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The Long Journey Home

By: Rebecca Herman
Freelance Writer

Tennessee is known for its musical heritage and boasts the title of the home of country and bluegrass music. Many of the musicians that have had an impact on the musical world were not selling millions of albums and living in the Hollywood Hills; they were hardworking mothers and fathers who worked in the fields by day and sat, picking on the porch until nightfall. Johnson County can proudly claim many of these fine musicians as their own and can celebrate the artists of the past and the talents of local artists and musicians today.
On Saturday, September 26, Johnson County held its first Long Journey Home musical heritage tour. The day began with an introduction from co-chair, Evelyn Cook, welcoming the crowd and introducing the family members of the featured musicians that were being honored.
“It’s high time we honor the traditions of this county,” said Cook. Cook then introduced the musicians who would be playing at the different locations throughout the day.
As the music played, Cristy Dunn, granddaughter of Fiddlin’ Fred Price, unveiled her mural, The Birth of a Ballad: The Capture of Tom Dooley. The mural is the second of three that Dunn has planned. The mural “honors the blind fiddler, G.B. Grayson, who in his short career wrote and recorded many of the old time standards we love and know.” The first mural, which depicts Tom Ashley playing the banjo, was finished in November 2013 and the third mural, to be completed by fall of 2016, will feature Dunn’s grandfather, Fred Price, and fellow musicians Doc Watson and Clint Howard.
The next stop on the tour was the Johnson County Library where refreshments were served and artwork was featured and sold. From the library, music lovers could drive individually or hop on a bus to the next locations.
Next on the tour was the site where Tom Dooley was arrested for the murder of Laura Foster. Here John Winer and Kyman Matherly played death ballads. The crowd enjoyed the sad, eerie songs while walking the same creek bank where Dooley soaked his blistered feet before getting arrested. Winer, who has lived in Crackers Neck for the past 25 years, plays a variety of instruments and is also known for his blacksmith work and furniture design. Matherly is the son of Cristy Dunn and the late Shane Matherly.

From here, the tour traveled to Forge Creek to the home of Clarence “Tom” Ashley.
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