Long Journey Home Festival planned Labor Day weekend
Just about as far northeast in Tennessee as you can get, you’ll find a county that is half Cherokee National Forest and half Watauga Lake, where people still get together and play music on their front porches. Nestled within those hills, lies Mountain City (appropriately named), and each year a celebration takes place honoring the iconic Old Time mountain music style that shaped country music as we know it.
The three-day Long Journey Home Tour and Festival spans over Labor Day weekend, September 3, 4 and 5.
This year’s theme is “I’ll Fly Away.” This year’s Long Journey Home festival events include:
• Buskin’ on Main, a showcase of local and regional acoustic talent playing up and down Main Street followed by an outdoor showing of Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, a film produced by Appalachian Memory Keepers on Friday, Sept. 3
• A new downtown interactive mural, I’ll Fly Away, will be unveiled in Downtown Mountain City on Saturday, Sept. 4
• The Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour showcases authentic Old Time music played at four heritage sites throughout Johnson County by musicians who still carry on the legacy of true mountain music, Saturday, Sept. 4
• For those who aren’t ready to brave the crowds just yet, there will be virtual events on Saturday, Sept. 4, on the Long Journey Home Facebook page and at www.longjourneyhome.net so you can join in right from the comfort of your living room.
The fun begins on Friday evening with Buskin’ on Main Street. This event brings the small town to life with music, friends, and plenty of good eating. The Long Journey Home Art Show and Quilt Show are always a big hit. Then, Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, a short film by Appalachian Memory Keepers, will be shown outdoors at dusk.
On Saturday, Sept. 4, the Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour begins with the unveiling of a new mural on Main Street. I’ll Fly Away is dedicated to those who have been lost to the pandemic. The JAM Band as well as the Long Journey Home House Band will share the stage for the mural unveiling. This new mural installation is the eighth in a series that honors the rich musical heritage of Johnson County and the latest addition to the Musical Heritage Mural Mile.
The next stop is at Johnson County Center for the Arts, where you’ll get a sneak peek at the sculpture in progress that will be unveiled in 2022 and meet sculptor Val Lyle. Then Bill Ward will perform working songs from the repertoire of G.B. Grayson.
The tour continues and guests are encouraged to bring a quilt or lawn chair and be ready to take a trip back in time as you experience Clarence “Tom” Ashley’s signature clawhammer banjo style played right on his front porch by Kenny Price, who learned from Tom himself. Saturday’s tour concludes, as always, at the Fred Price Homeplace, nestled high in the mountains. The Piney Woods Boys will perform musical selections from the album Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s, Doc Watson’s first album, now on the National Recording Registry. The Musical Heritage Mural Mile and Long Journey Home were made possible in part though funding from Johnson County Community Foundation and Tennessee Arts Commission as well as the generosity of community members.
“It’s about as real as it gets. If you were wondering whether authentic Appalachia still exists, look no further.”