Judah & the Lion has always had a soft spot for Knoxville. Even though the genre-bending band met in Nashville while attending Belmont University, Knoxville will always be special to the band. This East Tennessee city is bustling with award-winning chefs, great music and a contagious, creative energy. We recently spent the day with Judah, Brian and Nate of the band to hear more about how they started and their favorite places in one of their homes away from home.
When in Knoxville, Remedy Coffee is the band’s java of choice. Not only are the guys all big fans of their coffee, but Remedy also holds a special place in their hearts. Back in their college days, one of the band’s first shows was at Remedy. And even though it has since changed locations, this coffee shop where Judah & the Lion played some of their first shows, remains a band favorite.
Bright and airy, this shop serves a delicious variety of handcrafted lattes and cappuccinos, tea and coffee — including Chemex pour overs and cold brew on tap. It even makes all-natural syrups in-house and has outdoor seating if you’re in the mood for a pick-me-up alfresco.
As the band’s popularity grew so did their shows, and eventually they moved on from playing coffee shops to a larger venue, The Square Room. Serving as one of Knoxville’s cornerstones for artistic expression, the space has an open floor plan and was engineered for maximum sound quality — making it a great place to catch a show when you’re in town.
The Square Room also serves as an event space and is in the same building as Café 4— a restaurant and pioneer of modern food and drinks. Among locals, it’s a favorite place to catch up over brunch or for some preliminary fuel before exploring the rest of Market Square.
A few years later, the band started to improvise and their hit “Take It All Back” was born. One of the first places they played it was at the Bijou Theatre — one of East Tennessee’s oldest and more revered performance venues. Praised by the New York Times as “one of the best sounding rooms in this country,” the Bijou offers a clear view of the stage and aural excellence from every seat.
The building is also home to the Bistro At the Bijou — a critically-acclaimed restaurant serving locally-and regionally-sourced food. Known musicians, comedians, musicals and other acts play the Bijou, so be sure to check the schedule when planning your trip.
An old standby for the band, The Tomato Head is a restaurant in Knoxville’s bustling Market Square. Breads, dressings and desserts prepared fresh daily are the stars of this homey eatery that also happens to be incredibly vegan and vegetarian friendly.
And while fresh daily food is the restaurant’s bread and butter, the space also serves as a venue for musical acts, poetry readings and performance art. It also hosts monthly exhibits celebrating local artists and their efforts.
Judah said it best, “There’s a sweet spirit about Tennessee that is so welcoming. You instantly feel like family.” You can experience that tight-knit feeling when you visit Knoxville for savory food and drinks, an entertaining show, and up-and-coming Tennessee acts.
To see more Tennessee artists’ favorite places around the state, check out our music page.