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Blue Stocking Club hosting fundraiser for Paramount to celebrate 100 years of helping community

December 10, 2019

BY TOM NETHERLAND | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER

Make way for a band of heroes.

Call them the Blue Stocking Club. They’re 35 women who equate to prayers answered in the form of community works undertaken and issues solved.

Next year marks 100 years of the venerable Blue Stocking Club. They plan to honor their past with a centennial celebration, a fundraiser to benefit the Paramount Revival 2020. To that point, the Blue Stocking Club of Bristol presents Amy Grant and The Time Jumpers at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee, on Sunday, April 19.

“This is not a ticketed event,” said Miles Marek, executive director of the Paramount. “It’s a fundraiser. You can write a little check, do some good, have a ton of fun.”

Admission by charitable donation of at least $500 per person gains entry for an individual interested in the concert and in helping the Paramount. The more generous the donation, the better the seat to attend the show.

To make a donation, contact the Paramount at (423) 274-8920. Also, donations can be made at the box office at 518 State St. in Bristol, Tennessee, and online atwww.paramountbristol.org.

“They’re doing it to help the Paramount,” said Nell King Bieger, Blue Stocking Club member and event co-chair. “We all need each other.”

Comprised of seasoned studio and stage musicians from the fields of country and western music, Nashville’s Time Jumpers rarely perform beyond Music City. Nominated for five Grammy Awards, the large and western swinging country band features such members as Riders in the Sky’s Douglas B. Green and fiddler Kenny Sears.

“The Time Jumpers on State Street!” Bieger said.

The Time Jumpers will perform at 5 p.m. in the Patrons’ Tent on State Street as part of the Patrons Party.

“What I love, it is the amalgamation of the best performers of the music that originated in our little town,” Bieger said. “They don’t tour much, but they all wanted to come to the birthplace.”

The Time Jumpers maintain a residence at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, where they typically perform every Monday night.

“I saw them in Nashville at 3rd and Lindsley,” Marek said. “I’m so amazed by their musicianship. I smiled so much during their show.”

Contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant, a six-time Grammy winner, headlines the benefit at 7 p.m. inside the Paramount. She will perform inside a building that opened in 1931. Nods to the Paramount’s extraordinary past fill the historic venue.

However, Grant and the audience will benefit from the implementation of new LED stage lights at the Paramount. Thanks to the Blue Stocking Club, they were installed earlier this year as replacements of archaic and woefully failing lights.

The cost: $187,000.

“We saw the real need,” Bieger said, “and met it.”

Marek, in a meeting with Bieger and Satterwhite at the Paramount, turned to the pair of Blue Stocking Club members. Back went his chair, wide spread his arms and smile as he turned to address them.

“You guys really are lighting the way,” Marek said.

The Blue Stocking Club was established in May 1920 as a Bible study group for women. By the mid-1930s, they evolved into a community service organization. Early recipients of their diligence and generosity include the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

“We don’t have Bible study today. We don’t have any liturgy,” Satterwhite said. “Instead, it’s living out those principles. We were service before there were social service programs.”

Then as now, the Blue Stocking Club recognizes needs in Bristol and takes action. Typically, they do so in as stealth a fashion as possible. Per natural heroism, they seek not the light of recognition. They strive to improve Bristol.

So consider the Paramount and its impact on Bristol and its residents.

“It’s vital to the community,” Satterwhite said. “It’s important to every segment of the community. It’s the epicenter of downtown Bristol. It’s the engine for the resurgence and revitalization of downtown Bristol. The Paramount is what made downtown Bristol go again.”

And folks, the Paramount needs restoration work.

Opened in 1931, the venue served primarily as a movie theater as part of a nationwide chain of theaters linked to Hollywood’s Paramount Pictures. Cinematic classics including “Gone with the Wind” and “The Godfather” opened when new at the Paramount in Bristol. However, the Paramount presented far more than just movies.

Judy Garland, legendary for her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” made an appearance on stage at the Paramount. Gene Autry, famed silver screen cowboy and music star, performed at the Paramount. Roy Acuff, long known as the king of country music, staged numerous concerts at the Paramount during the 1940s and ’50s.

But as the Paramount nears its 90th year, various issues need addressing. Don’t blink. They are in the midst of restoring Bristol’s cherished landmark. The Blue Stocking Club leads the charge.

“Boom!” Satterwhite said. “What could be more perfect to celebrate our centennial than to help the Paramount?”

Given the Blue Stocking Club’s role in supporting the Paramount with fundraisers in years past and forthcoming, much work needed may not have occurred.

“Without the Blue Stocking Club,” Marek said, “this movement to kick off the new restoration of the Paramount would not be happening.”

So open wide your imagination if but for a moment. Consider Bristol today had the Blue Stocking Club never existed. Think of Bristol had the Paramount never been built.

“Bristol would not be the place it is today,” Bieger said. “It’s not a good place to live. It’s a great place to live!”