Pickin' Up Tennessee may have been motivated by Tennessee's litter, but the project was inspired by Tennessee's music.
The nearly three dozen songs performed during the Pickin' Up Tennessee tour showcased our most beloved and enduring music traditions, from gospel and bluegrass to front-porch pickin' and the traditional flute of the Cherokee Indians.
They took place in some of our most scenic settings, from historic town squares to the shores of iconic rivers, from beloved state parks to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Above all, these performances embodied the sharing spirit of Tennessee's people. More than 125 instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers donated their time and talent to travel to the venues and take part in this project, often performing in less-than-ideal conditions. From three-year-old Treble Chunn to 78-year-old T.V. Barnett, from professional performers to admitted amateurs, they represented a true cross-section of Tennessee citizen-musicians.
We're grateful to all of them, and we urge you to show that you appreciate them also, by buying the Pickin' Up CD/DVD! This commemorative 3-disc package not only contains all of the PUTN performances; a portion of the proceeds from its sale are earmarked for the musicians and other volunteers who made PUTN possible.
THE PICKIN' UP TENNESSEE THEME SONGS
(you'll hear both of these often on the Pickin' Up CD/DVD!)
Stay Your Hand
(If You Love the Land)
Written by W. T. Davidson
Performed by W. T. Davidson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Kathy Hussey (background vocals); recording engineer Mike Loudermilk; recorded at Loudermilk Studios, Nashville
“Stay Your Hand” was written specially for Pickin’ Up Tennessee by a veteran member of Nashville’s songwriting community. W.T. Davidson describes himself as a songwriter/raconteur, but music journalist Robert Oermann calls him “wonderfully unclassifiable”—a “bluesier Boz Scaggs” who happens to be incredibly funny as well. W.T. grew up in Iowa but has been writing music in Music City since 1974; his cuts have been recorded by such artists as Ray Stevens and Crystal Gayle. You can catch him with or without his band The Bad Eggs in such iconic Nashville sound spaces as the Bluebird Cafe and Douglas Corner.
Love the Land, Lose the Litter
Written by Chuck McCarthy, Todd Elgin and Shawn Byrne;
performed in studio by Chuck McCarthy (vocals, ukelele), Betsy Harris (vocals),
Todd Elgin (guitar) and
Rick Diamond (bass)
Red buds and tulip trees
Ain’t no place like Tennessee.
Sunny skies and ramblin’ rivers
Mountain streams that gleam and glitter.
Love the land, lose the litter
For all the big and little critters.
Tennessee don’t like quitters
So love the land and lose the litter.
From Graceland to Rocky Top
Tennessee really hops.
From the Opry to the Cumberland Gap
You love her, she’ll love you back.
Davy Crockett and Casey Jones
Called Tennessee their home sweet home.
Let’s keep her sweet for everyone
The perfect place for good clean fun.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2013
Who: D. W. Bledsoe (banjo), Mark Ledbetter (guitar), Geoff Roehm (guitar), Tom Knowles (guitar), David Watson (guitar), Reeda Best (bass)
What: "The Alice Waltz," written by Geoff Roehm
Where: Winchester, Franklin County
Venue: Tims Ford State Park
The six pickers who performed (after waiting out a downpour) on the opening day of the Pickin’ Up Tennessee Tour were right at home in Tims Ford State Park. All are regulars at the Saturday Night Pick’n sessions that Tims Ford has been hosting for more than 20 years. In fact, guitarist and Tims Ford fishing guide Dave Watson was the park ranger who started the jams. The twice-a-month sessions are free and open to the public; if you go, keep an eye out for the cigar-box guitars. There’s a good chance they were handcrafted by Sewanee luthier Geoff Roehm, whose wife is the Alice in “The Alice Waltz.”
SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2013
Who: Churchyard (Meghan D’Amico, vocals and guitar; Alice Buchanan, guitar, violin and vocals; Rachel Warrick, bass; Rebecca Cholewa, drums)
What: "Dollface" written by Meghan D’Amico
Where: Nashville, Davidson County
Venue: Fond Object Records
When the New York Times declared Nashville the nation's newest "it" city, it may have been thinking about locavore music collectives like Fond Object hosting indie bands like Churchyard.
Churchyard is squarely in the tradition of all-girl garage rock bands. Its sound is heavy rock, but with haunting vocals, dissonant guitars and earthy drums evocative of bayou blues—a nice fit for the backyard stage at Fond Object. When Fond Object opened in a former East Nashville dog-grooming shop in April 2013, the Nashville Scene welcomed it as "the latest addition to one of the coolest crossroads in Nashville, Inglewood's Riverside Village." Owned by local rock ‘n’ rollers, the more-than-just-records record shop promotes local food, drink and art, and is a record collector’s dream with a base collection of more than 20,000 LPs.
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013
Who: David Spicer (guitar, vocals), Wade Dawson (banjo), Bill Baldock (bass), Gretchen Priest-May (fiddle), Tim May (Dobro), David Martin (mandolin), Tom “Tree” Reynolds (guitar, vocals)
What: "Angelina Baker"
Where: Pegram, Cheatham County
Venue: Fiddle & Pick, 456 Hwy 70, Pegram, TN 37143
Out on Highway 70 west of Nashville, before you get to the canoe rental but after you’ve passed the general store, sits a tiny block building holding a giant of a music resource. Fiddle & Pick, the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee, has a totally deserved reputation as the best place in middle Tennessee to take lessons on a stringed instrument. With more than 30 music professionals on its teaching staff, it’s also a fine place to study bluegrass, Irish, country and Appalachian (old-time string band). Some of the best-known names in fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar come to its frequent jams and workshops; its founder and resident energy source, Gretchen Priest-May, wields a mighty fiddle in Day 3’s rendition of “Angelina Baker.”
TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2013
Who: The Litter Pickers: Chuck McCarthy (guitar, vocals), Rick Diamond (bass), Todd Elgin (ukulele, vocals), Shawn Byrne (banjo, vocals)
What: "Love the Land, Lose the Litter," written by Chuck McCarthy, Todd Elgin and Shawn Byrne
Where: Summertown, Lewis County
Venue: The Farm Store Stage at The Farm
Day 4 was a step back in time (well, at least a few decades back), as the PUTN tour visited The Farm, Middle Tennessee's original "intentional community." Founded in 1971 by 321 San Francisco hippies as an experiment in sustainable, developmentally progressive human habitat, today The Farm is a thriving community of approximately 250 people still committed to simple living and self-reliance.
Day 4's music was performed on a stage adjacent to The Farm Store, where one can buy the various fruits of The Farm's sustainable social and physical practices, from home-grown mushrooms and organic cheeses to books on science-based midwifery and solar design. A foursome of Farm friends and members donned orange safety vests and sang an original song, “Love the Land, Lose the Litter”—which promptly became the official Pickin’ Up Tennessee theme song and gave the group its impromptu name, The Litter Pickers.
In addition to watching this delightful, bantering performance, the Pickin' Up Tennessee crew got a tour of the farm led by longtime resident Cynthia Rohrbach, including an inside view of the Wholeo stained-glass dome and a hike down to the waterfall at Swan Creek, a central feature of the property protected by the Swan Conservation Trust.
The Farm was settled on 1750 acres of rolling hilltops in what was then the poorest county in rural Tennessee, 75 miles from the nearest major city. The formative settlement was built entirely from salvaged, recycled and local materials. A road grader purchased for $1 cut the roads. A $1 railroad tower provided the public water supply. Scrapped school buses and army tents provided shelter from below-zero temperatures until the sawmill could begin milling native oak and salvage crews could harvest old tobacco barns, factories and condemned houses. Large orchards and vineyards were planted, as well as fields of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. A tree nursery was set up to propagate useful varieties of fruit trees and hard- and softwood species to be used in forestation. Terracing and engineered drainage halted soil erosion from the tillable lands, apiaries were constructed to pollinate fields, nurseries and orchards, and use of polyculture and heritage seeds, cover-cropping, crop rotation, hand-picking, beneficial insects, snakes, lizards, toads and turtles provided organic pest control. On a budget of $1 per person per day and no grants, no food stamps and no welfare, the 320 original settlers bought the land, erected the buildings and became agriculturally self-sufficient within four years.
Today The Farm has all of the usual implements of village life: a grocery store, medical clinic, filling station, schools, water systems, pharmacy, post office, cemetery and scores of businesses and residences. The difference between this community and others, however, is in the way the community functions. All agriculture on The Farm is organic. All members of The Farm are expected to contribute to the financial upkeep of the community through their earnings. Members maintain their own roads, municipal buildings and public water system, and vote on community policies. The Farm has no poverty, little domestic violence, and virtually no crime. Guns and other weapons are forbidden on The Farm.
About a third of the adults in the community work in nearby towns to support themselves and their families. The others make their living within the community, working for cottage industries like the Book Publishing Company, the Birth Gazette, Village Media, the Farm Catalog, the Mail Order Company, the Soy Dairy, the Dye Works, the Tempeh Lab, and Mushroompeople. Others are involved in land conservation efforts, such as the Big Swan Headwaters Preserve; others in community services like The Farm School, the Farm Store, the Gate, the Clinic and WUTZ-FM; and some work in global transformation efforts through Farm-based or Farm-connected charities and initiatives, including the Ecovillage Training Center, the Institute for Appropriate Technology, Plenty, the Peace Roots Alliance and Gaia University.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5, 2013
Who: Marcia Denton (guitar, fiddle), Maddie Denton (fiddle, banjo), Greg Denton (guitar)
What: "Sally Goodin"; Civil War Medley ("Soldier’s Joy," "Angeline the Baker, " "Over the Waterfall")
Where: Chapel Hill, Marshall County
Venue: Henry Horton State Park
Greg and Marcia Denton have been playing various stringed instruments, together and solo, for decades (Marcia is many times a fiddle champion), and their affection for traditional music is shared by their daughter. Maddie Denton began winning awards with fiddle and old-time banjo almost as soon as she could stand on a stage—and over the years, those stages have ranged from the Grand Ole Opry to "the Weiser"--the prestigious National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival in Weiser, Idaho, where in 2009 Maddie, then a student at Seigel High in Murfreesboro, won the National Junior Championship. She also plays championship-level golf. On Day 5 of the tour, the family performed before a surprised and appreciative audience of campers at Henry Horton State Park in Marshall County.
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2013
Who: The Holt Family: Daniel Ray Holt (banjo), Melody Holt (bass), Martha Lynn Holt (fiddle), Danny Ray Holt (guitar)
What: "Hallelujah, We Shall Arise," written by Daniel Ray Holt and Martha Lynn Holt © Flying High Music
Where: Savannah, Hardin County
Venue: Cherry Mansion
The Holt Family, a traditional bluegrass/bluegrass gospel band from Gillis Mills, was started more than 30 years ago by Danny Ray and Martha Lynn Holt. Today their children Melody and Daniel Ray are just as much a part of the ensemble as their parents. The band performs at festivals and churches around the region, always striving to live by the verse, "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving" (Psalm 69:30). Their contemporary spiritual “Hallelujah, We Shall Arise,” written by Daniel Ray and Martha Lynn and performed on Day 6 of the tour at the historic antebellum Cherry Mansion in Savannah, illustrates this central fact of their music.
SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013
Who: New Olivet Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir
What: "Worship and Adore," written by Dr. Allen F. Todd, II (Tiffany Shelton (soloist); "This Is the Day," arranged by Dr. Allen F. Todd, II
Where: Memphis, Shelby County
Venue: New Olivet Baptist Church
New Olivet Baptist Church in Memphis is internationally known not only for its local and global connectedness under Pastor Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr. (its Sunday speakers have included such prominent figures as columnist Roland Martin and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young) but for the powerful singing, spirit-filled energy and palpable optimism of its Sanctuary Choir, which makes a routine Sunday service feel like a cross between rock concert and a Pentecostal revival.
MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2013
Who: Joe Bone and the Front Porch Pickers
What: "Lorena," "Cindy"
Where: Rutherford, Gibson County
Venue: front porch of the Davy Crockett Cabin and Museum
The Front Porch Pickers included Marvin Dunlap (guitar), Laymon Jacobs (fiddle), Charles Perryman (harmonica), Jackie D. Cole (bass), Truman Dishman (mandolin), Allen Dishman (Dobro), Jimmy Hopper (guitar) and Joe Bone (harmonica)
Although the David Crockett Cabin and Museum was never the actual home of the frontier hero, the replica log cabin was built with timbers from the original Crockett farm and furnished with items true to the period. As such, it is an authentic, effective reminder of the thirteen years Colonel Davy Crockett spent in Gibson County, including his three terms in Congress, before leaving for Texas in 1835 and dying in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Similarly, the Front Porch Pickers is not so much an actual band as it is a regular gathering of area musicians, including museum curator Joe Bone, who care about traditional music and authentic instruments, and who believe that the surest way to preserve the past is to make it part of the present.
TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2013
two performances this day
Who: Larry and Elaine Conger
What: "September on the Mississippi"
Where: Paris, Henry County
Venue: Eiffel Tower Park
Dulcimer duets are not all that common, we understand, so Pickin’ Up Tennessee was lucky to have Larry and Elaine Conger jointly perform Larry’s liltingly evocative “September on the Mississippi” for Day 9 of the tour in Paris’ Eiffel Tower Park. The Congers, who teach a variety of instruments at their studio in Paris, Tenn., are well-known and well-loved as music educators in Tennessee and beyond.
A graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Larry has been involved with music as a vocation for more than 35 years. Besides being a popular instructor at various dulcimer workshops around the country, he has also been a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Arts In Education program as well as the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teacher Incentive Program, bringing dulcimer music into the public schools.
In 1995, Larry won the Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Mountain View, Ark. Three years later, he won the prestigious National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kan. Larry has written fourteen dulcimer books and has three recordings to his credit. He also produces "Tune of the Month," a CD lesson by mail for mountain dulcimer enthusiasts.
Elaine Conger is a professional music educator and Orff-Schulwerk specialist who has a passion for instilling a love for the arts in young people. Her years as a professional musician, combined with her experience as a classroom teacher, give her a unique perspective when working with students.
Her past musical experience includes performing on the General Jackson showboat at Opryland in Nashville and touring as pianist and back-up vocalist with country music superstar Faith Hill. She has served as Music Director for The Renaissance Center in Dickson, Tenn., and the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center in Huntingdon, Tenn. More recently, she has directed and accompanied numerous musical theater productions and even starred in a few herself. Her favorite role to date is as Patsy in “Always Patsy Cline.” Elaine also serves as organist/music director for Grace Episcopal Church in Paris.
Day 9 Performance #2
Who: Dan Knowles
What: "The Sunflower Dance," "The Spanish Fandango"
Where: Paris, Henry County
Venue: Robert E. Lee Academy for the Arts
Dan Knowles was an unexpected bonus on Day 9 of the tour. Following a morning cleanup with Girl Scouts in Weakley County, the team was being shown around the historic Robert E. Lee Academy for the Arts in Paris—a decaying 1840s schoolhouse that had been saved from the wrecking ball a few years earlier and is now a vibrant center for the fine and performing arts—when academy director Suzanne Richter got off the phone and asked, would we like to meet a banjo master? Moments later, the filmmakers were outside, and Dan Knowles was strumming two 19th-century favorites, framed by a building roughly the same vintage as the songs.
SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013
Who: Junior Dodson, Roger Neely, Grace Neely, Laura Neely
What: "A Dollar a Car" by James W. "Junior" Dodson; "Memories and Medals on the Wall" by Roger Neely
Where: Spencer, Van Buren County
Venue: Liberty Hill School, Fall Creek Falls State Park
Day 11 of the Pickin’ Up Tennessee Tour fell on Father’s Day weekend, so it was touching for the team to learn, when we arrived at the historic Liberty Hill School in Fall Creek Falls State Park, that Roger Neely and James W. “Junior” Dodson, both planned to perform songs they’d written in tribute to their fathers, men who had worked hard and overcome much to make their families proud and secure. And we were further moved when Roger’s teenage daughters, Laura and Grace Neely, sat on the steps between the two men and sang backup for both songs.
SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013
Who: The Main Stage Players
What: "Old Joe Clark" bluegrass and dance
Where: Crossville, Cumberland County
Venue: Stone patio at Cumberland Mountain State Park Recreation Lodge
The music performance on Day 12—a high-energy burst of square dancing and bluegrass, was performed by the (mostly) young artists of The Main Stage Players: Jake Ramsey (guitar), Gail Johnson (fiddle), Darrah Ramsey (fiddle), Cheryl Chunn (mandolin), Robert Wheeler (guitar), Derek Johnson (mandolin), Larry Chunn (guitar); and square dancers: Amelia Baker, Brayden Chunn, Treble Chunn, Ally Johnson, Lexi Johnson, IsaBella McCoy, Corynne Meadows, Paige Nevil and Gracie Parrish. Cheryl and Larry Chunn, who own the Springfield music and dance studio known as The Main Stage, happen to be members of the Grand Ole Opry Squaredancers, and their enthusiasm for the genre was infectious—especially when three-year-old Treble Chunn took center-patio. The recreation lodge at Cumberland Mountain State Park turned out to be a perfect performance venue, with its view overlooking Byrd Creek and the historic Crab Orchard stone bridge, built in the 1930s by the CCC.
MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013
Who: Leonard Anderson (guitar and harmonica), Deb Anderson (vocals), Stacey Choate (jingle cajon)
What: "Pickin’ Up Cans" by Deb Anderson; "Hard Times" by Leonard Anderson
Where: Jamestown, Fentress County
Venue: Leonard and Libby Anderson's front porch
When the Pickin’ Up Tennessee RV pulled up at the home of Leonard and Libby Anderson on Day 13, it seemed as though half the town was there waiting—the county executive, the head of the recycling program, reporters from both the newspaper and the radio station, and lots of Andersons and Choates and other friends and family of the obviously popular couple—including Leonard’s sister Deb, who stole the show with her anthem about turning littered cans into cash: ”They’re 80 cents a pound now, and I’ll tell you my plan: I’ll be a millionaire pickin’ up cans.”
Leonard Anderson’s story-songs are the Appalachian equivalent of a Garrison Keillor monologue: understated, insightful, often exasperated but always affectionate commentaries on life in the rugged, honest community where he has lived his whole life. “Hard Times,” accompanied by cousin Stacey Choate on jingle cajon and by Leonard himself on harmonica, is typical, a wry litany of life’s minor indignities: the finicky gasoline pump, the less-than-expected birthday gifts, the woman at the food bank who mistakes a donor for a client and hands him a case of pork and beans.
“I love the people around here, and I’m not just talking about kinfolk,” Leonard Anderson told a visiting reporter in 2007. “I plan on living here ’till I die.” According to that article, Anderson wrote his first composition, a cowboy tune called Boots and Saddles, when he was nine years old. Today, dozens of songs, TV specials and at least one CD later, he still sings on his front porch for the friends and family he loves.
TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2013
Who: Highlander Bluegrass Band: Jamie Bowling (mandolin), Rebekah Sexton (fiddle, vocals), Kailey Pemberton (vocals), Alex Kazee (vocals), Johnathan Adkins (guitar), Anna Sexton (vocals), Andrew Norman (bass guitar, vocals)
What: "Fishers of Men," written by Becky Buller (used with permission)
Where: Huntsville, Scott County
Venue: Scott County High School's Museum of Scott County
It may not be unusual for a high school to have its own bluegrass band—but it is unusual when those students perform on a stage they built themselves, within a museum they help to operate.
Welcome to the Museum of Scott County, the only museum in the world constructed, curated and managed by high school students. What started in 2003 with a few cases of donated artifacts and a building from Jim Barna Log Homes today covers more than two acres of high school property: a spacious main building, a blacksmith shop, a general store, a replica of Huntsville’s 1888 Baker Law Office and two other museums—the USS Tennessee Battleship Memorial Museum and a new space focusing on science and energy—along with gardens, chickens, a recording studio, a coal-mining diorama, even an interactive forensics exhibit. As teacher Gary Sexton explains in Pickin' Up Tennessee's Day 14 video journal, the museum touches on every area of study: history and science students design exhibits; anthropology students sift through artifacts; drama classes lead younger students in living-history exercises; English classes publish folk tales—and music students bring to life the musical heritage of the region as well as the work of contemporary bluegrass artists such as Tennessee singer-songwriter Becky Buller, who donated rights to use her hymn-like Fishers of Men.
To his current and former students, Booker T. Scruggs, II, is a professor. To Chattanooga's children and their advocates, he is a legendary community leader. To more than 40 years of viewers of WDEF-TV and Comcast Cable 3 in Hamilton County, he is the host and producer of the world's longest-running local television show, Point of View.
But to the many thousands who have listened to his six CDs of gospel-infused clarinet, or who have felt the passion and faith of his live performances, B.T. is pure musician. For decades, he has been playing in churches and on college campuses throughout the United States and beyond (in 2006 he played in Vienna for a regional conference of the United Methodist Church.) He is creator and clarinetist of the Maxtiam Trio, which plays gospel, jazz and classic standards for various local and out-of-town events. He’s a member of the Chattanooga Clarinet Choir, saxophonist with the Chattanooga Gospel Orchestra and the Spectrum Jazz Band, offertory player at Bethlehem-Wiley United Methodist Church and leader of the B.T. Scruggs Ensemble, which in 2009 was named Best Jazz Band by the Chattanooga Times Free Press FYI Music Awards.
But B.T. Scruggs is also defined by his heart for service, especially to young people. A life member of Alpha Phi Alpha and the NAACP, Scruggs has received numerous awards for leadership and service, including the M.L. King, Jr., Birthday Celebration Community Service Award presented by The Unity Group; the Local Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the 89th Annual Convention of the National Association of Negro Musicians; and induction into the African American Educators Hall of Fame by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. An adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Scruggs retired as director of UTC’s Upward Bound program after 36 years. All proceeds from the sale of his two solo albums—My Tribute (in memory of his father) and Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled (in memory of his grandmother)—have gone to support this program. In 2005, he produced Maxtiam Trio’s A Salute to The Duke, a collection of favorite Duke Ellington songs that has generated more than $10,000 for scholarships to deserving students throughout the Southeast. For this initiative, Scruggs was recognized as an "Unsung Hero" by the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel, a regional educational organization. Proceeds from B.T.'s most recent release, In the Spirit, are already benefiting the youth group at his church, Bethlehem-Wiley.
SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013
Who: Smokyland Sound
What: "America the Beautiful," "This Is My Country"
Where: Knoxville, Knox County
Venue: Ijams Nature Center
Performed by Smokyland Sound members David DeLaney, Ron DuBois, Lee Franks, Jim Gentry, Garvin L. Greene, Gerald Klima, Steven L. Klima, John Oxendine, John Shelton, Harry Thomas and Kent Peebles.
With weekly rehearsals, dozens of public performances, regional and international competitions and its own youth chorus (Note Torius!), Smokyland Sound is doing its part to keep alive the century-old tradition of barbershop vocal harmony. A chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and a member of the Dixie District, this chorus of men from the Greater Knoxville area sings a variety of music from classic barbershop tunes to contemporary selections, all in four-part harmony. On Day 16 of the tour, they also found themselves harmonizing with the bullfrogs at the beautiful Ijams Nature Center.
SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2013
Three performances this day:
Day 17 Performance #1:
Who: Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps
What: “Welcome Here Again," "Yankee Doodle," "Old Saybrook"
Where: Elizabethton, Carter County
Venue: Fort Watauga, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
“Welcome Here Again” was a favorite tune of the North Carolina militia during the American Revolution, so naturally, it’s now a favorite of the Watauga Valley Fife and Drums Corps as well. Why "naturally"? Because Tennessee was once part of North Carolina. In fact, during reenactments, the Watauga Valley Fife and Drums Corps assumes its more historically accurate name, the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia Field Musicians.
Accuracy and authenticity are important to this group, not only because it is the only fife and drum corps in the state, but because as the host living history organization at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, its members are committed to furthering the public’s awareness of life on the 18th century frontier—especially the history and music of the region that we now call Carter County and that members of the group call home. They include John Large, Jr., (director), Nathan Lokey (bass drum), Jacob Lynch (snare drum), Ty Lokey (fife), Larry L. Lokey (fife) and Lacey Boyle (fife).
from http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/sycamore-shoals: Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park protects the land that was the location of several important historic events in the late 18th century. Leaving the English colonies, settlers began arriving along the Watauga Old Fields, in search of a new life on what was Cherokee land. John Carter, one of the primary political, military and business leaders of this era, and his son Landon built the Carter Mansion, three miles from Sycamore Shoals. This structure is the oldest standing frame house in Tennessee, dating back to the 1770s.
In 1772, leaders in the settlement came together to establish “the first free and independent community on the continent,” four years prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Three years later, the largest private real estate transaction on our continent, the Transylvania Purchase, took place at this site, when Judge Richard Henderson negotiated an agreement with the Cherokee leaders. In reaction to this event, Fort Watauga was constructed in 1776 to protect the settlers from Cherokee attack.
On September 25, 1780, Sycamore Shoals became the muster site of the Overmountain Men, who set out to find British Major Patrick Ferguson, who had threatened to “hang your leaders and lay waste to your country with fire and sword.” The Overmountain Men defeated Ferguson in just over an hour in the epic battle of King’s Mountain. Many historians believe that the actions of these men at Sycamore Shoals turned the tide of the American Revolution, and saved America from British rule and control.
Day 17 Performance #2:
Who: Sheriff Chris Mathes and the All-Star Jailbird Band
What: “Little Black Train," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"
Where: Elizabethton, Carter County
Venue: Covered Bridge Park
Elizabethton may not be Mayberry, and Sheriff Chris Mathes may not be Sheriff Andy Taylor, but it was hard not to make the comparison when Mathes and three of his fellow law enforcement officers gathered at the scenic Covered Bridge Park on Day 17 to sing two beloved gospel classics. It was even harder to avoid the comparison when Sheriff Mathes explained that when he was growing up in Carter County, down-home singing was a way of life, and everyone played “some kind of instrument.” It was part of the fabric of community, a way to connect with the past and with each other. In fact, Sheriff Mathes said, he owes his existence to an old guitar—the one his grandfather was carrying when he met his grandmother, and she asked him to sing her a love song.
Day 17 Performance #3:
Who: T.V. Barnett and his Roan Mountain Moonshiners: Rhodyjane Meadows (guitar, vocals), Sam Jones (bass), T. V. Barnett (fiddle), Michael Jones (banjo, vocals)
What: "She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain," "Get Along Home, Cindy, Cindy"
Where: Carter County
Venue: The Miller Homestead, Roan Mountain State Park
T.V. Barnett and His Roan Mountain Moonshiners is one of the few remaining oldtime string bands still playing the genuine East Tennessee style of Southern Appalachian music. A big part of that authenticity is T.V. himself, a tall, lean, quiet-spoken man in a trademark fedora who was born on Ripshin Mountain in 1937 and raised on Roan Mountain in a log cabin built by his father. T.V. still lives on the side of Roan Mountain, where he mills logs and makes dulcimers and fiddles at blistering speed, even as his face maintains an imperturbable calm and the faintest whisper of a smile. Fiddling on the front porch of the 19th-century Miller Homestead, now a part of Roan Mountain State Park, T.V. seemed as much a part of the history of the place as the farmhouse itself.
Although "Get Along Home, Cindy, Cindy" was played elsewhere on the Pickin' Up Tennessee tour, the Moonshiners' version showcases the rowdy variety of add-on verses for which the song is famous. And nobody performs it quite like the Moonshiners, with T.V.’s breakneck fiddling, Sam Jones’ doghouse bass, Michael Jones’ old-time banjo and the exuberant vocals of Rhodyjane Meadows, a certified clinical musician and educator, who says that rumors of her being raised by wolves are greatly exaggerated.
MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2013
Who: Spirit of Smoky: Tina Kilgore, Danese Ball, Teresa Buckner, Susan Burgin
What: "In the Garden"
Where: Newport, Cocke County
Venue: Serenity Garden
By day, Tina Kilgore, Danese Ball, Teresa Buckner and Susan Burgin work together for a marvelous caregiving business called Smoky Mountain Home Health and Hospice, in Newport. After hours, as the a capella quartet Spirit of Smoky, they provide a different kind of nurturing, sharing through song their affection for the music and people of the Great Smoky Mountains. Appropriately, their performance of the sweet hymn “In the Garden” was set in the Serenity Garden, a quiet green space serving residents of a Newport retirement facility and parishioners of an adjacent church.
Spirit of Smoky began as an informal coming together of lovers of song, entertaining residents and coworkers at workplace Christmas parties. When asked to perform more than Christmas carols, four of the performers coalesced into the current quartet. They consider their talent and unique blend of voices a gift and like to use it to worship God as well as having a lot of fun.
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013
Who: Mark Durand (fiddle) and Ron Elrod (banjo)
What: Atonal Medley: "I’m Gonna Learn You How to Rock Andy" and "Hog Went Through the Fence, Yoke and All"
Where: Maryville, Blount County
Venue: Private residence
The team’s last night on the road featured an al fresco potluck supper, a fine view of the Smokies in late afternoon sun, and what was surely the most unusual music of the tour, as amateur pickers Mark Durand and Ron Elrod played a pair of atonal string pieces whose titles were as curious as their discordant sound. “I’m Gonna Learn You How to Rock Andy” is said to refer to a farmer showing his slave how to chase off a fellow named Andy by pelting him with rocks. And we can only imagine the scene that inspired “Hog Went Through the Fence, Yoke and All.”
As a specialist in public health systems in the South Pacific, Mark Durand spends a lot of his time in places far removed from, and a lot flatter than, the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In the mid-2000s he was director of health services for Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia, where he spearheaded the rebuilding of a medical library destroyed in 2004 by Typhoon Sudal. But Mark’s heart has always been in the foothills of east Tennessee, where he spent countless weekends from high school through medical school backpacking in the Smokies, fishing in the mountain streams and sampling botanical edibles. So it’s fitting that over the years and across the miles, he has stayed in touch with his Tennessee self by learning to play a pretty impressive old-timey fiddle, and jamming with friends like Ron Elrod.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2013
Two performances this date:
Who: Playing On The Planet: Lisa Jacobi (guitar), Dennis Mixon (bass), Jarrod Payne (banjo), Seu Jacobi (hoops)
What: "Tennessee Twister," written by Lisa Jacobi
Where: Copperhill, Polk County
Venue: Ocoee Whitewater Center, Cherokee National Forest
Playing On The Planet is a globe-wandering group of musical multi-instrumentalists from the Ocoee River region of Ducktown in Polk County. At this mountain crossroads where three state lines and varied musical genres intersect, band founder Lisa Jacobi wrote “Tennessee Twister” based on a real-life story of a bootleg moonshine bust. With its highway theme and “cosmic rockin’ boogiegrass” style, the piece was a perfect fit for the PBS travelogue series Roadtrip Nation.
Formerly known as Steel String Session, the band has five musicians and a Hula Hoop Artist. Lisa Jacobi sings, composes and plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar and upright bass. (She also paints rocks and whitewater kayaks.) Pete Dasher (vocals, resonator guitar) sometimes lives in a tool shed on 15 acres. Denny Mixon writes songs, does vocals, plays upright bass and guitar, rows stuff and refinishes furniture. Jarrod (JRod) Payne sings. composes, plays banjo and guitar and is a black belt in Taekwondo. Bill Fleming does vocals, plays steel guitar and herds a successful intentional community. And Ame’Lie Rouse is master of the Hula Hoop Arts.
The five bandmates make the most of what they refer to as regional "schizo-graphy," creating original songs and a dynamic acoustic sound derived from the rich heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Kentucky’s bluegrass pastures, Rainbow Children gatherings, Gypsy alleys in Romania and the "Urban Streetscape Sound” heard in clandestine warehouse districts. The band’s attention-grabbing remake of “Dueling Banjos” is found on network TV shows all over the planet. The musicians use mountain-bred instincts to convince disparate audiences (traditionalists and newcomers) into believing they all arrived at a performance in the same mode of transportation, whether on foot, by bike or in a pickup truck. Hula Hoops & dancing encouraged!
Playing On The Planet has three CDs to date: Playing on the Planet, Ocoee Road and Tennessee Twister and are currently heard on PBS' Roadtrip Nation, NBC Sports, in popular outdoor adventure DVDs, in the whitewater documentary Call of the River and in the televised coverage of Le Tour de France. A short list of performances includes the U.S. Olympic Road to Sochi Tour, the Chattanooga Riverbend Festival, North Georgia's Boogie & HemlockFest, the Red Clay Theater, the Purple Fiddle in West Virginia, Atlanta’s Peachblossom Festival, Riverfront Nights in Chattanooga, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special and too-numerous-to-count rural oprys & urban warehouse stages. Have a listen at www.reverbnation.com/PlayingOnThePlanet, www.sonicbids.com/PlayingOnThePlanet, on the band's website or on their YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages.
Who: Matthew "Matt" Tooni
What: Native American Flute Improvisations 1 & 2
Where: Copperhill, Polk County
Venue: Ocoee Whitewater Center, Cherokee National Forest
The last performance of the tour felt, appropriately, like a full-circle return to the Tennessee of our ancestors, a time before we began tossing more than 15 million pounds of trash onto our landscapes and into our rivers. With the Ocoee whitewaters as a backdrop, and the sun setting on the Cherokee National Forest, Native American flautist Matthew "Matt" Tooni (pronounced Too-NYE) performed a pair of haunting improvisations on a hand-carved Navajo flute.
Matt is a young and vital member of the effort to keep alive Cherokee history and culture. A frequent participant in the Cherokee outdoor drama Unto These Hills, in 2011 he was a member of the first graduating class of The Right Path, an adult leadership program developed by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and grounded in Cherokee traditions and values, from language, tribal governance and the environment to storytelling, artistic expression and Cherokee history. Strictly speaking, Matt isn’t a Tennessee musician, as he makes his home in Cherokee, North Carolina. But considering that his people were in Tennessee long before there were state borders, we decided that in this case, those borders are not important.