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Carrie Rodriguez

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Rodriguez came to the forefront of the Americana music scene through her collaborations with Chip Taylor. The pair released five full-length albums and an EP together, topping radio charts and performing to sold-out audiences worldwide. From there, Carrie launched her solo career and has become an audience favorite, in-demand instrumentalist, and critical darling. She is known for her nuanced, versatile performances—at one moment powerful and steamy, and the next delicate and demure—and has been lauded by roots-rock stalwarts like Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo and Lyle Lovett as one of the most compelling musicians in the genre. Rodriguez, who is of Mexican-American descent, will team up with Knoxville’s Cruz Contreras for a Mexican-inspired set on the International Stage at the East Tennessee History Center. Later, she will be joined by guitarist Luke Jacobs for a performance at The Square Room.

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Vance Thompson’s
Red Hot Dixieland Jazz Band

Vance Thompson’s Red Hot Dixieland Jazz Band swings in the New Year with rompin’, stompin’ New Orleans classics. Featuring Vance Thompson, trumpet; William Boyd, clarinet and saxophones; Larry Vincent, guitar and banjo; Keith Brown, piano; Taylor Coker, bass; Kenneth Brown, drums.

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Robinella

Robinella’s career began with a sort of luck that rarely comes to most artists within their lifetime. What started out as a simple husband-and-wife duo fresh out of college quickly grew to a full-fledged band that blended Bluegrass, Country and Jazz. The combination of Robinella’s honey-sweet vocals with violin, mandolin, bass, drums and piano captivated audiences, thus creating the ever popular Robinella & the CC Stringband. With a few simple twists of fate, what followed was a whirlwind of rapid success - Columbia Records liked what they heard and signed the band in 2002. This led to a national tour including opening for such artists as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Nickel Creek, Robert Earl Keen, Kasey Chambers, Del McCoury and Rodney Crowell as well as an appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and a music video on CMT for their hit single, “Man Over”. In 2006, Robinella was nominated for “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the Americana Music Awards. But then life, as it has a tendency to do, threw a few curveballs her way. She became a mom and a couple of years later, she and her husband/musical partner split up with a new record almost completed. Exhausted and somewhat disillusioned with the industry and its promises, it was time to regroup, redefine and get back to her roots. So she returned to her home, the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and got back in touch with what she truly wanted—love, family, friendship, music, art, truth. With that comes her latest release, “Fly Away Bird”, her most mature work. However, within the melancholy and touches of sadness there is not true despair. For such a voice—that dazzling, warm, bright-as-summer-sunshine soprano—to even communicate it would most likely defy certain laws of emotional physics. No, instead, this album, beneath the disappointments, she is brimming with optimism—with hope. You can feel it, and even more important than that, you believe—because she believes, and because her music is so honest and so genuine and so forthright that you just can't help but knowing that this is an artist who still finds life to be magical.

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The Black Cadillacs

The Black Cadillacs deliver a unique brand of rock and roll that combines elements of country, blues, soul and R&B. With a powerful 5 piece set up, including 2 guitar players, a thunderous yet precise rhythm section, and a stand-alone frontman, The Black Cadillacs are able to both whip an audience into a frenzy, and just as quickly ease them back into a melodic groove. Over the last 2 years they have been working hard honing their sound and live performance, and have made a name for themselves in the region. They have begun to reach out to the surrounding southeast and their particular style of rock and roll is catching on quickly.

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Sean McCoullough

Sean McCollough has been entertaining and educating families and school groups with his energetic shows since the mid 90s. He has been compared to Pete Seeger and John McCutcheon for his use of traditional music and storytelling as well as his charismatic performances. He plays the guitar, banjo and mandolin and draws heavily on the music of the Appalachian Mountains. He mixes world music, original songs, and other contemporary sounds into his performances that are built around audience participation.He is the host of the popular WDVX radio show Kidstuff and recently released an album of sixteen songs for children and families entitled This Is Our House. Steve Wildsmith of the Daily Times says, “It's music that doesn't sound prefabricated or condescending, tunes that can be enjoyed by all ages even if the target audience is kids.”

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Jodie Manross

Known as the “little women with the big voice,” folk singer-songwriter Jodie Manross recently moved back to Knoxville after five years in New York City. Manross has opened for artists such as BB King, John Mayer, Blind Boys of Alabama, Keb' Mo', Hayes Carll, Leon Russell, Sugarland, and Dar Williams and has had her music featured on television shows such as "So You Think You Can Dance." Besides being a musician, Jodie is now a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Knoxville. She will also be performing with Mark Lamb as they have collaborated on many dance shows in New York City. Jodie is honored to be performing for a second year at First Night!

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Mark Lamb:
Excerpts from “A Boy and His Dolly”

Mark Lamb has been a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and company director for over two decades, and we are proud that he spent many of those years in Knoxville, founding and developing acclaimed company Circle Modern Dance. Several years ago, Mark moved to New York and founded the company that bears his name, bringing to NYC audiences the surprising, funny and heartfelt work local audiences had loved so well. Building upon a wide range of classic techniques, Mark has pioneered in taking the century-old modern dance tradition in new directions in a new millennium. Mark will present excerpts of his show “A Boy and His Dolly”—a dance theatre piece tracing how Dolly Parton became Mark’s spiritual guide. Nancy Brennan Strange and Jodie Manross will also appear.

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Josiah Leming

You’d be hard pressed to find a kid in the world that could tell you the stories Josiah Leming could tell you. Stories of growing up in the hard-luck rural town of Morristown, Tennessee, of leaving that town at the age of 17 to pursue an unlikely music career. Stories of finding his way onto national television on American Idol only to be cut down, and being lifted back up by a legion of newfound fans and eventually cutting a massive deal with Warner Brothers Records. Then the stories of that glory slowly turned to three years of more hardship, ultimately leading him back to the start. He could tell you stories of lessons learned that would take even the most active of men a lifetime to amass. Josiah Leming has risen and fallen, and risen and fallen, and he is certainly rising again.

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Knoxville Early Music Project

The Knoxville Early Music Project (KEMP), founded in 1991, is an ensemble devoted to performing Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments. Over the past twenty years, KEMP has performed throughout the Southeast, delighting audiences with lively, informed interpretations of a wide range of Renaissance and Baroque music, including dance tunes, art songs, virtuosic instrumental music, Italian monody, cantatas, and folk and art music of the British Isles.

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Forbidden Fire and Bellydance

The Forbidden Fire and Bellydance feature Nur Barrie and Soubhi Kiewiet's dark fantasy of tribal inspired fusion bellydance. Evolving together since 2000, they have woven through many genras, including burn festivals, blacklight performance, fire charming, and teaching. Soubhi and Nur are joined by Maelstrom Kiewiet, and Dale Johnson for their fire performances, and often have guest performers along for the ride.

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Four Leaf Peat

Knoxville's premier Irish band Four Leaf Peat is influenced by Ireland's traditional pipers, fiddlers and singers, as well as a new generation of innovators like The Bothy Band, Planxty, Dervish, Lunasa and Danu. After playing together at the local session for some time, Four Leaf Peat came together as a band in 2004 to play a benefit concert for the historic Bijou Theatre. Band members are: Chad Beauchaine on fiddle; Gil Draper on guitar, vocals, mandolin and bouzouki; Jason Herrera on bodhran, whistle, vocals, flute; and Rick Hall on hammer dulcimer, bodhran, vocal, whistle and bones. They provided the background music for 90 Miles with Chef Garrett on PBS. With much new material to share, they're preparing to release a new CD in time for St. Patrick's Day 2012!

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Louise Mosrie

Nashville singer/songwriter Louise Mosrie creates a world of lush detail and wide-open emotion through her lyrics and vocal delivery. Influenced by Nanci Griffith, Allison Krauss and Lucinda Williams, Mosrie's songs tell stories of joy, love, struggle and heartbreak through the vivid characters and scenery of Southern life. Her new album, Home, combines Americana, bluegrass and folk. Mosrie lived in Knoxville when she began writing songs in her early 20s. She moved to Nashville in 2004, but we still consider her one of us and shared in her success when she won the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition in 2010.

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Kelley McRae

Brooklyn based songwriter Kelley McRae grew up in Mississippi and writes southern folk songs tinged with soul and gospel influences. The Nashville Scene put it well when they said Kelley "breaks past the usual sensitive singer-songwriter limitations with a booming, R&B-influenced voice." Her albums have found impressive fans: Paste Magazine gave her four stars, WNYC's 'Soundcheck' named her performance one of the year's best and Wim Wenders says her music makes him cry. In 2011, Kelley hit the road in her VW camper van, traveling 30,000 miles and playing 120 shows. (Photo credit: Duck Duck Collective)

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Rachel Pearl

Rachel Pearl channels the classics of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, while crooning the self-penned compositions featured on her CDs as well as some interesting covers. Switching off on semi-hollow guitar and ukulele, Pearl puts on a jazzy, sassy acoustic show that's nostalgic and romantic, no matter the season. Take it from the Knoxville Journal: "Rachel Pearl adds a fun-loving touch...Not only does she have an incredible voice, but she has lots of sass and pizzazz as well."

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Biz’Cirque

Creating mischief, random acts of fun, slapstick comedy and spontaneous, thought provoking art, through a medium of stage and music. Biz’Cirque is committed to joining community through the spirit of the variety show.

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Hudson K (appearing with Biz’Cirque)

Hudson K is the brainchild of singer/songwriter Christina Horn. Combining influences that span decades, Christina's work dwells in the abstract, emerging in timeless forms. Drawing her inspiration from other such artists as Tori Amos and the much buzzed St. Vincent, Hudson K has crafted their own unique sound of avant-garde and pop fusion. Incredibly photogenic and fashion-minded, Horn is a glamorous figure for the alternative music realm; a seeming star-in-waiting, successor to that mystical rock-heroine crown. Hudson K's music is bold and vivid. Her live shows are made up of thunderous marching band drums, desert guitar, ballet school piano, harpsichord, sub-bass snarls, hand-claps and naive beats. There are also interludes of exquisite heartbreak; the piano ballad 'Champion' has on more than one occasion left audience members in tears.

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One World Circus

One World Circus is a Knoxville-based circus troupe creating circus for social change and teaching circus arts to kids and adults. With larger-than-life puppets, juggling, stilt-walking and fire-breathing, Lissa McLeod and Jake Weinstein bring the circus to the streets and puppets to the people.

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Dragonfly Aerial Arts

Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio was started by six local aerialists who met in 2010 through their shared passion for the aerial arts. Their Studio is located in downtown Knoxville, where they have developed a variety of different trapeze and aerial silks classes ranging from beginners with no previous experience to advanced students seeking to perform.

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Erin Donovan, "The Duchess of Snort"

The Duchess of Snort is new to the local comedy scene. Lucky for her the folks around here are nice and "Bless her heart, she snorts" only comes out every once in a while. Armed with some high heels and a Just Busted magazine The Duchess tells stories about life in the single world and real life job experiences. She has shared the stage, or rather gotten off before they got on, with comedians like Valerie Storm, Spanky Brown, Josh Phillips and Jerrod Harris. She opened for Leon Redbone this fall. For two years she has not been the Host with the Most at Side Splitters Comedy Club, but she keeps going back to open mic nights with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. She also headlines the Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festival with 3 other comedians. The Duchess also has a real job where she is a mild manned daredevil on Channel 10. Even though she hasn't garnished any funny statues she is an Emmy, AP and MAB award winning videographer. You may have also seen her in "There's Something About Mary." She is recording her first cassingle and is hoping for a spot in the Real Housewives if Knox County as the nosy neighbor. She will be joined by Alex Stokes.

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Einstein Simplified

Ring in the New Year with laughter care of Einstein Simplified, Knoxville's longest running comedy improvisational troupe. They specialize in short-form improv and guarantee at least three hours of uproarious laughter in every two-hour show. Their shows consist of about 20 different improvisational games, selected from a list of over 100, and are driven by audience suggestions and sometimes include audience members.

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Black Atticus

Black Atticus is a wordsmith, songwriter, die-hard emcee, public speaker, and nationally ranked slam poet. He's performed for music venues, colleges, and community interest group-festivals and gatherings of 1,200 people or more. He's shared stages with artist such as Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo, Blackalicious, Nikki Giovanni, and many more. His influence over the local poetry and hip hop scene is prominent. Expect a quality show by a non-egomaniac with skills to pay-da-bills!!!!

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Marina Orchestra

The members of Marina Orchestra have had their ears on the world music scene for quite a while, and they love it. After hearing the mighty Calypsonians of Trinidad, the infectious beats of African Highlife and the lost age of Cambodian Rock N' Roll, they decided to bring the same zest for good, fun music to life in their own backyard. So, just as American R&B influenced Jamaicans to conceive Reggae, an entire world of music has culminated to create Marina Orchestra. Formed in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, the exoticism of foreign music is not the only influence for the group. An inherent sense of popular Western music makes their sound feel natural and familiar. It's truly a crossroads brand of music only possible in this new age of communication. Marina Orchestra has one goal: which is to unite people through music and dance, and one word to remember: "Positivity". They truly believe that "what goes around, comes around", so they're spreading the goodness, making people happy, and getting people up and out. Their catchy melodies sit expertly on top of a wash of reverb-laden guitar supported by a storm of percussion. Their lyrics say it all, "There'll be no grieving, with music like thunder!"

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The Theorizt

According to Metro Pulse, The Theorizt is "Knoxville's answer to The Roots"—bringing a fresh blend of carefully constructed hip hop lyrics, fluent melody and guitar virtuosity. Ask anyone that has seen the band live, and they would describe it as "hip hop, but not". The Theorizt looks to bring an energetic, and interactive live show wherever the stage may be. The band has quickly climbed to the top in Knoxville; getting radio time on 90.3 The Rock (WUTK) for their singles "Me & My Girlfriend" & "Call Me", playing the best local venues, and being crowned as Metro Pulse's Best Hip Hop Band of 2011. The Theorizt has become more than six guys playing music together: IT'S AN EXPERIENCE.

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If Birds Could Fly

From the mountains of Southwest Virginia comes a folk trio striving to bring their music to all who are willing to lend an ear. Playing a haunting mix of Appalachian folk and blues, If Birds Could Fly was founded in early 2010 by vocalist Brittany Ashley and guitarist Andrew Carter. The duo started playing anywhere from street corners to dive bars to festivals and immediately gained traction due to Brittany's sultry, heart-stopping vocals.

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Now You See Them

Now You See Them is a super-fun acoustic indie folk/pop trio dedicated to delivering a great time. Appealing to virtually all audiences through beautiful harmonies, slow burning lyrics, and non traditional instruments, NYST combines thoughtfully ironic originals alongside carefully selected covers making their shows a not-to-be-missed breath of fresh air.
Listen on YouTube.

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Matt Woods

Matt has been a figure in the East Tennessee music scene for the past ten years, performing in several bands as well as working as a solo artist. Until recently, he worked devotedly with his latest band Plan A, where he wrote songs, sang, played guitars, played cards, drank beers, and often drove from show to show along the east coast in a big, brown van named Daisy. Plan A released and supported two full length albums between 2004 and 2009. Through solo performances and band appearances, Matt has averaged over 200 shows a year for the past few years, an average that would be higher if it weren't for a very unfortunate thumb-wrestling accident in the spring of '06. These days, Matt is focused on writing and recording new material and performing solo shows both at home and on the road in support of his latest release "The Matt Woods Manifesto."

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