across America webpage set up specifically for the Pellissippi State project. The cost of each wreath, which is crafted from balsam and hand-tied with a red velvet bow, is $15. 

There also is an opportunity to volunteer on the day the wreaths are placed at the cemetery, Farr added. 

“I would love to have a Pellissippi State team,” said Farr, who plans to participate with her own children. “It will be safe, with social distancing and masks, and even young kids can do this.” 

Volunteers are needed at all three veteran cemeteries. Those who are interested can sign up to volunteer at the site of their choice through the website or can email Farr at tefarr@pstcc.edu. 

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Pellissippi State, Discovery honor alumna for extraordinary volunteer service

Leila Howell in front of a black backdrop
Leila Howell, a 2013 Pellissippi State graduate, has been named the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award winner by the College and Discovery.

Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Leila Howell as winner of the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award, sponsored and announced this year by Discovery, Inc. 

This honor highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of extraordinary service to the Pellissippi State community. 

“At Discovery, being purposeful and doing the right thing are two of our Guiding Principles and core to our DNA,” said Vikki Neil, executive vice president and general manager for Discovery’s Digital Studios Group. We are dedicated to giving back in communities where we live and work and value the importance of volunteerism and recognize the passion and commitment volunteers bring to an organization. We are honored to partner with Pellissippi State and sponsor the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award and honor Leila Howell, who is incredibly deserving of this award.” 

Howell’s story is one of persistence. She started her education at Pellissippi State more than 20 years ago, but then put college on hold when she became a mother to five daughters. She returned to Pellissippi State in 2011 and earned her general Associate of Science degree in 2013. 

Today Howell is a human resources manager at Integrity HR Services and is pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership at Trevecca Nazarene University. 

Despite working full time, taking classes and raising her daughters as a single mom, Howell still finds the time to be an active member of Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association. For 2019’s Pack the Pickup food drive, she led a campaign to support both the Pellissippi Pantry and the college’s Clothes Closet — promoting the needs of students, setting up her workplace for drop-offs and personally picking up donations around town. 

Howell also volunteers at student events and mentors Pellissippi State students through Tennessee Achieves. 

Volunteering means a great deal to me,” Howell said. I have always harbored the philosophy that when we are blessed, we should bless others in return. My father, a sage man, once told me that anyone could give money, but not everyone can give time and talent. This is an idea that has followed me, with merit, through my adult life. 

“The Foundation is proud to honor Leila Howell’s passion for serving Pellissippi State through the Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award,” said Britney Sink, director of Alumni and Donor Engagement for the Pellissippi State Foundation. Supporting our community is vital, and we encourage our alumni to get involved and give back. 

For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 8655397275. 

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Pellissippi State breaks ground for long-awaited workforce development center in Blount County

Eight officials with shovels in front of a bulldozer
Among the dignitaries celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center are, from left, state Rep. Jerome Moon, donors Steve and Ruth West, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville President Kelli Chaney, state Sen. Art Swann, state Rep. Bob Ramsey and Blount Partnership CEO Bryan Daniels.

Pellissippi State Community College broke ground today on its new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center, a joint project with Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. 

The 51,000-square-foot building on the College’s Blount County Campus will help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees. Blount County has experienced $2.8 million in new capital investment and announced 5,500 new jobs since 2011, according to the Blount Partnership. 

Named for longtime Blount County Campus benefactors Ruth and Steve West, the workforce development center will include space for Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Electromechanical Engineering programs while TCAT will have space for its Engineering Technology program, giving that college its first footprint in Blount County. 

Steve and Ruth West in front of artist rendering of new building named for him
Steve and Ruth West stand in front of an artist rendering of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that is being built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“I was on the Blount County Industrial Board for 20 years, and we brought a lot of diverse companies in and continue to do so,” said Mr. West, longtime owner of West Chevrolet and a former mayor of Maryville. “But it’s not like it was when I was young. A good attitude and willingness to learn, while important, are not enough in today’s economy. We need more specialized training to fill these jobs.” 

The center will help fill that gap, with a unique, integrated approach to workforce development. In addition to Pellissippi State’s partnership with TCAT, the workforce development center also represents a K-12 partnership, offering dual enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills. Meanwhile, a new corporate training center will give the College’s local industry partners extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State. 

“Our institutional mission at Pellissippi State is to provide a transformative environment that fosters the academic, social, economic and cultural enrichment of individuals and of our community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “The Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is going to embody that mission in a tangible way, helping us prepare Blount County students for high-demand careers that will sustain them and their families economically and allow them to stay right here at home instead of leaving in search of well-paying jobs. 

For example, the new building will include a 4,890-square-foot Culinary Institute that will allow the College to expand its Culinary Arts degree program and industry-recognized certification programs, increasing the number of graduates ready to fill in-demand culinary positions at hotels, restaurants, farmsteads, breweries, wineries and resorts across Blount, Knox and surrounding counties.

Dignitaries with shovels in front of bulldozer
Also celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center today are, from left, Blount County Campus Dean Priscilla Duenkel, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, Jeff Weida of Arconic Tennessee, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, Louisville Mayor Tom Bickers, Don Heinemann of Blount Memorial Hospital, Bob Booker of DENSO and Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor. Not pictured is Alcoa Mayor Clint Abbott.

The workforce development center will also help us serve our industry partners by providing  more space to train their employees and offering individuals the continuing education that helps them move to the next level in their careers,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. And with the flexible space located right outside our new Culinary Institute, the College can provide the community space to host events and have them catered by our Culinary Arts students. It’s a win for everyone.” 

Construction of the $16.5 million building, which was funded by the state of Tennessee and TCAT in addition to Pellissippi State, is projected to be complete in February 2022.  

The fundraising team with shovels
Among those who have been working hard behind the scenes are fundraising team members Joy Bishop and Sharon Hannum, Chuck Griffin of BarberMcMurry Architects, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, fundraising team members Christy Newman, Andy White and Mary Beth West, Raja Jubran of Denark Construction and fundraising team member Teri Brahams, from left.

The Pellissippi State Foundation raised $5.5 million for the workforce development center. In addition to the Wests, the center also received significant financial contributions from donors such as the Economic Development Board of Blount County Government, the City of Maryville and the City of Alcoa; Arconic Foundation; Blackberry Farm Foundation; Blount Memorial HospitalCare Institute GroupClayton Family Foundation; Clayton Homes Inc.; DENSO North America Foundation; and William Ed Harmon.  

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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Make holiday gifts, décor in Pellissippi State’s lifelong learning classes

Carolyn Hahs Fogelman cuts glass for holiday pendants
Carolyn Hahs Fogelman cuts glass for pendants similar to those she will teach students to make in The Art of Glass Fusion class this fall.

The holidays are just around the corner, and whether you’re looking for unique décor for your home or wanting to make one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones, Pellissippi State Community College has lifelong learning classes that can help you channel your inner artist. 

Check out these upcoming noncredit classes that are open to the community. For more festive fun, enjoy the experience of taking a lifelong learning class with a friend or family member.  

Deborah Kelly’s Paper Quilling class teaches students how to use thin strips of paper that are rolled into coils to create shapes that are then glued and arranged to create elaborate designs and images. Finished pieces can be used to decorate cards, gift bags and boxes, and picture frames — or even can be turned into jewelry or ornaments. 

  • Paper Quilling: Mondays, Oct. 19-Nov. 16, 6-7:30 p.m. 

Bob Ross-Certified Instructor Bram Bevins will teach students how to use Ross’ wet-on-wet painting method, which allows the painter to complete a painting in a short amount of time. 

  • Bob Ross Style Painting, Harvest Moon: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 6-9 p.m. 
  • Bob Ross Style Painting, Snowman Wonder: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 6-9 p.m.

Students in floral designer Lori Wilson’s classes will create their own floral arrangement using seasonal, fresh flowers and learn how to care for flowers at home to achieve long-lasting freshness: 

  • Introduction to Floral Design, Fall Arrangement: Tuesday, Oct. 27, 6:15-8:15 p.m. 
  • Introduction to Floral Design, Winter Arrangement: Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6:15-8:15 p.m. 
Glass pendants made by Carolyn Hahs Fogelman
These colorful pendants are examples of the accessories students will learn how to make and assemble in The Art of Glass Fusion.

Oak Ridge native Carolyn Hahs Fogelman is teaching two classes that are perfect for making handmade gifts. In The Art of Glass Fusion, students will learn how to cut and assemble decorative glass pendants that can be turned into jewelry or used as keychains, magnets and other accessories. In her new class, Traditional Dorset Button Making, students will create two styles of embroidered buttons that can be used for hair accessories, jewelry, quilt accents and more. 

  • The Art of Glass Fusion: Tuesdays, Oct. 27-Nov. 17, 6-8:30 p.m. 
  • Traditional Dorset Button Making: Tuesdays, Dec. 1-8, 6-9 p.m. 

Amy Broady, local art educator and certified Zentangle instructor, can help you add a personal touch to your home décor. In Zen Bells, students will learn how to draw using the Zentangle method while creating three-sided hanging paper bells that make unique holiday ornaments and garlands 

  • Zen Bells: Saturday, Nov. 21, 1-5 p.m. 

These holiday-inspired lifelong learning classes are taught on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, masks or face coverings must be worn by all instructors and students, and classes are being held in larger classrooms to ensure that participants can maintain 6 feet of distance between each other.  

Prices for lifelong learning classes vary. To register for a lifelong learning class, contact Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services office at 8655397167 or visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs.  

For a sneak peek of what to expect, join our lifelong learning class instructors for demonstrations on Facebook Live at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 14. Tune in at facebook.com/pellissippi/live. 

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Pellissippi State Theatre students perform radio plays, broadcast live, in lieu of in-person performances this fall

Poster for the double feature radio plays
Support Pellissippi State’s Theatre and Audio Production Engineering students by tuning in to live broadcasts of two radio plays later this month.

Theatre companies across the country have had to get creative during the coronavirus pandemic, performing plays over video communication platforms or in open outdoor spaces. 

But when brainstorming how Pellissippi State Community College could give its Theatre students the experience they need while still adhering to social distancing protocolsProfessor Charles R. Miller didn’t look to the future of theatre. 

He looked to the past. 

“Why reinvent the wheel?” asked Miller, who serves as Theatre program coordinator for the College. “Radio drama has been around for 100 years.” 

Pellissippi State will present a double feature of two short radio plays — “The Lone Ranger Redux” and the science fiction piece “Think Like a Dinosaur” — at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. 

The plays will be performed back-to-back by Pellissippi State students, broadcast live on the College’s YouTube channel and recorded for later listening by Pellissippi State’s Audio Production Engineering faculty and students. 

There is no fee to listen. 

“In the past six months, we have seen a lot of Zoom theatre, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Miller said. “But radio dramas use the power of imagination. 

“The Lone Ranger Redux” is one of the original radio broadcasts of “The Lone Ranger” from 1933, with some updating by Miller and his Theatre students. 

“There will be some socially aware commentary in it, in that the characters will step out of the play to remark on current events, but in a humorous way,” Miller explained. 

For example, the character of Tonto, the Native American companion of the Lone Ranger, will react to outdated stereotypes and racial slurs in the script. Miller described the updated Tonto as “quietly, morally outraged in a way that’s also funny.” 

The second radio play, “Think Like a Dinosaur,” is based on the award-winning science fiction novelette by James Patrick Kelly. Set in the far future and centering on alien technology and alien races, the play resembles “an episode of a scifi series, but self-contained,” Miller said. 

“This play is a little more dramatic and thought provoking,” he added. 

It’s the first time Pellissippi State has produced radio plays, Miller noted, and they are challenging the College’s Theatre students in new and different ways. 

“You don’t have the distractions of the set, the costumes and the facial expressions, so everything you’re doing with your voice, your breath – that’s what the audience is getting,” he said. “It’s all you.” 

Because of restrictions on having guests on campus during the coronavirus pandemic, Miller limited participation in the radio plays to Pellissippi State students instead of opening them up to the community. Twelve students will be acting in the plays, two will be providing sound effects and two will be working on the audio recording. 

During technical rehearsals and performances, actors will be spaced 15 to 20 feet from each other around the perimeter of the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the College’s Hardin Valley Campus, Miller stressed. The additional distance between students addresses that actors and musicians can spread respiratory droplets farther than those who talk without projecting their voices, he said. 

“Doing it live creates the kind of energy that is important to actors, but we will record it so that it can be enjoyed later by those who are not available to listen to it live,” Miller added. 

To tune in to “The Lone Ranger Redux” and “Think Like a Dinosaur” live, visit youtube.com/PellissippiState at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, or 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. 

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Pellissippi State gives canceled Big Ears Festival new life with livestreamed concerts

A jazz band plays on stage while Pellissippi State faculty and students record them
Pellissippi State student Channing Huskey, not pictured, took this photo of Pellissippi State faculty and students recording a recent concert at the Bijou Theatre.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Media Technologies faculty and students are directing, filming, recording, photographing and engineering Sites & Sounds from Big Ears, a series of intimate concerts at the historic Bijou Theatre. 

The new livestreaming initiative fills a gap left when Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival was canceled due to coronavirus. The next concert, with the top-tier contemporary jazz trio The Bad Plus, will premiere at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. 

Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 on the day of the livestream. Those who purchase their tickets in advance or during the livestream also have access to a recording of the concert that will be available until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11.  

Big Ears Festival Executive and Artistic Director Ashley Capps reached out to Assistant Professor Mischa Goldmanwho has served as production manager for Big Ears at the Bijou for many years, to brainstorm how they could support artists and venues that had suffered severely due to COVID-19 closures. 

What they landed on isn’t your typical livestream, where the viewer experiences the concert from a fixed perspective, far from the stage. 

“Ashley wanted to make this very personal and engaging for the audience,” explains Goldman, who serves as program coordinator for Audio Production Engineering at Pellissippi State. “There wasn’t a concrete vision of how he wanted to do this, but I believe we were able to translate and capture Ashley’s desire to present a unique streaming experience.” 

Sites & Sounds from Big Ears livestreams concerts in a single take with a Steadicam — taking viewers down Gay Street, viewing the marquee out front, into the empty Bijou Theatre, backstage and, ultimately, up on stage with the artists. 

“It’s like a first-person experience,” Goldman explained. “You are up close with the artists, not sitting far back, and they break down the fourth wall, talking to each other and to the camera between tunes.” 

Big Ears and Pellissippi State piloted this approach during Sites & Sounds from Big Ears’ first concert – musician R.B. Morris on Aug. 21 – and received rave reviews from viewers. 

“A lot of streaming is flat,” Goldman said. “We got comments like, ‘I didn’t expect this. Wow.’ You are seeing the concert through the eyes of someone invited on stage with the musicians, and that provides intimacy.” 

Filming a jazz trio on stage at the Bijou Theatre
Pellissippi State faculty and students bring livestream viewers on stage with artists during Sites & Sounds from Big Ears at the historic Bijou Theatre. (Photo by student Channing Huskey)

Because of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns for safety, Sites & Sounds from Big Ears utilizes a very small crew. Big Ears Festival Managing Director Aaron Greenwald joins Capps as a producerGoldman is serving as producer and audio mastering engineer and is joined by Pellissippi State Instructor Jonathan Maness, recording and mixing engineering, and Adjunct Matthew Caldwell, director of photography/Steadicam operator and video editor. 

The Pellissippi State Video Production Technology and Photography faculty also selected four students to join them: Channing Huskey, still photography, and Logan MaddoxMichael Moore and Grant Robinson, assistant cameras. 

The students are receiving class credit for their participation. 

“This gives students real-world experience of how to put together a production like this: how to gather assets, how to work within the restraints of technology, how to work on tight deadlines,” Goldman explained. “The students have been very professional. They understand our safety protocols and have worked well with the artists.” 

Capps, the founder of AC Entertainment, which produces the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester in addition to the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, is pleased with the result. 

We’re thrilled, in this most uncertain moment for the arts, to be able to work with artists about whom we care deeply, in venues that are part of the fabric of our city, and with the indispensable faculty and students from Pellissippi State Community College, an East Tennessee treasure, he said. 

For more information on the jazz trio The Bad Plus or to purchase tickets for the livestream, visit www.bigearsfestival.org/thebadplus. 

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