The three-day event brought about five to six thousand Knoxvillians and tourists downtown and to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens over the weekend.
Chyna Brackeen, president of Attack Monkey Productions and director of the festival, said that she considers this year’s Rhythm n Blooms a more community-centered and all-encompassing version of prior festivals.
“It seemed like more of a true community event than just a music festival because there were people that I see at a lot of, you know, fundraisers or dinners or the symphony or whatever who aren’t necessarily rock music people, but somehow they’d gotten the message that it would be really cool to come hang out at the Botanical Garden all day,” she said. “It wasn’t just limited to people who go to concerts all the time.This wide-ranging appeal was due primarily to the variety of entertainment, musical and otherwise, that lasted throughout the weekend. One of these events, a “Chalk Walk” through Market Square and Krutch Park, highlighted local artists of all ages and skill levels.
Rhythm n Blooms’ primary draw, however, is the diverse presentation of music it offers its attendees, including that of professional musicians, street performers, and, in some cases, outgoing pianists who happened to have a tune on hand.
These impromptu performances took place at several pianos placed randomly throughout downtown Knoxville. Brackeen said that this aspect is one of her favorite returning parts of the festival every year.
“It’s a really cool aspect of the festival because you never really know who’s going to be playing them, you know? Some of your festival musicians will show up and play sometimes, and sometimes it’s just a four-year-old banging around on the keys,” she said. “But what’s really exciting is when you see people who are just from the community who are really, really talented piano players who just walk up and start going crazy. It definitely adds a cool energy, and I think it helps to cement the message that, you know, music really touches all of us and impacts everyone’s lives and can do so much to just add happiness.”
Friday night’s performances included several venues throughout downtown Knoxville, including a stage on Market Square open to the public. Brackeen says that this stage serves as a “kickoff event” for the rest of the festival and helps drum up interest for the other two days.
Saturday’s programming began in late afternoon and continued until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Saturday’s performances were spread across venues from the Old City to Market Square and the Tennessee Theater.
Saturday was also the date of a highly-anticipated reunion concert at the Tennessee Theater by the everybodyfields, a Johnson City, Tennessee band that broke up five years ago and has performed together few times since. Lauren Fogleman, a freshman in Chemical Engineering, said that she had been looking forward to the performance and her experience at that particular concert was a great one.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” she said, “and for such a large venue it just felt very intimate and personal and I loved it.”
Brackeen also cited the overwhelmingly positive reaction she received from fans on social media.
“I saw a lot of tweets and Facebook posts from people who were just saying it was one of the most beautiful shows that they’d seen in a long time.”
Sunday, the date of the festival’s highest attendance, was hosted at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. Dogwood Arts intern and sophomore in Public Relations Ainsley Baggot worked all three days of the festival and said Sunday’s atmosphere was unique due to its location.
“It was a beautiful view,” she said of the Botanical Gardens. “I was there until like one A.M. and people were still leaving and just having a good time.”
Brackeen said that she, too, was proud of Sunday’s conclusion to what many told her was the best Rhythm n Blooms yet.
“On Sunday, it all sort of comes together because everyone’s in one place and seeing how happy everybody was and just- I wouldn’t call it a surprise necessarily, but definitely it’s moments like that that make you realize why you do this.”
Another of Brackeen’s many reasons to be so passionate about the festival is the clear impact that it has on local bands and small touring artists.
“These artists are generally sleeping on people’s floors and riding around in vans 300 days a year and it’s backbreaking, really hard work, and they do it because they believe in what they’re doing and they love it,” she said. “To be able to come to something like this and find new people who are going to help them sell their music to other people and who are going to tell their friends to come see them, you know, it makes it sustainable.”
A limited supply of early-bird tickets for next year’s festival and more information are available at RhythmnBloomsFest.com.
An audio slideshow with pictures from the event can be found here.