Local Music Scene Healthy, Diverse

Chad Robison performs at local venue The Square Room.

Knoxville’s local music scene is healthy and diverse, local industry insiders say.

Though the livelihood of local music is intact, many fail to discover its charms.

“Knoxville is totally a word of mouth town,” said Lisa Cyr, general manager of local venue The Square Room. Cyr points to social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and blogs as tools to spread the word about local music.

One of Knoxville’s most popular blogs, the sunsphere is NOT a wigshop, keeps readers up-to-date with local music happenings. Discussion of upcoming shows and past events shows off Knoxville’s devoted fan base.

Musical Melting Pot

Dialectic Sines performs at a house party. Photo courtesy Ben Allen.

Local DJ, Ben Allen, agreed with Cyr that a grassroots movement is crucial to success, particularly a diverse movement.

Allen, who performs as Dialectic Sines, said a versatile crowd attends his raves. He credits the upward trend of local electronic music to accessibility and a “more at home environment.”

Electronic acts take this sentiment seriously. Many raves take place in fans’ homes. By bringing acts into households, residents are surrounded by live music more than ever.

Thriving Scene

Diversity is related to the health of a music scene, according to Justin Cox, intern at The Square Room. Cox said local music is bolstered by many venues showcasing a variety of artists.

According to Metropulse.com, Knoxville is home to more than 40 venues. AC Entertainment, the promotion giant behind Bonnaroo, is also located in Knoxville.

The music displayed at these venues reads like a genre checklist. Knoxvillians can easily find country, Americana, folk, hard rock, metal, jazz and electronic music.

Map of Popular Knoxville Music Venues

“There’s always live music going on,” said Cyr. “A lot of people are interested to see what’s new. They’re not afraid to see something that they haven’t seen before.”


Don't want to drive to Atlanta or Nashville for a concert? Enjoy Knoxville's eclectic music scene instead. Dozens of venues offer a variety of music to entertain locals.

Related Links


Information on upcoming Knoxville, Tennessee, and regional (particularly Asheville, NC) concerts and musical events.


Alternative arts and entertainment weekly covering the Knoxville area.


Large list of local Knoxville bands with links to band web sites and music.


Popular guide to independent music often featured in Knoxville.


Music blog highlighting upcoming bands in the independent music scene.

Video Interview with Lisa Cyr, General Manager of the Square Room. Ms. Cyr talks about what makes Knoxville music unique, the roles of different venues, and what kind of people Knoxville music lovers are.

This Knoxville Nights podcast is about the local music scene with Justin Cox, an intern at The Square Room. We talk about Knoxville music's personality, and the future of the local music scene.

Listen to our discussion. (05:08) (4.5 MB)

Here's a slideshow offering glimpses into the Knoxville music scene with narration by yours truly. Scenes shown include Matt Wertz, the Wooden Birds, and Great Lake Swimmers at the Square Room, Third Eye Blind and Adoration at the Valarium, andDJ Dialectic Sines at some house parties.

Ben Allen, creative mastermind behind electronic music project Dialectic Sines, shares his thoughts about the state of the Knoxville music scene. He discusses recent trends in local music and the future of the local music community.

Listen to the interview. (27:45) (25.2 MB)

The Flickr page can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/knoxvillenights/ .

Photos detailing the Knoxville music scene were taken at the Tennessee Theater, the Valarium, the Pilot Light, the Square Room, Preservation Pub, and even a couple of house parties.

Square Room Scraps BBQ, Sounds Off

Knoxville's trendy venue, The Square Room, ditched its Blues, Brews, and BBQ weekly promotion. To comfort those lamenting the loss of discounted beer and barbecue stains, a new monthly event is set to take place.

The Sound Off pits five acts against each other in a competition on the first Wednesday night of every month. Starting October 7, 2009, a panel of celebrity judges and the crowd's reaction determines which act will advance to the next round.

The best five acts will compete in a final competition on March 3, 2010. The winner will receive studio time, a produced EP, custom merchandise, up to $ 500 in gear, and an EP release party.

Regardless of who wins each month, Knoxville's local music fans are locked to win. I especially like the crowd being involved in the judging. As we all know, everyone's a critic.