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The story of Johnson County in spotlight in annual Long Journey Home festival this weekend

Contributed • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:56 AM


What: Long Journey Home, Johnson County’s heritage Music and Arts Celebration

The event is rooted in the heritage of Johnson County and the community’s desire to share their story with the rest of the region. “If Bristol is the ‘Birthplace of Country Music,’ Johnson County is where it was conceived.”

When: Thursday through Sunday

Where: Downtown Mountain City and Johnson County

What to do:


• Opening night with dinner and dancing, 5 p.m., Senior Center, 128 College St., Mountain City

 The Long Journey Home House Band will entertain during dinner and a square dance at the Senior Center. A musical shape note presentation and a cake walk are also included.


• Art Show, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Johnson County Center for the Arts, 127 College St.

• Quilt Show, 3-6 p.m., First Christian Life Center, 404 W. Main St.

• Buskin' on Main Street, 5 p.m., Main Street

Downtown Mountain City comes alive with a variety of pickin' and grinnin', friends, and local food vendors. (Usually 20 plus groups) Street performance or busking is the centuries-old act of performing in public places.


Art Show, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., Johnson County Center for the Arts, 127 College St. 

Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour

Guests are encouraged to bring a quilt or lawn chair and be ready to take a trip back in time and follow the progressive tour to five sites throughout the county. Be the first to witness the unveiling of a new painted outdoor mural in downtown Mountain City. Travel to nearby sites to celebrate the works of musical legends, including the signature clawhammer banjo style of Clarence “Tom” Ashley being played on the front porch of his homeplace.

The tour includes: 

• Murder Ballads on the creek bank, 11 a.m.-noon, Lois’s Cafe, 542 W. Main St.

This time, gather at Lois's Cafe, the site of another old train depot. We will commemorate the capture of Tom Dula (pronounced Dooley) and other events through music. Lois Dunn, Stephen Long, Kyman and Andrew Matherly are tuned and ready to go.

“Tom Dooley” was a popular ballad recorded by The Kingston Trio in 1958. It describes the life of a man on the run following a murder in North Carolina. The song references his capture just outside Mountain City. “This time tomorrow reckon where I'll be? Hadn't-a been for Grayson, I'd-a been in Tennessee.”

• Mural Unveiling of the “Black Smoke a Risin,” 1 p.m., Smith & Crockett Law Offices, 247 W. Main St.

This is the highlight of the 2018 Long Journey Home. This year’s featured work was painted by local artist Temple Reece in honor of blind fiddler G.B. Grayson. Performances by Mountain City Junior Appalachian Musicians and their instructors will begin the celebration.

The mural theme is inspired by lyrics from the Appalachian classic, “Long Journey Home,” also known as “Two Dollar Bill.” The song is from the Johnson County repertoire of music having been recorded by Doc Watson, Fred Price and Clint Howard.

• The sounds of the clawhammer banjo with Kenny Price and Jerry Moses, 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Tom Ashley Homeplace, Old Forge Road. 

Clarence "Tom" Ashley was the first to record the legendary "House of the Rising Sun," a song he learned from his grandfather, Enoch.

• Piney Mountain Boys, 4 p.m., Fred Price Road

The tour ends at the Fred Price homeplace with the Piney Mountain Boys sharing stories and songs from the folk revival featuring the music of Fred Price and Clint Howard. Songs performed will include selections from the album, “Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s,” now on the National Recording Registry.

A community jam will follow at the homeplace and open for anyone to join in. Plan to stay and enjoy soup beans and biscuits.


• Sunday Singin', 2 -4:30 p.m., Heritage Hall Theatre, 211 N. Church St.

This year’s Long Journey Home reaches a harmonious ending with the singing of traditional gospel music. Raise your voice as Forgiven, Narrow Road, Laurel Creek Boys others lead the celebration. Free admission.

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