Modern Studio Features a Hot February

The temperatures are traditionally cold, but Modern Studio is turning up the heat in February! Here’s our announced lineup of events this month:

Valentine’s Day Make & Take: Feb 9. Whether you have someone you love or someone you loathe, join us for this fun filled night of Valentines crafting. Don’t think you are crafty enough? Local artist, Sarah Brobst, will be on hand to lead you through the card crafting process and will have tons of ideas to help you get your message across.

Jubal with Eli FoxFeb 10. Jubal is the americana-folk coalescence of Taylor Kress & Bonnie Simmons based in Knoxville, Tennessee. With two voices and a guitar, Jubal works with simplicity to create an intricate and emotional sound. Joining Jubal will be the immensely talented and precocious Eli Fox Music! Eli’s style will take you on a musical journey to the past, present and future.

Count This Penny: Feb 11.Count This Penny  is a singer-songwriter duo born in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. They have appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. 

Angry Dad Gamer Let’s Play LIVEFeb 15. If you watch people play video games online and wonder “hey, I’d like to try that!” this is a great place to start. Host of Angry Dad Gamer’s Twitch/YouTube channels, Victor Agreda will host this “let’s play” event featuring the oddball game hit, I Am Bread.

Chocolate & Wine with Marble City OperaFeb 16. Join members of Marble City Opera for a delightful Valentine’s day feast of chocolate tastings & wine pairings provided by Holly Hambright of Holly’s Eventful Catering, and enjoy vocal serenades by Knoxville’s most talented musicians.

Adeem The Artist with Sanz EnglishFeb 24. We can not wait for this one. Join us on Friday, February 24th for a double dose of excellent songwriters when Adeem The Artist and Sanz English (Joey English) come to Modern Studio!
Drakeford with Travis Bigwood & Aubrey MullinsFeb 25. If you want to know what grace sounds like, this is it. Drakeford’s music is the kind of sound that’s akin to a cold lemonade on a sunny day and warm coffee while hiding from the rain with friends.

February Craft Fair at Modern StudioFeb 26. We’re back with another sampling of local artists and craftspeople from 11am-4pm.

Vertigo: An Evening with Dr. Andy HarnsbergerFeb 26. An interactive concert featuring renowned marimba clinician, recitalist and composer Dr. Andy Harnsberger. The concert will feature original percussion compositions for marimba, as well as an interactive educational component combining lecture with Q&A.

Third Thursday Theatre #1: Get real!

Imagine what you could accomplish as a performer with unlimited resources…

Ok, now imagine what you could accomplish with just slightly less limited resources…

Seriously though, now imagine what you could accomplish when you didn’t have to spend more than half of your show budget just on venue rental, and could perform in a venue that actually put the needs of your production first. And now imagine that venue rental actually including production support like audience outreach.

Well, dream on and dream BIG! Modern Studio and the Knoxville Performing Arts Exchange are here to improve the way local performing artists produce their shows.

After years of producing, directing and performing in shows with various companies in and around Knoxville, I’ve noticed one common and gigantamous hurdle we’ve all faced: the cost and limitations of found space venues. Despite the size and diversity of our performing arts community – ranging from small community theatres and improv groups to professional theatre, dance and opera companies – up to now we’ve lacked a modestly sized theatre venue in which to rehearse and produce shows for any real length of time. Bars and entertainment venues (which can cost upwards of $1000 a night to rent) are geared mostly for music performances, with small stages and limited lighting capabilities. But to create a truly immersive, collective experience such as theatre or opera, you need a large performance area, you need good lighting, you need great acoustics. You need time to test your technical elements in tech rehearsal. Most importantly of all, you need comfortable seats and toilets really nearby.

Now, there’s a lot to be said for the found-space experience of performances. I’ve enjoyed them myself as both audience and performer in places ranging from a metal and woodworking shop to a marble works to a nightclub, converted car dealership, churches…and on and on. There is a unique intimacy that creates a singular connection between the audience and the performers. A special secret you share because you were there together for this one moment in this weird little space.

But being restricted to performing only in found spaces takes a toll. Time after time, we spend the better part of our budgets renting a venue for one-offs or one-weekend productions. We spend more money renting lights, sound equipment and extra chairs to lend the space somewhat of a theatre-esque quality. We exhaust ourselves and our wonderful volunteers loading everything in and schlepping everything out. We compete with the sounds of HVAC systems, street cleaners, sirens, and trains. We scramble to incorporate technical elements and navigate a new performance space in the wee hours just before an opening show.  Sure it’s a free adrenaline rush, but it gets old after a while!

It can also be hard to get you, our audience, to find us as we move from place to place to place. We put it all on the line, often only to barely make up our costs in ticket sales. “Where the hell is that? Where do you even park? Oh forget it, let’s just watch a movie instead.”

I’ve worked with so many incredibly talented artists in this town both onstage and behind the scenes, and so I found myself wondering what we could actually accomplish if the show budget wasn’t blown by venue rental. What if we could perform in a space that was actually intended for performance? What if we could have the luxury of time in such a place to test our technical elements. What if– what if someone working at that venue actually cared enough to help us out and even offered marketing and promotional support?

What if? Why not?!

So I came up with the idea for KPAX – the Knoxville Performing Arts Exchange (hoping against all hope that everyone has had time to forget that Kevin Spacey movie). I figured I had the chutzpah to pull a thing together for the betterment of the entire performing arts community. There are plenty of big buildings sitting cold and dark just in my neighborhood of Downtown North that could hold a theatre. Surely there are grants out there for this. Who wouldn’t want to give their money hand over fist for such a fantastic cause? Surely someone out there could see the brilliance of my plan!

Well, I had some chutzpah, but I needed more. There were empty buildings, but none that could support just shows. There were grants, but not for starting from the ground up.

Fortunately, there were several someones out there who saw the brilliance of my plan. I had the good luck of performing in Tiger Lily Theatre’s production of A Doll’s House with Victor Agreda, Jr. in December 2015. He’d had the idea of a multimedia/multi-use venue on his mind for years already. With that show, he got to experience first hand the hardships and hurdles a typical performing arts group faces in Knoxville. We performed in a dance studio, and we had one night to load in all our set pieces, build the set and stumble through a rehearsal to test our lights and sound. We waited for the last dance class to let out at 7:00 PM, and then started loading everything in. We blacked out the mirrors, assembled rod-&-drape rigs, focused lights, set up a sound booth, and brought in all our props, costumes and set dressing. By midnight, set construction still had not had enough time to complete, and we actors were sent home without a chance for a final dress rehearsal.

Still and all, we performed the show to small, but enthusiastic audiences. And then after just three days, we had to dismantle the whole production and pack it in. Didja get to see it? Didja hear about it? Didja want to?

Burke Brewer got to see that show. As an opera singer, she understood what we had to go through to put the whole thing on. She, too, wondered what we could’ve accomplished if we’d just a had little bit more…time, resources, SPACE!

Hard to believe that just over a year later Modern Studio is well on its way to becoming Knoxville’s premier venue for co-working, retail, music, and…da da da DA! Performing Arts!! I was more than a little thrilled when Burke & Victor came to me with their idea for the space. It seemed at once as improbable as it was impressive. And they wanted me and KPAX to be part of it. Would it really work? Would Knoxville go for it? Could we really find a developer to support it?

Shortly after one of my first meetings with Burke and Victor, I got a fortune cookie that said, “A new venture will be a success.” Well, I’ve never been lied to by a cookie. So the answer to all three questions, it now seems, was a resounding, “YES!”

Thanks to the wonderful support of Joe Fox of Fox & Fogarty, and Burke and Victor’s ingenuity, the building has transformed from decrepit realty to glorious reality. And thanks to their magnanimity, I’m able to make KPAX real, too. Modern Studio will provide a stable, affordable home for performing arts groups, with all the essential amenities and utilities for putting on top-notch shows. KPAX will provide production support ranging from promotional support and resource acquisition to complete project management consultation. It’s just the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You’re going to be hearing a lot from me, Burke, Victor, Kent Oglesby and Christian Rue about Modern Studio and all the shows and events we’ll host. Why not make yours one of them?

Contact me at for more information on KPAX and the performing arts at Modern Studio!

Modern Studio’s January Calendar: Already Amazing

Little did Burke and I know how much Knoxville needed a listening room in the summer of 2016. It’s been a long journey from our initial concept of Modern Studio to this month’s first scheduled events, but we couldn’t be more excited for our starting lineup!


Kicking off the month on January 14 is Daje Morris, a wandering poet, and a truth-telling, story-seeking singer-songwriter. She drinks her coffee black, and is often found toeing the lines between introversion, extroversion, and shamelessness. She is deeply devoted to exposing beauty in all of its messy and inarticulate forms.
Tickets available here!

Then, January 20 it’s a nationwide fundraiser event for the ACLU, What A Joke, featuring local and regional comedians including Alex Stokes and Tyler Sonnichsen.
Tickets available here!

January 27 is Shayla McDaniel and a special show in celebration of her new EP, “26 Letters”! Shayla creates a seamless blend of jazz and alternative pop. The Knoxville, Tennessee, singer-songwriter has performed in the Cre865 Showcase, the official Startup Day afterparty, and live on-air at WUTK 90.3 FM. McDaniel has also caught the attention of the Knoxville Music Warehouse, who chose her song “I’ll Leave the Light On” as one of the top 16 songs from Knoxville Artists in 2016.
Tickets available here!

Then, Saturday January 28 we’ve got Zoë Nutt and Devin Badgett bringing some magic to the studio. Zoë Nutt is a storyteller. She likes to tell stories with music and poignant and meaningful lyrics, but it’s perhaps her vocal interpretation of those words that brings her musical tales to life. Simply put, Zoë Nutt is a voice you will not soon forget. Devin Badgett is a super-talented, dynamic singer/songwriter. Busting out bluegrass tunes with Subtle Clutch for years, he now performs his lovely brand of upbeat pop-folk as a solo act. You won’t want to miss this!
Tickets available here!

We may add more shows to January and we’ve already got some great stuff coming up the rest of the year as well. Subscribe to our newsletter, which premieres this month as well, to make sure you hear about all our events first.

Classes & Other Events in January:

  • January 15: Podcast interest group meet up, 5-6pm (Free)
  • January 24: Smartphone Camera Workshop, 6-7pm ($10)
  • January 28: Denim Bootcamp, 10am-6pm ($225, limit 5 students)
  • January 29: Craft Fair (Free to public)
  • January 31: Adulting Class “How to Change Tires”, 6-8pm ($45)

What in the World is Co-Working?

“Co-working” is an unusual term. As the workplace continues to change and evolve, and more and more people start to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, the typical 9-5 job becomes more a concept thing of the past. Start-ups have been modeling co-working for years, sharing office space and rapid fire group synergy without the physical boundaries of walls or cubicles, but we see it everyday. Folks working on laptops in coffee shops are technically co-working.


We knew from day one that in order to keep Modern Studio financially supported, we would need multiple revenue streams. We also wanted the building to be used 80% of the time rather than sit empty during the day. Opening up the space during the day for co-working was our answer to that. Knoxville is a thriving entrepreneurial community, and we know from personal experience how distracting a home office can be. We wanted to offer something that responded to the changing needs of the workforce, and offered something unique to Knoxville.

the studio

So what does The Studio offer that you can’t get from squatting in a coffee shop all day? We’re offering an open concept floor plan with work tables, professional internet, semi-private meeting spaces, great coffee, as well as all the cool stuff you won’t find at a coffee shop – books, whiteboards, 22″ monitors, and a safe and professional space to conduct your daily work and business meetings. We’ll be open from 9-6 pm Monday – Friday only to those there to get stuff done.

Those are really the brass tacks of what The Studio provides to you. What you’ll personally gain from working in a room of other creatives, is a bit harder to describe. We’ve heard from many entrepreneurs who miss the social interaction of the traditional workplace. Work for many becomes a space where friendships are grown and creative ideas manifest. When you work for yourself, and from the confines of your home, this energy becomes stifled. Not to mention we all need human interaction. The Studio offers a unique opportunity to work beside other creative entrepreneurs and experience the energy that comes from a group workspace.

(Many thanks to Vessel Co-Working in Austin, TX for their guidance & inspiration)

We’ve taken great care to price memberships in a range that is not only financially accessible but also competitive. We’re not offering individual offices – not everyone needs or wants one. What we’re offering is the opportunity to be part of a unique and synergistic work environment that allows your business to grow, your productivity to increase, and costs roughly $1.25 per hour.

Ready to learn more? Take a look at our membership options or contact us to get started:

Introducing the Modern Studio Newsletter

Hi everyone! We see you visiting our site, now we want to keep you in the loop about co-working, events and more at Modern Studio. Just fill out the form below and we’ll start sending newsletters in a few weeks.

(We will NOT sell your info to anyone and use MailChimp to ensure you are never spammed, plus we make it easy for you to unsubscribe.)

Thank you!

What’s happening with Modern Studio?

Hello there! Since we ended our crowdfunding over a month ago we’ve been waiting on a permit to begin construction. Good news — we got the permit! Now de-construction has certainly begun and we’ll share pictures of the construction once the facade to the building begins to come together.

If you want to follow what we’ve been up to, be sure to like and follow our Facebook page here. We’ve already posted a few pics and stories. We’ll have a LOT more info coming up in the next few weeks!

Crowdfunding begins THIS WEEK!

Stay tuned as we ramp up the excitement for Modern Studio via our Facebook page and this sparkling new website. We’ll be posting our call for help later this week and we’re thrilled about the cool rewards we have for backers.

Meanwhile, I can tell you we’ve chosen IndieGogo for our crowdfunding for a couple of reasons.

  1. Our live shows will often include streaming video, so we will have a GLOBAL audience, and IndieGogo has a large international following.
  2. IndieGogo has lower fees than Kickstarter, and we want to maximize YOUR money.

Elevating Knoxville’s Performing Artists