A Country Rag--Distilled Spirits
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(Holler Notes)
A Country Rag Distilled Spirits

Photograph of family and friend picnickers at Community Eats
Graphic: Photograph of family and friend picnickers at Community Eats
(Russ, right, is band leader and guitar player for the professional heavy metal groups Damage Day and One in Five Survive)

Tanasi: The Spirit of Freedom

by Jeannette Harris

go to
Fun Fair -- Community Eats --
The Town Meets -- Revolutionary Reenactment --
And The Bands Play On -- Art Is Forever --
Heroes and Heroines -- Boo! --
Back To The Future

"Tanasi [Arts and Heritage Center] is a place where Tennessee Mountain Traditions connect today with yesterday. Welcome to Tanasi, a gathering place. Music, dance, food, fun, and artful fancy interpret the Tanasi experience waiting to be enjoyed in the 40,000 square foot building that will showcase the fine arts, crafts, and cultural heritage of Tennessee's Appalachian Mountains. The Center will be nestled into the mountainside located at exit 32 on I-26 in the town of Unicoi. It will be a shining showcase for Tennessee Arts and goods, and an example of excellence in preserving the green environment...."
-- quoted from brochure explaining purpose of and membership in Tanasi, snailmail: c/o Town of Unicoi, P. O. Box 39, Unicoi TN 37692

"John H. Carnes was the fifth child and oldest son of Hubbard and Dicie Robertson Carnes' nine surviving children. John was born on July 26, 1833.... While 403 slaves were listed in the 1850 Sevier County census, there were no slaves or farm laborers on Hubbard's farm.... John H. and his brother James Lafayette married daughters of Emanuel and Catharine Bird Fox.... The 1860 census listed John as a tanner with a personal worth of $235 and no land value.... When John was 29, he and his three younger brothers Harvy D., Perry B., and James Lafayette rode off to fight with the Union army.... The four Carnes brothers enlisted on October 16, 1862 in Sevier County as volunteers in the Union Army (Co. K, 2 TN Cav.). The brothers mustered in at Murfreesboro on January 26, 1863.... His relatives who also fought in the war included his uncle John Robertson, two cousins Caleb and Cleason Robertson, and two brothers-in-law, Amos Clark (husband of John's older sister Tressa) and Thomas Walker.... Harvy and Perry were fatally wounded at Murfreesboro and are buried in the Stones River National Cemetery.... At the 1886 Grand Army of the Republic Encampment in San Francisco, the aging Union veterans at the national convention were reminded 'that no part of the country was more devoted in its loyalty than East Tennessee. For instance, the county of Sevier, which sent into the Union army more men than it had voters, match that if you can in any part of the loyal North!'... The 1910 census listed John as a farmer who occupation was 'odd jobs.' He now farmed 45 acres that he owned free and clear. Even though he was 76, he reported being out of work for only six weeks in 1909. His hearing was still good, but he reported having sight in only one eye, which might have been war related.... John and Catharine were married 32 years until his death at age 81 on February 26, 1915.... During his lifetime, John H. Carnes knew the joys of family life, the struggle of hard work, and the destruction and devastation of our bloody Civil War. After enduring the misery of marching in war, he then saw one son volunteer for the Spanish-American War and the beginning of the first Great World War with his sons registering for the draft. He buried both his parents, his loving [first] wife Mary, two children, two brothers, and five sisters.... During his boyhood the local Cherokee Indians were forced to march away on the 1838 Trail of Tears. In John's younger years the rugged mountains sheltered Sevier County from outside influence. Livestock and flour were listed in the 1830 census as the principal exports.... It must have been a wonder to John that during his adult life, while he was providing for his family from the soil of his Sevier County farm, three Presidents were assassinated, the Wright brothers flew, the great earthquake shook San Francisco, Chicago burned, Peary reached the North Pole, Blackjack Pershing chased Pancho Villa deep into Mexico, the Wild West was tamed, the Titanic sank, and Babe Ruth debuted with the Red Sox. Perhaps John H. felt a sense of satisfaction to see the Union he fought for, and that his two brothers gave their lives to preserve, add 12 more states after the war ended which completed the jigsaw map of the contiguous United States.... Despite the miles, their [dispersed] families remained close through the blood ties that bound their mountain kin together with love and heritage."
-- Brenda Carnes in Smoky Mountain Historical Society Journal and Newsletter, Spring 2009

"Announcement of a $50,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation for planning a 'Green Building' as part of the Tanasi Regional Heritage Center is welcome news. The center, to be located off Interstate 26 in Unicoi County, will contain a number of 'green' features such as use of daylight to cut energy costs, vegetative roofs and rainwater capture to be used for irrigation and landscaping. Unicoi Town Mayor Johnny Lynch said this month, 'This grant is a spark plug. It will come in very handy at this point in time. It's an important step for our Tanasi steering committee. In my opinion, this will be the catalyst that will get things started. It's given us a lift to work harder toward the success of this Tanasi (project).' The proposed $20 million cultural center, local craft outlet, heritage complex and restaurant will 'connect the present with the past. We will emphasize history and the people of Tennessee -- the way they really are,' Lynch said. 'Tanasi' is a Native American word for Tennessee.... 'This is the gateway. Our site will say Welcome (to Tennessee),... We will be referring people to other sites throughout the whole region. We are going to help each other.' The heritage center is expected to be an economic stimulus for Northeast Tennessee when completed. The tourist money generated should attract development and increased business activity throughout the region, according to the Mayor, justifying public investment in the project.... Lych commented that Tanasi would promote events like storytelling and Jonesborough as the state's oldest town.... We want to make this area (Northeast Tennessee) a destination, Lynch said. 'We plan to have a variety of arts and crafts at the center, and music groups on a periodic basis.'..."
-- editorial, Herald & Tribune, 10/20/09

Fun Fair

This year's theme for Gray TN's
Appalachian Fair is, appropriately, "Embracing the Past.... Flying into the Future." As ever, there are commercial exhibits in four long, one-story extant buildings, including free giveaways variously. My favorite has to be those of regional 4-H Club members, which include everything from baked goods to traditional stitchery crafts, decorations and paintings standard to abstract, with ribbons carefully affixed to winners in each category. Another favorite is the Barnyard Nursery, also very popular naturally with children who can buy corn and seeds from feeders for the babies. There is again the totally delightful duckling slide which causes them to stream around in near-endless circles, under a cave-like covering, and onto a platform from which to jump and dive into a pool for their swimming, quacking, waddling and shaking their feathers all the while. There are open-sided livestock barns for judging domestic cows, sheep, and pigs, and the Wildlife Building with its pools, streams and aquariums of regional sport fishes along with a few native snakes amidst natural greeneries. There's the Museum with a collection of local antique conveyances from buggies to motoring along with early farm implements, and its outdoor stage, which is displaying the Little Miss Contest as I pass by in their tiny formal gowns and hairdress, each led by a grown-up in tutoring on the fine arts of modeling and smiling pleasantly while waving to the crowd turn by turn. At the Arena there is motocross racing as a dispersed audience sits on the hillside looking down while youngsters on miniature bikes race around, flying through the air without tumbling from hills to vales, making a curve and nearly touching the dirt but not completely falling down, followed by young adults on wheels of regular size. The outdoor Main Stage features excellent headline musical performers singly and in bands. I'm fortunate to hear and witness the night I'm there Walker Hayes on guitar playing and singing his own great -- funny, sexy and scintillating -- songs, and then the Eli Young Band, which will gitcha on yer feet like nothin' else can. They rock. I haven't tried any of the many neon-flashing, screaming, bumping and sliding amalgamation of rides for young folk -- and some hardy elders no doubt -- which take up about half of the total Fair landspace but watch grinning for awhile on my way out to all the sounds of surprise and delight. The material vendors, although fascinating, don't claim my attention this year, perhaps because I've more than I can store as it is back home where in the darkening night I need now to be. My nearby parking space has cost just $3 and the entrance ticket for all $8. Thursday is half-price for seniors also.

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Community Eats

Joe, an older resident who's struggling with pancreatic cancer, suggests to a few neighbors and to owner/managers Angel and Dave Utz, who've previously expressed their interest in "encouraging a sense of community," that the apartment complex might organize a Labor Day barbecue and children's play areas and equipments to help and cheer all in an economy where many may not have funds for the usual travel elsewhere, including their original homes perhaps. After some checking for enthusiasm and participation, the occasion is a go, planned for Sunday at 2p.m. of that weekend, and formal one-page invitations are delivered to each apartment. Apparently we are all very fashionable, as the eatery does not exactly get itself going until around 4p.m. with lots of delicious and unusual homemade dishes showing up finally on the three tables, generous grilling of hamburgers and hotdogs, and supplies of cold drinks in a temporarily-stationed refrigerator in the parking lot. Next year, there's talking of inviting musicians to play also, but this year it was pop music radio from the front porch of one resident's speakers booming out and over into the clear and comfortable weather that day. Although goodies were delivered to him, Joe himself was too ill to attend and we hope that he'll be with us in the interim and at the next community event.

Graphics below: Community eats, Click on icon for enlargement

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The Town Meets

Locating the site is: three tries and you get it right. Okay, maybe four. Or five. Liberty Bell School. Follow the signs indicating Little Theatre and you've got it made. Everyone is helpful as possible and polite. ROTC cadets man the doors and open them as the crowd straggles and then surges through over a period of an hour or so prior to the "Health Care Town Hall Meeting" scheduled for 5 p.m. Once inside, waiting folks are talking about personal medical experiences, what they have of insurance or don't now, and what they'd like and oppose. One woman is manic/depressive, one of her medications costs a little less than $400 a month, and she works full-time. She's concerned about what her situation and that of her husband will be when she retires in seven years. Official-looking men in suits and ties appear on the stage and soon thereafter so does Rep. Dr. Phil Roe of Tennessee's First Congressional District which includes Johnson City, where we are at the moment, and Jonesborough.

Rep. Roe is introduced warmly by a woman who worked with him in local government. The minister of Munsey Baptist Church is introduced and offers a fairly prolonged prayer of peace and progress for us to share and all add our "amen." Then we are asked to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance while a large replica -- obscured by the shadows of those standing -- is displayed on a wall behind the stage. As we retake our seats, Rep Roe then introduces a policeman who has been on the city force for 31 years and also a member of our National Guard for the same amount of time and honors him with a flag that has flown over the Capitol building in D.C. Then he introduces the principal of Liberty Bell Middle School, recounting its remarkable recent renovation for $18 million, all funds provided locally with no federal assistance. Mrs. Roe and her daughter are asked to stand in the audience and thanked and applauded and his mother, in her 80s, is lauded also.

To begin his introductory remarks, Rep. Roe tells a story about first arriving in Washington early January to be inaugurated into his new office. A young boy who has followed Dr. Roe's career has managed to get himself also to the site of the proceedings-to-be and is hanging out in the halls of Congress a day or two prior. The boy, Dr. Roe adds, is a "photo op" in the making for his demeanor and looks. As President Obama and Speaker of the House Pelosi appear from upstairs, a media cameraman takes the group picture as our President-elect stops at the landing to ask Roe's boy what he's doing there, to which he very firmly proclaims, "I came to see Dr. Roe inaugurated into Congress." And that becomes the lead picture and quote on the front page of the D.C. newspapers the next day. Unfortunately, the boy became ill and had to leave before the swearing-in ceremonies for his Tennessee home. Our representative then adds that, not to miss a photo op of his (Republican) own, he stopped later by the boy's Rogersville home with local media to get one or a few and no doubt to the joy and gratitude of his constituent.

Health Care Reform Sign On a more serious note, Rep. Roe asks all the veterans (of whom he is one, during our Korean War) in the audience to stand and there are an astounding number of them, who receive heartfelt applause from the crowd of around 1000 gathered in Little Theatre (known as Science Hill Auditorium to some, but not to be confused with the one actually so-named and part physically of the Science Hill High School complex of structures). Following his introductory remarks, which cover veterans' concerns particularly and an illustration of the massiveness of federal legislation -- one bill displayed in toto on a long table before him -- with which he and others must deal, and very quickly sometimes also, he takes questions from a growing queue of citizens who line up before a microphone in the middle aisle to express their experiences and concerns.

Some participants refer to 'Rep. Dr. Roe,' in respect for his education, skills and service -- now in Washington DC and previously as a local government elected official -- and others thanked him for his work, community communications and bipartisan efforts to address citizen issues and relief/resolution. During my attendance -- which ended at 7 p.m. as the meeting was also intended to do and due to my exhaustion from the day -- only one out of the thousand or so there spoke stridently and somewhat insultingly, but that was an exception. Maybe it's 'in the eye of the beholder,' but to me the audience seemed energetic, involved, lively and eager to express and debate/discuss health care issues and current and future options for a more viable, humane and sane approach for all to generally inevitable medical need, illness and accident.

Rep. Roe had noted previously, as many there knew, that he had worked as an obstetrician for many years in private practice. He related a story of a Congressional aide asking if the late hours in governance upset and bothered him, to which he replied that babies need delivering and mothers tending at all hours of the day and night, so it didn't really seem very much different to him, and actually quite a bit easier in that regard most of the time.

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Revolutionary Reenactment

Reenactors from the regional
Sons of the American Revolution and their friends, aided in organization by the DAR, followed on foot, in historically-accurate cool and damp weather, the trail of our original Overmountain Men as they mustered and marched toward King's Mountain to engage the British there, meeting and greeting on their way classroom school children, including at the Jonesborough Veterans Memorial Park on Friday morning and Sycamore Shoals on Saturday where today's Reverend Samuel Witherspoon Doak (founder of Tusculum Academy) delivered again his famous, assuringly inspirational sermon.

"...O in Thy infinite mercy, save us from the cruel hand of the savage, and of the Tyrant. Save the unprotected homes while fathers and husbands and sons are far away fighting for freedom and helping the oppressed. Thou, who promised to protect the Sparrow in its flight, keep ceaseless watch, by day and by night, over our loved ones. The helpless women and little children, we commit to Thy care. Thou wilt not leave them or forsake them in times of loneliness and anxiety and terror. O God of Battle, Arise in thy might. Avenge the slaughter of thy people. Confound those who plot for our destruction. Crown this mighty effort with victory, and smite those who would exalt themselves against Liberty and Justice and Truth. Help us as good soldiers to wield the SWORD OF THE LORD AND GIDEON." -- Rev. Samuel Doak,9/26/1780
Graphics below: photographs of reenactment, click on icon for enlargement.

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And The Bands Play On

ETSU's professor/conductor and student musicians performed fabulously during their free Fall Band Concert in the Martha Culp Auditorium -- perhaps three-quarters full when all had finally taken theirs of the terraced seats -- on October 15, 2009, in the process of presenting quite a few unusual orchestral pieces. One of my favorites was "Song for Lyndsay (2005)" by Andrew Boysen, Jr. (b. 1968), written for a composer's wife. I'm quite sure that heaven will sound very similar and, as the conductor noted in his introduction, which he gave for every piece variously, it could be to any loved one really. The following composition by Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) even the Conductor Zembower referenced as "difficult" to appreciate. I found that to be true and cogent advice, although it was evident how "Symphony for Band (No. 6) (1956) stretched the abilities of musical composition and its players and instruments. It is also heavy on percussion which Dr. Christian Zembower explained "carries the tune." Another personal favorite was "Two for the British!" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)which the extensive program notes introduced by saying: "Although its popularity has now increased over the years, the piece is still not performed frequently because of its heavy polyphonic nature and difficulty level, which tend to scare conductors and bands away from this masterpiece. Considered a contrapuntal tour-de-force in the compositional style of Buxtehude and J.S. Bach, the piece resolves around the three-note motive (same pitches and intervals from Flourish for Wind Band, 1971, which preceded it) heard at the beginning and its two-measure main melody (first stated by low brass and low woodwinds). Because of its juxtaposed character, the successful performance of the work is dependent on both rhythmic accuracy and melodic clarity. Heavy polyphony permeates the piece, although in the middle section of the work, Vaughan Williams supplies the listener and performers slight relief by including a 'folksong-like', though original, legato melody for some variety and refreshment. Demands on every instrument and performer are present, with every instrument playing in all registers, and the articulations from the most detached staccato and marcato to the most connected legato and sostenuto." The Wind Ensemble's final piece introduced me to the concept of conductor-as-dancer -- leading by emotion, form, beat and force. Dr. Zembower threw himself into that composition and... brought it all home, baby! "Danza No. 2 (2003)" by Bruce Yurko (b. 1951) was completely excellent and rousing. A great finale for which he and the musicians received standing ovations. Lobby ushers had ran out of the printed six-page narrowly-spaced programs considerably before the Concert Band opened with its the scheduled pieces, but fortunately my seat neighbor gave me hers, saying in explanation that her husband sitting elsewhere -- or maybe it was her son playing in one or both of the bands -- had one anyway as a family memento. Those sheets included listing of all band members by instrument, but not the conductor's name! All were dressed in black with white shirts and blouses and the evening was free for the crowd of appreciative on-lookers. As is fairly common, Dr. Zembower thanked us a few times for our attendance, leaving the impression that classical music may be a hard-sell for the uninitiated sometimes but it was a totally wonderful and worthwhile evening.

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Art is Forever

The First Annual Fine Art in the Park -- brain-child of Tami Moore, yet another Mountain Empire wonder/woman, artist herself and co-owner/operator of the much awarded, restored and revivified Main Street
Blair-Moore House bed & breakfast, and who recruited and organized its multiple volunteers and sponsors in carrying that original idea to stunning fruition -- is a great success according to all word-of-mouth and personal experience. The man behind me as I'm leaving says to his companion. "It's a nice town. Quaint." A Milligan arts student asks to take photographs of me for an assignment as I'm taking a break on a bench in the Storytelling Center's front plaza. I think it's the Tanya Tucker hat, but it could be the deep blue velour pants. With open-toed sandals. Seasonal weather changes can be confounding to wardrobe selections. The early drizzle has cleared but it's still a little chilly. Five local concessioniers have given samples of local vineyard wines, handmade chocolates and goat cheeses. Artists from TN's Knoxville, Bluff City, Telford, Erwin, Blountville, Greeneville, Jonesborough and Johnson City, and NC's Winston-Salem, Candler, Pineola, and Weaverville display their wares under tents amidst back courtyard greenery with pleasantly informative conversations from 10a.m. to 4p.m. while Knoxville's singer/songwriter Dustin Overbeek plays original and mainstay folk and country music as crowds linger and pass on by. From uniquely designed and highly polished wood furnishings and furniture to miniature paintings as jewelry we're entranced by the diversities of media and expression. A six-page 8x11-1/2 brochure -- cover flower design a print from one of Tami's many lucent watercolors -- lists and describes the artists on display, their work and native workspace, along with thanking by name all of the sponsors and FAP's volunteers -- including of course the intrepid Doris Dean, many years retired from ETSU, widow of its past Museum Director, creator of Friends of the Jonesborough/Washington County Museum organization (now part of the non-profit umbrella Heritage Alliance), and invaluable mainstay for all town events. Of the roundly outstanding and frequently astounding artworks on display, perhaps my favorites are those of Peasant and Raven (Jeffrey Foster and Becky M. Thomas), Simply Unique (Heather Raimo), and Fireworx Glass Studio (Shannon Norris & Erin Cartee) -- but I wouldn't want to have to choose, as judges did, who finally won Platinum, Silver and Bronze awards. The first, "Best In Show, received accommodations for one week anywhere in the world, from an anonymous donor; the second and third prize monies were $150 and $75 respectively, raised through several fund-raising rummage sales held prior to the event. Sponsors included William and Barbara Stout, Marcy Hawley of the vintage and highly-ranked Hawley House B&B, the ever-endearing and enduring Schubert Club, major aspects of the "history" in "historic Jonesborough" Dr. William and Virginia Kennedy, NETA (Northeast Tennessee Artisans) and The Rander family in memory of Beverly C. Williams. All the parking spaces and parking lots are full as I pull in and out of nature's fall colors from heritage bushes and trees, grateful for the miniature splendors of Tennessee's oldest town. As Tami noted later, "It was absolutely done in Jonesborough style, everyone lending a hand..." in creating a memorable event to relish, cherish, and look forward to again.

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Heroes and Heroines

There are so many who fight for freedom, their own and others, and struggle to be their best while bringing that out in others also. The majority don't receive medals, awards, or public recognition for their efforts and accomplishments that, taken together, create a fascinating and inspiring, liveable world. An example of that is Brenda. She's not had good use of her legs since birth and her vision is dysfunctionally blurred so she's not able to write her own accounts, although she knows them very clearly in her mind and memory. Through operations and handicaps, she's made for herself and others an interactionally interesting, meaningful, mobile and worthwhile life despite it all. One of twelve siblings related by blood and/or marriage, she rented her own first house at 20 and managed to take care of it and herself independently. Near forty years old, she chose to have one healthy child, disregarding advice to the contrary, and raised her daughter with faith, love, forgiveness, encouragement, forebearance and generosity while opening her homes also along the way to needy friends and family. In the two years or so we've known each other fairly closely, I've never heard her express any kind of self-pity in a world that hasn't always been kind or accommodating for the handicapped. Instead, her determination and pride in accomplishment is very evident. Although relatively unschooled, she's a perceptive observer and participant in community and country life, not easily fooled by errant propaganda or blandishments meant to entice the unaware, perhaps because she's really tried and generally succeeded, knows the roadblocks and obstacles by experience, and has made of her life and that of others one worth knowing, experiencing and holding in remembrance for her positive endeavors and attitudes. With government assistance for necessities since her disabilities together preclude remunerative employment, she's concentrated on Now, doing and being her best within it. "There are heroes in the seaweed," as Leonard Cohen penned and sings, and Brenda is certainly one of them -- a delight to encounter and a light shining bright from an unconquerable soul. A good citizen.

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To assure a safe and entertaining
All Saints Day night (All Hallows Eve), Historic Jonesborough provides costumed treats all day and into the evening, from the morning Dante's Ninth Circle, click for reference Farmer's Market with live music as ever to downtown at dusk with merchants' child goodies, prizes for best made and got up, and the Jonesborough Novelty Band playing before the Courthouse. Main Street's blocked off again so artfully coiffed and attired revelers from infants to employees to pets to residents and revisters can enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of yet another memorable small town night in manners and means expanded upon those of past generations. There are 22 treat stops and ten game stops with two contests and five special attractions altogether. Storyteller Linda Poland (creator/owner of Postive Solutions and former Town Tourism Director), still recovering from a stroke that left her temporarily disabled of language and mobility, and fortune teller Jean Smith are amongst the latter. Palmistrist Heide Ehle reads my right hand and reports that my palm has a strong heart line, deep mind line, two life lines which is unusual and difficult to interpret, and fingers indicating a hard worker who digs in where needed. The Rambling Rose Band -- electric fiddle, guitar, dulcimer and acoustic guitar -- set up, tune and play inside Cranberry Thistle to decked-out and laughing employees and revelers of all ages. Looking up from my cinnamon hot cocoa and freshly-baked apple scone, I notice a framed color photograph before me on the wall amongst numerous others. It's Joe -- drawing of Joe Grindstaff, historic preservation expert and craftsman, by Charlie Dyer one of many college-era friends in the area and a native of mountainous Butler, long since swallowed but still visible under TVA waters. A Vietnam Army medic, he brought my Goddaughter as an infant to Richmond so I could dance with her in my arms too many decades ago, moved all my furnishings to Jonesborough eleven years ago, and he's caught now forever restoring bricks on the back facade of my last apartment here -- gone in body but not in spirit, the caretaker, the one you could always depend upon. As a little sadness and nostalgia creep around me suddenly Whiskers, another friend and "town fixture" enshrined on the wall, jumps up from a table with his tall spangled red pointed hat and bib overalls to keep a foot and hand beat for two costumed older women doing a very funny line dance in the aisle. By the time that song's over, I'm laughing so hard I have to say out loud, "Tennessee has got to be the craziest state in the Union. And that's why I love it so much." Down the street, multi-ethnic and golden Madison has nearly recovered from Vanderbilt University skull surgery two months previous and has fallen asleep on her back in her monkey suit with the hat with the yellow banana on top. At only nine months she already speaks a few words and laughs uproariously when amused. We have not been dissuaded or disheartened by drizzles and hard rain coming down, but there have been some mid-air umbrella collisions. As I leave, a nearly two-year-old decorated in the blacks and whites of Minnie Mouse converses in fascination from the sidewalk with two also decoratively dressed toddlers in strollers amidst the now-thinning street crowd. The "Halloween Haunts & Happenings Chaperone's Guide" lists 42 business and organizational sponsors of the event and also thanks its volunteers of time and money at the end. And we are safe from the spooks and goblins and werewolves yet once again. Until next year....

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Back To The Future

"... The [Interpretive Master] Plan has been prepared by Ralph Applebaum Associates, the firm chosen in 2006 by Jonesborough to 'build on the town's success as a storytelling venue and model of historical preservation,' according to the plan, which was paid for through a $97,000 grant from the National Parks Service's Preserve America Program.... 'History is de-emphasized in schools, and we need to give people a sense of place,' said [Town Administrator Bob] Browning. 'History is important in developing community pride.'..." -- Kate Prahlad, Herald & Tribune 11/4/09
Our affable, humorous and multi-talented long-time Town Administrator Bob Browning opens the public meeting with a background introduction of the why, how and wherefore related to creating a professional plan for future development of Jonesborough in visitations and revenue before presenting Ralph Appelbaum himself to an auditorium maybe three-quarters full in the rows of seats before a large projection screen managed through a laptop in the center aisle. He is a smallish, gray-haired and softly-spoken New York gentleman who expresses thereafter his interest in establishing a comfortable fit between citizens, history and vision that preserves the town's "quaintness," "charm," "authenticity," "friendliness," "liveability," and integration of history with present and tourism through cultural and educational entertainments and offerings that present and enhance what is near-universally treasured now by residents, visitors, and award designators variously. There is no intent to replicate the explosion of commerce and construction represented by areas like Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge but rather, as he puts it, a careful development analogically of the caterpiller that turned into a butterfly without damaging its wings or ability to fly. Color slides of text, photographs and diagrams drawn from the design architects' 60-page proposal (with copies available for check-out from the Town Administrator's Office) dramatize his explications and anecdotes for nearly an hour. There follows a 20 minute or so question and answer period between citizens, Appelbaum and Browning, and very brief closing remarks from the latter. In response to one question and comment Jimmy Neil Smith notes that Storytelling originated informally as straw bales before the Courthouse, from the heart, in and for the Town of Jonesborough. Over the following nearly forty years concentration has shifted to "growing it," including design and construction of the Center building and park by nationally famous architects, Smithsonian affiliation and international appeal through the Horizon Project and tellers-in-residence from around the world. It has always and increasingly generated substantial regional revenue and employment, as well as education and entertainment, but will attend, Smith says, even more now to integration and alliance with town citizens also, upon whose volunteers the famous Festival still depends in part for operation and profit in expensing fees and salaries.

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Graphic below: Whiskers, watercolor by Vera Tracy, Jonesborough TN
Whiskers, watercolor by Vera Tracy, Jonesborough TN

"... The exhibits are presented by the ETSU Department of Art and Design, Slocumb Galleries and the Reece Museum in parnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and ETSU's Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. [Andy] Warhol extensively photographed celebrities, couples and others, and used the photographs as the basis for his commissioned portraits, paintings, drawings and prints. The two exhibits at ETSU will 'provide a glimpse into Warhol's working process, as well as insights to his seemingly public life and his reclusive persona,' according to the Warhol Foundation. The Reece Museum exhibit focuses on Warhol as an individual from the Appalachian region and the effects of his upbringing on his work, with photographs that served as his 'visual diary,' documenting people, places and events in his everyday life. Warhol was born to Eastern European immigrant parents in Pittsburgh. His father was a construction worker and coal miner, and his mother has been described as a religious woman who was dedicated to her family and whose creativity influenced her son as he developed his artistic skill. Warhol became what many in the Appalachian Studies field consider an Appalachian expatriate artist, like his fellow Pittsburg natives Mary Cassatt and Henry Ossawa Tanner, by leaving his childhood home to pursue his artistic endeavors. He eventually earned notoriety for his flamboyant New York lifestyle, his social elite inner circles, and his cutting-edge and world-changing artistic ideas...."
-- Herald & Tribune 10/27/09

"Appalachian State University's 2009-2010 Performing Arts Series welcome[d] the Martha Graham Dance Company -- the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America -- to the stage of Farthing Auditorium.... The ... Company has received international acclaim from audiences in over 50 countries throughout north and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. [It] has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids of Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.... She created 181 ballets and a dance technique that has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude. Born in 1893 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Graham founded her dance company in 1926, living and working out of a tiny, Carnegie Hall studio in mid-town Manhattan.... As an artist, and particularly a woman artist, Martha Graham was a rebel in conventional society. From 1929 to 1938, she worked with an all-female company, refining her technique and crafting her approach to choreography. Her work reflected a deep-held belief in human rights. Invited to perform in the 1938 Berlin Olympics, she refused -- many of her company members were Jewish, and she noted 'would not be welcome in Germany.' In the late 30s and early 40s, her work explored race, ethnicity and gender, particularly as related to the concept of being 'American;' she drew from historical documents, as well as the work of Emily Dickinson to create her choreography. The Greek Cycle followed in the late 40s and 50s, as she explored the mythological journey into the self. Her choreography during this period illuminated hidden recesses of the human psyche and demonstrated her mastery of total world theatre, while making central the experience of the female protagonist.... Dances such as Mikhail Baryshnikov were welcomed into her company, and she taught movement to actors such as Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minnelli and Joanne Woodward. Martha Graham herself danced with the company for more than 40 years. [Her] uniquely American vision and creative genius earned her numerous awards and honors, including the Medal of Freedom and being named a National Treasure by President Gerald Ford and being designated one of the first recipients of the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan...."
-- The Loafer, 10/20/09
multimedia by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA
Graphic: multimedia by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA

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text and graphics Jeannette Harris, A Country Rag, Inc., Jonesborough TN, October 2009. All rights reserved.

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