Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ciderville Music Store, Powell, TN

After a terrible night at the Knoxville Motel 6 (actually unfit for human habitation (Don’t even think of staying there. The econo-Lodge, just down the road has roughly the same price and is clean, quiet, serves breakfast) and a late breakfast at i-Hop, Jerry and Tammy Butler drove us up to the Ciderville Music Store at 2836 Clinton Hwy., Powell, TN, (Google Map) It would be easy to drive past this grew-like-topsy cinder block building about fifteen miles out Hwy 25 northwest of Knoxville. Having Jerry, who obviously knows and is known by every musician in East Tennessee, as your guide does no harm when going into this distinguished music store, but regardless of how you get there, it’s a warm and welcoming place with a stock of instruments to make even the most jaded of pickers’ or collectors’ eyes bug out. Known as perhaps the largest dealer of Martin Guitars in the world, this store’s walls are lined from floor to ceiling with bluegrass and country music memorabilia. There’s an emphasis on Tennessee musicians, but look carefully and you’ll find most of the big ones on the wall.

Jerry Butler

The Cas Walker Corner

This quirky appearing store pays special attention to Cas Walker, one of those interesting mid-twentieth century characters who used bluegrass or country music to further their political careers. Others include Jimmie Davis, who served as governor of Louisiana from 1944-1948 and 1960 – 1964) and W, Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel of Texas who served two terms as governor in Texas before narrowly defeating Lyndon Johnson for Senate in 1942. This breed of populist politician used early radio very effectively to collect supporters. Cas Walker had a brief and fiery career as a politician, serving one year as mayor of Knoxville as well as several terms on the city council. He’s better known as a business man and music promoter and well-beloved in Knoxville country and bluegrass circles. Dolly Parton made her first appearance on his TV show.

Rowdy Polk

We walked through towards the back of the cluttered store to find Rowdy Cope holding court from a barber chair, one of three clustered in the middle of the store. He greeted Jerry warmly and entertained the women with songs and stories as Jerry looked at instruments. After a while, Jerry carried a new Martin over, sat down, and played back-up to Rowdy’s singing for a while. He returned with another box, a new and moderately priced Martin with surprising power and sharpness. They just sat picked for a while, Rowdy giving Jerry plenty of room to try out the instrument while spinning tales, singing, and pointing out celebrities and less well-known local pickers on the walls.

Tami Butler

Like Minton’s Music and Pawn in N. Wilkesboro, NC, Ciderville Music Store is a place worth going out of your way to visit, an essential stop on the journey of musical knowledge. Enjoy the pictures. We also enjoyed having supper with Byron Chesney and his father. Byron is the owner of Knoxville Trivia Blog as well several other web sites and provides priceless information about the city and region. His work is useful to both residents of and visitors to Knoxville and environs.

Byron Chesney