smoky mountain tunes & tales
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event featuring costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying time periods as far back as 1800.
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales Returns for a Ninth Season
Back by overwhelming demand and expanded for 2014, Gatlinburg's ninth annual presentation of Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales begins in April and May in downtown Gatlinburg on Fridays and Saturday nights. On June 13th, you’ll be able to enjoy Tunes & Tales every night of the week through August 9. Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event throughout downtown Gatlinburg featuring musical performers, cloggers, storytellers and artisans giving you a taste of Appalachian culture.
This popular event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets – the walkability of the community – and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy.
The collection of personalities and entertainers perform in the center of town from 5:00-10:00 pm during the spring weekends and 6:00-11:00 pm during the summer nightly season. Visitors witness a magical transformation of sidewalk to stage as the characters disperse along the downtown Parkway for an evening of entertainment and fun!
Single acts, Duos, Trios and 4 piece groups will provide music spring weekends and seven nights a week for the duration of the summer. The mountain style of music is featured from the beginnings of the pure Appalachian sounds to traditional bluegrass, folk, country and Gospel music.
They will also enjoy the talents of the Back Porch Cloggers demonstrating old time clogging to the more modern versions of this dance of our heritage and even teaching folks some fun moves and steps. Learn woodworking, spinning and quilting from area artists. Kids ‘R’ Special in Gatlinburg and Tunes & Tales has special shows for our children (of all ages)! Participate in a ‘Jug Band’, where you can learn how to make music with household items, such as spoons, a washboard, saw or wash tub!
Download the spring schedule here.
Meet the Tunes and Tales Performers
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales welcomes new cast member, Anna Uptain, who will be playing the role of “Appalachia Anna”. Anna is a multi-instrumentalist with a love for Appalachian music and culture. She holds degrees in Music Education/Church Music with a minor in Education. Where did the Appalachian people come from? What was it like growing up as a child in Appalachia? Where did the banjo come from? These are just some of the questions Anna’s interactive performance will answer in an entertaining manner. It is Anna’s goal to pass along the love of music and instruments to all ages. As a part of her performance she will re-create a “Old-Time Jug Band” on the streets of Gatlinburg with musical instruments that would have been just “things around the house about a 100 years ago”, like a saw, washtub, washboard, limberjack, cowbell and spoons.... so let’s kick up our heels and have a great time learning about our Appalachian music heritage!
The Backporch Cloggers, one of the most popular group of performers on the streets of Gatlinburg, have been in Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales since the inception of the program. Dancers hail from various parts of Tennessee and Georgia. This talented and vivacious group delights their audience with fast feet, big smiles and interactive performances. Join them in the "Chicken Dance", square dance, or let them teach you the clogging basics. Approximately twenty dancers alternate weeks performing with energy and charisma all summer long. Let them tell you how they got their name, or who/where Rocky Top was written and much more. Join us and catch the enthusiastic spirit of Tunes & Tales with our Backporch Cloggers!
Boogertown Gap, Ruth Barber and Keith Watson, are from the Great Smoky Mountains area and natural performers for Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales with their Southern Appalachian Old-Time Music. Their performance includes stories and history about the music of the Appalachian Mountains from the days of the earliest settlers. They present the music in traditional style and on traditional instruments: fiddle, guitar, clawhammer banjo, pennywhistle, spoons and washboard. Keith’s ancestors moved to what is now Sevier County, TN in the late 1700’s; and he is a direct descendent of the first permanent settler in Gatlinburg, TN, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle. Ruth’s ancestors moved to the area in 1881. In this 21st century we invite you to join Ruth and Keith as they seek to preserve their heritage through music and stories of the Appalachian Mountains!
Chilhowee Mountain Band
Tunes & Tales welcomes the Chilhowee Mountain Band, showcasing the musical talent of Emma Rose Taylor and Matthew Taylor, a brother-sister duo from East Tennessee. Ten year old Emma Rose is the lead vocal for the band. Emma is a talented singer with a strong bluegrass voice who loves to play her ukulele. Her sweet refreshing personality will warm the hearts of our Gatlinburg guests this summer. Emma's 17 year old brother, Matthew, plays the guitar and mandolin. Matthew has won numerous regional and national honors for his talent. Some of his most prestigious awards for 2013 include 1st place in the guitar competition at the Smoky Mountain Fiddlers Convention, Georgia State Flatpick Guitar Championship, Alabama State Bluegrass Flatpick Guitar Championship and Overall Grand Prize Winner at the Townsend Young Pickers Contest. The two have been performing together for about two years and have played some great venues such as Dollywood's Barbecue and Bluegrass festival and the Merlefest Youth Showcase. Tunes & Tales loves to showcase young talent and experience the evidence of the continuation of our rich heritage in mountain music! 'Kids R Special' in Gatlinburg!
The Dulcimer Guys, sometimes also known as Hammer and Strings, have played in Tunes & Tales since the inception of the program. Tim Simek is a two time National Dulcimer Champion (Walnut Valley Festival * Winfield, KS). Tim is the most sought after Hammer Dulcimer player in the country. Mark Edelman has been playing and building the Mountain Dulcimer for over 35 years. He is master luthier, member of the Great Smoky Arts and Craft Community and a teacher each year at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. For eight years Tim and Mark have shared their love of the dulcimers with its melodic nature and sound to our guests on the streets of Gatlinburg. Come hear traditional melodies and Gospel songs ringing out against the backdrop of the Smoky Mountains, echoing back beautiful memories for years to come.
EmiSunshine and The Rain
EmiSunshine and The Rain will be appearing in Tunes & Tales on some spring weekends and for the second summer season, from June 13 - August 9, they will be appearing Thursday through Sunday nights. Emi's band consists of her daddy, Randall Hamilton, on bass/guitar and Uncle Bobby Hill delivering dynamic rhythm on the street in an old time percussive style. With a family musical lineage that goes back three generations it's no surprise that EmiSunshine Hamilton is a natural performer. Like her great-grandmother, Wanda, Emi has the ability to turn on the country charm and entertain a crowd. Like her grandmother, the late Patsy Hamilton, Emi can sing the Lord's gospel with the conviction of a soul who's been on the earth years beyond her age. And like her daddy, Emi can cut loose and have fun with the crowd while she is performing. Before Emi could actually talk she was cooing along to harmonies with her grandmothers. By the time she was 5 she'd written her first song. By the age of 6 she'd already performed live at countless churches and festivals around east Tennessee and at age 7 she recorded her first 2 albums. Emi has drawn inspiration from artists such as Buddy & Julie Miller, Dolly Parton and Sister Thorpe, as well as some other regional artists. If you see a huge crowd gathered on the streets of Gatlinburg, it might be EmiSunshine playing her ukulee and belting one of her original songs, or covering one of her favorite artists.....either way, one thing for sure...there will be a crowd! Don't miss one of the most popular acts in Tunes & Tales!
The all new Flickertail Holler will be back on the streets of Gatlinburg this summer in Tunes & Tales!
This promises to be one of the best yet musical compositions of this group. Seth Mulder and Jasper Lorentzen are returning and bringing aboard two new personalities, Trent Williams and Luke Montgomery. This award winning Bluegrass Band will fill the streets of Gatlinburg with the best in Bluegrass sounds from the past and present. Come hear their melodies ringing from the mountains all summer long!
Jon and Maria
Jon Hogan has been a full-time folk musician for almost twenty years. He grew up in the American West, immersed from childhood in traditional American mountain, gospel and country music. At age 14 he was playing guitar at bluegrass gigs near Salt Lake City, UT. By 20 he was writing songs and over the past two decades he’s written hundreds of original ballads, love songs, and waltzes rooted in his love of traditional music. He’s also become an engaging speaker on the history of mountain music. Maria Moss grew up in Houston, but spent summers as a child soaking up the music and culture of Eastern Tennessee, where her paternal family roots date to the 1860s. She began playing guitar at age 14, inspired by the music she heard in her beloved Smokies. After graduating from the University of Houston, she had a career as a journalist and editorial consultant. In 2007, while recovering from a serious illness, guitar took center stage in her life, and she found her unique, driving finger-picking style. Jon Hogan and Maria Moss met through the Kerrville Folk Festival community in 2008, played some song circles, and quickly recognized an unusual resonance between their individual guitar styles and vocal harmonies. Now in their second season, Maria and Jon have gone back to Maria's roots and found their home with Tunes & Tales. Enjoy this unique duo in our 2014 summer shows!
Tunes & Tales welcomes The Lackey Family, hailing originally from Austin, TX, where their musical journey began in 2009 with the help of some great and talented friends. Now enjoying the beauty and rich culture that East TN offers, they bring you the sounds of traditional bluegrass/gospel music! With 13 year old Payton on the banjo, 11 year old Ethan on the bass & fiddle, Shannon on the mandolin and Wes on the guitar, The Lackey Family strives to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart. This family will be a part of "Kids R Special in Gatlinburg" program this summer, where there will be something special for kids each night of the week. Come meet The Lackey Family and walk the streets of Gatlinburg for free family oriented fun and entertainment all summer long!
Newcomer to Tunes & Tales, Marisa Ireland, joins one of the top fiddlers in East Tennessee, Mike Grove, and an incredible entertainer from Newport, TN, CJ Lewandowski, both members of previous years’ Tunes & Tales cast.....they are “Mountain Laurel”, music and entertainment at its’ best! Marisa is no stranger to performing. She was the youngest paid singer/dancer to ever perform in Nashville, Tennessee for Gaylord Entertainment (Opryland/The Grand Ole’ Opry), featured in their "Country Christmas" and "Easter in Song and Story" shows at the age of four. At the ages of nine, a Hollywood director convinced her parents to move to L.A. where she signed with Hervey-Grimes Talent Agency and began a successful career as a child actor in film, television and national commercials. Now Marisa has come full circle--a Tennessee girl who has returned home to her roots and first love: music. She is creating excitement at a variety of venues ranging from Bristol’s “Rhythm and Roots” Festival, to Nashville’s “Billy Block Show,” to Knoxville’s “Blue Plate Special” radio show. Her voice has been described by some in the industry as “Dolly Parton with a contemporary edge,” and "Americana country’s version of Nora Jones.” Marisa brings a unique, innovative style to the table. Co-writing with her mother, Patty Parker Ireland, a long-time BMI songwriter, Marisa is now also exploring various styles and genres as a writer in her own right. Come hear the mountains ring with new and refreshing sounds of "Mountain Laurel" as they sing both familiar and original mountain melodies.
Outta The Blue & The Holloway Sisters
Tunes & Tales brings back a popular act, Outta the Blue and The Holloway Sisters, combining hard-driving music with energetic stage presence and southern personalities. David and Nancy, along with their daughters Michelle and Sandra, comprise a family band and folks will tell you that they are a "must to see and hear"! Their music ranges from traditional bluegrass to a new wave bluegrass with a unique style all their own. This band isn't just about playing music, it's also about spreading smiles and joy throughout every audience. They pride themselves on their ability to bring upbeat family fun entertainment to the young and the "young at heart". Outta the Blue will be playing music, spreading smiles and winning hearts on the streets of Gatlinburg during both the spring and summer season. You may become one of those, like so many others in the past six years, who return throughout the season time and time again to experience Outta the Blue!
Leo Collins, with Rattlesnake Holler, is an award winning buck dancer from Norris Tennessee. He learned his dancing style from his grandfather in the Snowbird Mountains of Western North Carolina. Rattlesnake Holler performers, Denton Bragg on the fiddle and Austin Stovall on the banjo, will be playing some of the best in mountain music while Leo will enjoy teaching buck dancing, flat footing, and traditional Appalachian square dancing. Leo has performed in Gatlinburg, Dollywood, the Museum of Appalachia, and various festivals; he joined Denton and Austin last year making Rattlesnake Holler a trio on the streets of Gatlinburg. Leo is very successful in engaging his audience to participate in Gatlinburg Tunes & Tales “Smoky Mountain Shindig”......make some memories in the mountains!
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales welcomes The Reunited, Steve Laciak and Kate Phillips, of Gatlinburg, TN. Steve and Kate perform a collection of popular songs, ranging from music of the 20's and 30's to current hits heard on the radio today. A creative duo that features tight harmonies and a unique story of their musical journey together, they continue to share their influences from all genres. Steve and Kate blend classic and contemporary styles, delivering a wide variety of timeless melodies by artists such as Hank Williams, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Carey Jones is starting his 5th season of Tunes & Tales in a new role as The Singing Parson. He will be roving the parkway greeting our guests and spreading the sweet spirit of old church songs with his voice and guitar. A Smoky Mountain citizen for 21 years, Carey is a retired naturalist from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and continues to prowl the woods, leading nature hikes, singing songs and drawing inspiration from the magic of God's creation. His many years of acting include movies, TV and theatre. Carey also narrates local books, documentaries, and has had 4 historic voices at the new Seminary Ridge Museum at Gettysburg Battlefield. He will delight his audiences not only with music but with many stories of the mountains. You may remember him as Singin' Slim in previous summers, or Father Christmas in Winter Magic Tunes & Tales. Come meet his latest personality and sing old familiar Gospel songs with him.....and if you have any questions about the Park (like where are the bears?), he is the perfect one to ask!
Nancy Thompson, known as "Spinnin' Selma", fell in love with spinning 25 years ago while visiting a living history museum in Kentucky and watching the spinners' demonstration. She received an antique spinning wheel as a gift and her journey began. It seemed only natural for this sheep breeder to move to the Appalachian area and open the Smoky Mountain Spinnery in 2000 as a spinning and weaving shop. "I love to demonstrate the art of turning fibers into yarn and when I joined Tunes & Tales in its' 2nd season as Selma the Spinner, it was a dream come true! Being able to take my spinning wheel down to the streets of Gatlinburg and sit among the visitors and spin yarn is a delight. I love to see peoples' reactions to my sitting there quietly with just the sounds of the rhythm of the wheel. Some just sit or stand back, talk to each other and point, while others like to come up and ask what I'm doing. I love to spin up the yarn, break it off and present a bracelet to youngsters as a gift! The look on their faces is priceless!!! It makes my day when teenagers or adults ask if they can have one too!" Come find "Spinnin' Selma" outside The Maple Tree on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday nights this summer..... and you might just get a handspun bracelet yourself!!
Sun Bonnet Sue
Susan Thacker, playing the role of Sun Bonnet Sue, has had a passion for sewing for many years. At five years old she would kneel at her Mother's feet, and with prompting to start and stop, push the pedal of her Mother's treadle sewing machine with her hands for her Mother to sew. Susan owned a quilt shop for several years and especially enjoyed meeting the people and talking about her quilts, which makes her a perfect match for Tunes & Tales. She has taught classes to 4-H groups and camps, as well as sewing and quilting classes for adults. Currently she teaches a Simple Sewing Class at the Senior Center in Sevierville. Sun Bonnet Sue will be a part of our 'Kids R Special' program and help the children of our guests learn to make a 'Church Doll'. Take home memories and more in our Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales program, all summer long in downtown Gatlinburg!
Since 2011, WestWend has been captivating the hearts of country fans. Husband- and-wife duo, Jonathan Maness and Wendy Crowe make bluegrass and country music collide creating their own unique take on country music and bringing it back to its roots. The combination of this duo is unlike any other in country music today and joining them this summer on the streets of Gatlinburg is one of the finest fiddlers in this area of the country, Cody Bauer. Wendy is a sweet, soulful singer with a honeyed alto voice and a smile that lights up the stage, as well as a naturally prolific lyricist. Jonathan’s rich baritone and agile flat picking are well known to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, and he’s also an expert arranger and producer. Their close duet harmony brings the songs home to the listener, while instrumental support of the strongest caliber with Cody on the fiddle rounds out an exciting show package. Don't miss this exciting new trio debut on the streets of Gatlinburg in Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales!
Otto Preske enjoys his role as "Whittlin' Joe" during Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales! When he is not on the streets of Gatlinburg, he is in his studio/gallery on Buckhorn Road located in the Great Smoky Art and Craft Community (since 1976). Otto is an award winning wood carver/sculptor who delights many of Gatlinburg’s guests with his little wooden flowers which he whittles right before their eyes! Maybe you will be one of the lucky guests to take one home with you! By the way.....ask him about the wooden chain he always wears.....
Vera and Andre'
Vera and Andre' Pratt are musicians and singers from Cocke County, TN and this will be their first year performing in Tunes & Tales. Andre’ first memories was as a young boy singing in church where his father was a pastor in Harlan, Kentucky. At the age of 10, his family moved to East Tennessee where he became interested in Bluegrass music and eventually attended East Tennessee State University, participating in the E.T.S.U. Bluegrass and Country Music Program. Vera’s musical heritage began with her grandmother in Del Rio, TN. Her grandmother wrote many songs about her faith and her home. Music has always been a big part of Vera’s life; she plays fiddle and sings lead/harmony. Vera and Andre’ make a heartfelt duo that brings warm thoughts of family, faith and home. Many of the songs they perform are old bluegrass and gospel standards, but some are originals they have written. In 2012 Andre’ won the Del Rio Days songwriting competition with the song, Blue Ridge Mountain Place, a story about he and Vera’s struggles and blessings as a young couple getting their start in life together. Andre’ and Vera would like to invite you to join them on the streets of Gatlinburg this summer and make new memories as you reminisce with this sweet old fashioned couple in the Great Smoky Mountains they call home.
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Only in Gatlinburg is there free entertainment and fun all along the Parkway spring weekends and nightly all summer long!