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.
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.