The Tennessee Fall Homecoming is held annually on the ground of the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN, about 20 miles north of Knoxville, TN just off Interstate route 30. The Homecoming opens on Thursday with a day provided by the museum for school children, mostly from East Tennessee, to encounter elements of regional mountain culture collected by founder John Rice Irwin at this unique living museum. The parking lot is filled with school buses, the ground with groups of children encountering a life, now mostly unfamiliar to them, of subsistence farming, home made living and music, regional crafts mostly founds in places like Hobby Lobby and Michael's these days. They also get to gorge on a combination of fair food and regional delicacies grown and made in the home. It's always fun to come early to watch the kids experience a life now fast disappearing as cable and satellite television as well as improved transportation make the mall readily available to most.
Stage 2 is a good place to see bands close up and personal. It's lies against the woods near the back of the Museum site. Kenny Smith is a frequent nominee and twice winner of IBMA Guitar Player of the Year, while Amanda Smith was named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 2014.
The Green Room, perhaps the largest in all music, sits behind the main stage. In it, bands meet to warm up for the Stage 1 performances while others gather for ongoing old-time jams and reunions of old friends. It's a friendly, raucous space for the musicians.
Hall of Famer Doyle Lawson has been a principle in four of the most important bands in bluegrass history: J.D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys (later The New South), Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, The Country Gentlemen, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Through more than fifty years, he has consistently been on the scene as a leader and ground breaker.
Traditional old-time string band music was represented by this Nashville-based national band as well as a number of regional bands who played similar music. The Hogslop String Band is highly energetic and entertaining. We first saw them a couple of years ago at Gettysburg, and their appearance here was a welcome surprise.