Friday, April 22, 2016

College Campus Self-Defense Bill Passed by Tennessee Legislature

Senate Bill 2376, sponsored by state Senator Mike Bell (R-9), and House Bill 1736, sponsored by state Representative Andy Holt (R-76) passed both the Senate and House and will now be transmitted back to the Speakers of both chambers for their signatures and then sent to the Governor for final consideration. The Governor will have 10 days to take action on the bill once it is transmitted.

This important self-defense legislation would permit full-time employees of state public colleges or universities to carry a handgun while on property owned, operated, or used by the employing college or university if the employee has a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit.

Additionally, House Bill 2131 and Senate Bill 1991, sponsored by state Representative Courtney Rogers (R-45) and state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-31), was signed into law and prohibits public postsecondary institutions from taking any adverse action against an employee or student as a result of such person's lawful transportation and storage of a firearm or ammunition in the person's vehicle.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Shorts Awards Winners Announced for the @NashFilmFest!

The Nashville Film Festival announces the 2016 Shorts Awards Recipients. From the 171 short films selected for competition from nearly 3,700 submissions, 23 are receiving awards. Winners in the Narrative, Animated and Documentary Shorts Competitions will qualify for consideration for the 2017 Academy Awards®, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules. Last year’s winner for Best Animated Short, Bear Story, went on to win the Academy Award®. The 47th Nashville Film Festival is taking place April 14-23 at Regal Cinema Green Hills.

Narrative Shorts

Grand Jury Prize: Out of the Village, directed by Jonathan Stein (Ghana/USA)

Jury Statement: “A gripping portrait of two orphaned children spared from the ravages of an Ebola Virus epidemic in their village. We join them in a harrowing escape from medical nightmare to perform the sacred rituals in honor of their ancestors.”

Honorable Mention: Maman(s), directed by Maimouna Doucouré (France)
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Cinematography: Dave Ogle for The Unbeliever

Animated Shorts
Grand Jury Prize: Borrowed Time, directed by Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats
Jury Statement: “A powerful, richly animated Western genre-film conveying great depth, intricacy and vivid expression of human emotion through themes of grief, guilt, self-forgiveness and reconciliation.
Honorable Mention: Moom, directed by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
Honorable Mention: Sea Child, directed by Minha Kim
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Use of Music: The Orchestra, directed by Mikey Hill

Documentary Shorts
Grand Jury Prize: The Surrender, directed by Stephen Maing
Jury Statement: “It takes an artful approach to journalism through a compelling personal narrative.”
Honorable Mention: A Tale of Love, Madness and Death, directed by Mijael Bustos
Honorable Mention: Keeping Balance, directed by Bernhard Wenger

Experimental Shorts
Grand Jury Prize: Quantum, directed by Flatform
Jury Statement: ”An unparalleled vision and technical execution in exploring the sensory experience within a single frame.”
Honorable Mention: Démontable, directed by Douwe Dijkstro
Honorable Mention: Setting West, directed by Judith Poirier

Student Shorts
Grand Jury Prize: Keeping Balance, directed by Bernhard Wenger
Jury Statement: “A lyrical memoir of mental illness juxtaposed with visual playfulness.”
Honorable Mention: Patriot, directed by Eva Riley

Graveyard Shift Shorts
Grand Jury Prize (tie): Horn, directed by Hughes William Thompson
Grand Jury Prize (tie): The Itching, directed by Dianne Bellino
Honorable Mention: Nasty, Prano Bailey-Bond
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Pop Song: “Come and Play with Us, Danny,” from The Chickening

Young Filmmaker
Grand Jury Prize: The Skin I’m In, directed by Rajaiah Jones

Web Series
Grand Jury Prize: 20 Seconds To Live, directed by Ben Rock
Honorable Mention: 1-Minute Meal, directed by James Boo

Tennessee First
Narrative Grand Jury Prize: Three Fingers, directed by Paul D. Hart
Documentary Grand Jury Prize: Lift Like a Girl, directed by Allie Sultan
Student Grand Jury Prize: Gogurt, directed by Hilary Bell

TN Horizon Audience Award Nominees
Everyday Yeti, directed by Motke Dapp
Lift Like a Girl, directed by Allie Sultan
Mr. Johnson’s Julius Caesar, directed by Lesley Surdi
Naiad, directed by Trevor Krulcik
The Saurus, directed by Drew Maynard
Three Fingers, directed by Paul D. Hart
The Unbeliever, directed by Will Morgan Holland
The Van, directed by John McAmis
Visionary, directed by Caroline Knight

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (Mark Twain Papers).

Riverboat pilotAutobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, journalist, failed businessman (several times over): Samuel Clemens -- the man behind the figure of Mark Twain -- led many lives. But it was in his novels and short stories that he created a voice and an outlook on life that will be forever identified with the American character.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Patsy Cline Museum to Open in Downtown Nashville

Founder of The Johnny Cash Museum, Bill Miller, with his wife Shannon, have revealed preliminary details to open a museum honoring the late, great Patsy Cline. The venture will be entirely funded and operated by the Miller family organization and construction is scheduled to begin in June.

Patsy Cline Museum

"Of all the artists in the history of country music, few are as recognized and as recognizable as Patsy Cline. Despite the fact that she passed decades ago, her impact and presence are every bit as big today as ever. She has transcended generations and genres and is indisputably the greatest and most influential female country music artist of all time. She's a true icon deserving of her own museum. Her fans from around the globe will have a place to come and celebrate her life and legacy. It's a pleasure and an honor to be working with Patsy's children on this world-class museum project,” Bill Miller said on behalf of the future attraction.

Julie Fudge, Patsy Cline's daughter adds, "I am very happy to speak on behalf of my brothers, Randy and Chip and in honor of the legacy of my mother Patsy Cline.  Since the passing of our father last fall, this is our first step together in continuing to share Mom’s music, life and story, as we feel Dad would have. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with and experience what Bill will present to old and new fans alike."

To span several thousand square feet located directly above the Johnny Cash Museum in the heart of downtown Nashville (119 Third Ave.), the exhibits will feature interactive cutting-edge audio and touch screen video technology. The family of Patsy Cline are currently furnishing many never-before-seen pieces from their personal archive allowing the museum to host the largest collection of rare Patsy Cline artifacts in the world; including many of Patsy Cline's personal possessions, costumes, awards, letters, furniture and photographs.

“I’m grateful for Bill Miller’s leadership in helping to preserve and showcase Nashville’s history, and I’m looking forward to visiting the new museum and learning more about the remarkable life and career of Patsy Cline,” said Mayor Megan Barry.

The “Walking After Midnight” singer was a crucial part of the 1960s sound and broke barriers in Nashville as the first female to successfully record and chart “cross-over” pop hits while mirroring the iconic level of stardom of her male peers Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley before the infamous plane crash that took her life too soon.

True Grit by Charles Portis

Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America's foremost comic writersTrue Grit. True Grit: A Novel, is his most famous novel--first published in 1968, and the basis for the movie of the same name starring John Wayne. It tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash money. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.

True Grit: A Novel, is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true cult status, this is an American classic through and through. This new edition, with a smart new package and an afterword by acclaimed author Donna Tartt, will bring this masterpiece to an even broader audience.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Singer-songwriter @RaquelAurilia Kicks Off Spring with Performance in Nashville at #DouglasCorner

Singer-Songwriter Raquel Aurilia announced she is kicking off spring with performances in Nashville and Glendale, AZ in April before she hits the road to open for John Waite on his upcoming Texas concert tour in May. Raquel will be performing in Music City with songwriters Megan Moreaux, Kaela Kinney, and Steve Lester on Wednesday, April 27th 8:30pm at a songwriters round at Douglas Corner Café in Nashville.

“Always love performing in Nashville and I am excited to have the opportunity to perform with these incredible songwriters,” says Raquel Aurilia. “It’s going to be a busy spring – with Glendale and Nashville before opening for John Waite in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. I’m thrilled to be performing so much in 2016!”

Raquel is thrilled to be invited to perform the National Anthem to over 16,000 people at the WV “MOMENTUM” National travel event at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ on Saturday, April 9th. Raquel has been part of this popular travel club for 3 years and has been enjoying traveling the globe.
Recording Artist Raquel Aurilia has previously toured opening 25 U.S. cities for John Waite. She has also opened for B.B. King, Gin Blossoms, Eddie Money, Pat Benatar, Riders in the Sky... and has worked with Grammy Award winning producer Tony Papa (James Brown, Willie Nelson, John Denver) and Gardner Cole (Madonna, Jodi Whatley), as well as Grammy nominated producer Billy Smiley (Bebe and Cece Winans, Vince Gill, Johnny Cash). Aurilia’s music has been featured on MTV’s hit series "The Hills," "The City" and “Taking the Stage."  Her latest music video for “Shattered” can be viewed at

Raquel’s hit single "Feels Like" from her debut record, “Finding My Way,” cracked the ultra-competitive R&R Top 30 AC and Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary charts at #28, and is still receiving national air play today.

Upcoming Tour Dates - Raquel Aurilia

April 9 – Glendale, AZ - Gila River Arena (National Anthem at MOMENTUM)
April 27 – Nashville, TN – Douglas Corner Cafe
May 18 – Austin, TX – One World Theatre (opening for John Waite)
May 20 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live (opening for John Waite)
May 22 – San Antonio, TX – Tobin Center (opening for John Waite)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

RIP to Country Legend #MerleHaggard, The Poet of the Common Man

Country legend Merle Haggard, often called “the Poet of the Common Man,” whose music reflected his hardscrabble roots and hard-living ways as well as a tenderness that made him a revered songwriter, died Wednesday at his home near Redding, Calif. He was 79.

The Associated Press confirmed his death.

Haggard along with fellow Bakersfield, Calif., superstar Buck Owens defined the West Coast sound of country music in the 1960s and ’70s.

Emerging from the central California city’s raucous honky-tonky country music scene of the post WWII-era, first recording for the local Tally label and then for Capitol Records, Haggard became a towering figure, producing 38 chart-topping records along with his longtime recording and touring band, the Strangers. Among his biggest hits were the controversial “Okie From Muskogee” — alternately seen as a reactionary Nixon-era anthem or a good-hearted spoof of heartland mores — as well as enduring and much-covered ballads such as “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “If We Make It Through December,” “Sing Me Back Home” and “Hungry Eyes.” His uptempo “drinking” songs such as “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Swingin’ Doors,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and “Working Man Blues” helped create the prototype of 1960s and ’70s country honky-tonk hits.

Two of his best-regarded albums were tributes to early country star Jimmie Rodgers (“Same Train, A Different Time,” 1969) and Western swing bandleader Bob Wills (“A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World,” 1970).

Haggard scored with several film and TV hits over the years, most notably penning and singing the eponymous theme song for the 1974 TV series “Movin’ On,” as well as chart-toppers “Barroom Buddies” and “Misery and Gin” for Clint Eastwood’s film “Bronco Billy.” “Mama Tried” was featured in the crime film “Killers Three,” in which Haggard also co-starred.

Haggard was born in Oildale, Calif., to Oklahoma immigrants who migrated west during the Great Depression, and he quite literally grew up in a boxcar, albeit one converted into a home. His father died when Haggard was 9, and in his early life he committed a series of petty crimes, leading to longer and longer incarcerations. But Haggard was also gaining a reputation in the Bakersfield area as a first-rate singer and instrumentalist. Holding his own onstage with his idol, country music great Lefty Frizzell, was an indication of the career ahead of him, once he put crime and punishment behind him.

A botched robbery, however, saw him tried as an adult and sent to San Quentin, where he spent three years. Haggard recalled that seeing Johnny Cash onstage in San Quentin in 1958 was a particular inspiration, and the two men later became close friends and mutual fans.

Once out of prison, Haggard worked blue-collar day jobs and played the rowdy honky-tonks of Bakersfield at night, which led to him cutting several tracks for Tally.

Haggard’s first released song was the minor hit “Skid Row.” A cover of country superstar Wynn Stewart’s “Sing a Sad Song” charted nationally in 1964. The following year he had his first national top-10 record with “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” followed in 1966 by his first No. 1 song, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.”

Haggard, in a 1999 interview with Variety, described his rise as he moved from local music sensation to national star after signing with Capitol Records: “We had this little label in Bakersfield (Tally) that we were doing pretty good on. About 1964, I think it was, we sold forty-something-thousand records out of our apartment back before the interweb (sic) and all that shit. So Capitol called us and said, ‘Don’t you think it’s time you let us help you?’

“They were also disappointed in everything but the Beatles. There was nothing in the world selling except Beatle music. Every country act in the entire fucking world had just got fired. And it just so happened that during that really strange Beatlemania I got a goddamn hit.”

The ’60s and ’70s were Haggard’s peak period creatively and professionally. Haggard scored hits for three labels — Capitol, Epic and MCA — before turning to independent label status in the late ’90s. He briefly returned to Capitol (via its Nashville division) in the new millennium, and released a collaborative album with Willie Nelson, “Django and Jimmie,” through Sony Legacy in 2015; the latter set reached No. 1 on the country chart and No. 7 on the pop side.

While Haggard’s stature as one of the music industry’s top acts grew over the decades, his personal life endured rocky patches. As his two autobiographies attest, the much-married and divorced Haggard struggled with alcohol and drug dependencies well into the ’90s, when health and financial problems took him to medical rehabilitation and an IRS lien proceeding decimated his ownership of dozens of hits in his valuable song catalog.

Haggard described his strategy for creative and financial survival during that difficult time to Variety in 1999, noting, “Making records is something I guess I’ll always do, because of the fact that I’m a songwriter.”

Between 1965 and 1974 Haggard scored 11 Academy of Country Music honors as well as four top Country Music Assn. honors.

He won two competitive Grammys, as well as a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame for his song “Mama Tried.” He was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and was a Kennedy Center Honors inductee in 2010.

Haggard is survived by his wife Theresa Ann Lane; their children Jenessa and Ben Haggard, the latter of whom served as lead guitarist in the Strangers for several years; and his children from previous marriages, Marty, Noel, Dana and Kelli. Married five times, his second and third wives were stage and recording partners Bonnie Owens and Leona Williams.

Petition to Support Allowing First Responders to Defend Themselves

Jamie Hensley has worked as a paramedic for almost 30 years, and has responded to his fair share of dangerous calls. "I have had several guns and knives pulled on me throughout the years and one time when I worked in Unicoi we were held at gun point," Hensley said.

Many thoughts go through his head when facing these situations. "My main goal is to get back to my family," Hensley said. He said though, it's all a part of the job. "There is always going to be that element of risk."

Jamie Hensley has worked as a paramedic for almost 30 years, and has reponded to his fair share of dangerous calls. But it may not be like that for long. A petition created on is calling the Tennessee State government to consider making it legal for first responders to carry a concealed weapon.

"It would be nice if we had some way to defend ourselves as a last ditch effort," Hensley said.

However, Brad Gerfin with the Washington County-Johnson City E.M.S said adding a gun to the equation might do more harm than good. "I truly feel that it would increase the potential for violence against our people," Gerfin said.

He said they have considered using other means of safety, like bulletproof vests, but it was not in the budget and he said it wasn't practical. "They are going to cost $200-$300 thousand dollars," Gerfin said.

His argument instead, is to increase training on how to deal with those types of situations. "I think training people in the awareness on calls, on how to manage yourself, on how to place yourself between you and the exit, when is a time that you should exit that call," Gerfin said. But paramedics still think carrying a concealed weapon will ultimately keep them safer.

"I've seen a big switch over the years to where it is becoming more violent, you see a lot more violence than you used to," Hensley said.

Washington County-Johnson City E.M.S crews respond to around 33,000 calls a year.

Right now the petition has more than 1,700 signatures. If the number of signatures is reached, the petition will be delivered to the Tennessee State House and Senate, Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services.

To view the full petition, click here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Eastern Tennessee Keeps Sex Offenders in Compliance #OperationMakeItRain

U.S. Marshals from the Eastern District of Tennessee, along with Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force officers from the Knoxville Police Department, The Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, assisted the Grainger County Sheriff’s Office in conducting its 2016 sex offender compliance operation. Dubbed “Operation Make It Rain,” officers conducted a county-wide compliance and enforcement initiative to ensure sex offenders were following the guidelines of the sex offender registry. Throughout the two-day operation, officers conducted almost 41 sex offender compliance checks that resulted in the following:

  • Five sex offenders were arrested or detained for further investigation. The individuals were arrested for sex offender registry violations and probation violations.
  • Drug Paraphernalia was also confiscated.
  • Several electronic devices were seized for further forensic examination.

"Operations like Operation ‘Make It Rain’ help us protect our communities and ensure their safety. The Grainger County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and everyone involved worked diligently to check the sex offenders registered in Grainger County. Our goal is to make sure that to ensure that each and every one of them is following the rules,” stated Grainger County Sheriff James Harville “Sex offenders who come to our county should not come thinking that they can circumvent the law and endanger our children and our citizens" he added.

“The main benefits of operations like this one are three-fold: we ensure the law is being followed; we identify when it is not and protect the citizens of Grainger County from sexual predators who are trying to circumvent the sex offender registry requirements; and we strengthen the ties between all law enforcement agencies involved by closely working together towards a common goal”, stated U.S. Marshals Senior Inspector Derrick Swenson.

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