Train tune touts Tweetsie Trail, task force

Tony Casey • Apr 18, 2014 at 9:43 PM

When Dr. Dan Schumaier picked Elizabethton’s Andy Curtis to write the song for the Tweetsie Trail project, he knew the task would be a little different than the usual songwriting he does.

“I knew this was going to be a little bit more challenging,” said Curtis, a Christian musician. “The topic, it’s not abstract, like love. It’s more historical.”

But that was perfectly fine with him. Now living just off the beach in Florida and a big proponent of the 10-mile recreational trail project, Curtis did as any musician in his position might do. He headed to the beach with his guitar to write a song as he watched the sun go down. When he came back, he had the basis for his new song, “The Tweetsie We Rode.”

The song, which can be found at Curtis’ website, www.andycurtis.me, is set to be used as both a marketing tool for the Tweetsie Trail task force to land new donations to help complete the trail as well as inform the public of the historical significance of it all.

Schumaier, the task force’s chairman, said he sent Curtis a packet with historical information to put together the song and is extremely happy with the result.

“I think it’s a really neat song,” Schumaier said, adding that he hopes the song will be one of many parts of the project that will focus people to it. “I think what we want to do is draw attention to the trail.”

He said he’d sent the song to local radio stations to help get it on the air.

Curtis, an East Tennessee State University graduate with a degree in history, said he was always into the railroad history in the area and throughout the Appalachian area. He said he’s proud to say the historical references in the song are reflective of the history of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina rail line, or “Tweetsie.” He plans on clearing his schedule to make sure he comes up from Florida to take part in the trail’s opening festivities, which are set to take place on Labor Day weekend.

What Curtis really likes about the project is the many different sources that are aiding in putting it together. Some rich person or company could feasibly throw a lot of money at something like the project, but it wouldn’t mean as much as it does now in Johnson City and Elizabethton, with a real grass-roots effort coming from dozens, if not hundreds, of different places.

“It’s a bunch of people giving it the best effort they can,” Curtis said of the project.

After having let the song settle in a bit after writing and recording it, Curtis says he likes the folk and Americana-styled song. It’s a song he’ll be proud to have in his repertoire to perform whenever he can.

Just like all the donations and effort that have come in to aid in putting together the trail between Johnson City and Elizabethton, Curtis said the song was a similar project. He received helped and donated time from his fellow musicians and local recording studios. He gives many thanks to the people at Sound Asylum in Johnson City and his fellow musicians in playing with him on the track.

Schumaier said Curtis will be part of the opening day’s events, set for Aug. 30, which will include a race put on by local Olympian and former ETSU runner Ray Flynn, other musical acts and other activities to kick off use of the trail.

For more information about the trail, go to the official website at www.tweetsietrail.com or find its Facebook page, where the song can also be downloaded and donations can be made.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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