Mountain City, Tennessee
Mountain City is a town in, the county seat of Johnson County, United States. The population was 2,383 at the 2000 census and 2,531 at the 2010 census, it is the northeasternmost county seat in Tennessee. In addition, at an elevation of 2,418 feet, it has the distinction of being the highest incorporated city in the state; when the first Euro-American explorers arrived in what is now the Mountain City area in the late 17th century, well-worn Native American trails passed through the area. In 1949, workers at the Maymead quarry discovered a cave with several early Mississippian-era burials inside; the Needham and Arthur expedition of 1673 is believed to have passed through the area, making use of the gap at Trade to the south. Explorer Daniel Boone made use of the same gap on an expedition to what is now Kentucky in 1769, today part of the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail— which follows Boone's route— passes through Mountain City; the first permanent Euro-American settlers arrived in the Mountain City area in the late 18th century, among them Leonard Shoun and Revolutionary War veteran Alexander Doran.
The area was part of Carter County, but the difficulty of reaching Elizabethton led to the creation of Johnson County in 1836. That year, a county seat for the new county was platted on land purchased from William Vaught, named Taylorsville after Colonel James P. Taylor; the name of the town was changed to "Mountain City" in 1885 at the urging of Roderick R. Butler, a prominent citizen and U. S. Congressman, who wanted the town's name to reflect its situation amidst one of the highest valleys in Tennessee. Butler's mansion, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, still stands near the center of the town. In May 1925, Mountain City was the site of a musical gathering, the first Mountain City Fiddlers Convention, considered a landmark event in the modern history of Appalachian traditional music; the gathering contributed to the development of country music, is commemorated every summer, at the Old Time Fiddler's Convention in nearby Laurel Bloomery. Since 1982, Mountain City has been home to a luxury inn and country club, now known as the RedTail Mountain Resort.
It is the northeasternmost golf gated community in Tennessee. Mountain City is located at 36°28′6″N 81°48′14″W. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.3 square miles, all land. At just over 2,400 feet, Mountain City is situated in one of the highest valleys in the state of Tennessee. Doe Mountain rises to the southwest, Forge Mountain rises to the east, the Iron Mountains rise prominently to the north; the Tennessee-North Carolina border runs opposite Forge Mountain 5 miles east of Mountain City, the Tennessee-Virginia border passes about 10 miles to the north. U. S. Route 421 connects Mountain City with Bristol, Tennessee, to the northwest and Boone, North Carolina, to the southeast. Tennessee State Route 67 traverses the Doe Creek Valley on the north side of Doe Mountain, connects Mountain City with Carter County and the Watauga Lake areas to the west. A spur of S. R. 67, S. R. 167, follows the Roan Creek Valley on the south side of Doe Mountain, rejoining S.
R. 67 at Shouns in the southern part of Mountain City. Tennessee State Route 91 connects Mountain City to Laurel Bloomery and Damascus, Virginia, to the north; as of the census of 2000, there were 2,383 people, 1,136 households, 664 families residing in the town. The population density was 720.8 people per square mile. There were 1,250 housing units at an average density of 378.1 per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 97.86% White, 0.92% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 0.29% from other races, 0.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.80% of the population. There were 1,136 households out of which 22.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.3% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 41.5% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.9% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.05 and the average family size was 2.71.
In the town, the population was spread out with 19.2% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, 20.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males. The median income for a household in the town was $16,587, the median income for a family was $31,406. Males had a median income of $26,042 versus $19,145 for females; the per capita income for the town was $17,202. About 21.6% of families and 27.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.4% of those under age 18 and 20.6% of those age 65 or over. Tennessee's lowest temperature on record was reported in Mountain City on December 30, 1917, at −32 °F. Mountain City has an oceanic climate with monthly averages ranging from 35.2 to 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit in December and July, respectively. Mountain City is the location of the Johnson County Welcome Museum; the Center offers tourism information about the county and the museum showcases the history of the area and has a large collection of Native American and pioneer objects.
The Steve Earle song "Copperhead Road" is set in the vicinity of Mountain City. Clarence Ashley, old-time musician Roderick R. Butler
Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee
Laurel Bloomery is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, United States. Settled in the early 19th century, the community's first bloomery forge mill was built and began operation in 1810; the mill was closed in 1870. The area is known for secluded valleys. Laurel Bloomery is the northeasternmost community in the state of Tennessee; the Old Time Fiddler's Convention is held the Saturday before Labor Day weekend at the Old Mill Music Park. Local musicians travel far and wide to attend this festival, marked with old time folk and bluegrass music, it marks the annual anniversary of the Mountain City Fiddlers Convention of 1925, held in nearby Mountain City. Pioneering fiddler G. B. Grayson is buried in Laurel Bloomery, he mentions Laurel Bloomery in the 1928 Victor recording of the song Train 45: "I'm a goin' to Laurel Bloomery, Henry..." Laurel Elementary School is the primary school in the Laurel Bloomery community. The school houses grades K-6 with an approximate enrollment of 70 students.
The school started in the early 20th century in a small, one-room building and housed grades K-12. It continued to house grades K-8 until the 1970s, when middle and high schools were built in the Mountain City section of Johnson county
Appalachian music is the music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. It is derived from various European and African influences, including English ballads and Scottish traditional music and African-American blues. First recorded in the 1920s, Appalachian musicians were a key influence on the early development of Old-time music, country music, bluegrass, were an important part of the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Instruments used to perform Appalachian music include the banjo, American fiddle, fretted dulcimer, guitar. Early recorded Appalachian musicians include Fiddlin' John Carson, G. B. Grayson & Henry Whitter, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the Carter Family, Clarence Ashley, Dock Boggs, all of whom were recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. Several Appalachian musicians obtained renown during the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, including Jean Ritchie, Roscoe Holcomb, Ola Belle Reed, Lily May Ledford, Hedy West and Doc Watson. Country and bluegrass artists such as Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins, The Stanley Brothers and Don Reno were influenced by traditional Appalachian music.
Immigrants from England, the northern Protestant part of Ireland, lowland Scotland arrived in Appalachia in the 18th century, brought with them the musical traditions of these countries. These traditions consisted of English and Scottish ballads— which were unaccompanied narratives— and dance music, such as Irish reels, which were accompanied by a fiddle; this dance music was spread through print materials rather than aurally. Several Appalachian ballads, such as "Pretty Saro", "The Cuckoo", "Wayfaring Stranger", "Pretty Polly", "House Carpenter", are rooted in the English ballad tradition; some songs popular in Appalachia, such as "Leather Britches", "Wind and Rain", "Barbara Allen", have lowland Scottish roots. The dance tune "Cumberland Gap" may be derived from the tune that accompanies the Scottish ballad "Bonnie George Campbell"; the "New World" ballad tradition, consisting of ballads written in North America, was as influential as the Old World tradition to the development of Appalachian music.
New World ballads were written to reflect news events of the day, were published as broadsides. New World ballads popular among Appalachian musicians included "Omie Wise", "Wreck of the Old 97", "John Hardy". Coal mining and its associated labor issues led to the development of protest songs, such as "Which Side Are You On?" and "Coal Creek March". One of the most iconic symbols of Appalachian culture— the banjo— was brought to the region by African-American slaves in the 18th century. Black banjo players were performing in Appalachia as early as 1798, when their presence was documented in Knoxville, Tennessee. African-American blues, which spread through the region in the early 20th century, brought harmonic and verbal dexterity to Appalachian music, many early Appalachian musicians, such as Dock Boggs and Hobart Smith, recalled being influenced by watching black musicians perform. Other instruments such as the guitar and autoharp became popular in Appalachia in the late 19th century as a result of mail order catalogs.
These instruments were added to the banjo-and-fiddle outfits to form early string bands. The fretted dulcimer— called the "Appalachian" or "mountain" dulcimer due to its popularity in the region— emerged in Southwest Pennsylvania and Northwest Virginia in the 19th century. Unrelated to the hammered dulcimer, the fretted dulcimer is a modified zither. In the early 20th century, settlement schools in Kentucky taught the fretted dulcimer to students, helping spread its popularity in the region. Singer Jean Ritchie was responsible for popularizing the instrument among folk music enthusiasts in the 1950s. Around the turn of the 20th century, a broad movement developed to record the rich musical heritage of folksong, preserved and developed by the people of the Appalachians; this music was unwritten. Fieldwork to record Appalachian music was undertaken by a variety of scholars. One of the earliest collectors of Appalachian ballads was Kentucky native John Jacob Niles, who began noting ballads as early as 1907 as he learned them in the course of family, social life, work.
Due to fears of plagiarism and imitation of other collectors active in the region at the time, Niles waited until 1960 to publish his first 110 in The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles. The area covered by Niles in his collecting days, according to the map in the Ballad Book, was bounded by Tazewell, Virginia. In May 1916, the soprano Loraine Wyman and her pianist colleague Howard Brockway visited the Appalachians in eastern Kentucky, in a 300-mile walking trek to gather folk songs, they took their harvest back to New York, where they continued, with great success, their ongoing efforts in performing traditional folk songs to urban audiences. Starting only about a month after Wyman and Brockway, the British folklorists Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles toured the Southern Appalachian regi
Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English and Scottish ballads and dance tunes, by traditional African-American blues and jazz; the Blue Grass Boys played a Mountain Music style that Bill learned in Asheville, North Carolina from bands like Wade Mainer's and other popular acts on radio station WWNC. It was further developed by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, it has a high lonesome sound."Bluegrass features acoustic string instruments and emphasizes the offbeat. Notes are anticipated in contrast to laid back blues where notes are behind the beat, which creates the higher energy characteristic of bluegrass. In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment.
This is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. Breakdowns are characterized by rapid tempos and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes by complex chord changes. There are three major subgenres of bluegrass. Traditional bluegrass has musicians playing folk songs, tunes with traditional chord progressions, using only acoustic instruments, with an example being Bill Monroe. Progressive bluegrass groups may use electric instruments and import songs from other genres rock & roll. Examples include Cadillac Bearfoot. Another subgenre, bluegrass gospel, uses Christian lyrics, soulful three- or four-part harmony singing, sometimes the playing of instrumentals. A newer development in the bluegrass world is Neo-traditional bluegrass. Bluegrass music has attracted a diverse following worldwide. Unlike mainstream country music, bluegrass is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments.
The fiddle, five-string banjo, guitar and upright bass are joined by the resonator guitar and harmonica or Jew's harp. This instrumentation originated in rural dance bands and is the basis on which the earliest bluegrass bands were formed; the guitar is now most played with a style referred to as flatpicking, unlike the style of early bluegrass guitarists such as Lester Flatt, who used a thumb pick and finger pick. Banjo players use the three-finger picking style made popular by banjoists such as Earl Scruggs. Fiddlers play in thirds and fifths, producing a sound, characteristic to the bluegrass style. Bassists always play pizzicato adopting the "slap-style" to accentuate the beat. A bluegrass bass line is a rhythmic alternation between the root and fifth of each chord, with occasional walking bass excursions. Instrumentation has been a continuing topic of debate. Traditional bluegrass performers believe the "correct" instrumentation is that used by Bill Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys. Departures from the traditional instrumentation have included dobro, harmonica, autoharp, electric guitar, electric versions of other common bluegrass instruments, resulting in what has been referred to as "newgrass."
Apart from specific instrumentation, a distinguishing characteristic of bluegrass is vocal harmony featuring two, three, or four parts with a dissonant or modal sound in the highest voice, a style described as the "high, lonesome sound." The ordering and layering of vocal harmony is called the "stack". A standard stack has the lead in the middle and a tenor at the top. Alison Krauss and Union Station provide a good example of a different harmony stack with a baritone and tenor with a high lead, an octave above the standard melody line, sung by the female vocalist. However, by employing variants to the standard trio vocal arrangement, they were following a pattern existing since the early days of the genre; the Stanley Brothers utilized a high baritone part on several of their trios recorded for Columbia records during their time with that label. Mandolin player Pee Wee Lambert sang the high baritone above Ralph Stanley's tenor, both parts above Carter's lead vocal; this trio vocal arrangement was variously used by other groups as well.
In the 1960s Flatt and Scruggs added a fifth part to the traditional quartet parts on gospel songs, the extra part being a high baritone. The use of a high lead with the tenor and baritone below it was most famously employed by the Osborne Brothers who first employed it during their time with MGM records in the latter half of the 1950s; this vocal arrangement would be the home aspect of the Osbornes' sound with Bobby's high, clear voice at the top of the vocal stack. Bluegrass tunes can be described as narratives on the everyday lives of the people whence the music came. Aside from laments about loves lost, interpersonal tensions and unwanted changes to the region (e.g. the visible effects of moun
Country music known as country and western, hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk blues. Country music consists of ballads and dance tunes with simple forms, folk lyrics, harmonies accompanied by string instruments such as banjos and acoustic guitars, steel guitars, fiddles as well as harmonicas. Blues modes have been used extensively throughout its recorded history. According to Lindsey Starnes, the term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term hillbilly music. In 2009 in the United States, country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, second most popular in the morning commute; the term country music is used today to describe many subgenres. The origins of country music are found in the folk music of working class Americans, who blended popular songs and Celtic fiddle tunes, traditional English ballads, cowboy songs, the musical traditions of various groups of European immigrants.
Immigrants to the southern Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America brought the music and instruments of Europe along with them for nearly 300 years. Country music was "introduced to the world as a Southern phenomenon." The U. S. Congress has formally recognized Bristol, Tennessee as the "Birthplace of Country Music", based on the historic Bristol recording sessions of 1927. Since 2014, the city has been home to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Historians have noted the influence of the less-known Johnson City sessions of 1928 and 1929, the Knoxville sessions of 1929 and 1930. In addition, the Mountain City Fiddlers Convention, held in 1925, helped to inspire modern country music. Before these, pioneer settlers, in the Great Smoky Mountains region, had developed a rich musical heritage; the first generation emerged in the early 1920s, with Atlanta's music scene playing a major role in launching country's earliest recording artists. New York City record label Okeh Records began issuing hillbilly music records by Fiddlin' John Carson as early as 1923, followed by Columbia Records in 1924, RCA Victor Records in 1927 with the first famous pioneers of the genre Jimmie Rodgers and the first family of country music The Carter Family.
Many "hillbilly" musicians, such as Cliff Carlisle, recorded blues songs throughout the 1920s. During the second generation, radio became a popular source of entertainment, "barn dance" shows featuring country music were started all over the South, as far north as Chicago, as far west as California; the most important was the Grand Ole Opry, aired starting in 1925 by WSM in Nashville and continuing to the present day. During the 1930s and 1940s, cowboy songs, or Western music, recorded since the 1920s, were popularized by films made in Hollywood. Bob Wills was another country musician from the Lower Great Plains who had become popular as the leader of a "hot string band," and who appeared in Hollywood westerns, his mix of country and jazz, which started out as dance hall music, would become known as Western swing. Wills was one of the first country musicians known to have added an electric guitar to his band, in 1938. Country musicians began recording boogie in 1939, shortly after it had been played at Carnegie Hall, when Johnny Barfield recorded "Boogie Woogie".
The third generation started at the end of World War II with "mountaineer" string band music known as bluegrass, which emerged when Bill Monroe, along with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were introduced by Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry. Gospel music remained a popular component of country music. Another type of stripped-down and raw music with a variety of moods and a basic ensemble of guitar, dobro or steel guitar became popular among poor whites in Texas and Oklahoma, it became known as honky tonk, had its roots in Western swing and the ranchera music of Mexico and the border states. By the early 1950s a blend of Western swing, country boogie, honky tonk was played by most country bands. Rockabilly was most popular with country fans in the 1950s, 1956 could be called the year of rockabilly in country music, with Johnny Cash emerging as one of the most popular and enduring representatives of the rockabilly genre. Beginning in the mid-1950s, reaching its peak during the early 1960s, the Nashville sound turned country music into a multimillion-dollar industry centered in Nashville, Tennessee.
The late 1960s in American music produced a unique blend as a result of traditionalist backlash within separate genres. In the aftermath of the British Invasion, many desired a return to the "old values" of rock n' roll. At the same time there was a lack of enthusiasm in the country sector for Nashville-produced music. What resulted was a crossbred genre known as country rock. Fourth generation music included outlaw country with roots in the Bakersfield sound, country pop with roots in the countrypolitan, folk music and soft rock. Between 1972 and 1975 singer/guitarist John Denver released a se
The Bristol Sessions are considered by some as the "Big Bang" of modern country music. Though in a 2015 roundtable discussion published in the periodical The Appalachian Journal several music scholars examined the "Big Bang" myth and suggested that other early recording sessions were important to the rise of country music; the Bristol Sessions were held in 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee by Victor Talking Machine Company producer Ralph Peer. Bristol was one of the stops on a two-month, $60,000 trip that took Peer through several major southern cities and yielded important recordings of blues, gospel, topical songs, string bands; the Bristol Sessions marked the commercial debuts of the Carter Family. As a result of the influence of these recording sessions, Bristol has been called the "birthplace of country music". Since 2014, the town has been home to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Commercial recordings of country music had begun in 1922. Among these early artists were Vernon Dalhart, who recorded the million-selling Wreck of the Old 97, Ernest Stoneman from Galax, Henry Whitter, A.
C. Robertson, who recorded the first documented country record along with Henry C. Gilliland, Uncle Dave Macon. However, any "hillbilly" artists who recorded had to travel to the New York City studios of the major labels, many artists, including Dalhart, were not true "hillbilly" artists but instead crossed over from other genres. Okeh Records and Columbia Records had sent producers around the South in an attempt to discover new talent. Peer, who worked for Okeh at the time, recorded Fiddlin' John Carson using the old acoustic method in 1923, at the behest of the Okeh dealer in Atlanta, Polk Brockman. Despite Peer’s belief that the record was of poor quality, the 500 copies made of “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” and “The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster’s Going to Crow” sold out in weeks; this experience convinced Peer of the potential for “hillbilly” music. Peer left Okeh for the Victor Talking Machine Company. However, Peer owned the publishing rights to all the recordings. Peer's arrangement of paying royalties to artists based on sales is the basis for record contracts today, the company he founded, remains in existence today.
The birth of electrical recording in 1925 allowed records to have a sound better than radio, which had threatened to reduce the recording industry to irrelevance in the early 1920s. This new method allowed softer instruments such as dulcimers and jaw harps to be heard, it meant recording equipment was somewhat more portable — and as such, recordings could be made nearly anywhere Peer asked Ernest Stoneman, who had recorded for Okeh, how to find more rural talent. Stoneman convinced Peer to travel through southern Appalachia and record artists who would have been unable to travel to New York. Peer recognized the potential with the mountain music, as residents of Appalachia who didn't have electricity owned hand-cranked Victrolas, or other phonographs, he decided hoping to record blues, gospel and "hillbilly" music. Artists were paid $50 cash on the spot for each side cut, 2½ cents for each single sold. In February and March, he made a trip recording blues and gospel music, decided to make another trip.
He decided to make a stop in Savannah and Charlotte, North Carolina. He settled on Bristol as a third stop, because with Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee, it formed the Tri-Cities, the largest urban area in the Appalachians at the time. In addition, three other record companies were scheduling auditions for Bristol. So Peer set out with two engineers for Bristol. Between 25 July and 5 August 1927, Peer held recording sessions on the third floor of the Taylor-Christian Hat and Glove Company on State Street, the state line in Bristol, he placed advertisements in the local newspapers, which did not receive much response aside from artists who had traveled to New York or were known by Stoneman. Stoneman was the first to record with Peer, on 25 July 1927, he recorded with Eck Dunford and Mooney Brewer. Other acts, including the Johnson Brothers vaudeville duo and a church choir, filled out the rest of July. However, these artists were only enough to fill the first week of recordings and Peer needed to fill out his second week.
A newspaper article about one of Stoneman's recordings, which stressed the $3,600 in royalties that Stoneman had received in 1926 and the $100/day that he was receiving for recording in Bristol, generated much more interest. Dozens of artists went to Bristol, he scheduled night sessions to accommodate the extra talent. Rodgers had a disagreement with the band in which he was a member over what name to record under, so Rodgers recorded solo and the band recorded as the Tenneva Ramblers. Rodgers and the band only found out about the sessions when they stayed at the boarding house run by the mother of one band member; the arrival of the Carter Family was more expected. Ralph Peer had corresponded with the family earlier in the summer, but wrote that "he was still surprised to see them," due to their appearance. "They wander in," Peer told Lillian Borgeson during a series of interviews in 1959. "He's dressed in overalls and the women are country women from way back there. They looked like hillbillies
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