What a privilege to paint a church Baptistry. This mural was created in honor of a member of Baker's Gap Baptist Church that passed away last year.
The final mural in the Musical Heritage series depicts the first Sunrise in Tennessee and honors Fred Price and Clint Howard along with Tom Ashley. These three make up the trio that was discovered by folklorist, Ralph Rinzler in the early 1960s. They knew a good guitar picker playing on the street over around Boone at the time by the name of Doc Watson. Doc didn’t even own an acoustic guitar back then. He was focused on more modern music. With some direction from Rinzler, the newly formed group hit the road. They received rave reviews from coast to coast. An article in a New York newspaper from the time said they put the “Folk in Folk music.” Their album, Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s was placed on the National Recording Registry in 2012. Among the other 23 albums placed on the registry that year are Simon and Garfunkle’s the Sound of Silence and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Fred and Clint with sons, Kenny and Clarence would later record the Ballad of Finley Preston. The album told the story of the last legal hanging in Tennessee, which happened in the vicinity of our Johnson County Courthouse. The late, great folklorist, Joe Wilson, native son of Johnson County and National Heritage Fellow, produced the album, just number 009 on the Rounder record label. It is important to point out that everyone who remembers these guys remembers not only their music, but their legacy of kindness and humility. They were good people who lived authentically, and their music had a way of putting us in touch with the most decent part of ourselves.
The Old Time Music community shared a heartfelt celebration with the unveiling of Birth of A Ballad and the first annual Long Journey Home Musical Heritage Tour. If you haven't yet, mark your calendar for next year's Labor Day Weekend, when the final mural will be unveiled on Friday, then another tour on Saturday! For more information visit the Long Journey Home website.
This is a watercolor sketch that will become the background for the upcoming Hang Down your Head, Tom Dooley mural. The 8 by 40 foot mural will be installed on the side of the historic Muse Hardware building in downtown Mountain City. Imagine Tom Dooley sitting on the creek bank soaking his blistered feet with his boots off as Colonel Grayson and the party from North Carolina dismount and proceed to arrest Tom. The late Frank Grayson, one of the last of the old time fiddlers from the area will stand to the side with his instrument. G. B. Grayson, who first recorded the well known tune in the 1920's will also figure prominently in the scene. After dealing with the tragic events of summer so far, I am more than anxious to get back into my makeshift garage-studio (the only place large enough to fit a work this size at my house!) and get to work!
Cristy converses the guests of honor right before the unveiling. Tom Ashley's two surviving nephews travelled from nearby North Carolina and Virginia to honor their beloved uncle.
Kenny Price, performed Tom Ashley's old time banjo tunes, including the CooCoo Bird, Little Sadie, and others. Ashley's signature clawhammer banjo style is one of our local gems.
This is one of the few old black and white pictures that survives. Tom Ashley must have been a character! His farmhouse still stands in the Forge Creek community, where he played his banjo for this old pony. Creating a color likeness from old, grainy black and white photos will be new experience. I can't wait!