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Long Journey Home festival celebrates “A Day in the Life of a Song” this weekend

Honoring the region’s musical heritage and the old homestead of Fiddlin’ Fred Price, local musicians Kenny Price, Lois Dunn, and Andrew Matherly, pose for the camera in preparation for the Annual Long Journey Home Celebration scheduled for labor Day weekend. The virtual program will offer a variety of events recorded by local videographer, Deklan Thomas. Photo by Tia Thomas

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Returning for the sixth year, The Long Journey Home, an annual celebration of the musical heritage belonging to the area, takes center stage this weekend, September 4th and 5th.Everyone can experience the sights and sounds of Johnson County’s musical heritage from the safety and comfort of their homes.

“This year’s festival might look a little different,” explained Christy Dunn, one of the organizers, “but even a global pandemic can’t stop the celebration.” The anticipated events, which will be enjoyed virtually, include:

• An exclusive one-time community preview of the new film Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, will be shown Friday, September 4 at 8 p.m.

• The largest mural yet, A Day in the Life of a Song, will be unveiled in Downtown Mountain City- Saturday, September 5.

• Authentic Old-Time music from heritage music sites throughout Johnson County- September 5.

• An exclusive guided virtual tour of the Musical Heritage Mural Mile in Downtown Mountain City- September 5

• An online visit with best-selling Appalachian author, Sharyn McCrumb-September 5

All events will be presented online at and on the Long Journey Home Facebook page.

The excitement begins on Friday, September 4th, with an exclusive one-time online community preview of Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson. This film tells the long-overdue story of the blind mountain fiddler G.B. Grayson, whose short career produced The Ballad of Tom Dooley, Train 45, Handsome Molly, and about 40 other songs that became the standards of Bluegrass and early country music. The film was created by Appalachian Memory Keepers in partnership with Johnson County Center for the Arts and funded by Tennessee Arts Commission.

On Saturday, September 5th, the Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour goes live at 11:30. First is the unveiling of A Day in the Life of a Song, the newest addition to downtown Mountain City’s Musical Heritage Mural Mile. Artists Cristy Dunn, Temple Reece, and Lewis Chapman created scenes that celebrate music as a part of everyday life, from singing while making biscuits to ‘Lassy Making and Sawmillin’ and ending with a family gathered around an old fashioned radio listening to The Grand Ole Opry.  

The Kody Norris Show will entertain with the songs of G.B. Grayson at noon, and then two more virtual sites will celebrate the music of Clarence “Tom” Ashley, Clint Howard, and Fred Price with video segments ‘Sawmillin and ‘Lassy Makin’ and My Home in the Mountains.Afterward, viewers are invited to go for a guided tour of the Musical Heritage Mural Mile. This virtual tour through beautiful downtown Mountain City will give you an in-depth look into the inspiration behind the musical heritage murals.  

Finally, acclaimed Appalachian author Sharyn McCrumb will join us for an online talk and share her insight into ballads and murders in Johnson County. Wherever you are this year, you can tune in and share in the sights and sounds that make Johnson County such a special place at  

“It’s about as real as it gets,” organizers said. “If you were wondering whether authentic Appalachia still exists, look no further.”

Please contact Cristy Dunn at 423-957-6346 or Evelyn Cook at 423-727-8700 [email protected] or visit