THE WEEKEND GUIDE, SEPT. 16-18: KSO, Spelling Bee, Burlesque Fest, Scott Miller, and More

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Here’s a list of what to do this weekend: burlesque! Tchaikovsky! Cuban jazz, a spelling bee for grown-ups, an archaeological exhibit, and puppets! And don’t forget the “trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock.” Visit the Knoxville Mercury online calendar or pick up this week’s issue for a full list of the weekend’s offerings.

Smoky Mountain Burlesque Festival
The Concourse • $10-$80
Knoxville is home to many festivals, but this newest addition promises to be its most glamorous and glittery. This four-day festival runs through Sept. 18 and will feature a lineup of 75 performers from 16 states and a series of workshops at Broadway Academy of Performing Arts.

Knoxville Writers’ Guild Adult Spelling Bee
Central United Methodist Church • 7 p.m.
If you are barnausic, you may not be acclimatized to standing in front of a large crowd proving your spelling acumen. You might, in fact, feel impuissant. But it’s fun to watch other people demonstrate their supererogatory spelling skills, and the Knoxville Writers’ Guild is giving you the opportunity at its adult spelling-bee fundraiser. Cash prizes and door prizes will be awarded to the most formidable of the 40 contestants. A suggested $2 donation to watch, $10 to spell.

KSO Masterworks Series: Russian Passion
Tennessee Theatre • 7:30 p.m. • $15-$88
New KSO music director and conductor Aram Demirjian makes his official debut with performances of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Havana Cuba All Stars
Clayton Center for the Arts (Maryville) • 7:30 p.m. • $16.50-$29.50

Havana Cuba All-Stars, courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.

Havana Cuba All-Stars, courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.

Some of Cuba’s greatest musicians team up for their debut U.S. tour.

Scott Miller and the Commonwealth
Bijou Theatre • 8 p.m. • $20
scott-millerOne of Knoxville’s favorite expats returns from his family farm in Virginia for a sly little hoedown in his former adopted hometown. With Aaron Lee Tasjan.

Knoxville Secret Shows: Firekid

Firekid by Harper Smith, courtesy of Atlantic RecordsHarper Smith

Firekid by Harper Smith, courtesy of Atlantic Records

Folk soul from Muscle Shoals, Ala. Part of the Knoxville Secret Shows series produced by Knoxville Music Warehouse and Rhythm N’ Blooms; the venue remains a secret until the day before the show.

Knoxville Unearthed: Archaeology in the Heart of the Valley
McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. • Free

Courtesy of the McClung Museum of Natural History and CultureCourtesy of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

Courtesy of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

The history of Knoxville, told through artifacts and historical images and documents. On display Sept. 17-Jan. 8.

Knox Lit Exchange
The Central Collective • 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. • Free
A new monthly writing workshop for high school-age students, led by the dapper and award-winning local poet Liam Hysjulien.

Pilot Light • 10 p.m. • $5 • 18 and up

Darsombra by Ann EvertonAnn Everton

Darsombra by Ann Everton

They call it “trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock.” When you hear the transportive, transcendent guitar tones, you’ll understand why.

Cattywampus Puppets in the Park
Ijams Nature Center • 2-4 p.m. • $10
The local artists and craftspeople in Knoxville’s very own artisanal puppet theater will perform and teach you how to make your own creations.

UT Symphony Orchestra
Alumni Memorial Building • 4 p.m. • Free
The University of Tennessee’s student orchestra presents music by Shostakovich, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky in its first concert of 2016-17.


Senior Editor Matthew Everett manages the Knoxville Mercury's arts & entertainment section, including the comprehensive calendar section—Knoxville’s go-to guide for everything worth doing in the area. You can reach Matthew at

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