No offense to all the male coaches of the world, but University of Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball Coach Pat Head Summit is better than you are. We mean that in the nicest possible way. Just check the scoreboard.
Summit will start her 36th season coaching the Lady Vols as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history (men or women, in any division), and as one of only two collegiate coaches to win more than 1,000 games. She has brought the Lady Vols to eight NCAA National Championships, 13 SEC tournament titles and has been both the SEC Coach of the Year and the NCAA Coach of the Year seven times each. All that and her players have a 100 percent graduation rate.
Sorry Phil Jackson, we think you've met your match.
BEST MOVIE THEATER:
REGAL PINNACLE STADIUM 18 & IMAX
Even a terrible, horrendous movie is better when you watch it at the movie theater. It's a law of science or something. You could be watching the latest installment of "brought to you by the director of 'Spy Kids,' " featuring a cast of animated talking animals interacting with live action humans, with the voices of Robin Williams, Kathy Griffin and Gilbert Gottfried, but it would still be better at a movie theater.
Especially at this movie theater. Regal Cinemas Pinnacle Stadium 18 is 18 screens of wonderful. Those 18 screens mean there's a wide selection of films to choose from, so whether you like horror or comedy or drama or family, you'll get something you like. Not only that, you'll see it stadium-style, with state-of-the-art audio and video, and maybe even in IMAX, if it's a blockbuster like "Star Trek" or one of the Harry Potter films.
If you were lucky enough to score tickets, you'll especially love Pinnacle come Tuesday, Nov. 17, when the premiere of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" comes to the theater. A drawing for tickets will be on Nov. 3 for those who registered for it from Oct. 9-11.
Runners-up: Regal Riviera Stadium 8, Tennessee Theatre
BEST DANCE CLUB:
COTTON EYED JOE
We all know that we can find 50 Cent in da club with a bottle full of bub (that's champagne to anyone over 25).
But where can we find you when it's time to unwind after a rough week at work? Evidently at Cotton Eyed Joe on the dance floor.
Cotton Eyed Joe is a dance club that caters to everyone. Monday is family night, featuring no alcohol, prize giveaways, free line dance lessons and free pony rides. Tuesdays are Men's Night Out, where you'll find poker and $2 draft beers. Thursday is Ladies Night, with free beer for the women, a free Tex-Mex buffet and free dance lessons.
Appetizers, entrees, salads and deli-style sandwiches will fill you up if you're hungry. Plus there are special events like University of Tennessee pep rallies, concerts, and, of course, that dancing we mentioned.
Runners-up: Hannah's Cafe, Academy Ballroom
BEST DOWNTOWN HANGOUT:
DOWNTOWN GRILL & BREWERY
Downtown Knoxville has gone from barren to vibrant in the span of just a few short years. Today the sheer amount of stuff going on at any given time can feel almost overwhelming: Sundown in the City, First Friday, First Night, Shakespeare in the Square, the Rossini Festival, concerts, ice skating, you name it, it's happening.
Downtown Grill & Brewery puts you in the middle of it all. Located at the heart of Gay Street, you'll find lots of outdoor seating, perfect for people or parade watching. Or spend the evening indoors drinking one of the hand-crafted signature beers. Pool tables are upstairs, and there's a chalkboard in the bathroom for the artistically-inclined. Open a busy evening there, celebrate passing a big test, or sit and be.
Runners-up: Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, The Crown & Goose
BEST GAY CLUB:
East Tennessee and gay-rights activism don't seem to go together. But this region of the country has made significant strides in regards to the rights of gays and lesbians. Earlier this year a lawsuit filed by the ACLU resulted in schools restoring online access to educational Web sites about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Knoxville's PrideFest has been held on and off since 1991; this year's event feattured a parade, venders, musical performers and other entertainment.
The Carousel is part of that tradition as well, and is one of the oldest gay bars in the southeastern United States. The club bills itself as "the oldest continually open one-name, one-location bar in the downtown-UT area" - and it offers one of Knoxville's best drag shows. The two-level club has three bars, a dance floor, billiard tables, a patio and live shows several times a week.
Runners-up: Kurt's Bar, Rainbow Club West
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE:
Downtown Knoxville's Tennessee Theatre opened in the fall of 1928 as a movie palace. In those days, when most everyone wore hats, moviegoers would pay 40 cents for a matinee or 60 cents for an evening show.
The 1,631-seat theater is designed in the Spanish-Moorish style and filled with French-style chandeliers, bright colors, intricate tapestries, carpets and draperies and one impressive pipe organ.
The Tennessee received a major $25.5 million renovation and expansion, which began in June 2003. The venue reopened in January 2005 to an expanded stage and orchestra pit, modernized acoustics and an overall reestablishment of the building's former grandeur.
All this to say that the Tennessee Theatre is an impressive place to see a live show. Performances range from Broadway shows to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra to performers like The Black Crowes and Lyle Lovett. It isn't everywhere you'll find a rehabbed 1920s movie palace, so take advantage on occasion.
Runners-up: Bijou Theatre, The Valarium
BEST LOCAL ARTIST (NONMUSIC):
MIKE C. BERRY
There's nothing wrong with an East Tennessee-inspired landscape or two. This is a beautiful region, and it's only natural to see artists reflect that in their work. But don't make the mistake of thinking that's all there is to the arts scene in this part of the country.
Knoxville artist Mike C. Berry paints cityscapes and portraits with sweeping strokes of the brush. He captures the energy of urban life around him using layers of color. "With a technique he describes as 'brushy realism,' (he) strives to capture the alluring effects of light in each work, ranging from the glow of a cafe at night to the brilliance of the sun on a(n) outcropping of trees," says the biography on his Web site.
A graduate of Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, Ga., Berry currently serves as a gallery manager for the University of Tennessee's Downtown Gallery. His work has been exhibited at the Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville Area Chamber of Commerce and even at Neyland Stadium. You can also find numerous samples online at www.mikecberry.com.
Runners-up: Shelly O'Barr, Preston Farabow
BEST LOCAL BAND:
This past April, an estimated 10,000 people saw Dishwater Blonde open for Arrested Development on Market Square in downtown Knoxville as part of the annual Sundown in the City concert series. Not a bad way to introduce your music to a new audience, or to remind the fans you already have of why that happens to be.
Dishwater Blonde (or just DWB, as the band is often called) got its start when Davis Mitchell and Robby Mathis met while camping out to buy tickets for a Prince show. The two started writing music together long before DWB was officially a band.
Today the group consists of Mitchell on lead vocals and guitar, Mathis on bass, Cozmo Hollaway on guitar, Nakia Davis on cowbell and vocals and Gerald Ware on drums. DWB has spent the past six years bringing its energetic live funk and soul shows to other parts of the country. It's also released three albums, two live DVDs and has shared the stage with acts like Morris Day and the Time, Victor Wooten and Bootsy Collins.
Runners-up: The Dirty Guv'nahs, The Retroholics
BEST LOCAL SINGER:
All good things must come to an end, or so they say. Blount County songstress Robinella has been performing on Sunday nights at Barley's Taproom in Knoxville's Old City for over a decade (minus the occasional tour or child's birth). That ended in August, when Robinella performed her final regular gig there.
That's not to say that Robinella is hanging up her vocal chords. A new album is on the horizon, a follow up to "Solace for the Lonely," her 2006 record on Dualtone. She also performs on Rob Ickes' latest album, "Road Song." She'll even continue to perform, both locally and occasionally in other cities. So this isn't the end, just a new beginning. That's a good thing. Robinella could record an album of herself simply sighing for 30 minutes and it would still sound hypnotic and beautiful.
Runners-up: Lindsey Stamey, Missy Gayle/Jonathan Sexton (tie)
BEST LOCAL BLOGGER:
If you've been in Knoxville for long enough, you've come across the name Cynthia Moxley. Moxley is the founder and chief executive officer of Moxley Carmichael, a firm that delves into public relations, government relations, communications planning, new media, marketing and so forth. In other words, she knows a lot about the media and a lot about Knoxville. Previous to that, Moxley was an award-winning journalist, newspaper editor and written word ninja.
Oh, and she's a blogger, too. Moxley's Blue Streak blog weighs in about all things Knoxville and Knoxville happenings. Frequent topics include art, downtown, historic preservation, journalism, media, music, new media, politics, public relations and theater. Moxley lives and works in downtown Knoxville, so her posts have an especially city center feel to them. But even if you don't live there, you'll still enjoy her take on life in East Tennessee.
BEST LOCAL TWEETER:
When placed in the right hands, Twitter can be a force for all that is good and beautiful in the universe. It brings us hilarious quips from Stephen Colbert ("There's nothing wrong with stretching the Truth. We stretch taffy, and that just makes it more delicious.") and poignant sparks of creativity like "News Sentinel" music reporter Wayne Bledsoe's serialized novel.
But lesser mortals use Twitter to clutter up your life with gems like, "So far? Not really enjoying my first foray into knitting with double-pointed needles." Every. Five. Minutes. Talk about putting the twit in Twitter.
Fortunately local Tweeter, author and public relations whiz Cynthia Moxley isn't so clueless and self absorbed. Moxley's tweets sparkle with life and local flavor. Follow her as she ruminates about Tennessee Shines, Market Square, local dining and other things we find interesting and worthy of Twittering.
Moxley administers a second Twitter account, @moxcar, which she uses to tweet about Moxley Carmichael and its clients.
Runners-up: Jeremy Floyd, @jfloyd; Jimmy Holt, @wivkjimmy
BEST FREE WI-FI SPOT:
Some people have the tunnel vision it takes to work on a project by themselves, with no distractions. Other people need a bit of diversion to be productive. It's a strange phenomena, but one that Panera Bread is working to study.
Panera Bread just screams, "Hang out here with your laptop while you work on your paper but also sneak over to play Farmville on Facebook and check Twitter while eating a blueberry muffin and drinking a giant mug of hot chocolate."
And, really, who are you to turn down a request like that?
Runners-up: Market Square, Krystal
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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