Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia - Oct. 7 - 9

Main Stage - Tennessee Fall Homecoming
 Photos Courtesy of the Museum of Appalachia

 The 32nd annual Tennessee Fall Homecoming will be running from October 7 - 9 at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee.  The Museum, founded by John Rice Irwin in the late 1960's, is based on his personal collection of regional memorabilia, and has expanded beyond anything imagined when it began. The site now encompasses over 65 acres, dozens of buildings moved to the site, a display building, craft and gift shop, and a restaurant specializing in local foods.   It only makes sense that such a collection of regional artifacts would spawn an annual celebration of Appalachian culture in all its many manifestations with a strong emphasis on the music still practiced in the region, which has also spread across the country and around the world. The museum's collection is eclectic as are the offerings of the Fall Homecoming, ranging from the deepest traditions of rural living to more contemporary views of the region.  Similarly, the music shows much the same variation.

Music at the Fall Homecoming is presented on five sound stages placed about the grounds of the Museum.  During the three days over 400 musicians will perform.  Here's a copy of the schedule. While bluegrass music itself didn't originate in the Appalachians, many of its precursors and practitioners come from this region. Many deep bluegrass roots are planted in the soil, mountains, farms, and mines of East Tennessee and Kentucky, Western Virginia and West Virginia, and North Carolina...the land called Appalachia.

The Steep Canyon Rangers - Be Still Moses - Video

Bluegrass music isn't the reason for the Appalachian Homecoming, nor is it the core, but there's plenty of it there - strong national bands sprinkled through the whole weekend.  Bluegrass bands we know included in the schedule include: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Blue Moon Rising, Brand New Strings, Greenbrier, The John Hartford String Band, Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain, Pine Mountain Railroad, The Steep Canyon Rangers, and The Roys.  Without any other music provided, that list would provide a strong lineup for a bluegrass festival.  But perhaps even more interesting for people seeking to understand bluegrass's roots will be the many performers who are not specifically bluegrass bands. These musicians are part of an old and deep musical tradition reaching back to America's very beginning, to the heritage and history of the Appalachian region as well as popular music from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries.  Included, for instance are the Quebe Sisters, a Texas swing band from Fort Worth, whose close harmonies and exciting fiddle play bring both Bob Wills and the Andrews Sisters to their audiences. It's hard to imagine that Bill Monroe wasn't influenced by both these groups and many more from the same era.  If you love bluegrass music and have any interest in how our music developed, where it came from, this event is a don't miss one.

The Quebe Sisters - Yearning - Video


Of course, music isn't all the Tennessee Homecoming or the Museum of Appalachia is about. In an ordinary day at the Museum, visitors can explore early buildings brought to the site by John Rice Irvin, the founder, and continuing to be discovered and moved. Traditional Appalachian arts and crafts are on display every day, while cultural interpreters help visitors understand the isolated world existing in the hills and hollers of Appalachia well into the twentieth century.  Music is an every day part of the museum, as are regional food, lifestyle, and customs.  All that is expanded for the Tennessee Fall Homecoming with vendors demonstrating many of the skills necessary to make living in this often harsh world possible.

Fall Student Heritage Day - October 6

Tickets: There are a number of ticket alternatives, which may be found here. The event runs daily from Friday, October 7 through Sunday the 9th. A Student Heritage Day is held on October 6th.  The grounds open at 8:30 each morning, with music and demonstrations beginning at 9:00. They close at 6:00 PM.  Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for their comfort, understanding that when they're not using them, the seats are open to all comers.  A limited number of chairs are provided by the event.  Visitors are asked not to bring coolers as there's plenty of vendor food on the grounds provided at reasonable prices.  Smoking is prohibited in the performance areas. There's plenty of parking available, but no camping on the grounds.  A list of nearby accommodations can be found here.  Guests are asked to leave their pets at home, except for service animals.  When you come to the Tennessee Fall Homecoming, be prepared to do lots of walking. The grounds are large and there's much to see and do.  There is handicap parking provided and I gather the access is good.  More questions are answered here.

Directions: How to get to the Museum of Appalachia:

We're excited about attending this important and interesting event for the first time.  We visited the Museum a little over a decade ago along with Irene's Mom and had a fine day, while learning a lot, too.  We expect much more this time around.